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These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time
The genre of hip-hop is ever-changing. The current sound of today is evolving at what seems to be the pace of a mile a minute, leaving rappers to practically age in dog years. If you don’t subscribe that sentiment, just take the time to go back and check out the Billboard-topping records from a decade ago. A savvy listener can almost name the exact year a song released without ever hearing it before a day in their life. As time goes on, the music just begins to feel different.
Of the past few eras of hip-hop, though, there were a few progressive, forward-thinking artists who refused to conform to the popular sound of their times. Right out the gates of their careers, they established their sound, owned it and created their own wave. They helped shape the mold of the coined term “timeless music”. And to no surprise, most are still relevant in today’s climate, with many of which appearing on this list.
So without further ado, here are five of the greatest debut rap albums to date. Remember, music is completely subjective. However, there’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned debate, so feel free to drop your differing opinions in the comment section below.

5. Outkast- Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Year of release: 1994
Standout tracks: “Player’s Ball” & “Git Up, Git Out”
The legend of a group that grew to be Outkast started off strong with their debut release of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. A young Big Boi & Andre 3000 showcased their true talents by coupling their clever and witty rhyming ability with live instrumentation and cinematic skits that helped set the foundation of the project’s G-funk-inspired production.
It wasn’t one of your ordinary rap albums from down south, and once people took wind of it, it was then that the general perspective of southern rap music was redefined and changed forever.
These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

4. Wu-Tang Clan – 36 Chambers

Year of release: 1993
Standout tracks: “C.R.E.A.M.” & “Protect Ya Neck” 
If you’ve ever wondered about reasons why Wu-Tang is regarded as the greatest hip-group group to ever exist, you’re looking directly at one. This is an example of one of hip-hop’s rap albums that contain the total package: gritty, encapsulating production, rhymes of sheer wit and insight, authenticity, and standout personalities of not only one, two, or even a few, but NINE MCs.
With the sound of the album being creatively driven by the talents of RZA, the Staten Island group took advantage and used the debut as their very own introduction to the world. Even with their massive success as a collective, both domestic and international, each of the members continued on to reach great heights individually with rap albums of their own. What other rap group do you know to take the world by storm in such fashion – with nine members?! Not as easy task.
These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

3. Kanye West – College Dropout

Year of release: 2004
Standout tracks: “Jesus Walks”, “Through The Wire”, “All Falls Down”
Sure, his beats are fire, but can he rap?
Kanye West had his work cut out for him when it came time to create the Grammy Award-winning album College Dropout. Having already established himself as a producer who could flip the hell out of a soul sample, his greatness in the area of production hindered the music industry from being able to take him serious behind the mic. But with a little perseverance and a lot of skill, Kanye delivered and exceeded expectations.
And he accomplished doing so by remaining true to self: a college dropout. Throughout the album, a narration of America’s educational system is made by way of a series of satirical skits that often criticize the false-values a college degree tends to hold.
The standout tracks weren’t just songs that were made to chase the charts, either. They had substance. Just to name a couple, Kanye adds a confessional rap with “Through The Wire” where he goes full-circle in detailing the effects of his experience in a near-fatal car accident. Additionally, ‘Ye touches on his introspective side with “All Falls Down” as he reveals his inner self-consciousness.
They aren’t many rap albums that are good from top to bottom, but this definitely one of them. An overall concept, fire production and impressive rhyming. Even the B-side tracks had meaning to them. College Dropout, number three on the list of best debut rap albums.
These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

2. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt

Year of release: 1996
Standout tracks: “Can I Live”, “Ain’t No N*gga”, “Feelin’ It”
The beginning of a dynasty. The starting point of a marathon. Although Hov came straight out the gate with what’s now a critically-acclaimed gem of a debut, I’m sure nobody could truly foresee the immense amount of success that was to come for Young H.O. In fact, his first-week sales numbers only mediocre for the most part, and the album wasn’t certified platinum until a decade later in 2006. Granted, standards have changed now that we’re in the streaming era, but that’s a story for another day.
Some would say mafioso rap lacked nuance until the release of Reasonable Doubt, an album where vulnerability and confident, braggadocio raps met at a perfect medium. If you were busy trying to be something you weren’t, Jay was surely going to let you hear about it with lines like,
“Viva Las Vegas, see ya later at the crap tables,
Meet me by the one that starts a G up –
This way no fraud willies present, gamblin’ their re-up”
and at the same time, Jay wasn’t afraid to admit his mistakes and the downfalls he’s encountered, both morally and materialistically, during his years of maturing with tracks like “Regrets”.
20+ years later, he’s a billionaire and still relevant in the rap game, so it’s evident he was doing something right.
These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time

1. Nas – Illmatic

Year of release: 1994
Standout tracks: “NY State of Mind”
At just 20 years of age, a hungry Nas released what’s revered as one of the greatest rap albums of all-time period – not just to debut.
Illmatic is inherently poetry. Its content entails vivid stories that effectively cover bases from the good to the bad, all coming from a scope within the jungle that was Nas’ backyard: the Queensbridge Projects. The surroundings of his upbringing play a vital role and is prevalent throughout the album’s entire course. From dopeheads to fly honeys on the block. From prisons and penitentiaries to penthouse views. Illmatic essentially serves as an autobiography in the form of perspicacious rhymes and boom-bap drum patterns.
It’s not easy arguing against this album having the top-spot position. Hip-hop simply isn’t hip-hop without it.
These 5 Rap Albums Are The Greatest Debut Albums Of All-Time
By this point in the article, I can almost guarantee you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, who is this guy? How can he leave out (insert album) like that?”
Truth is, I agree with you.
There are TONS of great debut rap albums and it was definitely tough having to narrow it down to only five. But as previously stated, a little debating never hurt anybody (hopefully), so don’t hesitate to spark a discussion in the comments.
Today’s hits may hit tomorrow’s trash can, and though it’s sad, it’s life. Only true classics withstand the test of time. In the wise words Jimmy Smith, “…only real music is gonna last, all that other [expletive] is here today and gone tomorrow.”

How do you rank the best rap albums to ever debut? Let us know below!

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