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I know you’re probably wondering why anyone cares about anything as niche as the “Hardest Rap Album” ever. Well, I’m not sure I know precisely why either, but I do know that rap is a genre that’s been based on competition since its earliest days. A large chunk of our favorites are rooted in some level of criminality and aggression. Just take a look at your preferred album from rap’s classic canon. If the rappers weren’t doing wild ass shit, they were probably reporting on some wild ass shit. Or letting their imaginations run wild. Try to imagine the development of the genre WITHOUT its most anti-social components. See? You can’t do that. Unless you were born after 2005 and if that’s the case, please close the tab and go do your homework.
As recently as a decade ago (when Kanye showed up), rap fans didn’t really have any time for rappers that didn’t give off some sort of hardness, perhaps as a proxy for the now malleable concept of authenticity. Even in this cream-puff era of rap, the biggest stars aren’t immune from macho posturing & flexing in Nike gloves.
Also, the NBA playoffs just started and I’m not sure any of us have ever needed a real reason to argue about rap on the Internet.
So what are the factors that we considered when seeding our contenders? There were no hard and fast rules because hard and fast rules wouldn’t be gangsta, but we thought about the following criteria and we’d suggest that you do the same when casting your votes:
· Quality: all of these albums are hard but some aren’t classics. Others are. That matters.
· Impact: yeah, it’s hard but have you even heard the shit? Has your significant other heard it? Any hits on that shit?
· Sound: without revealing my personal bias, some production is just harder than other shit by default. Think of the difference between ‘Juicy’ and ‘Machine Gun Funk’. Got it? Good.
· Influence: did other rappers bite shit from the album? Are we gonna or have we celebrated milestones based on the album.
· Consistency: is there a song ‘for the ladies’ on the album? How many R&B hooks show up? If you have to think about it, no bueno.
· Target Demographic: who’d like the album more—you or a stripper?
· Politeness: just how anti-social is this shit?
· Body Count: I refuse to explain this.
So we hope you get the idea by now. Feel free to vote below in the comments, on Twitter using the hashtag #HardestAlbumEver or by using the following links to polls. All votes will be tallied and considered, with the results of the first round up on Monday. It’s simple but not really. So get to it, rep for your favorite and try not to make any bad decisions, lest I lend you metaphorical bullets in the comments below. And if we left off any of your favorites, please feel free to let us know in the rudest manner you can muster. We’re hard enough to handle it. Pause. — Mobb Deen
· EAST: click to vote
· MIDWEST/WILDCARD: click to vote
· WEST: click to vote
· SOUTH: click to vote