A pair of bloggers compiled a list of the 25 “greatest” rap albums of all time recently by polling 101 critics, almost all bloggers themselves. Something stuck in my craw about it, but I couldn't figure out what it was until I realized, it's the same damn “Greatest Hip-Hop Albums” list we've seen for years!
Put together by Jeff Weiss, of the site The Passion of the Weiss, and Joey (who won't divulge his last name) of Straight Bangin', it has Nas's Illmatic at No. 1, followed by Wu-Tang's “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” Biggie's Ready to Die, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban LinxÉ and Dr. Dre's The Chronic.
I've got a few qualms with the list, including the fact that Ice Cube is conspicuously absent, but my main beef is that it's startlingly similar to MTV's 2005 list, which included three of the same top five albums, and Entertainment Weekly's 2004 list, which similarly had Biggie, Dre, Wu-Tang and Nas in their top handful. (Countless other polls have similar line-ups, as well.)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the appeal of bloggers was that they had something new to say. If they're just going to ape the mass-media conglomerates' party line, why don't they go work for mainstream publications?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Turns out they do. It's an incestuous little bunch, says Weiss, though he doesn't see it as a bad thing. He adds that those who speak of a blogosphere/print divide or an indie/corporate divide are bush league.
“I think ultimately, bloggers are going to be kind of the minor leagues for the mainstream media,” says Weiss. “Not that blogs have ‘minor league' talent, but they will serve as a proving ground for the big papers.”
In fact, Weiss himself works both sides of the aisle. He freelances for the Los Angeles Times and participated in last year's Jackin' Pop poll, run by music blog Idolator. Though billing itself as an alternative to the long-running Pazz and Jop poll in the Village Voice (which is owned by the same parent company as the Houston Press), Jackin' Pop's list included you guessed it eight of the same top ten albums as Pazz and Jop.
In honor of these polls, then, I would like to offer a new Zen koan: What is the sound of one hand backslapping?