In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, we decided to take a walk down music’s memory lane. Do you remember the name of Solange’s album prior to her masterpiece A Seat at the Table, or can you recall any songs off of Kendrick Lamar’s independently released first album? Whether you remember the or not, they were sonically epic and deserve a listen.
Keep reading for our list of 14 underrated albums from the past that deserve a second listen.
Kendrick Lamar is arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time, but when he released his debut album Section.80 in 2011, Lamar was relatively unknown and the album debuted at #113 on the Billboard 200 charts. However this album, which focused on the Ronald Reagan era and crack epidemic of the ‘80s, was the beginning of Lamar’s rise to hip hop royalty.
Nas is certainly a hip hop legend, and has released numerous number one albums throughout his career. Nas’ fourth album Nastradamus was initially supposed to be a follow-up album to his third album I Am… but due to bootlegging, Nas recorded all new material. Although this album was considered one of the rapper’s weakest, it’s still a work of art that’s worth listening to eighteen years later.
Janet Jackson’s tenth album Discipline was released in 2008 and produced by then-boyfriend Jermaine Dupri. Although the album wasn’t commercially successful and led to Jackson parting ways with her former label Island Records, songs like “Feedback,” “Rock with U” and “Luv” make this album worthy of a throwback spin.
Tweet is one of our favorite R&B artists of the ‘90s, and after contributing vocals to Missy Elliott and Timbaland, she released her debut album, Southern Hummingbird, in 2002. Her single “Oops, Oh My” received tons of radio play, but the entire album was radio-worthy.
Upon the release of her highly acclaimed A Seat At The Table last year, Solange has been labeled a musical genius. However, Solange has always been musically talented. Her second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St Dreams, which was released in 2008, incorporated Motown-inspired soul music including tracks produced and co-written by CeeLo Green, Pharrell Williams and Q-Tip.
Before Maxwell, there was Chico DeBarge, and he delivered sensual R&B music in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. After a prison stint for drug trafficking, DeBarge released his third album, Long Time No See, in 1997, which included hits “Iggin’ Me,” “Virgin” and “No Guarantee” featuring Joe.
In 2008, rapper Q-Tip released his second album, The Renaissance. Although the album received favorable reviews from music critics and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album, the album didn’t even sell 150,000 copies. Nonetheless, it’s definitely a throwback album worth listening to.
We all remember Groove Theory’s 1995 megahit “Tell Me” which was featured on the duo’s debut self-titled album. Considering Amel Larrieux broke up with remaining member Bryce Wilson in 1999, Groove Theory was the only album released by the duo so it’s certainly worth listening to again.
Flo’Ology was the third and final album released in 2005 by neo-soul duo Floetry that consisted of “Floacist” Natalie Stewart and “Songstress” Marsha Ambrosius. Initially performing poetry and then writing for artists like Michael Jackson and Jill Scott, Stewart and Ambrosius formed their now defunct group in 1997. Flo’Ology, which features hit “Supastar” featuring Common, is a worthy listen.
Considering his immense talent, we still wonder why R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn never reached mainstream appeal. In 2005, DeVaughn released his debut album, The Love Experience, which includes samples from Earth, Wind & Fire and The Isley Brothers and is one of the best love albums in our opinion.
After Common’s successful album Like Water for Chocolate, the rapper released his fifth studio album, Electric Circus in 2002. Critics slammed the album for its inclusion of electronic, rock and neo-soul music (mind you, Common was also dating Erykah Badu at this time). However, we disagree with the naysayers and love this album which spawned the hit lead single “Come Close” featuring Mary J. Blige.
Nigerian-American rapper Wale recently released his fifth album, Shine, but many aren’t familiar with his debut album Attention Deficit, which he dropped in 2009. Although the album was undershipped, Wale’s first single “Chillin” featuring Lady Gaga, which received mixed reviews, was a huge success in the U.K.
Detroit-based hip hop group Slum Village included T3, late rapper and producer J Dilla (he passed away due to complications from lupus in 2006) and late rapper Baatin who died in 2009. In 2000, the hip-hop group released their second album Fantastic Vol. 2 Due to bootlegging, sales were dismal but the album is definitely a classic worth listening to today.
Hailing from Philly, hip hop band The Roots has released ten albums over the course of their twenty year career. Their ninth album, How I Got Over, focused on the transition from George Bush to Barack Obama in the White House and included hip-hop as well as neo-soul, funk and indie rock music.