The Fugees’ The Score vs. Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. 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.
In 1994, Outkast put Atlanta Hip-Hop on the map to stay with its debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. The album had as fine of lyricism as any in the country, coupled with a sonic backdrop that was uniquely Southern. In 1996, The Fugees’ The Score re-defined what New York Hip-Hop sounded like, mixing backpack Rap with Soul and Reggae classics. Each album would knock down barriers and erase stereotypes for all that came after them, but which is greater? Your vote decides (click one then click “vote”).
The Score by The Fugees
In a vastly changing year for Hip-Hop, The Fugees gave music listeners something to hold onto in The Score. The early ’90s vibe in the New York tri-state Hip-Hop community was shifting, and Lauryn Hill, Pras, and Wyclef Jean knew how to swing for the fences in a fashion that would appease their core, and their label. Did they know they were capable of a six-times platinum sophomore LP? It’s doubtful. But 20 years later, the RuffHouse Records release plays like the kind of album that had the polish to deliver two household names, and inject some Soul into a year otherwise remembered for kicking up dust. The album had its tender covers, such as “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Killing Me Softly,” but Wyclef and Lauryn made these moments their own. On the production side, The Fugees were able to distill everything that was great about older popular music, and make it fresh and relevant for the mid-’90s.
Underneath the homages to Roberta Flack, Bob Marley, and The Delfonics, The Refugees were wildly original on their sophomore. Songs like “Fu-Gee-La” threw elbows as the crew rose through the Rap ranks, and “The Score” was a lyrical pick-and-roll and the trio and Diamond D made a play for the goal. The Fugees never compromised their purist ways in making a hit album, they simple emphasized their natural gifts—Lauryn’s voice, ‘Clef’s charm, and a collective ability to bridge pop culture with the rugged streets. Given its soulful range, The Score had an ability to reflect on the past wistfully, as well as celebrate rising status. As New Jersey’s role in Hip-Hop had largely been through the Flavor Unit, Poor Righteous Teachers, and DJ Reddy Red, The Fugees bumrushed a transitional year for East Coast Hip-Hop and took the stage. The Score was competitive, stylish, and transcended simply Rap music.
Album Number: 2
Released: February 13, 1996
Label: RuffHouse/Columbia/Sony Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #1 (certified gold, April 1996; certified platinum, April 1996; certified 6 x platinum, October 1997)
Song Guests: Diamond D, John Forté, The Outsidaz (Rah Digga, Pacewon & Young Zee), Omega, DJ Red Alert, Ras Baraka, Sly Dunbar, Akon, DJ Scribble, Robby Shakespeare, DJ Backspin, Handel Tucker
Song Producers: (self), Jerry “Wonda” Duplesis, Diamond D, Salaam Remi, John Forté, Shawn King, Handel Tucker
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik by Outkast
From the moment the album begins, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik proved to be something altogether different for Hip-Hop—just as the crew who made it. Outkast were Georgians who appreciated chromed-up Cadillacs, pimpish suits, and crumbled herb, but they also rivaled the depth of any MC in Hip-Hop. As rookies, Big Boi and Andre 3000 wasted no time proving that from “Myintrotoletuknow,” they could be cool and conscious in the smoothest way possible. The album tackled Black-on-Black crime, prejudice against Dixie MCs, and properly explained the regional lifestyle in a way that made the frigid streets of New York and the tense badlands of L.A. wish they were down. Gold fronts, 100-spoke Daytons on Vogues, and velour bucket hats were the perfect alternative to an MTV music video era of backpacks, loc’s, lowriders, and Timberlands. Outkast made Rap music as a whole seem versatile, simply by grabbing the spotlight. Records like “Call Of da Wild” and “Git Up, Git Out” were lyrically what well-heeled peers wanted to make, but lacked the courage to do so. Whether it was standing up for Blackness in an era that catered to crossover expectations, or simply embracing humility, Outkast made it cool to be yourself years before the kilts, Grammy’s, or singing records. The very same year that Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and O.C. made brilliant introductions, Outkast did just the same—with the cards arguably stacked against them.
Although Outkast fans would, in time, urge the pair to increase their self-production, opposition can argue that Southern… is the most cohesively produced Outkast LP. Organized Noize managed to give the pair an electric-backbone, with hard drums, bass hits, and Mr. DJ’s crisp scratches. This mere foundation was the framework that ‘Kast would maintain no matter who was behind the boards. Records like “Hootie Hoo,” “Git Up, Git Out,” and “Player’s Ball” had rich choruses, that expertly embraced hit-making potential with organic style. The early Outkast formula would be bottled and sold to many Southern acts throughout the next 10 years, but none could imitate the masters. Like The Chronic, Enter The Wu-Tang, or Hard To Earn, Outkast made an ensemble work to their favor. From Goodie Mob to Society Of Soul, this effort would encapsulate a movement, leaving the listener satisfied and trusting for more. As Atlanta, Georgia was previously thought to a mecca for R&B-Pop, Outkast answered the bell and delivered one of the finest, most equally carried debut albums in Hip-Hop history. This introduction can be placed besides their diamond works and beckon the question, “Why did it take so long for the world to realize?” More than just the Heads should’ve seen the soul-powered Caddy coming.
Album Number: 1
Released: April 26, 1994
Label: LaFace/Arista Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #20 (certified gold, June 1994; certified platinum, April 1995)
Song Guests: Goodie Mob (Cee-Lo, Big Gipp, T-Mo, Khujo), Mr. DJ, Society Of Soul (Sleepy Brown, Rico Wade, Ray Murray, Big Rhube & Espraronza), Preston Crump, T-Bone, Marq Jefferson, Debra Killings, Craig Love, Peaches, Colin Wolfe, Jeff Sparks, Edward Stroud, Kenneth Wright
Song Producers: Organized Noize
So which is the better album? Make sure you vote above.