DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper vs. Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. Which is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

As late ’80s Hip-Hop music was advancing rapidly in its technicality, sound, and album quality, two LPs especially reached beyond the confines. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince would take home Rap’s first Grammy Award with an unpretentious double-album that spoke to everyday experiences with incredible mic/turntable showmanship, personality, and catchy beats. When explicit, militant, and adult-themed albums were making noise, parents could understand thanks to He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper. A year later, The Beastie Boys switched from hijinx to High Times in one of the genre’s most colorful, original, and dynamic albums. Paul’s Boutique is a flea market of Funk, fly rhymes, and fuzzy vibes from the fish out of water group, living in the L.A. sunshine. Largely due to its production and tight verbal back-and-forth, this album won over audiophiles, making “rhymin’ and stealin'” an art-form. Both multi-platinum time-pieces that solidified global careers, which is the greater sum of its parts? Your vote seals the deal (click one then click vote).

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He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

After Rock The House, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince proved to be capable makers of Hip-Hop respected by purists. However, the West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania natives seemed to succeed more with the type of light-hearted fare heard in “I Dream Of Jeannie”-sampling crossover hit “Girls Ain’t Nothin’ But Trouble.” On sophomore double LP, He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, Jeff and Will were out to prove that their deeper music could connect as effectively as their heralded live show. “Brand New Funk” would prove to be one of the group’s calling cards for skill. Jeff’s speaker clinic would mesh perfectly with The Fresh Prince’s versatile flow, with all the right breakdowns, crisp cadences, and hard-driving arrangements. “Live At The Union Square, November 1986” gave the album a recorded taste of just how captivating a DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince show could be—and how much the pair was down for the cause.

For PG Rap audiences, “Parents Just Don’t Understand” was there, as was “A Nightmare On My Street.” Digestible and safe, The Fresh Prince showcased his ability to tell a story with supreme skill. Jeff accented these playful songs with organic, hard-hitting tracks and every opportunity possible to show that he was an award-winning turntablist, arguably the best in Hip-Hop. As Will Smith has done so effectively in TV and later film, He’s The DJ… was built around fully formed personalities that played to a mass audience, while never tucking their technical excellence. At a time when Rap either scrambled for the abstract or made records about itself, this pair succeeded in meeting audiences with themes they could relate to, whether seeking a romantic cuddle cut (“Time To Chill”), hangin’ at the arcade (“Human Video Game”) or curfews (“Parents…”). As Philly had been a land of tough exteriors, this Grammy Award-winning smiling pair made universal music to which seemingly anybody could relate.

Album Number: 2
Released: March 29, 1988
Label: Zomba/Jive/RCA Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #4 (certified gold, May 1988; certified platinum, July 1988; certified 3x platinum, February 1995)
Song Guests: Ready Rock C,
Song Producers: (self), Bryan “Chuck” New, Pete Q. Harris


Paul’s Boutique by Beastie Boys

Few artists in the history of Hip-Hop have undergone a bigger transformation between albums as the Beastie Boys. The bad boys of Def Jam led off with Licensed To Ill, the LP that would eventually be the first (and only) 1980s Rap album to reach diamond status. While many artists would have crutched the same formula, Ad-Rock, Mike D, MCA and DJ Hurricane relocated to Hollywood, California, they vacated Def Jam and Rick Rubin, and they traded the beer-splashing for “cheeba” and “dust.” 1989’s Paul’s Boutique found The Beasties maintaining their distinct vocal tones, MC flows, and pop culture sensibility, but in a full creative kaleidoscope. The album’s inspiration was a ficticiously-named Downtown thrift store—the perfect gestalt symbol for what the group was doing lyrically, musically, and stylistically.

Teaming with Delicious Vinyl Records hit-makers the Dust Brothers, Paul’s Boutique deployed  a reported 105 samples, joining De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising (released four months prior) to help cement a production/DJ culture onto itself. In veiled terms, the Beasties were still B-boys, and still bass-loving, drum-savvy Punkers. “Car Thief” threw chin music at the style jackers, while “Shake Your Rump” and “3 Minute Rule” plugged into the early ’80s brand of MC’ing with a psychedelic edge. Ricochet rhyme schemes were still at the center of the trio’s approach and charm. Thematically and sonically, Paul’s Boutique encouraged mind elevation, celebrated originality, and seamlessly connected “1970s cool” with 1990s creative freedom. The Beasties exited Paul’s Boutique as another one-and-done approach with the ’80s, only adding to its distinction. This LP reached music lovers well beyond Rap and Rare Groove circles, and the guys who three years prior opened for Madonna, showed that they were really out to channel Trouble Funk, Led Zeppelin, and The Funky 4+1.

Album Number: 2
Released: July 25, 1989
Label: Capitol Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #4 (certified gold, September 1989; certified platinum, April 1995; certified 2x platinum, January 1999)
Song Guests: DJ Hurricane, DJ E.Z. Mike
Song Producers: (self), Dust Brothers (E.Z. Mike and King Gizmo), Mario “C” Caldato, Jr.

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: See Round 1 (The 1980s) of Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums