It’s always good to celebrate events, milestones and even the slightest of victories. Given that The Ankle Breaker is celebrating its fourth birthday today, it’s a very personal celebration for me, the writer and creator. Thankfully, I’ve derived the most personal way of sharing this accolade with you, the reader, and that’s by offering up my top 50 albums. Hopefully you all disagree with my 50 and spark up your own internal debates as to which collection of music is your favorite.
Obviously the blog has taken a musical turn from its sporting origins, but many of the albums below have soundtracked some of my own sporting events as well as having their own roots in sport. It’s a real trip down memory lane, the avenues only just passed and some places where I’d need a map to get back to.
THIS IS OBJECTIVE I’M NOT SAYING MAJID JORDAN ARE BETTER THAN NAS
50. Tongue n’ Cheek (2009), Dizzee Rascal.
At the time, I didn’t even know what Grime was, but this will always have a spot in my heart, it was surprisingly the first album my Mam bought me and later served as a spark to a love for UK Hip-Hop and Grime.
49. Dynamic Drift (2015), The Expert.
The only Hip-Hop beat tape on the list but one of the finest in the land. Produced by Irishman The Expert and is the soundtrack to Dimes After Dark.
48. Discovery (2001), Daft Punk.
I listened to this the whole way through (1hr 1min) for the first time in my parents’ car while they ‘would be a minute’ in Dunnes.
47. Illmatic (1994), Nas.
46. 1977 (2013), Kolsch.
Religiously played for a solid two weeks after moving out of the house for the first time. A Tech-House bible.
45. B.4.DA.$$ (2015), Joey Bada$$.
Sticks out distinctively for the time it was on while I was sweeping the back path and the NY native’s aggressive bars reflected my equally aggressive and totally inefficient method of sweeping. Seriously good and refreshingly reminiscent of old school New York rap, the album cover says it all.
44. T R A P S O U L (2015), Bryson Tiller.
I snapchatted about how good this album was to a friend (Who will make another key appearance) as he simultaneously snapped me the exact same thing.
43. Don’t Do What We Did (2015), The Manor.
You can listen to my interview with The Manor here.
42. The Bitter Truth (2014), Collie.
Didn’t even make the list due to the fact that we have same name, songs like ‘Lazy Bones’ should be Irish folklore, impressive collection of Irish Hip-Hop from one of the OGs.
41. Majid Jordan (2016), Majid Jordan.
40. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Kanye West.
‘Lord Knows’ is one of my all-time favorite tracks, even with a Rick Ross verse. The album says so much about Yeezy because he manages to get the best out of every artist that features on it; We’re talking Nicki Minaj and Ross’ best verses.
39. OF Tape Vol. 2 (2012), Odd Future.
The only collective compilation on the list with arguably the best album art.
38. Young Fire Old Flame (2015), Wretch 32 + Avelino.
You can listen to my interview with Avelino here.
37. King Push – Darkest After Dawn Prelude (2015), Pusha T.
Really strong album for a ‘prelude’, the finale of ‘Sunshine’ with Jill Scott is incredibly powerful, especially given the topicality of the song in America today. Watch the film that accompanied the album, starring Pusha himself, below.
36. This Life (2012), The Original Rudeboys.
Legendary Irish music.
35. Are You Experienced? (1967), Jimi Hendrix.
34. I Told You (2016), Tory Lanez.
Sounds like a full length feature-film with piercing vocals from the Toronto native to go along with cinematic skits between most songs that act as a timeline between events that’re discussed in each track.
33. The Incredible True Story (2015), Logic.
Similar to ‘I Told You’, Logic’s sophomore album tells a story through skits, but the bars are out of this world. Given that it’s space-themed that makes complete sense. One of those albums you can listen to in any mood.
32. Boxed Out (2014), Detroit Swindle.
While I’m not intentionally tying these together, they’re doing so! This is THE album I listen to when I can’t think of anything else because of its feel-good vocals and disco feel. Underrated piece of work, especially given the rise of disco at the moment.
31. Blank Face LP (2016), ScHoolboy Q.
Best rap album of 2016.
30. Still Brazy (2016), YG.
Best Gangster rap album in a long time. I’ve never sang along to an album on my first listen but vividly remember screaming FUCK DONALD TRUMP right before having a shower.
29. Konnichiwa (2016), Skepta.
First and only album I’ve had a listening party for. Sat in a room with around 9 others beside a sub-woofer taking in the long-awaited Grime masterpiece at near full volume despite sound complaints.
28. Electric Ladyland (1968), Jimi Hendrix.
The second and last rock album on the list.
27. You’re a man now boy (2016), Raleigh Ritchie.
First listen was accompanied by a timely walk down the canal by Ward’s on one of the nicest mornings in recent memory in Galway city. Pulsating vocals and incredible production. You can listen to my interview with Raleigh here (Ironically the sound editing was done for it in the Silent Zone of the library).
26. The Life Of Pablo (2016), Kanye West.
See no. 40.
25. 99.9% (2016), Kaytranada.
Seamless electronic-hop album that overtook Kolsch as the soundtrack to the walk to work for the guts of a month. You can read my article on Kaytra’s effect on music here.
24. At.Long.Last.A$AP. (2015), A$AP Rocky.
Still in debt to Lord Flacko, as this album is the sole thing that pulled me through a 1,800 word essay in the twilight hours of the night.
23. Rejovich (2013), Rejjie Snow.
The only EP on the album, but every minute of the 16 count. The Dubliner and Prince of Irish Hip-Hop’s first offering has a special place in my collection. First introduced me to all the country has to offer rap-wise and would later keep me sane while working in a factory in Clare.
22. Born Sinner (2013), J.Cole.
More on Cole later.
21. Goblin (2011), Tyler the Creator.
Bought this as a present for someone and had one listen before I gave it away and it gave me the creeps. After a year or two and a greater understanding of Tyler himself, it became one of my favorites has accompanied many procrastinatory hours.
20. Blonde (2016), Frank Ocean.
I hate hype beasts, but this album officially baptised me as one. That line on ‘Nikes’ is possibly the first shot at Carmelo Anthony that hasn’t made the Knick fan inside me cry.
19. Watch the Throne (2011), Jay-Z and Kanye West.
The album symbolically ties in with the fact that my Dad got me this; Hov and Jay: Paul and Cóilí.
18. 1988 (2014), Lethal Dialect x JackKnife J.
The highest ranked Irish album on the list and the most important in terms of Hip-Hop here. A complete symbiosis of lyrics and production that could stand up there with most top international works.
17. (Cross) (2007), Justice.
Listened to ‘Minute to Midnight’ in and around midnight the first time.
16. Made in The Manor (2016), Kano.
Dozed off on my first listen and it felt like Kano himself was speaking to me through my earphones. Cutthroat lyrics that paint a bleakly uplifting picture of inner city London, accompanied by stunning visuals, show an honest side to London. You can listen to my interview with Kano here.
15. The Blueprint 3 (2009), Jay-Z.
The purchase that probably inspired my Dad’s future ‘Watch the Throne’ investment when he exclaimed ‘JAY-Z?!’ at his 15 year-old son’s choice in the middle of HMV. Money well spent.
14. Thank Me Later (2010), Drake.
The sole Drizzy album on the list. Was bought in the back of a Biology class off the aforementioned friend from no.44. Read more on me and Drake here.
13. The Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), The Weeknd.
The more I listen to this, the more I like every song, after just being interested in the popular singles at first. Such a good album it inspired Aoife Walsh to go to the effort of buying the physical in order to play in the car.
12. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012), Kendrick Lamar.
I first heard of K Dot through SLAM Magazine (The number one influence of The Ankle Breaker) and this transatlantic pointer was the biggest influence on my current taste in Rap music. It goes without saying that this is one of the finest pieces of modern music and in my opinion miles ahead of ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’
11. Blue Lines (1991), Massive Attack.
10. Boy in Da Corner (2003), Dizzee Rascal.
This is the first in the top ten for two reasons. It is carried heavily by ‘Brand New Day’ which just strikes a cord like no other with me, and also because it will never be replicated in terms of genre significance and sound. Simply put, the truest Grime album ever.
9. Invaders Must Die (2009), The Prodigy.
The first physical album I ever bought and an absolute birth of fire. The Prodigy will always be my favourite band and this album consolidates their ever-relevancy.
8. Wolf (2013), Tyler the Creator.
Got me through Leaving Cert and is easier listening than ‘Goblin’. The whole album tells a twisted story imagined in Tyler’s head that makes it one of the most unique albums ever.
7. GA10* (2007), Groove Armada.
The only ‘Greatest hits’ on the list but it’s more than that. A compiled two-disc mix of their best uptempo and chilled songs. A really unique listening experience that prompted me and my Dad (A Van Morrison fan) to blare it full volume driving through Spiddal.
6. Alive 2007 (2007), Daft Punk.
The only live album on the list but this makes every other live album look like elevator music. Often played when going to bed when the radio was out of service. And that is serious business.
5. Ready to Die (1992), The Notorious B.I.G.
The first non-commercial rap album I bought and one that led me down a long path of Hip-Hop obsession. No one tells stories of violence, love, poverty, drugs and money like Biggie and it’s hard to think anyone ever will again.
4. Homework (1994), Daft Punk.
This is definitely one of the most transcendent albums of all-time across all genres. It doesn’t carry with it the cheesy vibes of plenty, if not most, older Electronic music, but still holds onto the grainy basement feel in which it emanated from. Such a great debut from Dance music’s (In Pa Doran’s opinion) most influential duo.
3. Experience (1991), The Prodigy.
It took me years to get my hands on this but found it in Gamestop in the Pavillion shopping centre in Swords. Similar to ‘Homework’ it is kind of a one and done for the band in terms of style but definitely has era-linked sounds to it. A ravers bible and by far the most frantic album on the list.
2. Our Version of Events (2012), Emeli Sandé.
It’s a cop-out to call yourself a fan of vocals given that basically any properly functioning human has appreciation for a good voice. This album stands out surprisingly for not the emotional adolescent nights it didn’t accompany, but just the standout feeling of emotion on the album itself and the variation of styles within the album itself, rather than being a compilation of complaining or moaning. Symbolic in some ways that it is roughly the same age as The Ankle Breaker and that it’s follow-up will be released in the coming weeks. Also chilling was the fact that myself and Evan Campbell found one sole CD in the Decks in Boiler Room (Galway’s home for heavy-ass Techno) with ‘Clown’ on it, along with a Mall Grab tune (?)
1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014), J. Cole.
If it was possible to fully put this album’s significance into words, there’d be no point for the album itself, given that it goes to another level in terms of lyricism and storytelling. ‘Apparently’ is played after any positive event, I’m not lying when I say I know every single word and I’m bordering about 200 plays. The documentary to follow was equally unique in the insights it gave into Cole’s production of the album, along with the release and tour. All around the best thing I’ve ever listened to. (So far)
Hope you enjoyed that highly introspective lists and don’t be shy to get in touch to share your own favourites in the comments below or on Facebook.