BigCountry's Top 10 Rap Albums [FULL LIST OUT]

Started by DKC, Apr 23, 2016, in Music Add to Reading List

  1. DKC
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    Apr 23, 2016
    It's easy to name a handful of albums off the top of your head when discussing favorites, but until now I'd never really sat down and tried to discern an ordered list. Obviously lists like this can change pretty frequently as albums age poorly and tastes change, but I'm pretty confident in it at this point in time. Some of these probably will never leave my list, but if I'm being real, I wouldn't trust someone if they felt their ranking was concrete and forever -- it shows they aren't open to new music and don't have any interest in checking out older stuff they may have missed.

    Anyway, this is purely subjective: ie, I'm not trying to discern which rap albums are the best, simply which ones are my absolute favorites (though clearly I think all of these are classic, or at the very least extremely good). I'm not gonna load it with safe 90s classics I like just because they're timeless, though obviously there are lots of great albums from that time period. I think everyone knows that "feeling" you get when you hear an album and you're certain you're going to love it forever, whether it was on the first listen or it took you a few before you "got it." That's what I'm talking about here.

    A few things you should know about the list:
    1. For the sake of diversity, the only rule I used when making it is that an artist can only appear once.
    2. Hint: there are four albums from the 90s, one from the 2000s, and five from the 2010s. I'm probably a little biased toward the 90s and 2010s because I was a dusthead in the 2000s and didn't start really paying attention to new music like I do now until the 2010s. Make some guesses if you'd like!
    3. I'm just trying to have fun with this, so these write-ups are more informal, off-the-dome blurbs of #mythoughts (shouts out @Narsh).

    Like OP or tag me if you want to be mentioned when I update. I'm gonna try to do three or so every day so I don't drag this out too long.

    10. Future - Monster (2014)
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    Full disclosure: for how much I love Future now, I was late as f--- to the game. I'd tried listening to Dirty Sprite back in 2012 after he made the XXL Freshman list and couldn't get into him other than the titular track. Pluto and Honest didn't do much for me either when they dropped (I love them now though), and it wasn't until I heard Monster that I really 'got' Future. From the moment I heard that low growl on "Radical" and heard him say "Cowboy hat on me I went blonde cause I'm bougie/matter fact n----- I got St. Laurent groupies" I was sold.

    When you're new Future's delivery and this style of production, it's hard to take in everything he says unless you're listening closely. For that reason, it took me a few spins to get past my immersion in the production and delivery and realize just how depressing this album is. For every "f--- Up Some Commas" there's a "Throw Away" and a "Hardly." Even songs like "Showed Up" that feel like pure braggadocio upon first listen are cries for help ("I was drugged up on so many drugs"). Released just six months apart, Monster is the come down from Honest. Both albums boast a smattering of infectious hooks, but the delayed sense of distraught and sadness is what makes Monster special in my eyes. The melodies get stuck in your head before you even realize what he's saying, and before you know it you can't go a day without thinking "I just downed a whole eighth of codeine...fixin' up the molly with the Spirte like it's protein." Even if you can't relate to why he's feeling what he's feeling, you can relate to what he's feeling. It's that ability to transfer emotion that I love.

    Also, "Codeine Crazy." I think that speaks for itself. "I'm an addict and I can't even hide it." :mjcry: :mjcry: :mjcry:

    9. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010)
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    I’m one of the seemingly few people who would put Big Boi above Andre, and that’s nothing against 3K. I’d never argue that putting him above Big Boi is a bad choice, but for me, Big’s post-Stankonia solo output (that includes Speakerboxxx, as I view Stankonia as the last true Outkast album) seals the deal. Though Big Grams and Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors don’t have nearly as high of a success rate as Chico Dusty (or even Speakerboxxx), they’re decent albums in their own right. I’m not so much of a fan of The Love Below, but to be fair, the last time I heard it was in 2014 when I was gearing up to see them at Sasquatch, so I should probably give it another chance.

    As for the album itself: I don’t listen to it nearly as much as I used to, but there was a point in time where I honestly preferred it over and listened to it more than MBDTF…I think that’s partially because the girl I was dating at the time hated Kanye and this was one of the few rap albums she liked as much as me (not liking Kanye was an easy sign we should have broken up earlier, but I was 19 and dumb. Side note: sometimes when she would ask me questions I would answer “cuz I’m just a Chi-town cracker with a nice flow” to piss her off).

    There are a lot of guests on Chico Dusty, but what I love is that he utilizes them to build an aesthetic rather than going the Game route and phoning them in to take up space and boost sales. Sleepy Brown and Big Rube are on here of course. George Clinton is on here. T.I. is on here. Too $hort stops by for four bars just because he can a la Rick Ross on “Monster.” “Shine Blockas" is one of the most fun songs ever. I love the Gucci verse (“They put Gucci in a cell then Madea went to jail/I make music, I make movies, I need Tyler Perry sales”) and I love even more that he’s not in the music video because he was in jail so they just spliced in translucent images of him during his verse. Even Yelawolf and B.o.B. hold their own (the latter of whom seemed really promising at the time, despite somewhat of a lackluster debut). For the most part, the guests seem like natural and necessary pieces of the song, and it really proves Big Boi’s ability to craft a consistent and holistic album. He’s not working with people just to work with them, he’s working with them for the greater good of the sound.

    Bonus: it spawned this wonderful Black Keys mashup:

    8. UGK - Ridin’ Dirty (1996)
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    Despite this being widely considered UGK’s best album and one of the best southern rap albums of all time, I was a little late to the game on this one as well. It’s funny because back when I was still stanning Eminem I was bumping Super Tight and Underground Kingz, but I guess being fairly removed from the overall hip-hop canon comes with the territory of listening to Eminem a lot.

    It’s absolutely baffling to me that people discredited the south for so long (and still do) when you had albums like this and ATLiens coming out in the same year (especially with an opener like “One Day”). It’s not even as if Ridin’ Dirty is particularly weird. In terms of samples, it flips most of rap’s mainstays — soul, funk, jazz, disco (and funnily enough, Pink Floyd). It’s almost as if it took sparse, gritty drums that characterized a lot of New York rap in the 1990s and blended it with the G-Funk sound that was coming out of California. For that reason, it’s an album I feel like I can put on almost anytime: it’s soulful enough for a sunny day, hard-hitting and catchy enough for background music at a low-key party, and thoughtful enough for when I’m feeling introspective.

    Also, p---- C is the only person named Chad whose cocaine numbers I would believe.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
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  2. DKC
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    Apr 23, 2016
    7. Mobb Deep - The Infamous (1995)
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    If I recall correctly, I don’t think anyone has guessed this so far. I had a feeling this might be one of the more surprising ones, as I feel like it usually gets passed over in favor of other phenomenal NY classics like Illmatic, Enter the Wu-Tang, and Ready to Die. Speaking of the latter, what I’ve always appreciated about The Infamous is that it feels timeless to me in the same way that Ready to Die does. While an album like Illmatic is an absolute classic, its sound feels a little “dustier” than Infamous or Ready to Die. I know the term “dusty” has a negative connotation these days, but I don’t think it’s always a bad thing. Madlib’s beats feel “dusty” in a lot of cases, but that’s part of the charm. Illmatic transports you back to 1994 and makes you feel like you’re right there shooting dice and drinking E&J with Nas in Queensbridge, and while The Infamous is certainly a product of the 90s, it’s not as explicit as Illmatic to me. Though it still boasts those sparse drums that characterized NY at the time, everything feels a little bit crisper, and songs like “Temperature’s Rising” and “Drink Away the Pain” help curb the sparseness. For that reason, I feel like it’s one of the more accessible 90s NY albums after Ready to Die and Reasonable Doubt.

    Anyway, Mobb Deep makes pretty bad music now and have for quite some time (remember when they were in G-Unit? lol), but this and h--- on Earth are both classics in my eyes. The only song harder than “Shook Ones Pt. II” I can think of off the top of my head is “Ante Up,” and even so, I feel like “Rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone” has a special place in every rap fan’s heart. “Drink Away the Pain” is probably in my top 25 favorite rap songs of all time as well. Also, Prodigy’s reaction to getting a 4.9 on Pitchfork is a 10.0:


    6. Kendrick Lamar - section.80 (2011)
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    Sorry [​IMG], but section.80 is, and always has been my favorite Kendrick album. Props to @Maad City for guessing this right (I feel like @JFK would have guessed this right as well), cuz everyone else who guessed Kendrick guessed good kid, m.A.A.d city.

    Don’t get me wrong: good kid is Kendrick’s best album and I completely understand why most would pick it as their favorite. However, there’s a certain intrigue to section.80 that I don’t think Kendrick has captured since. I thought To p---- a Butterfly was going to have it, but it became less interesting upon each listen while section.80 gets more rewarding upon subsequent listens. Despite the somewhat botched ending, good kid is a great album I can throw on anytime as well, but I find section.80 to be a lot more fascinating in terms of its structure and more abstract nature. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: GKMC follows a very simple narrative, but there’s nothing wrong wth that because it executes that simple narrative extremely, extremely well. At the same time, having a more abstract narrative doesn’t necessarily make section.80 the better album either (if only TPAB stans could learn that).

    Only a handful of albums have captivated me upon first listen as much as section.80, so much so that I listened to it something like 16 times the first few days after I downloaded it (and no, not because something something jazz something something 2pac, I just personally find this album really interesting and also sonically pleasing). Each song feels kind of like a vignette that tangentially relates to the overall story and themes of the album, but they aren’t fully and concretely connected to one another like on GKMC. 2016 Kendrick could not flip a p---- C sample and make it work to the degree “Blow My High Does” (this honestly might be my favorite Kendrick song on a good day). “ADHD” is obviously great. “f--- Your Ethnicity” remains by far my favorite Kendrick album opener. Despite somewhat of an awkward chorus, “Hol’ Up” gets stuck in my head forever and the beat is godly. Though the highs might be higher on good kid, section.80 remains my favorite front-to-back Kendrick listen.

    5. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Piñata (2014)
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    Back when the first blog was open and we were making our Top 25 Rap Albums of the 2010s (so far), we all got in a pretty heated argument about this album (it was mostly @Narsh and I vs. @Slyk and @Koolo if I remember right). We had My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as number one, but the number two spot was between this and good kid, m.A.A.d city. If I’m being real, I’d pick Piñata over good kid pretty easily (as demonstrated by the previous entry in this list), but I think they are pretty close in quality. I only bring up the GKMC comparison because I think they share their biggest flaw: relatively lackluster endings. “Compton” and “Piñata” are both victory laps, but the latter is a little bit easier for me to separate from the rest of the album as “Shame” feels like a natural closer has the “Big Time Watts” skit to separate it. GKMC makes more of a clunky transition after “Sing About Me” with the inferior “Dying of Thirst” and “Real.” Still, “Piñata” is a decent posse cut with a few great verses (Domo, Meechy, and Gibbs obviously), but Gibbs’ verse is way too early in the song to have this be the last track, especially when it ends with a subpar Mac Miller verse.

    Nitpicking aside, from Madlib’s production to Gibbs’ rapping to the features (it accurately states “featuring every MFer in the rap game worth f---ing with” on the cover), this album is virtually flawless in my eyes. Gibbs is a villain, but what I’ve always loved about him is that he’s an honest villain: he’ll call you out for cheating on your girl or doing blow, but only because you’re just like him. And of course, there’s the ruthless destruction of Young Jeezy on “Real,” which is probably the most underrated diss track of the past few years. It’s hard to talk about this album without going into a full review because legitimately every song is great. “High” might my favorite weed song of all time, and even though I have almost 100 plays of it on iTunes I still can’t manage to rap Danny Brown’s verse all the way through. Gibbs and Scarface complement each other perfectly on “Broken.” Most of all, Madlib’s production truly is timeless — the samples sound crisp and contemporary while still maintaining that “dusting off an old record” vibe. Also, multiple Friday references are also always a plus: “Skinny n-----, six wings mild sauce/With all the fries you can get me I tear them b------s off.” :dance2:

    Side note: the album was originally called Cocaine Piñata because it was supposedly inspired by a dream Gibbs had about a piñata full of cocaine.

    4. A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders (1993)
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    Tribe was probably the first artist or group I ever stanned. After my neighbor gave me a copy of their greatest hits (The Anthology), I downloaded their discography and spent hours scouring Limewire for anything labeled “feat. Q-Tip” or “feat. Phife Dawg,” which quickly got me into the Native Tongues Posse (De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep…and then honorary members like The Roots and the Beatnuts). Unfortunately that kinda spurred my “real hip-hop”/backpacker phase, but that attitude’s long gone and I discovered a lot of dope music through it so I ain’t mad about it.

    Anyway, The Low End Theory was my favorite Tribe album for years and I think the majority of fans would pick it as their best. The highs might be higher on The Low End Theory (“Scenario,” “Check the Rhime,” “Jazz”), but Midnight Marauders isn’t far behind (“Electric Relaxation,” “Oh My God,” “The Chase, Part II”). I’m always a person who is going to value a holistic album experience more than just a collection of really good songs (even if said really good songs are better), so that’s where Marauders comes out ahead for me. It really does feel like the “Midnight Marauders Program” as it’s referred to on a couple of the short skits that break up the songs. As you probably could have guessed by the name, it’s one of my favorite albums to put on during a low-key night at home — something just doesn’t feel as right when I listen to it during the daytime. Though Q-Tip is probably in my top five favorite rappers of all time, Phife is equally as good on here. I think he’s one of the most underrated rappers in terms of quotables/humor (“Yo I'll take it back, I'm the Indian giver”; “I like my beats hard like two-day-old s---/steady eatin’ booty MCs like cheese grits”; “Let me hit it from the back, girl I won't catch a hernia/Bust off on your couch, now you got Seaman's Furniture”). R.I.P. Phife. :mjcry:
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
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  3. DKC
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    Apr 23, 2016
    3. Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt (1996)
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    Out of all the albums on this list, picking Jay-Z’s was probably the most difficult. I had The Black Album and The Blueprint on here at one point, and the very last change I made to this list was switching out American Gangster for Reasonable Doubt, the latter of which gets the edge due to the nostalgia factor. Part of the reason I love this album so much is that it reminds me of the time I first heard it. I was 16 or so and my friends and I were smoking hookah (lol) and drinking the Miller High Life my friend bought with his fake ID that was printed with computer paper and hand-laminated. We thought we were f---ing cool. Jay-Z was f---ing cool.

    And that, of course, is one of the most appealing things about Jay-Z. Up until Magna Carta Holy Grail (@Narsh’s favorite album) came out, he could make pretty much anything sound cool. Jay’s almost always charismatic, but the charisma Jay boasts here is a little more “ruthless.” He’s cool, but also cold (maybe not quite flat-out “villainous,” but closer here than in most places), and for that reason there’s nothing more perfect than the album ending with “Regrets.” The trading of verses with Biggie on “Brooklyn’s Finest” is some of the “best rapping for the sake of rapping” in history. Also, “Feelin’ It” is my favorite Jay-Z song of all time (and probably in my top 25 favorite rap songs of all time). It’s one of those songs that I have distinct memories of at vastly different points in my life. I think most of us find this relatable:

    “I'm so confused, okay I'm getting weeded now/I know I contradicted myself, look, I don't need that now/It’s just once in a blue when there's nothing to do/And the tension gets too thick for my sober mind to cut through”

    2. Clipse – h--- Hath No Fury (2006)
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    Of all the major rap artists to come up in the 2000s (50 Cent, Game, Kanye West, Dipset, Lupe, etc.), I’ve always felt Clipse didn’t get enough credit – I’d even go so far as to argue they have the best album released in the 2000s out of all of them (hint: it’s this one, though Lord Willin’ isn’t too far behind). The best part about Clipse is that, while they’re not quite underrated, no one overrates them either, so there’s not much stanism associated with them. One day last summer, I was stopped at a red light and there was a guy sitting on a half wall smoking a cigarette. He heard me playing Lord Willin’ out of my car and we proceeded to yell over traffic and have a 30 second conversation about how more people should consider Pusha and Malice some of the GOATs. Clipse fans are the best fans.

    Lord Willin’ is a classic, but h--- Hath No Fury is on another level. One of my favorite things about Push (and Malice, but I’ve never listened to his solo s---) is his tendency to rap over unorthodox beats. There’s a reason why I mentioned this album in @Koolo’s topic about albums that still sound fresh, and that’s because the production on here truly is timeless. I suppose it’s still a product of the 2000s more than anything, but it’s not one of those albums you can listen to and say “oh, this was made when X was popular.” The Neptunes’ production is immaculate, Push and Malice are rapping at their peak, and both in combination blow me away no matter what year it is. Also, you know how I mentioned Jay had an almost “villainous” charisma on Reasonable Doubt? It’s nothing compared to that of Clipse. “Yo whatup ma I got a pocket fulla stinkies, let’s go spend these right quick,” might be my favorite opening line of all time. From “Momma I’m So Sorry” to “Nightmares,” it truly is a trip. Also, Coke Rap is the best subgenre. Just throwing that out there.

    1. Kanye West - Yeezus (2013)
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    I felt like everyone was going to guess this one, but a lot of people guessed My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which surprised me because I feel like I’ve been pretty vocal about how much I like Yeezus. I love both albums, but more than anything I like how succinct Yeezus is. I’m the type of person who pretty much only listens to albums front-to-back, so I tend to gravitate toward 40-50 minute albums over 80 minute albums as I’m able to finish them in one sitting more often. Part of why I love it so much comes from nostalgia (this leaked the last day of finals week my senior year of college…I ended up going two quarters into a fifth year but that’s beside the point!), but part of it is that Yeezus is just that good. I routinely listened to it twice in a row during summer 2013 and it hasn’t left my rotation since.

    It’s been said before, but Yeezus is like a midlife crisis. I searched through my posts real quick because I don’t think I’ve said it better than this: “It's simultaneously disjointed and cohesive and there's a strong sense of urgency. It pulls you through this trip of aggression and anger and pride and loss and hopelessness until Kanye somehow ends up in love on “Bound 2.” I love it. It might be my favorite album of all time.” My opinions went back and forth on nearly every song until I realized I love all of them (yep, including “I Am A God”). Even the lead up to it was amazing (the SNL performance, the projections, literally not knowing the final track list for sure until it leaked). I genuinely feel sorry for people who didn't experience that rollout, and even more so for people who don’t like this album. I really do.

    Also the unreleased artwork for this is GOAT and so fitting. A golden Kanye being ripped in half.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
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  4. Koolo
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    Koolo SAS IS THE NEW KANYE

    Apr 23, 2016
    Oh this gon be lit
     
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  5. Jehovah
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    Jehovah SB3

    Apr 23, 2016
    Very good list when Future is already on it :rejoice:
     
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  6. SWERVO
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    SWERVO big cuntry's alias

    Apr 23, 2016
    Great read for Monster and great choice. Hit me with that mention.

    Also, I'd like to add, what BC touched on in that Monster review is what a lot of people don't take away from Future. They think he just makes "catchy" music but they are so wrong. A lot more depth behind his music than the average listener hears.
     
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  7. A R T
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    A R T ALLPOSITIVEVIBES | LONG. LIVE.| FutureHive |

    Apr 23, 2016
     
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  8. Mr Rager
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    Mr Rager Nina Chop

    Apr 23, 2016
    Looking forward to this BC!
     
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  9. mow
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    mow Red Panda Nation

    Apr 23, 2016
     
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  10. Flacko
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    Flacko Too Blessed To Be Humble

    Apr 23, 2016
    Music section was in desperate need of a quality thread like this.
     
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  11. because the internet
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    Apr 23, 2016
    Lit
     
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  12. Thy
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    Thy 000000

    Apr 23, 2016
    startin off skrong :whew:
     
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  13. DKC
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    Yeah dude, I've had this doc on my computer with some of the write-ups partially written for like a month, but I've been so busy I haven't had a chance until now. I wanted to post it before Views so it doesn't get buried.
     
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  14. Koolo
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    Koolo SAS IS THE NEW KANYE

    Apr 23, 2016
    Gkmc top 5
     
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  15. Koolo
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    Koolo SAS IS THE NEW KANYE

    Apr 23, 2016
    Top 3 guess?
     
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  16. Goldy
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    Apr 23, 2016
    gimme some Andy Pindrop
     
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  17. DKC
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    DKC admin of SXN80, notorious marxist messageboard

    Apr 23, 2016
    If anyone can guess the rest of the list in full I'll buy them an Arch Dogg d-ck pic mug and 500 likes
     
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  18. Views
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    Views New nikka, just new nikka

    Apr 23, 2016
    I am prepared to take my L
     
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  19. SWERVO
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    SWERVO big cuntry's alias

    Apr 23, 2016
    I predict a Gates project to be on here, between 5-8
     
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  20. SWERVO
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    SWERVO big cuntry's alias

    Apr 23, 2016
    Also, Fazoland and a Thug project
     
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