Doc Brown Picks His Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums

From Outkast to Nas, DMX to...Kanye West?

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You probably recognise Ben Bailey Smith - aka Doc Brown - as a comedian and actor (he was easily the best thing about David Brent: Life On The Road), but before all that he was a rapper.

Ten years after giving up music, he's back with Stemma - easily one of the best UK rap albums of the year so far.

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We spoke to him to find out what his favourite hip-hop albums of all time are, based, he tells us "purely on the fact that I still listen to all of them repeatedly since they dropped."

1. It's Dark and Hell is Hot - DMX, 1998

I'm not sure X ever fully reached these heights again but this album is masterpiece of storytelling and lyrical dexterity. It's hard to think of any rap album that matches its intensity.

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2. Aquemini - Outkast, 1998

Andre 3000 is in my top five rappers of all time and has been since '93. Big Boy is also incredible - he just happens to have paired himself with the best! This album is so passionate, so fun and so complex, I still find new things in it nearly two decades on.

3. The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest, 1991

The oldest in this list and still sounds fresh. How is that possible? Probably because Tip is one of the true visionaries of modern music. "Bugging Out" is still hard as nails. The whole LP is thoughtful, progressive and of course, bassy as fuck.

4. Illmatic - Nas, 1994

I was 16 when I heard this other teenager rapping like a wise old man, like his life depended on it, and with the coolest voice ever. It's easy to forget that no one had attempted to rap from such an introspective position before this album. The definition of a game changer.

5. Good Kid Mad City - Kendrick Lamar, 2012

A natural successor to Nas and Andre 3000, with a sprinkle of Pun and G Rap, Kendrick lifted the culture when it needed it most. This album has so much character and such a sense of belonging. And "Money Trees" is one of my favourite ever rap songs.

6. The Life of Pablo - Kanye West, 2016

SORRY. I know I'll get pelters for it but this is bizarrely my favourite Kanye album. Maybe because of what he was going through at the time - how did he manage to make such a fearless, outrageous, honest, vulnerable, aggressive blockbuster at the height of pop stardom? 'Real Friends' is the most honest record by anyone in a while.

7. The Realness - Cormega, 2001

Probably the most underground selection on this list but it had a profound effect on me and still does. For me he's never matched these heights since, but The Realness is a true companion piece to Illmatic, like Nas was analysing street life and Mega was just in the streets.

8. The Marshall Mathers LP - Eminem, 2001

Not much to add to one of the most talked about rap albums in history, except that the mixture of comedy, tragedy and unbelievable technical ability is yet to be rivaled by anyone.

9. Supreme Clientele - Ghostface Killah, 2000

A strange, coke-laced joint of an album, led by a thugged-out super-pimp with a heart and a love of old soul records. Ghost took an avant garde approach on this, that is still a head-scratcher to some, but banger after banger ("One", "Apollo Kids", "The Grain", "Mighty Healthy"), the sense of purpose is undeniable.

10. The Blueprint - Jay-Z, 2001

The Twin Towers dropped in his hometown the same day he dropped this absolute blue diamond of a record. Lest we forget, he kicked off proceedings by destroying Nas and Prodigy with consummate ease and swagger, and closed the record with heartfelt memories of his mum's kitchen and hand me down clothes. Jigga is the GOAT.

Doc Brown's new single Corruptible is out now