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Ruthless Records: Ranked (1988-2002)

After coincidentally running into Ruthless albums, I decided to do the seemingly impossible and rank the label's albums from best-to-worst. A few things real quick: - This album includes FULL ALBUMS ONLY. No EP's or compilations included. - This is based on my opinion and isn't based on general perception, so there may be a few albums ranked higher than what certain people may think, and vice versa. - The cutoff year for the list is 2002, because, quite honestly, no one gave two shits about Ruthless once BTNH left. -EDIT- Fuuuck. Forgot a few albums. Ahh well, two-three missing isn't too bad, I suppose lol.
Straight Outta Compton

Really shouldn't be any surprise here. Of course "Straight Outta Compton" is the best album Ruthless released, which brings me right into the extremely close runner-up...

There is still a lot of debate regarding which is better to this day: "Eazy-Duz-It" or "Straight Outta Compton". Personally, I'm a bit more fond of "Straight Outta Compton" based on how well the flows and styles of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and of course Eazy-E mesh. So because of that, "Eazy-Duz-It" is just below "Straight Outta Compton" for best Ruthless album, IMO.
3Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
E 1999 Eternal

Another one that shouldn't surprise anyone, "E 1999 Eternal" is probably the most critically acclaimed non-N.W.A. related release in Ruthless's catalog. It has some of the greatest hip hop tracks ever recorded, including "1st of Tha Month", which was actually my first rap song I ever heard as a lil' one. Good, good times.
4Atban Klann
Grass Roots

Although never officially released, "Grass Roots" definitely belongs in the top rankings with the finest albums to ever come out (kinda) of the Ruthless factory. The whimsical wordplay and crazed flow in the album, as well as its highly unorthodox production, not only makes it possibly one of the best officially unreleased rap albums of all time, but also puts the dudes in Black Eyed Peas in an extremely surprisingly bright light lyrically speaking.

Without a doubt, "Cha-Licious" is the most underrated album ever released in Ruthless Records's catalog. The flows of emcees Spice and Royal T is fantastic, and the production is just as strong. Absolutely a hidden gem in the vast mid 90's rap universe.
6Blood of Abraham
Future Profits

Another name that is probably largely unknown, Blood of Abraham had some minor notoriety in the early 1990's for being an all Jewish hardcore rap group that were active during the peak of the tensions of blacks and Jews (the Crown Heights riot, etc.). A killer album that definitely deserves more recognition and is definitely deserving of being one of the best albums in Ruthless's history.

Although not nearly as beloved as "Straight Outta Compton", "Niggaz4life" is still one of the best rap albums of its time. It's especially as impressive with the loss of Ice Cube in consideration, and tracks like "Appetite for Destruction" are just as hard-hitting as they were all the way back in 1991.
Addictive Hip Hop Muzick

Yet another widely ignored release, "Addictive Hip Hop Muzick" was an absolutely solid debut from the California legend. The non-stop display of punch-after-punch delivery on the majority of the tracks helps make Kokane's 1991 debut hands-down another one of Ruthless's best.
9Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
BTNH Resurrection

While it's definitely not among the same quality as "E Eternal 1995", "BTNH Resurrection" still seems to capture a lot of flack. There's a steady barrage of killer tracks that easily outweigh the few weaker tracks, with "Ecstasy" and "Paper Paper" in particular giving it a strong advantage.
10Yomo and Maulkie
Are U Xperienced?

Standing out like a sore thumb, Yomo and Maulkie's only album was absolutely a unique part of Ruthless's early history indeed. Instead of fitting in with the typical hardcore prototype of the label, Yomo and Maulkie's political, conscious style helped make it a sleeper hit of sorts. Its slamming, in-your-face Public Enemy-esqued style is killer, thus making it disappointing that this was the duo's only album.
11Above The Law
Uncle Sam's Curse

Probably their most underrated release to date, "Uncle Sam's Curse" often gets overshadowed by Above the Law's earlier stuff, primarily "Livin' Like Hustlers". While "Livin' Like Hustlers" is indeed more of a groundbreaking release, "Uncle Sam's Curse" has the edge in my opinion due to the material on the album sounding more together. Plus, "Rain Be for Rain Bo" is just a timeless track.
12MC Ren
Shock of the Hour

Along with his EP "Kizz My Black Azz", "Shock of the Hour" served as MC Ren's statement that he could indeed hold it down as a solo artist without N.W.A. Its fiery, hard hitting sound that takes numerous influences from the depths of early 90's ghetto life helps make MC Ren's debut full album one of the most influential and acclaimed political rap albums of all time.
13Krayzie Bone
Thug Mentality 1999

No doubt about it, "Thug Mentality 1999" is the best solo album that the Bones Thugs-N-Harmony guys did. There's one major setback that's keeping this one from breaking the top 10, however: it's TOO DAMN LONG. If it was a single album that kept all the gems and cut out all of the filler, then it could definitely be in the top 5 of this list. With all of that said though, it's still a fantastic album.
Funk Upon a Rhyme

One of the more controversial spots on the list, I'm sure, Kokane's signature slamming sound is perfectly captured in his 1994 follow-up "Funk Upon a Rhyme", which apparently some don't really dig all that much. I am a huge fan of the funk-dragging energy of the album and its slightly experimental sound, although it is glaringly not as strong as "Addictive Hip Hop Muzick". Still a worthy follow-up nonetheless, however.
15Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
The Art of War

Personally, I think "The Art of War" gets an unnecessary amount of shit thrown at it. While there are some really, really good cuts on it, like "Look Into My Eyes", "Get Cha Thug On", and of course the 2Pac duet "Thug Luv", it has the same problem that "Thug Mentality" had... IT'S TOO GODDAMN LONG. Plus, the constant gun bangs on "Thug Luv" really gets on my nerves going back to it.
Smile Now, Die Later

A lot of people don't really remember, but Chicano hip hop icon Frost (formally known as Kid Frost) was indeed a Ruthless signee, although he arrived at the label just as Eazy-E passed, so he really missed that push-bubble era that most of the early Ruthless Records acts got. His 1995 album "Smile Now, Die Later" is absolutely one of his best works to date, and his smooth style which parallels the ghettos of this time period is captured at his best on this one. It's a shame that it just missed the mark in terms of promotion though.
17Above The Law
Livin' Like Hustlers

Bloodthirsty yet intelligent, Above the Law's 1990 debut album helped breakdown many, many barriers in the hip hop universe. Its gut-splattered, vividly violent, hardcore style helped usher in a new generation of gangsta rap, and also perhaps fathered the horrorcore genre as well, which is specifically evident with "Murder Rap".
18MC Ren
The Villain In Black

Yes, yes, yes, I can already see the horror on some rapheads faces when they see how low an MC Ren album is on here. But honestly, while the album was pretty good, it just doesn't hold up when compared to "Shock of the Hour". I want to say it doesn't have the same feel to it, but to be honest, I don't really know to be sure. Something about "The Villain in Black" doesn't click with me though, and looking around, I guess I'm not the only one.
19The D.O.C.
No One Can Do It Better

This'll probably be one of the more controversial positions in my list, but to be honest, The D.O.C. never really did it for me. Don't get me wrong though, "No One Can Do It Better" is still a pretty strong release, naturally. "It's Funky Enough" in particular is a classic that has lurked through the decades since its initial 1989 release. A solid album overall, but it doesn't really live up to the hype IMO.
20Tairrie B
Single White Female

Similar to Atban Klann, Tairrie B's 1993 album "Single White Female" was never officially released. That kinda sucks because the lame, corny style that you hear on "Power of a Woman" hardly even exists on here. While there are still some cringey moments here-and-there, "Single White Female" is a lot more polished and more believable, and it gives Tairrie B's rap history a bit of a gold streak. Well, maybe not gold... but bronze, definitely.
21Above The Law
Black Mafia Life

While I do agree that both "Livin' Like Hustlers" and "Uncle Sam's Curse" were absolutely great albums, "Black Mafia Life" just didn't really make an impression on me like those two. I suppose it's in an awkward spot being between their two best albums, but goddamn, it just feels flat to me. Not bad, but absolutely not near the level of "Livin' Like Hustlers", and even more-so, not even in the same universe as "Uncle Sam's Curse".
22J.J. Fad
Not Just a Fad

While I do respect J.J. Fad for what they did for Ruthless Records (going gold and getting the label geared up for the N.W.A. craze), I never dug J.J. Fad's sound. I never was a fan of pop rap, and especially not late 80's/early 90's pop rap. The same reason why I don't dig Kid 'n Play and MC Hammer, basically. And while their "Supersonic" album and single got all the attention, "Not Just a Fad" was a bit more of a solid effort to me than the "Supersonic" album I don't really know why... maybe the blend of electropop, new wave and rap wasn't as nauseating on this one?
Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin...

Probably the most controversial position on the list, Eazy-E's final album during his lifespan, "Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton", just wasn't really that good to me. Like.. at all. While there are still some stellar moments on here, they're far and few between. The production isn't up to par like his earlier stuff and it just feels off. However, the few tracks that actually were pretty decent, like "Sippin' on a 40" and "Creep N Crawl", save it from total mediocrity.
24Tairrie B
Power of a Woman

Okay, now this album... is a special album lol. In absolute, unadulterated honesty, this album is lame. It's badly aged and full of crappy puns that are excruciating to look back at now. But, thankfully, it's so lame that it's fun to listen to nonetheless. Plus, it has one saving grace, which is the final track "Ruthless Bitch", which is one of the best examplse of a hidden gem I've ever heard. Goddamn... even though the album is lame, that track is still one of the most cutthroat, burning disses I've ever heard.
When Hell.A. Freezes Over

Poor Frost. Poor, poor Frost. Not only did he miss the bus when it came to Ruthless's commercial peak, but he was also doomed of having one of the most mediocre albums in its catalog as well. Basically, this album is a tremendous antithesis to everything that made "Smile Now, Die Later" great. The beats are generic, the rhymes sound way less inspired, and the cover... ugh, the less said about it, the better.
26J.J. Fad
Supersonic: The Album

The group that put Ruthless Records on the map before N.W.A., J.J. Fad's "Supersonic: The Album" and the single of the same name were definitely critical to Ruthless's success. With all of that said though, J.J. Fad, like I said above, is just lame to me. Like... not "ha ha, wow" lame. But like "...dude, that just sucks" lame. That's precisely why Tairrie B's "Power of a Woman" album is just above it, because while that album can be lame in an entertaining way, J.J. Fad's "Supersonic" album is lame in the total exact way. It's nothing more than badly aged 80's electropop-rap, which is something I do not enjoy much. While I give respect where it's due, J.J. Fad just bore me for the most part, and "Supersonic" is the prime example.
27Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Thug World Order

The last Ruthless Records release in seven years (and really, their last release that even mattered), "Thug World Order" by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most painfully mediocre releases by the label. Apparently, I'm far from the only one that feels that way, due to its highly mixed reception, and while there are some good cuts like "Money Money", the album is just a disappointment all together, especially considering the high standards that BTNH set for themselves.
Livin' in a Hoe House

Yeah... I don't think I have to explain why this one is so low on the list. Repetitive, gimmicky, gimmicky, gimmicky... oh, and did I mention gimmicky?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is my pick for the worst Ruthless Records release. And I will be 100% honest with all of you: I do not, for the life of me, understand the appeal of Michel'le. I mean, yeah, she was good looking and all, but her music, at the very best, was painfully mediocre. Seriously. On her self-titled debut album, the sound that it's comprised of is lame 80's pop at its finest. Some of the songs aged so terribly, that one of them in particular, "No Lies", is hilarious to look back at. I heard this album in its entirety once and was so bored by the end of it, that I will try my damnedest not to ever hear it again.
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