Hip-hop is a genre full of guys who put out a new album or mixtape seemingly every single month. They just can't stop, even when they're incarcerated in some cases (see: Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and TI). It's as if rapping really is as much of a competition as they make it out to be and they're in a race to see who can drop the most flows in a single year. This often leads to sub-par releases far below the standards of the artists. These albums can seem sloppy and quickly thrown together. You can tell they aren't bringing their A-game.
Then there's a whole other sub-section of guys who kill it every single time -- when they feel like doing anything that is. My personal hip-hop collection may not be as vast as many people's, but the absolute cream of the crop seem to be, fittingly, the ones who release albums the least frequently. As great as their works are though, it always leaves me wanting; wondering when the next album will drop and having to wait years and years before anything sees the light of day. Here are some of the best rappers who I wish could be just a little bit more active.
El-P Last Album: I'll Sleep When You're Dead (2007) The Definitive Jux founder has a habit of focusing more on production work for others and creating mixtapes of instrumental beats, only emerging as an MC when the urge strikes him. His albums show a great deal of effort and pain-staking attention to detail, which is perhaps why it takes him so long to get around to doing them. I'll Sleep When You're Dead was, in my opinion, a perfect hip-hop album, but as my appreciation for that album grows through the years, so does my hunger for El-P to get behind the mic again.
Andre 3000 Last Album: OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) Back when OutKast was around, Big Boi was known in mainstream circles as the other guy from OutKast and Andre 3000 was the major celebrity to emerge. But after a series of hits with their last release, Andre disappeared. Now Big Boi is emerging as a solo artist with a critically acclaimed solo album under his belt and a performance at Houston's Free Press Summerfest, but where is Andre? He's been popping up to do production for Big Boi and guest verses for Lloyd, Beyonce, Young Jeezy, and Lil Wayne, but one longs to hear a new full-length album of his own devising.
Saul Williams Last Album: Volcanic Sunlight (2011) Ok, Saul put out an album last year, but it had been since 2007's The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! that he had done a full-length so he's not particularly active. Volcanic Sunlight also seemed like a non-event when it dropped. It came and went out of nowhere and most of Saul's fans were probably none the wiser of it unless they were on his mailing list. Saul is an incredible poet and a fantastic rapper and he deserves better than that. He needs to hit the scene in a big way again with a new, better promoted album and hopefully renewed activity.
GZA/Genius Last Album: Pro Tools (2008) When the Wu-Tang Clan comes together like Voltron, GZA is the head. He's also known for having arguably the best solo album of any of them with his 1995 release Liquid Swords. His solo albums came few and far between in subsequent years though they were always solid. Now he's apparently following in the footsteps of Wu-Tang brother Raekwon in releasing a sequel to his greatest album, Liquid Swords II: The Return of the Shadowboxer, entirely produced by RZA. When we'll see that album one can only guess since they've been discussing it since early 2010 and there's still no single in sight.
Mike Jones Last Album: The Voice (2009) Everyone in Houston knows who Mike Jones is, but he's certainly not doing much to remind anyone who might have forgotten. His last album of southern hip-hop bangers came out in 2009 and it was only his sophomore release after 2005's Who Is Mike Jones? If he doesn't pick up the pace soon, that might be a question you'll hear more people asking.
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MF DOOM Last Album: Born Like This (2009) At one time, MF DOOM was supremely active. You couldn't seem to slow him down for years as he released a constant stream of albums under the names MF DOOM, King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, not to mention regular collaborations with KMD, Monsta Island Czars, and Madlib. It was like this up until his 2004 classic Mm.. Food. Since then he's put out two collaborative albums with Danger Mouse as DANGERDOOM (2005's The Mouse and the Mask and 2006's Occult Hymn), albums based on Adult Swim cartoon shows, and the strangely dark Born Like This. With the imposters he's sent to perform shows for him (the reason he didn't perform at Houston's Free Press Summerfest last year), the downtrodden tone of Born Like This, and a dearth of new releases, one wonders just what happened to DOOM since 2006.
Lauryn Hill Last Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) Where are you, Lauryn Hill? After emerging to prominence with the Fugees, she set the hip-hop and R&B world on fire with her debut solo album, but that was fourteen years ago. In the interim, she released an Unplugged performance and has been said to be steadily at work on what is pretty much the rap world's equivalent of Chinese Democracy.