Hate Roundtable: Beloved, Acclaimed Hip-Hop Albums We Hated

Despite near-universal acclaim, these four albums just didn't have "it."
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Despite near-universal acclaim, these four albums just didn't have "it."

Every hip-hop fan has at least one.

You know, an album that is universally praised by fans, deemed a "classic" or "near-classic" by the media, but no matter how many times you press play, you just don't hear "it." Different strokes for different folks, right? 

Since music is so personal, so subjective, it's impossible for an artist to create a body of work that everyone will enjoy, but fans often suppress their true feelings about an album if it goes against the grain of vast public opinion. 

Except for today.

For fun—and because we love when people send us threatening e-mails—I asked four members of our editorial team to each select one album that, despite all the widespread props and acclaim, they hate. Sure, hate is a very strong word, but it's perfectly normal to listen to a piece of music and immediately feel intense or passionate dislike. Plus, nothing is more fashionable in 2017 than to be labeled a hater. 

So, without further ado, let the hate over our hating commence!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of each individual author and do not represent the entire DJBooth editorial staff.

2Pac — The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

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Andy: There was a pretty controversial NPRarticle a few years ago where they asked an “unimaginably young intern” to review Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. The kid trashed it. Old heads, in turn, trashed him. While I don’t necessarily agree with his opinion on that particular album, I do share similar sentiments when it comes to a few other so-called classic albums from before my time (or at least before I was a cognizant music fan)—none more than 2Pac’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory.

The album, completed in seven days and released just weeks after ‘Pac’s death, has been ranked higher than All Eyez On Me and hailed as Pac’s “most complete work,” but whatever floored the five million-plus fans who bought the album continues to elude me. Don’t get me wrong: “Hail Mary” and “To Live and Die In L.A.” are flawless, while “Against All Odds” is peak militant 'Pac, riding on his enemies (read: half the rap game) without a helmet on. However, the rest of the album feels like a poor imitation of earlier ‘Pac records (“Just Like Daddy”=“How Do U Want It,” for example), the guest list pales in comparison to All Eyez On Me and the production has aged like white bread. I read that the Death Row guys used to call Hurt-M-Badd and Darryl Harper’s studio the “wack room,” and it’s not hard to see why.

Maybe the timing of Don Killuminati makes this album the sentimental favorite for a lot of people. But for this ’90s baby, I have the same reaction to Don Killiminati's widespread acclaim as I do to those conspiracy theorists who believe the album proves he’s still alive. Just please don't crucify me.

Lauryn Hill — The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill

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John Noire: 5 GRAMMYs, almost 20 million copies sold worldwide and widely considered as one of the greatest albums of all time. The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill was Lemonade before Lemonade. It is the prototype for all albums about heartbreak, self-care and female empowerment. The reason why it resonated with so many people across the globe was because it showed a reflection of themselves: vulnerable, hurt, bent but not broken.

The problem with Miseducation, however, is that it's a pretty boring listen. The second half especially. There are all these nice melodies and there is a great dialogue about love, but no real sense of momentum. I've tried several times but I'd be lying if I said I liked anything past "Doo Wop (That Thing)." Sorry.

Hate is a strong word. It's very rare for me to hate an album. I thoroughly dislike Yeezus, and I thoroughly dislike Views, but for me to hate an album would mean that I could find no redeeming quality in it whatsoever. Miseducation has redeeming qualities, just none that match its critically acclaimed stature.

Lupe Fiasco — Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool

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Brendan: I wanted to love The Cool so much. After playing Food & Liquor non-stop, I had already anointed Lupe as the next artist up to take on the title of my own personal favorite, and I tried to convince myself that its follow-up was even better.

I listened over and over as universal praise flooded in, not only from music publications but the same friends I introduced Lupe to the year prior, and yet I hated the album. Lupe’s raps may have been great, and I applauded him for the concept, but actually listening to the songs was a chore at best and a traumatic experience at worst.

Thinking about hearing the choruses of “Intruder Alert” or “Go Go Gadget Flow” just now actually made me nauseous. “Paris, Tokyo” and “Dumb It Down” are both great, but the rest of the album is a showcase of irritating production, disposable guest features and bad hooks.

While we’re at it, The Big Lebowski sucks too.

N*E*R*D — In Search of…

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Yoh: “'In Search of..' did more for me than 'Illmatic.'” There was a feeling of instant isolation when Tyler first rapped those lyrics on “Deathcamp.” He voiced a way of thinking that seemed to resonate with a generation raised on N*E*R*D—a generation that I was raised in, but somehow such a monumental album missed my adolescence.

When I finally learned of Pharrell, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley’s debut album, the expectations were high. Considering this was a critically acclaimed project that changed lives, I expected to leave this album a different person. It’s a beautiful album, like visiting paradise, but imagine seeing a utopia and not feeling moved? You wait for your soul to be stirred, for your heart to explode, but the feeling never comes. That's how In Search of… made me feel. I knew it when “Lapdance” ended, there was no desire to hear it again, and even now the feeling to revisit the entire album never comes. Hate would be a strong word, but indifference tends to be worse.

N*E*R*D embodied something that was missing, a sound that was absent, a feeling so many desired, but their light wasn’t what I searched for. Deep down, I prefer the heat of a world burning to the ground rather than being soaked in the sun's glowing rays. Maybe that's why I love "Provider" the most.


This has been a DJBooth squad post featuring Andy, John, Brendan and Yoh.