Aaliyah – Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (1994)
Producer: R. Kelly*
An album that is often overlooked due to the impressive work that followed, but Aaliyah’s debut album should be remembered very fondly for the hits it produced (including ‘Back & Forth’, ‘Throw Your Hands Up’ and ‘Down With The Clique’) and the genre-defining, 90’s R&B sound implemented by R. Kelly.
Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)
Producer: Dr. Dre
After demonstrating the effectiveness of their musical relationship on ‘Nuthin’ But A G Thang’ and throughout Dr. Dre’s The Chronic (1992), Snoop Dogg and Dre consolidated their iconic standing within Hip Hop with the release of Snoop’s debut album Doggystyle. The project contained the classics ‘What’s My Name’, ‘Gin ‘n’ Juice’, ‘Tha Shiznit’ and ‘Murder Was The Case’, among many other popular cuts.
Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995)
Widely considered as the most exciting of the solo albums to come from Wu-Tang Clan, Only Built For Cuban Linx… was a complex mesh of creative styles from Raekwon and Wu-Tang mastermind RZA. Despite being Raekwon’s album, he had much assistance from his fellow Wu-Tang members, who contributed to hits like ‘Criminology’, ‘Rainy Dayz’ and ‘Can It Be All So Simple [Remix]’ among others, while Nas also appeared on ‘Verbal Intercourse’. RZA continued his moulding of the Wu-Tang signature sound with stellar work on the likes of ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’, ‘Ice Water’ and ‘Ice Cream’ in particular.
Freddie Gibbs – Piñata (2014)
This was the Freddie Gibbs project that truly earned him the recognition that his talents deserve, accompanied excellently by Madlib, who received just as many plaudits for his production that some believe have not reached this level since Madvilliany (2004). Gibbs also showed his versatility as an emcee by trading his usual trap-influenced production landscape for Madlib’s renowned loop-digging style.
Action Bronson – Rare Chandeliers (2012)
Alongside the likes of Madlib, Alchemist is acclaimed for producing entire albums for single artists and he once again came up with the goods with Action Bronson via Rare Chandeliers. There’s an indisputable chemistry between Alchemist’s instrumentation and Bronson’s rugged, 90’s-inspired rapping style, which resulted in some of the most outstanding work from both individuals. The pair established a productive relationship that went beyond the realms of music and into other ventures like TV shows Fuck, That’s Delicious.
*R. Kelly didn’t produce ‘At Your Best (You Are Love)’ but that was an Isley Brothers cover, so it was discounted.