Death Row Records is one of the most iconic records labels of all-time of any genre. The label had acts like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Dogg Pound, 2Pac and many others. Death Row Records have released some of the greatest hip hop albums ever. Death Row Records became a household name back in 1992 when Dr. Dre dropped the Chronic. The following year, Snoop Dogg released his classic debut, Doggystyle. In late-1995, 2Pac dropped his megahit, All Eyez on Me after getting out of prison. The record-breaking label hasn’t been highlighted many times over the years for the right and wrong reasons. In a span of five years, the company was worth around $300 million dollars. Unfortunately, Dr. Dre left the label, 2Pac was murdered and Snoop Dogg became a No Limit Soldier. Just like No Limit, peep these 9 classic Death Row albums that should be in your collection.
Dr. Dre- The Chronic
This is the album that put Death Row Records on the map. Dr. Dre, Snoop, Dogg Pound, Lady of Rage and RBX all were hungry. Dr. Dre had something to prove after leaving the group N.W.A. The rest of them wanted to make a name for themselves. The Chronic changed the entire game with a sound we never heard before. The G-Funk sound to go along with gangsta rap was a match made in heaven. The Chronic has been on every list imaginable when naming the greatest hip hop albums ever. The iconic album went on to sell over 5 million copies. The production alone on the Chronic is unmatched and ahead of its time. The album prepared the world for Snoop as he had one of the most anticipated albums ever.
My Top 5 Tracks: Fuck Wit’ Dre Day, Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang, Let Me Ride, Stranded on Death Row and Lil’ Ghetto Boy
Snoop Doggy Dogg- Doggystyle
Snoop first hit the scene on a track called Deep Cover with Dr. Dre. This was before the Chronic album and the voice of Snoop was so infectious. Being featured on so many tracks on the Chronic, people were waiting for his solo joint. Less than a year later, Death Row Records released Doggystyle. Doggystyle sold over 800,000 copies in the first week making it an instant success. The album has sold over 7 million copies in the United States and more than 11 worldwide. Just like the Chronic, it is viewed as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all-time. I remember when everyone was around the TV when MTV announced his debut video. Snoop has one of the most unique voices ever in hip hop history. Snoop has released 17 albums in his almost 30 year career and Doggystyle is by far his best.
My Top 5 Tracks: Doggy Dogg World, Gz Up Hoes Down, Tha Shiznit, Ain’t No Fun and Gin & Juice
Above the Rim Soundtrack
After the classic releases of the Chronic and Doggystyle, Death Row went the movie soundtrack route. Above the Rim starred 2Pac and they were responsible for the soundtrack. Above the Rim had a great mixture of hip hop and R&B. For the R&B side, the soundtrack had SWV, H-Town, Aaron Hall and Al B. Sure. 2Pac & Thug Life, Snoop Dogg, Dogg Pound, Lady of Rage and Nate Dogg & Warren G represented for hip hop. There were a pair of classic tracks left of the CD because of time constraints. Loyal to the Game by 2Pac featuring Treach from Naughty by Nature and Pain from 2Pac, which many consider one of the best tracks. Above the Rim added to Death Row Records platinum track record. The soundtrack went double platinum and it’s my favorite soundtrack ever.
My Top 5 Tracks: Regulate, Pain (Only on Cassette), Dogg Pound 4 Life, Part Time Lover and Blowed Away
Murder Was the Case Soundtrack
Murder Was the Case Soundtrack being from the short film released from one of his singles off Doggystyle. This was released less than eight months after the Above the Rim soundtrack. The soundtrack featured more music from Death Row artists. Why not release more music from them? During this time, everything they put out was an instant platinum plaque. Murder Was the Case was no different as this soundtrack went double platinum. The Dogg Pound, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Jodeci and DJ Quik all appeared on the soundtrack. If you want to listen to this on a streaming service, you’re out of luck because you won’t find it. However, you can get it, you need to have it because it’s a great project.
My Top 5 Tracks: 21 Jumpstreet, Natural Born Killaz, U Better Recognize, Dollaz & Sense and What Would U Do?
Dogg Pound- Dogg Food
The year after the Murder Was the Case Soundtrack, the Dogg Pound finally dropped their joint. This was a highly anticipated album for myself because I was huge fan of theirs. They appeared on the Chronic, Doggystyle and heavy featured on the two soundtracks. Daz was legit with the production and Kurupt was one of the illest in the game during this time. Dogg Food added more plaques to Death Row Records as they went double platinum. New York, New York was their first single and it was controversial. In the video, Snoop Dogg was crushing New York buildings and it was seen as a diss track. Either way, it didn’t take away from how good the album was. Kurupt absolutely killed New York, New York putting a stamp on his lyrical prowess. This wasn’t as great as previous Death Row Records album, but still really good.
My Top 5 Tracks: New York New York, Some Bomb Azz, Dogg Pound Gangstaz, Let’s Play House and Respect
2Pac All Eyez on Me
Like the Chronic and Doggystyle, All Eyez on Me is looked upon as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever. When 2Pac came home from jail, he was arguably the biggest star in hip hop at the time. Death Row Records was already the upper echelon of hip hop, but adding Pac put them even further. All Eyez on Me was the first hip hop double album and it didn’t disappoint. All the Death Row artists was featured and then you add Method Man, Redman, E-40 and many more it was a must have. All Eyez on Me went Diamond and unfortunately the only album Pac released on Death Row while alive. As we all know, Pac would be gunned down on September 7th and he died on the 13th.
My Top 5 Tracks: Life Goes On, Ambitionz Az a Ridah, All Eyez on Me, No More Pain and I Ain’t Mad at Cha
Makaveli (2Pac)- The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
Makaveli was 2Pac’s alias when he was with the Outlawz. This album was released less than two months after Pac passed away. With his name being Makaveli, people started thinking that he might have faked his death. The rumors of him faking his death added to the intrigue of the album. Makaveli was an instant classic and it’s one of my favorite albums ever. The 7 Day Theory went 4X platinum, which added to the success of Death Row Records. It’s crazy that Pac released two classic records in the same year less than nine months apart. You can even look at the album artwork and see how it was controversial. This is another classic Death Row Records release and it’s a shame Pac never lived to see it drop. This was when Death Row was on the decline as they really didn’t drop anymore classic records of artists on the label.
My Top 5 Tracks: Hail Mary, Krazy, Hold Ya Head, Against All Odds and Bomb First (My Second Reply)
2Pac Greatest Hits
A little over two years after his death, Death Row Records released his Greatest Hits album. Just like All Eyez on Me, Pac’s Greatest Hits collection went Diamond. They took his best tracks from 2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z, Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me, Makaveli and a couple unreleased joints. God Bless the Dead creeped people out because 2Pac said rest in peace to Biggie Smalls. The other unreleased track was Unconditional Love, which is a straight classic. With it being a 2Pac Greatest Hits double album, this is a must for your collection.
My Top 5 Tracks: Too Many to Choose From
2Pac and the Outlawz Still I Rise
This album was dropped in December on 1999 and of course, this was another posthumous Pac project. This one was with the Outlawz and it made you realize how much great music they could’ve put out together. Of course, this was a lot of tracks they had previously done together and made an album out of it. Still I Rise went platinum and it highlighted how good the Outlawz were. Pac was featured on all the tracks except the final one. The only single from the album was Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II).
My Top 5 Tracks: As the World Turns, Baby Don’t Cry, The Good Die Young, High Speed and Letter to the President
These are 9 Death Row Records albums that should be in your collection. Death Row released many other projects like the Lady of Rage’s Unnecessary Roughness, some compilations, solo joints from Daz & Kurupt. Death Row also dropped the Doggfather, the soundtrack to Gang Related and Gridlock’d and a Nate Dogg album. They also released Pac’s posthumous Until the End of Time and Better Dayz double albums, which both went triple and double platinum, respectively. The 9 Death Row Records albums should be in your possession.