The Four Best/Worst Rap Alter-Ego Albums Ever
Monday October 17th 2011,
Filed under: Features,Print Work,The Unkut Opinion
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Nothing says ‘I’m out of decent ideas’ like the good old Alter-Ego album. For most rappers, it’s not really much of a stretch to adapt another personality, since 95% of them are acting anyway (except for everyone who’s gone to jail, natch). This was published in the last rag that’s still willing to print my increasingly incoherent ramblings, so of course I spent a whole five minutes throwing it together…

Best:

Quasimoto - The Unseen
It’s the oldest trick in the book – pitching-up your vocals to make it sound like a wacky character is joining you on the record. Despite this, Madlib created a mind-bendingly enjoyable album, which saw him trading off verses with his miniature, hilariously ignorant  Alf-like alter-ego (if you don’t know who Alf was, consider yourself spared). In theory, it should have ended-up sounding like a self-indulgent collection of stoner mumblings, but thanks to some of the finest beats of his varied career, it all makes sense. ‘Come On Feet’ sums it all up perfectly, as the loop from La Planète Sauvage combines with Dolemite vocals snippets for a brutally dusted tale of confusion and anguish.

Viktor Vaughn - Vaudeville Villain
When KMD‘s Zev Love X re-invented himself as MF Doom, it signaled one of rap’s finest returns to recording. While King Geedorah was an interesting take on the Monsta Island theme, it was Viktor Vaughn that proved to be the most intriguing of his characters, featuring the teenage incarnation of Doom from an alternate universe, dabbling in time travel in search of stolen Donkey Kong Game & Watches until he finds himself stranded in Brooklyn in the 1990′s after his ‘gizmo-gadget’ breaks down. Some of his other escapades include his attempts at smooth talking his teenage love into letting him get to home base on ‘Let Me Watch’ and a refreshing viewpoint on the tried-and-tested stick-up kid scenario on ‘Modern Day Mugging’.

Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030
High-brow Sci-Fi Rap Opera at it’s finest (although there isn’t much competition in this particular genre to be honest), Dan The Automator took the vaguely interesting concept behind the Dr. Octogon record and actually did something more substantial with it, possibly due in part to the fact that Del The Funky Homosapian is twice as spaced-out and slightly less insane than Kool Keith. I’m not sure if this is actually an album you’d want to play on a regular basis, unless you consider playing World of Warcraft for 8 hours every night to be ‘good times’.

Eminem - Slim Shady EP
Before the bleached hair, Dr. Dre tea parties, Mariah Carey jump-offs and pill popping, Eminem delivered an amusing example of venting your frustrations through an alter ego. What better way to wash your hands of any responsibility for your outbursts? Marshall’s grisly plots to murder his ex-wife and inflict grievous bodily harm on random strangers sowed the seeds for his breakthrough album of the same name, which lacked the economy of this independent version but carried the same venomous streak.

Worst:

Bobby Digital - Bobby Digital in Stereo
For all of his genius as a producer and mastermind behind the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, The RZA has never been much of a rapper by comparison. Not to say that he hasn’t been responsible for some moments of mush mouthed brilliance, but the Bobby Digital concept was a lot better as a comic book than a rap record. I can’t recall a single noteworthy moment from any of the 3 LP’s that Prince Rakeem has issued under this nom d’plume, other than perhaps the random declarations of ‘Bong!’. Wearing a Zorro mask does not an engaging character make. To be honest, the most notable fact about the character was the nemesis that it inspired at the hands of Kool Keith, who created a character named Robbie Analog as a direct retort to what he believed to be RZA borrowing too heavily from the masked character from his Sex Style album…

Kool Keith - Black Elvis
Kool Keith is the undisputed champ when it comes to wacky alias rap, however this major label project was big time boring. With the exception of the Dr. Dooom and Dr. Octogon, the majority of Keith’s personas are just slight variations on what he would rap about normally, except he’s wearing different costumes on each cover. Years later, Pharoahe Monch made the mistake of releasing a single that attempted to blend Andre 3000‘s pop phenomenon ‘Hey Ya’ with his own interpretation of the Black Elvis concept in the clip for ‘Body Baby’, with equally disastrous results. The lesson? Don’t channel Elvis, ever.

Jay-Z - American Gangster
Need to churn out another album of worn-out hustling tales without offending Oprah?  Why not make a ‘concept’ album where you play the role of a – you guessed it, a hustler. But without any real narrative structure, it falls completely flat, other than serving as a welcome relief from the Yacht Rap attack of Kingdom Come.  On tracks like ‘Success’ and ‘Ignorant Shit’ he seems to have forgotten about the album’s theme altogether, and the guest spots detract and distract even further from the vague thread that runs through the project. Mentioning pushing weight on every track hardly constitutes great storytelling,

T.I. - T.I. vs T.I.P.
Before he got arrested with a car full of drugs with his weed carrying wifey in Vegas, Cifford released what would have to be the most pointlessly half-assed concept albums in recent memory. Attempting to document his ‘suave CEO’ T.I.P. T.I. side battling it out with his ‘street-level Trapper’ T.I. T.I.P. persona for control of his soul, the result is a half-baked collection of self-indulgent ‘pop’ and ‘street’ songs which takes 73 minutes to fail to match what Redman so effortlessly achieved with one track on ‘Redman vs Reggie Noble’. The two warring personalities only meet once in a single verse, which makes the whole exercise a pointless anti-climax really, and as recent events have revealed, T.I.P. never stood a chance in hell anyway.


33 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Bobby Digital In Stereo is a classic album imo.

Comment by hl 10.17.11 @

You got TI’s personalities mixed. T.I. is the “Suave CEO” and TIP is the “wild street dude”. I gotta check that Quasimoto album, thanks for the article sir.

Comment by Chev Chelios 10.17.11 @

You meant “Birth Of A Prince” or “Digi Snacks”, right? No love for Erick Onasis?

One.

Comment by Dart_Adams 10.17.11 @

Deltron was pants. It was like listening to a lecture. Dr Octagon had better beats and didnt put you to sleep at least.

Comment by carl 10.17.11 @

“This was published in the last rag that’s still willing to print my increasingly incoherent ramblings, so of course I spent a whole five minutes throwing it together…”h

ahaha it’s these kinda posts that make me come back to this site on the regular. Keep it up!

Comment by Christov 10.17.11 @

No hate for Kane’s “Prince of Darkness”?

Comment by AZR 10.17.11 @

Bobby Digital without a doubt was a disappointment. People had just gotten over making peace with “Wu-Tang Forever’s differing production, and Bobby Digital continued with that unwanted trend to many fans.

But

“Holocaust” was the shit and made people think the artist formerly known as Holocaust would be the next big thing.

&

“Domestic Violence” is CLASSIC imo

But yea, that album was sloppy as f*ck tho and a Major disablement

I wonder how many Hip Hop Heads died waiting for “The Cure”

Comment by ILLAIM 10.17.11 @

After buying “no need for alarm” along with most of his album since and attending close to two dozen of his shows I came to the dull, dimwitted realization years ago that I don’t even like Del. His voice and rhymes annoy me on the one hand and bore me to death on the other, yet he has some great production. People should hunt down a copy of the Deltron instrumentals and realize that pretty much anyone would have had a good album over those beats. You can also have a just as or even more enjoyable listening experience with “the unseen” instrumentals over the vocal version.

I sorta feel like those first three “best” alter-ego albums are all there based on beats alone.

I’ll also go ahead and say that I liked “black elvis” and that the fake feud Kool Keith had going between the Black Elvis and Dr. Dooom characters at the time was very entertaining and ahead of it’s time. Having a space-station owning interplanetary rapstar in conflict with a disgruntled, cereal and flintstones vitamin eating serial killer kinda puts the whole tired “drug dealer vs. young CEO” thing in perspective.

Comment by Lair 10.17.11 @

What? No mention of Makaveli?!! Not that I’m a pac fan or anything…BTW, American Gangster was a banger.

Comment by oskamadison 10.17.11 @

Vaudeville Villain is an underrated album. Doom actually tries to keep to a theme so it’s more interesting than usual, and the beats are pretty solid throughout.
Madlib really pulled it off with Quasimoto – that would have probably been a self-indulgent chore with anyone else.

Comment by djbosscrewwrecka 10.17.11 @

“Brooklyn Babies” >>>>>>> 95% of what’s posted on this site, which isn’t to you doesn’t know heat but some of the trash you’ve jocking lately like Action “Morbid Obesity” Bronson and Meyhem Lauren aspires to the mediocre.

I won’t ride with too much other RZA solo but even one of Bobby’s jewels kills most other clowns careers.

Comment by Mad Dog Morgan 10.17.11 @

Bobby digital was fucking terrible

Comment by BIGSPICE 10.17.11 @

A real Rza solo lp never happened, I like one or two Digi tracks but that’s about it. When I saw the Bobby Digital lp appear out of nowhere in the record shop, I paid for it, rushed home and … Couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Comment by silent minority 10.18.11 @

win: ruck n rock as d.i.r.t. (great capes)
loss: this whole ricky ross persona

Comment by swordfish 10.19.11 @

Robbie Analog, ha ha… funny.

Didn’t hear the the entirety of the original American Gangster, but I rated K-Def’s remix version because… well it’s K-Def innit.

Comment by Eyechild 10.19.11 @

What about Nelly Sweat/Suit? Too complex much too complex?
BTW, TI got bagged in LA not vegas.
Speaking of TIP, how come no mention of “Kamaal the Abstract”

Comment by keatso 10.19.11 @

biggie smalls high pitched character on “gimme the loot” has began to annoy me over the years.

I never really got “humpty hump” either, where as I like shock g.

Totally agree with the Rick Ross comment, how people can listen to the fat fake fuck lord knows.

Comment by sg 10.20.11 @

Lame
GhettoVader All day fools better listen up!

Comment by Ghetto Vader 10.20.11 @

Having American Gangster and Bobby Digital in Stereo on the list makes this a fail.

Comment by Thomas 10.22.11 @

Black Ty by Tyrese has to be one of the if not the worst.

Comment by Mitch 10.24.11 @

the only good thing about the bobby digi album was saying boo doo doo doot like my ADHD was acting up. I’m surprised you like Madlib, I recall you hating on his production in the past. my fav quasimoto tracks are definitely greenery and return of the loop digga. I like DJ Spinna’s rendition of the sample off of Green Power that was on the Dynas track Urbanomics

Comment by gstatty 10.24.11 @

I actally love all these albums Best and Worst except the Em and Jay records, which Ive never listened to! Dr Octagon is the best ever in my mind.

Comment by chronwell 10.25.11 @

“nom d’plume”

Haven’t heard that seen Style Wars.
old man “Seen….. is that a nom d’plume? Would he be in trouble if you told me his name?”

I’m on a 6 month vacation…..CLASSIC

Comment by Dan E Fresh 10.26.11 @

I’m not really sure if the Slim Shady album qualifies as an alter ego album. Unless you had heard “Infinite,” Slim was his main identity – his only identity up until that point. Funny thing is, if you don’t count Infinite (and maybe if you do), that’s his best album. He was still sick with the verbals and the music holds up way better than Marshall Mathers. This album kind of gets a bad rap, when it’s actually the best album of a really fucking good artist’s entire catalog. Other album that fits this description – Money, Power, Respect. Jada can destroy as many famous beats as he wants, and The Lox may have the most extensive anthology of insanely ill golden era freestyles of anybody not named Natural Elements, but the Puffy record was their only good album. “Livin the Life” is the only LOX track that appeared on an album that I play with a frequency similar to their mixtape appearances.

Comment by digglahhh 10.26.11 @

Oh, also, is Melvin Flynt The Hustler eligible for this list? If so, that immediately gets slid to the worst slot.

What about Nastradamus? Was that actually an alias record? That was probably at least as bad as Bob Digi. BTW, while Bob Digi really does suck in a conventional sense, I actually consider it as a record almost specifically made to be listened to while on drugs. And, it is considerably better in that state. Nastadamus, however, still sucks on liquid acid.

Comment by digglahhh 10.26.11 @

yeah I cant agree on the bobby digital shit either…RZA was fuckin with them digital equipment when it was still about analog he just didnt execute it correctly. What about digital bullet? that album was slept on crazy…besides I cant even debate about the albums coming out in this day & age! we still making list & debating about albums that came out a decade ago so they couldnt have been that bad! what does that say?

Comment by QUNYC 10.27.11 @

American Gangster was a great album in my opinion, plus it’s not even really an alter ego in the first place.

Comment by Dick B 10.29.11 @

i thought black elvis was pretty good…believe it or not keith was supposed to make a black elvis vs dr. dooom album…

Comment by DARTH HATER 10.30.11 @

Bob Digi album was dope…u must be smokin jum rocks to put that on the worst list

Comment by vitaltwofor 11.12.11 @

yeah! yall truly buggin…. Bobby Digital is a classic….What????

Comment by Damany G 12.15.11 @

[...] wack shit you just made up cause you thought it’d be dope. Unless of course you’re some alter ego ish, that you can’t do properly [...]

Pingback by BIGSPIN.TV » Blog Archive » Why nobody loves you and everybody hates you, think you’ll go eat some worms. 01.27.12 @

Are you kidding me? Bobby Digital is a classic. And RZA is one of the best MCs in the Clan. But Slim Shady gets on the Best list? Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And your’s sucks.

Comment by zaki7 09.02.12 @

^ waa waa. What a fuck wad.

Comment by Gx 09.03.12 @



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