If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, whose latest LP, Make Believers, arrives May 22.
You can preview the first video from the album below — after reading his Desert Island picks, of course!
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a golden age hip hop freak! The golden age of hip hop is the early to mid and maybe late nineties, where originality and intelligence flourished, and funky samples and analog, vinyl, crunchy drums made heads nod worldwide. The desert island he is stranded on would be a straight up, soul fried, butt bumping GIT DOWN! And these five albums would be the soundtrack..
A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
Though Tribe really changed the game an album earlier with their second album, The Low End Theory, this third album is their high water mark for me. Banging drums, soulful jazz, and the endlessly inventive and inspiring style of Q Tip, the Abstract Poetic perfectly balanced with the gritty but hilarious battle rhymes of Phife Dawg, the 5 Foot Assassin. For me, classic hip hop gets no better than this.
De La Soul, Buhloone Mindstate
Another third album — and the one I consider De La’s opus. Funky and different tracks from Prince Paul and the super creative confidence of a couple of the game’s best MCs knowing the world embraced their abstract, sophisticated and playful raps. This was when hip-hop on the radio was challenging the listener to be intelligent and pay attention, pushing them up to the next level of artistic thinking. An absolute masterpiece. As the hook explaining the title says, “It might blow up, but it won’t go pop!”
KRS ONE, Edutainment
KRS is probably the first MC to truly dedicate himself to “consciousness.” His abilities both as a lecturer on social justice and global politics and as the most fierce battle rapper in the history of hip-hop combine on this album in a perfect balance. The right formula of important information and dope beats and rhymes is the meaning of “Edutainment,” and it’s something all us rappers who attempt to make a point or teach continually strive for.
Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
Yet another third album, this is probably my favorite from the Beasties discography. Though Licensed to Ill was my first cassette, and an argument could be made that Paul’s Boutique was the most groundbreaking of their albums (and I probably wouldn’t have a comeback), I grew up on this one most and I love every note. This is also the moment that the Beasties really stepped up the use of their own live playing incorporated into making their tracks, and when MCA (RIP!) began bringing the Tibetan Buddhist influence into the crazy lyrical gumbo.
Outkast is beyond a doubt one of the most if not the most creative, unique and different group in all of hip-hop history. This album was truly the beginning of their ascent into the strange cosmos of their stellar musical voyage. Subtly psychedelic production from Organized Noise create a heady landscape for the mindbending flows of Big Boi and Andre (before he was 3000!), and the lyrics and methods of delivery are brilliant and inspiring. This is where these stars were truly hatched, and still has some of my favorite of their tracks.
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s new album Make Believers comes out on May 22, and it is his third!