The Erik Torenberg list of rap music I should listen to

Here goes:

  • Lupe Fiasco — The Cool (2007 Lupe’s peak as an artist, this and Food & Liquor. He has a tragic fall from grace in the rap game)
  • Blu — Below the Heavens (Also an older classic underground album, Blu was a prodigy who never quite made it)
  • Phonte — Charity Starts at home (Phonte from Little Brother’s first and only solo album)
  • Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (The best of two legendary MC’s)
  • J Cole — Forest Hills Drive
  • Homeboy Sandman — First of a Living Breed (My favorite artist because he’s a true poet.)
  • Common — Be (Common produced by Kanye in 2005)
  • Chance the Rapper — Acid Rap (Chance’s first mixtape that propelled him to the national spotlight)

Some of it I knew already, in any case I thought these were very good selections…


Since you're at it, listen to "How Much A Dollar Cost" by Kendrick Lamar and also his "The Art of Peer Pressure."

I would also strongly recommend Immortal Technique, specifically "Harlem Renaissance" and "Open Your Eyes." As someone who tends to defend capitalism from most of its criticism, this artist raises important points about the emotionality of what's at stake in pressing public problems economists discuss.

And as a culturally-confused Mexican-Scandinavian-American college student with experiences common to both upper– and lower–economic class backgrounds, your post strikes me as a step in the right direction rather than as an odd, unwelcome effort to "connect with the youths."

I second this recommendation of Immortal Technique, specifically the song: "Dance with the Devil"

Aquemini by Outkast, Country Grammar by Nelly, Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne.

Aquemini is GOLD!

But Why should you listen to it?


Which of the "artists" on the list are still breathing?

All of them. Every single one. 100%.

Yo, chucklehead: Are you too lazy to even google before you speak?

None of the above.

Maybe Eminem's Slim Shady LP or Marshall Mathers LP just to get an idea of the zenith of this genre, but otherwise just avoid this genre altogether.

Trash "music" for trash people.

Why aren't you embarrassed about saying that in public?

"Trash music, for trash people" -> He is kind of right. And we all know that deep down. There a few good artists, but most of the genre really sucks.

Sturgeon would agree, without using the qualifying term 'genre.'

'This law comes from an observation on Sturgeon's part; when he saw that critics were calling 90% of Sci-Fi crap, he flipped it on them instead and stated that 90% of anything is crap.

The first reference to Sturgeon's Revelation appears in the March 1958 issue of Venture Science Fiction, where science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon wrote:

"I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud."'

The cultural chauvinism and casual bigotry is one thing. But honestly thinking that eminem is the height of hip hop is truly embarrassing.

"The cultural chauvinism and casual bigotry is one thing."

Actually, those are two things, you can have one without the other.

Ha. And "Actually, those are two things, you can have one without the other" should have a semicolon instead of a comma separating the independent clauses.

Should you really be starting a sentence with "And"?

I thought this was interesting, though I don't have anything to which to compare it.

Rhyme: Why Eminem is one of the most impressive lyricists ever

I can just about tolerate rap suggestions from someone called Erik. But only if he hangs out with a man called Rakim.

But Torenberg? Come on. It is the same thing that made people rush to assume George Zimmerman was the Great White Defendant everyone hopes for. Rather than the Afro-Peruvian he was. So I shouldn't pre-judge. But if rap is to have authenticity it has to come with conviction. Preferably felonies.

Not that my opinion matters, but maybe try these on:

Nappy Roots - Po Folks

Eminem - 8 Mile

My college roomate's favorite
LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out

Black Eyed Peas - Where is the Love

Run DMC / Aerosmith - Walk This Way (including the Adidas with no shoelaces - one of the early rap/rock crossovers)

BEP? Seriously? That's a recommendation?

+1000 BEP, takes away your street credit, or any other cred in fact.

I likes what I likes. and liked that song from first time I heard it. Not snobbish about it.

Keynes v. Hayek

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes

Kottonmouth Kings - My mind playin tricks on me


The Maccabeats - Candlelight - Hanukkah

Be Claus I Got High - Bob Rivers w/ lyrics

Tyler, I actually immediately thought of hip hop when you said on a recent podcast that music had not innovated at all in the last 20 years (with the example of Alanis Morsette). Hip-hop has actually been incredibly innovative, and the production, style, lyrical complexity, and more have gotten astronomically better since the 90's (from the perspective of a fan). This has propelled hip-hop to dominate popular music culture (and strongly influence other genres).

As we've all seen, sometimes new innovation happens in industries or places that don't align with our expectations or history.

The quality is pretty high these days, but in terms of innovation I don't think it is close to the 1979-1994 period, for instance. Plenty of marginal improvements, though.

Tipping my hand a bit.

Lauryn Hill's Miseducation and Missy Elliot.


Rage Against The Machine.

Works with the complacency theme quite well.

Blu is in my canon of all-time favorite rappers, and Homeboy Sandman is a current favorite of mine, as well.

If you enjoy the poetics of the latter you'd do well to check out Noname's 2016 album Telefone.

You sir, have fantastic taste.

Run the jewels is also worth checking out

Tyler already listens to RTJ.

"To Pimp a Butterfly" or "Good Kid, M.a.a.d City" -- Kendrick Lamar

The pinnacle was reached long ago with Ice-T's "6 in the Mornin". All else is a fall from that state of hallowed lyrical and rhythmic bliss. We live in its shadow.

Try The Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox, best hiphop album I ever heard by some distance. Arrhythmia by Antipop Consortium; anything by Run the Jewels; Cancer 4 Cure by El-P; Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music. Maybe Aesop Rock as well.

Instead of a bunch of rap that pretentious white people love (your list in the OP), let me recommend some rap music that is about economic activity / conspicuous consumption / markets in everything.

Cash Rules Everything Around Me - Wu Tang Clan

Bling Bling - BG feat. Big Tymers and Juvenile

Air Force Ones - Nelly (about buying shoes)

Grillz - Nelly ft Paul Wall (about jewelry that you put in your mouth)

Daniel Radcliffe Raps Blackalicious' "Alphabet Aerobics"

Um, why not just recommend Blackalicious? I was going to. And Jurassic 5. Do they belong to a genre? It's what I like.

It's called backpacker rap. It's absolutely a subgenre.

These are good, but I think the real canon would have to include the following as central:

Public Enemy, It takes a nation of millions to hold us back - The most sonically innovative album in rap.

Nas, Illmatic - The album that basically created arty rapping

Notorious BIG, Ready to Die

WuTang, 36 Chambers

OutKast, Stankonia - Andre 3000 is probably the best rapper ever, and this is the best album he's been on.

Yes, this is the right start, at least from an east coast perspective. I would add A Tribe Called Quest.

Bus Stop ft. Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting

The Fugees have been unjustly forgotten. Their album, The Score, is great and worth your time if you've never heard it

This is absolutely true. Better than anything Biggie, Nas or Pac did if you ask me.

Highly recommend Run the Jewels 3.

Move away from "Gangsta Rap" and towards people who use Hip Hop to communicate thoughtfuly:

Sage Francis:


Brother Ali:

Second those

Doomtree collective. Also Dessa solo.

The definitive rap song is by Dead Prez: "Pimp the System".

The lyrics are not ironic.

I know a caper
We can get some government paper
You know food stamps can we really do that
Hell yea, right there for the taking
Fuck welfare we say reparations
And, you know the grind
Get up early get in the line and just wait
Everybody on break that's part of the game
And when they call your name
Ms. Case Worker let my state my claim
I'm homeless, jobless, times is hard
I'm bout hopeless
But I gotta eat regardless
No family to run to I'm twenty two
Now tell me what the fuck am I supposed to do
My sad story made her feel close to me
I made her feel like it was an emergency
When I came to the crib niggas couldn't believe
I came back with a big bag of groceries, hell yeah

What a silly list. J Cole? Lupe? If you're only going to listen to a few rap albums where are Nas, Wu Tang, and Outkast? Or more recent, Kendrick or Vince Staples?

Tyler already knew of those...

Tribe Called Quest -- "Low End Theory" and "Midnight Marauders"

Mos Def's solo debut is much better than his album with Talib Kweli.

J Cole is uninteresting.

Pusha T is good for smart (without trying to be intellectual) street rap. Freddie Gibbs too.

If you want a classic from a group that never made it, you have to listen to Juggaknots - Clear Blue Skies

1. Music recommendations from non-musicians are the lamest thing ever, Even lamer when you don't know the recommendee. Just say, "this is what I like, you might or might not like it too". It would have some meaning if you specified your musical background, otherwise, who cares what you like and why should they like it just because you do?.

2. Sturgeon's Rule: It's wrong. In the bottom and top 3rd or even 4th SDs, things are as crappy and as awesome as they are likely to be. Everything between is some degree of OK, or "take it or leave it", or "yawn". Since most people are average, they will tend to like things in the mid-range of quality. The case is different for people with "expert" knowledge, concerning which, regarding music, the MR forums doesn't appear to have many representatives (but, having that, I never make recommendations without knowing what the recommendee knows, likes, wants, can do, etc.).


Biggie Smalls "Party & Bullshit," remixed by Ratatat -

Bonus points for referencing the Last Poets.

I don't know who Erik Torenberg is, but I appreciate the list. I'd add at least one Beastie Boys album -- my favorite is "Hello Nasty," though many of my favorite songs by them are on "Ill Communication." I also like a lot by the Roots; I'm not sure I could single out a masterpiece album.

Donuts donuts donuts

Nas Illmatic
Kendrick Lamar - all of this albums. He is the best rapper of all time, imo.
Outkast - all up to Stankonia. Best rap duo of all time with two of the best individual rappers of all time.
Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
Aesop Rock - all but his latest is a good synthesis
Cuninglynguists - A Piece of Strange
Pharoahe Monch - P.T.S.D.

This list cannot be complete without Kanye, one or more of Life of Pablo, Beautiful Dark Twisted Nightmare or Late Registration.

I've always preferred Electric Circus to Be. Definitely worth checking out as well if you haven't heard it.

I was used to love Lupe's music, that boy was great. I'd add the following to your list:

"2001" - Dr. Dre
"The Marshall Mathers LP" - Eminem
"Like Water for Chocolate" - Common
"To Pimp a Butterfly" - Kendrick Lamar
"Damn" - Kendrick Lamar
"Illmatic" - Nas
"The Late Registration" - Kanye West
"The Black Album" - Jay Z

Don't fully understand the context of these recommendations, but if you have not heard it yet, moment of truth by gangstarr is an album I've returned to many times .

Overall pretty good list...

You would assume that classics wouldn't have to be mentioned (Tribe, De La, Outkast, PE, Wu Tang, etc.), but Blackstar is classic.

Surprised MF DOOM isn't on there as I would assume that would be Tyler's favorite rapper.

Can add:
Aesop Rock
One be lo

When Tyler is ready for the street then Sean P, Vince Staples, Roc Marciano,and RA the Rugged Man are waiting.

I'd argue reasonably strongly that both Born Sinner and Friday Night Lights are superior J Cole albums

MF DOOM- anything

Joey Bada$$'s "1999" is essential.

WRT The Complacent Class, I must tell you that electronic music is where all music is headed. The vanguard of music is electronic music. All new talent is being directed towards electronic music. If you want to listen to innovation in music, you can look no further than all of the great electronic music (I won't mention specifics, taste vary), almost all of it produced for free on the internet, primarily on

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