The Worst Rap Albums by Great Rappers

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The Worst Rap Albums by Great Artists

Lil Wayne
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

There's something simultaneously hilarious and human about watching our favorite artists deliver a dud. It reminds us that even the best of the best stumble from time to time. Some grow stronger from bad performances, finding their footing on the next outing.

So, if you're feeling crappy about your job or school or life in general? Here's a reminder that even the greatest artists in hip-hop history have released their fair share of clunkers.

From Jay Z to Nas, here are the worst rap albums by great rappers.

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Lil Wayne - Rebirth

There's nothing wrong with experimenting with sounds and genres. In fact, I love it when artists color outside the lines. In the case of Lil Wayne's rock-rap album, Rebirth, the execution was less than stellar. It sounded like a bad joke when an Amazon error caused a notorious leak ahead of the release date. That was probably the universe trying to give Wayne and Cash Money a chance to rethink the whole thing.

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Kanye West - Cruel Summer

Let’s start with the guests. Big Sean gets squeezed to the back of the Lambo by Pusha T and 2 Chainz. CyHi the Prynce barely gets a word in. Kid Cudi is still battling his demons. John Legend warbles too much to demand more than our brief attention.

The beats don’t amaze, either. The everything-clashing-model of production is another Yeezyism that rears its ugly head throughout this album. Nearly every song has 700 producers and suffers from a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. This album binds up a feeling of grandness, wraps it in a pink macaroon and neatly stacks it in a gold-embossed chest topped with a purple grosgrain ribbon.

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Twista - The Perfect Storm

In which Twista plans the perfect apocalyptic coitus and brags about his ability to rhyme 10,000 words per second. The songs on barely segue, playing like a collection of average-to-solid material with no apparent cohesiveness. There are moments of brilliance buried here and there. Sadly, you have to dig through the wreckage to find them.

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T.I. - No Mercy

T.I. - No Mercy
T.I. - No Mercy. © Atlantic Records

Arguably T.I.'s worst album ever, No Mercy relies on listless party tunes and way too much whining. You're better off listening to a running loop of Serena Williams' grunts at the U.S. Open. Whatever happened to the guy who used to get it poppin' with that 8-ball corner-pocket rhyme?

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Common - Universal Mind Control

The problem with Universal Mind Control isn't that Common ditched his grown-man, button-up rap brand for a naughtier style. It's just that the new pants didn't fit. Common is just not convincing as a foul-mouthed rapper. "Sex 4 Sugar," for instance, falls flat with uninspired seduction lines like "Girl you can touch my forces of nature/ I'm just tryin' to motivate ya." Yikes.

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Ice Cube - I Am the West

If Ice Cube retired from rap today, he would still go down in history as one of the all-time greats. Indeed, Cube had a great run the 90sDeath Certificate and AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted are undeniable classic albums. I wish I could say the same for Cube's post-Are We There Yet? album, I Am the West. Instead of the rugged cuts that made Cube a legend, we get a yawn-inducing "get off my lawn" album.

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Redman - Reggie

It was obvious that Def Jam forced Redman's hand on this one. The first sign of trouble was when Red announced that this album was from the perspective of his alter ego, Reggie Noble. Translation: "Hey guys, if you hate this album please take all your grievances to Reggie. I had nothing to do with this. But if you happen to like it. At which point, you may refer to my birth certificate and offer up all credit to the right man." Then there were the declarations about "big beats" and "poppish songs." A lose-lose situation.

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Eminem - Encore

Eminem - Encore. © Aftermath/Interscope Records

Eminem was head-in-the-clouds deep with drugs when he recorded Encore. It showed. Even if you've never heard the album, you can tell how questionable it is from the song titles alone: "Big Weenie," "Rain Man," "Ass Like That." Simply put, too many of his worst songs are on this album. Em recorded every idea that came to his head. The outcome? Eminem's worst album ever.

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Jay Z (with R. Kelly) - Unfinished Business

Jay-Z and R. Kelly - Unfinished Business

It's tempting to dismiss Kingdom Come as Jay Z's worst album, but history will vindicate Hov's first shot at corporate rap. The album that shouldn't exist at all is Unfinished Business. Jay Z and R. Kelly weren't on the same page (or in the same studio) when Unfinished Business was cut. Like Best of Both Worlds, this was a cut-and-paste job. Worse, many of the songs sounded like leftovers from the first installment.

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Nas - Nastradamus

In 1994, Nas released one of the greatest hip-hop albums in history, Illmatic. Five years later, Nas dropped his fourth album and one of the worst in hip-hop history. It's a testament to the human condition that the same mind could produce brilliance and mediocrity in the span of five years. Nas' rhyming was at its worst on Nastradamus. The production was awful. And the themes sucked grape balls. Thankfully, Nas bounced back a couple years later with Lost Tapes and Stillmatic.

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Snoop Dogg - Ego Trippin'

Snoop Dogg - Ego Trippin
Snoop Dogg's Ego Trippin'. © Geffen

In the buildup to Ego Trippin's release, Snoop Dogg declared that he was going to "do the whole record, me by myself" in an MTV interview. "I don't want no guest rappers, no singer, nothing. Just Snoop Dogg," he said. "I want you to feel me. When I think of all the greats before me...I bought Rakim's album the other day for the hundredth time, no guest rappers." 

Not only did Snoop renege on his promise (it probably wasn't the business savvy thing to do), his rhymes were subpar for the most part. Besides "Neva Have 2 Worry," the only other gems on this 21-song album were the Johnny Cash-inspired country tune "My Medicine," the sleazy "Cool," and the vocoder-aided disco hit "Sexual Eruption." In the end, Snoop's ego got the best of him. And the worst of his pockets.

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Prodigy - H.N.I.C. Pt. 2

Mobb Deep's Prodigy is one of the best in the business. His flow is butter. His opening lines are killer. H.N.I.C. 2, the follow-up to P's lauded solo masterwork, arrived just a year after the brilliant . While H.N.I.C. 2 is still grimier than sewage, the menacing bass lines and retro-soul soundscape of Return of the Mac were replaced by second-rate beats. And that artwork...look at that artwork!

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Adaso, Henry. "The Worst Rap Albums by Great Rappers." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/worst-rap-albums-by-great-rappers-2858009. Adaso, Henry. (2017, March 3). The Worst Rap Albums by Great Rappers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/worst-rap-albums-by-great-rappers-2858009 Adaso, Henry. "The Worst Rap Albums by Great Rappers." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/worst-rap-albums-by-great-rappers-2858009 (accessed November 19, 2017).