"Top five, top five, top five!"
I don't know if Andre Allen said that or not, but everything sounds better in Chris Rock cadence so I'll imagine.
Top 5 is hard for me because my writing is influenced as much by music as books, and hiphop as much as rock or country--one of my favorite characters clearly draws inspiration* from Andre 3000. So I have to cheat a bit according to some and consider groups as one entry. The first of my Top 5 (not in order) proves why.
*I'm a writer not a biter
A group with two albums--and the first was just okay--in my Top 5? Damn right. Because that second album, The Score, was better than most careers. Slick, vibrant, with rhymes not possible before Wyclef's Haitian Creole. Lauryn Hill had soul, flow, rapier wordplay, and wasn't acting batshit yet. References to Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Charmin toilet paper commercials, mafia, Roots, blacksploitation, armageddon, Rasta, race politics, and the Bible--in one damn song. The Score is dark, funny, complex, and withstands time.
And the skits are brilliant. My personal fav comes at the end of the title track: Michelle Leslie Brown. From 225th street. That plays ball in the park.
You can only imagine how great their third fourth and fifth albums could've been.
But I do have to address the Pras issue. Pras is why you have to consider groups--The Fugees are Top 5 but I sure as hell won't burn a pick on him. He was to their greatness as Trent Dilfer was to his Super Bowl ring. Still, Pras had a great verse on The Mask:
That's brilliant and deep. Problem is the song before, where he dropped these insights:
I won't say more.