1. Jay-Z, “The Blueprint”
The Blueprint is arguably Jay-Z’s masterpiece, but it is unquestionably the album that pushed him from rap star to mainstream icon.
2. Mercury Rev, “All Is Dream”
Mercury Rev fans tend to prefer the album just before this one - Deserter’s Songs is rightly the band’s commercial and critical breakthrough - but All Is Dream is great too, and sounds like it was recorded in an enchanted forest.
3. The Moldy Peaches, “The Moldy Peaches”
The Moldy Peaches were a pretty minor indie thing at the time, but songs from this record went on to reach a much larger audience on the soundtrack to Juno.
4. Bob Dylan, “Love and Theft”
This record kept up the songwriter’s late career hot streak, and is actually one of the most critically acclaimed albums in his entire body of work.
5. Fabolous, “Ghetto Fabolous”
The New York rapper’s debut isn’t a classic or anything, but “Young’n (Holla Back)” is a great example of the Neptunes’ production style in their prime.
6. Mariah Carey, “Glitter”
This is generally agreed to be the nadir of Mariah’s career, but it’s worthwhile if just for her excellent cover of “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On,” a Jam and Lewis song that was previously a hit for both Cherrelle and Robert Palmer.
7. Ben Folds, “Rockin’ the Suburbs”
Ben Folds’ first solo record isn’t quite up to the standard of his Ben Folds Five work, but “The Luckiest” is one of his best ballads, and has become one of those songs that gets played at a lot of weddings.
8. Beulah, “The Coast Is Never Clear”
This album was supposed to come out a lot earlier than September 11th 2001, but was pushed back because of complex label politics involving the sale of Capricorn Records to Island Def Jam. Beulah didn’t make the move to the major label, and so their album ended up hitting stores on the worst Tuesday of the year via Velocette, an indie label created for them and a few other displaced Capricorn bands.
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