Music and weather go hand in hand. You wouldn’t want to listen to dark, gloomy music on a sunny day, the same way you would feel strange blasting feel-good jams on a cold, rainy winter night. With summer coming up in a few weeks, we decided to showcase a few of the best summer hip-hop albums from the ‘90s up to the present day.
Here are five of the best ones:
5. Atmosphere — "Sad Clown Bad Summer Number 9"
This album says it in the name. This is a summer record. Released in 2007, this 5-song EP has Atmosphere’s number one song of all time as its opening track: “Sunshine.” Atmosphere’s MC, Sean Michael Daley, better known as Slug, injects his nostalgia for the past in each song.
The next song, “The Number One” is about a loss of innocence. It tells the story of Slug’s experience falling in love as a kid in contrast with the feeling of falling in love as an adult. The album’s last song, “Don’t Forget,” has a similar nostalgic vibe to “The Number One” as it recounts Slug’s carefree adolescence.
4. Kendrick Lamar — "good kid, m.A.A.d city"
Though this wasn’t Kendrick Lamar’s first album, it was the first one to blow up. In 2012, Lamar dropped the 13-track project about his life growing up in Compton, being exposed to gangs, drugs and violence and his escape from that culture. Some of Lamar’s most popular tracks of all time are featured in this: “Backseat Freestyle,” “Poetic Justice,” “Money Trees,” and of course, “m.A.A.d city,” which stands for both “My Angry Adolescence Divided” and “My Angels on Angel Dust.”
Though this album was released in October, it still has a summer feeling to it. The album is reminiscent of driving on a hot day as the sun is setting. This is exemplified in the 12-minute track “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.” This album breathes summer.
3. Anderson .Paak — "Malibu"
Anderson .Paak’s “Malibu” is jazzy, soulful and sensual. While it was released in January 2016, the album is great year-round but packs the most punch during the summer. This album feels like stepping back in time to the ‘70s with its R&B, soul and jazz influences.
“Malibu” opens with “The Bird,” a slow song with a steady drum beat performed by Paak himself. Most of the 16 tracks on this album have a similar vibe to each other — groovy, smooth and warm.
2. A Tribe Called Quest — "The Low End Theory"
“The Low End Theory” is one of A Tribe Called Quest’s most iconic albums. Kanye West used to blast it on a cassette player on his way to school in the ‘90s.
With a 1991 release date, this was at the start of ‘90s hip-hop and Tribe has been credited with paving the way for many rappers. The album features classic hip-hop elements like jazz samples and drum breaks.
This boom-bap album is mellow and carefree, reminding listeners of summer as a teenager, messing around with friends.
1. Ms. Lauryn Hill — "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"
“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is considered one of the most influential albums of all time. There was a recent resurgence in popularity of the project due to Drake’s “Nice For What,” which sampled Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” as well as the 20th anniversary of the record in 2018.
“Miseducation” was released on August 25, 1998 and fits that month perfectly. This album radiates summer energy, with its neo-soul and R&B style amplifying Hill’s introspective lyrics and tone.