This list is biased in one very important way. It only consists of albums I’ve actually listened to. Oh, and this is a list and not a ranking. The order doesn’t matter. I’m someone who can’t even name their favorite Kool-Aid flavor (too many good ones), so I’m not going to actually rank these albums.
Doing this list made me realize just how hard it is to come up with lists like this. The tough part for me was actually coming up with 100 albums. There are a lot of albums I like, but I didn’t think they were worthy of this list. I may regret putting some albums on this list and I’ll probably realize that there are some great albums I like that I have forgotten about completely.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this list in its (im)perfect glory and maybe consider checking out an album or two. I’ll put some brief comments next to the more, um, surprising choices on this list.
1. OK Computer by Radiohead
2. Music Has The Right To Children by Boards Of Canada-I love this album. There are only a few albums that can create a truly indescribable mood. This is one of them
3. Be by Common
4. Illmatic by Nas
5. The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest
6. Endtroducing… by DJ Shadow
7. The Chronic by Dr. Dre
8. Bad by Michael Jackson
9. The Mirror Conspiracy by Thievery Corporation-This is the best chillout record I’ve ever heard.
10. Since I Left You by The Avalanches-I think if those opposed to sampling heard this album, they’d change their minds.
11. 12 Play by R. Kelly
12. Talkie Walkie by Air
13. ATLiens by OutKast-It’s not as experimental as their later albums, but it’s well-produced and filler-free.
14. The College Dropout by Kanye West
15. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx by Raekwon
16. Miss E…So Addictive by Missy Elliott-I put this album on here because I think this is the best album she’s ever done.
17. The Grey Album by Danger Mouse/Jay-Z-Just because it’s a famous bootleg doesn’t mean it’s not great.
18. The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
19. Dig Your Own Hole by The Chemical Brothers
20. Dummy by Portishead
21. Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg
22. Rooty by Basement Jaxx
23. Ready To Die by The Notorious B.I.G.
24. Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah-Along with Raekwon, Ghostface Killah has put out the best of the solo albums by Wu-Tang Clan members. This is my favorite of his.
25. Things Fall Apart by The Roots
26. Get Behind Me Satan by The White Stripes
27. A Rush Of Blood To The Head by Coldplay
28. Me Against The World by 2Pac
29. Psyence Fiction by U.N.K.L.E.
30. Moment of Truth by Gang Starr
31. Play by Moby
32. Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by OutKast
33. Discovery by Daft Punk
34. Demon Days by Gorillaz
35. De La Soul Is Dead by De La Soul
36. Arjuna Original Soundtrack: Into The Another World by Yoko Kanno-Even though she composes music primarily for anime series and movies, I think Yoko Kanno is a brilliant composer. This album is organic, strange, and unlike anything I’ve heard.
37. Quality Control by Jurassic 5
38. Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand
39. New Sacred Cow by Kenna
40. The Lion King Original Soundtrack by Various Artists
41. Kid A by Radiohead
42. American Idiot by Green Day
43. Hellsing Original Soundtrack: RUINS by Yasushi Ishii-Okay, another anime soundtrack. This and the first soundtrack are full of fun, classic-style rock.
44. Now Here Is Nowhere by Secret Machines
45. Vespertine by Bjork
46. Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest
47. Niun Niggung by Mouse On Mars-This is very unusual electronic music that is also surprisingly accessible and organic.
48. Batman Soundtrack by Prince
49. Cowboy Bebop Original Soundtrack 1 by Yoko Kanno-There is a ton of wonderful music from this show, but this is the best album.
50. Rhythm Nation 1814 by Janet Jackson
51. Life After Death by The Notorious B.I.G.
52. Aaliyah by Aaliyah
53. Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by Wu-Tang Clan
54. The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem
55. The Carnival by Wyclef Jean
56. Elephant by The White Stripes
57. Homogenic by Bjork
58. Like Water For Chocolate by Common
59. Geogaddi by Boards Of Canada
60. You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby by Fatboy Slim
61. Voodoo by D’Angelo
62. Black On Both Sides by Mos Def
63. Electric Circus by Common
64. Phrenology by The Roots
65. Melody A.M. by Röyksopp
66. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex O.S.T.+ by Yoko Kanno
67. The Score by The Fugees
68. Chocolate Factory by R. Kelly
69. Get Lifted by John Legend
70. Gorillaz by Gorillaz
71. Design Of A Decade (1986-1996) by Janet Jackson-Yes, this is a best-of collection. I figured that since the songs all fall within the time frame, that it shouldn’t be a problem.
72. By The Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers-I admit that I haven’t heard RHCP’s earlier albums but I really enjoyed this one.
73. Who Is Jill Scott?: Words & Sounds Volume 1 by Jill Scott
74. Vegas by The Crystal Method
75. Aquemini by OutKast
76. 3 Feet High And Rising by De La Soul
77. 2001 by Dr. Dre
78. Odelay by Beck
79. The Diary Of Alicia Keys by Alicia Keys
80. The Bends by Radiohead
81. Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears
82. In Search Of… by N.E.R.D.
83. Wu-Tang Forever by Wu-Tang Clan
84. Mary by Mary J. Blige
85. Surrender by The Chemical Brothers
86. R. Kelly by R. Kelly
87. 8701 by Usher
88. Peoples’ Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm by A Tribe Called Quest
89. CrazySexyCool by TLC
90. All Eyez On Me by 2Pac
91. Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z
92. Hellsing Original Soundtrack: RAID by Yasushi Ishii
93. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex O.S.T. 2 by Yoko Kanno
94. Kinky by Kinky
95. Word Of Mouf by Ludacris
96. The Understanding by Röyksopp
97. Deadringer by RJD2
98. Mezzanine by Massive Attack
99. Beautifully Human: Words & Sounds Volume 2 by Jill Scott
100. A Grand Love Story by Kid Loco-It’s a shame this album has never been released in America (to my knowledge, at least.)