While the importance of a first impression can’t be undervalued, a lot can be said about the significance of second chances—especially in music. Even though the term “instant classic” is in itself an oxymoron, some music listeners tend to stamp their opinion on a record one way or the other off the first spin. As a result, some dope albums have been deemed dubs on early reviews only to grow on the masses months, and even years later.
Not everyone saw what Kanye West was attempting to do initially on his 2013 album, Yeezuz. It was outright panned by many ’Ye fans for not fitting the soul-sampling formula of previous LPs like The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Mixing brash, abrasive production with an equally brash and abrasive ’Ye, songs like “Black Skinhead,” “I Am a God” and “New Slaves” were too different for some fans of the Chicago MC to get down with. Most naysayers eventually came around, and the album is mostly looked back upon with critical acclaim. However, the offering is still surely West’s most polarizing album.
Playboi Carti was on fire when he released his self-titled debut project in 2017, which was spearheaded by the hit single “Magnolia.” However, his follow-up debut album, Die Lit, was released as a surprise project and was sans a single. While diehard Carti fans gobbled up the release, the LP didn’t turn doubters into believers at first. The awkward genius of the project was accepted over time.
Coming off his consecutively released and universally beloved Take Care album in 2011, and Nothing Was the Same in 2013, Drake’s Views LP did not receive the same love as the previous projects. Initial reviews were tepid, with many noting Drizzy's seeming unwillingness to step out of the box. While a critical look into the effort may not have resulted in being impressed by some, the rapper's ability to make hits is still present on the offering while the B-sides have grown on listeners. The LP is now considered one of the better albums in Aubrey’s record-breaking body of work.
Here are 15 hip-hop albums that received initially negative reviews from many rap fans only to later become lauded projects.—C. Vernon Coleman II