Boogie Down Productions’ Criminal Minded vs. Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele. Which Is Better?

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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” has considered more than 120 albums from the 80s, 90s and 2000s (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. Now that you and your vote have decided the final 32 albums (including Wild Cards), the final rounds begin.

Boogie Down Productions’ debut Criminal Minded set a Hip-Hop precedent in its avant-garde, take by force approach to music-making. There was bravado, outright verbal attacks, and a basking in the light artistic greatness and originality. A bakers dozen years later, Ghostface Killah applied that attitude, and artistic purity to his sophomore solo, Supreme Clientele. Both albums are brilliant intersections of Gangsta Rap and intellect, food for the mind and fuel for the ego. Each work is masterfully produced, and provides hype to the powerful messages. While one album has become a gold-certified jewel in the Wu-Tang Clan chest, the other has been reissued numerous times as a true Rap blueprint. Like the personalities behind these albums, this battle cannot go quietly—as two cult-championed works square off in Round 3 – only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click (Click one then click “vote”).

CriminalMinded

Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions

Boogie Down Productions was a wrecking ball to the perceived confines of what Hip-Hop could be. KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock masterfully (and unpretentiously) combined book smarts with street smarts. “Poetry” was literally and symbolically book-ended with “Criminal Minded,” as a former homeless teen had risen to “teacha” status alongside his real-life mentor. In New York City, B.D.P. was rushing stages with a confidence and a commanding live show. That translated to wax brilliantly, as “South Bronx” and “The Bridge Is Over” were not only defending Hip-Hop’s history in real-time, but laying out the offensive strategy for the its biggest musical clash to date. As Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G Rap were showing the culture’s artistic fertility in other boroughs, Criminal Minded reminded all that the Bronx was where it started.

Criminal Minded, with its weapon-themed cover, packed a new brand of jacketed Rap ammunition. This LP blended violence (“9MM Goes Bang”), sex (“Remix For The P Is Free”), and straightforward songs about Rap (“Dope Beat”), all with heavy substance intertwined. In the early 1990s, debut albums by Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and Snoop Doggy Dogg had more in common with B.D.P.’s debut than nearly any other 1980s Rap album. Although KRS-One would shun promoting combat in music (Scott La Rock was murdered just after Criminal Minded was released), he balanced virtue and vice as effectively as any MC since. That raw energy and potent message was supported with thumping boom-bap beats, overseen by Ultramagnetic MC’s Ced Gee. The album sampled hits by AC/DC and James Brown, as KRS’s lyrics cleverly tapped into The Beatles and Billy Joel. Criminal Minded presented an audiophile’s approach to music-making. Rather than chase the dance-floor, this album brought the energy of the streets into the clubs, with an attitude that oozed Hip-Hop bravado and style.

Album Number: 1
Released: March 3, 1987
Label: B-Boy Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): N/A
Song Guests: D-Nice
Song Producers: (self), Ced Gee, Partner Lee Smith

Ghost_SupremeClientele

Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah

While the 1990s elicit great debate surrounding the greatest Wu-Tang Clan member solo works, Ghostface Killah threw a dart straight for the bull’s eye in Y2K. Supreme Clientele closely followed 1996’s Ironman with the swagger of a fighter already wearing the belt. G.F.K. had already gone platinum, and accrued a cult following within Hip-Hop. Years after throwing his weight around with the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Ghost’ made his sophomore album like a man with nothing to fear. “Ghost Deini” and “Apollo Kids” were ring-entrances, as a robed Ghost’ welcomed all challengers, lyrically and in the streets. As the sound of commercially-viable Rap had embraced fabric softener, messages like “Stay True” and “Buck 50” bloodied the gums of smile-at-the-camera posers. As the Rap playlist favored overt-samples, Pop-tinged choruses, and lots of R&B, Tony Starks’ penchant for the unconventional resonated brilliantly. Even playing by the rules of the game, a record like “Cherchez La Ghost” did so on rugged Shaolin terms—announcing that he’s too nasty for females, and no third verse at all.

Like with Ironman, G.F.K. and his producers found a way to carefully inject 1980s Hip-Hop qualities. While S.C. was ’70s Soul-infused, the drum arrangements on “Mighty Healthy,” “The Grain,” and “One” were derived from Paul C., 45 King, and Marley Marl days. Although the mix and mastering of Supreme Clientele felt worthy of the Sony Records jacket, the would-be gold LP had the quality of a four-track recorder, and 12-second sampler. Dennis Coles stepped into the new millennium with grand visions of creativity, imagery, and coded slang, but he brought with him elements from his childhood that he refused to let go. More importantly, the LP’s lyrics are a step beyond the criminology heard on the debut. Largely inspired by a trip to Africa taken by Ghost’ and RZA, the album deals greatly with knowledge of self, heritage, and pride. Although G.F.K. was still menacing on the mic and in his details, the Gangsta Rap feel of the debut gave way to a more abstract texture. Supreme Clientele is the album that would catapult Ghostface Killah’s persona, and style through the next 15 years. He was the star of his own quirky show, and somebody who could be tongue-in-cheek, whimsical, and raunchy, but always to be taken 100% seriously.

Album Number: 2 (solo)
Released: February 8, 2000
Label: Razor Sharp/Epic/Sony Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #7 (certified gold, March 2000)
Song Guests: RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Redman, Hell Razah, Solomon Childs, Lord Superb, Madam Majestic, 60 Second Assassin, T.M.F. (Trife Da God, Tommy Whispers & Kryme Life), Chip Banks, Dennis Coffey, The Dramatics, Rudy Robinson, David Brandon, Carl Robinson
Song Producers: (self), RZA, Inspectah Deck, Juju, Allah Mathematics, Carlos “6 July” Broady, Haas G, Choo the Specializt, Black Moes-Art, The Blaquesmiths

So which is the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: Finding The GOAT: The Albums.