22. Zion I-True and Livin’
Released in 2005
Label: LiveUp Records
Anybody who listens to Zion I (Pronounced how it looks—Zion Eye) will tell you that they’ve been slept on for years, and you know what? Those people are right. Out of the seven albums they’ve released, at least five of those albums are certified classics. We could have considered any one of them. But we chose the Oakland duo’s third album, True and Livin’, because it’s their most balanced record to date. It’s also the album that was probably the group’s greatest chance of breaking out, as songs like “Soo Tall,” and “Temperature” (Featuring our number 23 hero, Talib Kweli) have serious commercial appeal. But alas, True and Livin’ never reached the audience that it deserved. Oh, well. The world ain’t ready for you, Zion I. Still!
Best track: One Chance
21. Binary Star-Masters of the Universe
Released in 2000
Label: Subterraneous Records
Pretty much just a remixed version of their debut album, Waterworld, with a few extra tracks, Binary Star’s, Master of the Universe, is all killer and no filler. The rhymes are on point, of course, with “K.G.B” being a true stand-out track, and the beats are all over the place, creating esoteric, and yet, sometimes really smooth production. This Michigan duo sound like they practically LIVE underground, so you know when they come to the surface, they mean business. And this album’s is that business. Speak on it.