1995 was a pivotal year in hip-hop.
The music and culture was around the age of twenty and — like everyone that age — was still figuring out what it was and what it wanted to be. This was before egos, money, and violence began truly taking over and there were established stars and promising upstarts all over the map. Plus, it was the year of one of the most infamous awards shows in history, The 1995 Source Awards, which had it’s own far reaching effect on the game.
That is now twenty years in the past and once again hip-hop has gone through a multitude of changes in those two decades. So it is with a mixture of hindsight and nostalgia that I decided to countdown the top 20 albums of 1995.
20. The Pharcyde — “Labcabincalifornia”
No J-Swift? No problem. Cali’s version of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, The Pharcyde was lauded for its debut album, particularly J-Swift’s beats. For the group’s second effort, a little known producer named Jay Dee (a/k/a Dilla) handled a bulk of the production, creating a marked departure from deep jazz sounds to the soul samples that would eventually make him a legend. Though it’s not as revered as Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, Labcabincalifornia is actually a deeper album than its predecessor, as the members used the change in backdrops to address issues beyond simply having a good time. Still, there’s an element of lightheartedness and “Drop” and “Runnin’” both sound just as great today as back in ’95.
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