DJ Shadow, Roots Manuva & More On The Hip-Hop Albums That Changed The Game

We asked some of the game’s biggest players to nominate the albums which shook their world:

DJ Shadow
“I think the album that I’ve played the most in my lifetime, and that affected me the most profoundly, would be [Public Enemy’s] ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’. It was so layered, in every way, from the sound to the liner notes. The labour that went into it was unbelievable. I was able to listen to it time and time and time again, and still pick up new things.”

Cookie Pryce (Cookie Crew)
“I loved Main Source. So ‘Breaking Atoms’ by them. That is just pure hip-hop. That’s what was absorbed into our system. Ok, commercial rap was doing its thing, but you had to come back to the realness. We would have this on tape, which was played in the car over, and over again. It has a timeless quality.”


Buckshot (Black Moon)
“When a meteor hits a planet and makes a crater, that’s one thing. But when a meteor hits a planet and change that muthafucking axis, that’s a whole different thing. That’s what a game-changing album should do. That’s what Rakim did when he came in the game. Same with KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Wu-Tang and Black Moon.”

Ms Dynamite
“I would have to say Public Enemy again with ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’. On an international scale the whole world stopped. And what they were saying was totally revolutionary at that time in hip-hop. They didn’t really censor their feelings about being young black men in a racist system in America. They helped to empower a lot of people.”


Talib Kweli
“Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ – my personal favourite album fluctuates, but I always come back to that. It’s just the cinematic nature of it; the Bomb Squad’s production; Chuck D at the height of his prowess; Flava Flav adding interesting aspects. And they travelled the world – they took their energy and their concept of a black-nationalistic group right around the globe.”

Dave Pearce
‘‘‘Criminal Minded’ by BDP which was KRS-One and Scott La Rock, the early guys. This kind of had slight reggae overtones in it, it was on a label called B-Boy records which was a label in the Bronx. It was a very rough and raw album, unfortunately DJ Scott La Rock, who I came to know well, was murdered, he was gunned down. It was a really powerful record sonically, and the platonic poetry is amazing. ‘South Bronx’ was all about the territory and ‘9 Millimetres Goes Bang’ was a great record on there. It was really one of the roughest albums out there.”

Sporting Life
”Kayne West – ‘808’s & Heartbreak’. It birthed the careers of so many artists that are current today. It’s like what Nas said, ‘all I did was give you a style that you can run with’, Kayne West gave a style that people can run with, Kid Cudi, Drake, 2Chainz, every rapper that’s current today…that’s basically the progeny of ‘808’s & Heartbreak’, that combination of RnB melodies and the hard drums, even the southern element that’s in a lot of popular music today was birthed of it. It’s proven in the fact that so many artists have been able to sustain careers just off of the stuff that was influenced from that album, I mean Drake is like a baby of ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ to me.”



Roots Manuva
“’Doggystyle’ by Snoop Doggy Dogg. Mainly because of the marriage of high-fidelity sonic engineering with a kind of bedroom and street corner kinda rapping style. There was also some really freeform song structures in there as well, and it is all done with that high-fidelity touch. The attention to quality is high. This album is up there. I hear people who still go on about getting ‘A Dre-type quality’ to their productions.”

”’Aquemini’ [by OutKast] and ‘Return To The 36 Chambers’ [by ODB], that’s still a game changer, because no one like hit it, no one’s done an album like that that raw, that’s just natural, it’s next, it’s like this dudes life. ‘Return To The 36 Chambers’ is back to that world and this one character from that world, ODB, and you see his picture on the front, and it’s like this dude is a crazy motherfucker and it’s like, nasty and It’s like ill, and he’s singing on it and he’s spitting on it and he’s talking on it, and like, it’s just sick. It held strong to the roots of Wu-Tang.”

Mark Ronson
“I’d say ‘Midnight Marauders’ by A Tribe Called Quest. That album changed the sound of East Coast hip-hop, which before was very noisy and aggressive. But Midnight Marauders just had this sheen to it – it wasn’t too cleaned-up or sanitised, the snares still had that amazing ‘crack’ to them, but it sounded like nothing you’d ever heard before. It changed everything.”