Essential hip hop listening

Stylus is the University of Winnipeg’s monthly music magazine—located right down the hall from The Uniter—featuring reviews, interest stories, and local listings. In the most recent issue (October/November) you will find the first entry in my hip hop column (NonStopHipHop) where I speak about the legendary “Nasty” Nas and his perseverance through the changing face of the rap industry.

Upon completing this story, I was compelled to share with Uniter readers a short list of essential hip hop records; albums that are not only critically acclaimed, but accessible to and enjoyable for most listeners. Partly inspired by “Harvey Carlisle’s bi-weekly top-ten records you must hear” blog posting last week, here is my list:

1. Das EFX -  Hold It Down
2. Absent Minded - Extreme Paranoia in Stocktown
3. The Beatnuts - Street Level
4. Brother Ali - Shadows on the Sun
5. Flying Pupa - Werdz [Canadian]
6. Da Grassroots - Passage Through Time [Canadian]
7. Big K.R.I.T. - Return of 4eva
8. Binary Star - Masters of the Universe
9. Al’ Tariq - God Connections
10. Tha Alkaholiks - Likwidation

From New York to Los Angeles, to Toronto and Stockholm, this list hops all over the globe. While it is not at all exhaustive, it should provide you with a variety of hip hop styles, forms and disciplines. Stay tuned to the Uniter blog in the coming weeks for more focused lists, hip hop analysis, and reflection on the current state of the industry.

If you’d like to talk more about rap and hip hop, email me at

As always, stay fresh.