With Gemini season in full swing, it’s only fitting to pay an homage to the art of the double album.

Such an increasingly elusive creative endeavor first rose to prominence in the mid to late 1990s, with artists releasing projects that spanned the confines of a single vinyl record or disc as a way to secure their prominence in hip-hop history.

While most double albums are considered to be one lengthy, cohesive collection of music, the trend also has shifted at times to package a studio album with a live recording. Additionally, in the classic example of OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the project was essentially two solo albums with one for each member of the duo.

Such an ambitious approach to releasing music helped certain artists solidify their legacies, with double albums once a surefire way to at least secure one’s place in the conversation. However, other double albums fell short both critically and commercially, with the method proving doing the artists less favors than they may have hoped.

While there are some double albums that continue to hold their own in music history, many are curious if the trend will ever make a comeback to rival the beloved 90s, especially considering how the trends of today are packaged in the form of loosie singles and live on streaming services.

With the likes of Chris Brown recently announcing he is working on his most ambitious project to date, Heartbreak on a Full Moon, and others such as Future and Frank Ocean adapting to the contemporary landscape and releasing albums consecutively in their own unique ways, the double album does hold the potential to take on new forms. Most recently, all eyes were on Kendrick Lamar, with some speculating DAMN. was only half the story and others believing that the album is indeed a double album when you listen to it backward.

In the spirit of being hungry for longer works, something that is increasingly fleeting as the times change and attention spans shorten, we take a look at 15 essential double albums that are beyond worth running back.


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15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff – He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy JeffHe’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper

Year: 1988

Reception/Background: This project marks the first official double album to be released in hip-hop history. It also marked the duo’s most successful album, with its single “Parents Just Don’t Understand” scoring The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and DJ Jazzy Jeff the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, as well as reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

OutKast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below 

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

OutKastSpeakerboxxx/The Love Below 

Year: 2003

Reception/Background: This project is long hailed as one of the most eccentric and celebrated double albums in hip-hop. The combination of Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx, featuring a Southern hip-hop meets P-Funk style, and Andre3000’s The Love Below, inspiring a collection of pop, funk, jazz and psychedelic sounds, helped solidify the group’s legacy as innovators. The project has been certified diamond by the RIAA and continues to be held in high regard by music fans.

Nas – Street’s Disciple 

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Nas Street’s Disciple 

Year: 2004

Reception/Background: Nas’ seventh studio album treated fans twofold, with the project spanning 25 tracks total. Street’s Disciple borrowed its title from Nas’ 1991 debut single, “Live at the Barbeque” and recreated the infamous Last Supper on its cover. The project has been well-received by music critics, going on to sell 232,000 copies its first week. It also marked Nas’ seventh consecutive album to be certified platinum.

Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Notorious B.I.G.Life After Death

Year: 1997

Reception/Background: This record will long be hailed by diehard supporters as one of the greatest works the genre of hip-hop has seen, with the Notorious B.I.G. further exploring the subgenre of mafioso rap. Released posthumously the same month that Biggie was tragically and fatally shot, Life After Death was the sequel to his debut, Ready to Die, with the album picking up where the first left off. The project has since been certified diamond, as well has gone on to inspire a generation (and generations to come).

2Pac – All Eyez on Me

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

2Pac All Eyez on Me

Year: 1996

Reception/Background: All Eyez on Me marked the fourth and final album 2Pac released while he was alive, with the project going on to be certified diamond in 2014. The album served as two of his three-album contract with Death Row, with the deal being made in exchange for Suge Knight and Jimmy Iovine paying his bail after his 1995 arrest. The project’s 27 songs also marks the first double album featuring all original material in hip-hop history, and has long been regarded as one of the best albums both in 2Pac’s career and in rap music at large.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – The Art of War

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Bone Thugs-N-HarmonyThe Art of War

Year: 1997

Reception/Background: The project marks Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s third studio album, which went on to be certified quadruple platinum a year after its release. The first disc, titled World War 1, was combined with a second titled, World War 2, with the entire double album featuring production by DJ U-Neek.

E-40 – The Element of Surprise

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

E-40The Element of Surprise

Year: 1998

Reception/Background: The album marks E-40’s fourth studio album, and featured a slew of featured guests, including fellow members of The Click: B-Legit, D-Shot and Suga-T, as well as also featured appearances from Master P, Busta Rhymes, WC, Too Short, K-Ci & JoJo and more. The album was met with mixed reviews, with some claiming that E-40 didn’t meet fans’ expectations and that the project’s length didn’t do his talents justice, but rather diluted them.

Wu-Tang – Wu-Tang Forever

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Wu-TangWu-Tang Forever

Year: 1997

Reception/Background: The project serves as the follow-up to Wu-Tang’s storied debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It was released following a string of solo projects, with Wu-Tang Forever helping to secure the group’s legacy. In addition to being received well by fans, it also earned Wu-Tang a Grammy nomination in 1998.

Jay Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Jay Z The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse

Year: 2002

Reception/Background: The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse marks the seventh studio album by Ja Z, and served as a sequel to The Blueprint (2001). With production handled primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze, the 110-minute project strayed from his usual style, incorporating funk, R&B and pop-leaning sounds into the mix. The project featured a slew of features, including from the likes of Beyoncé, Dr. Dre, Rakim, Truth Hurts, the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Lenny Kravitz, M.O.P., Scarface, Beanie Sigel, Freeway and more.

The Diplomats – Diplomatic Immunity

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

The Diplomats Diplomatic Immunity

Year: 2003

Reception/Background: With this double album also serving as the debut project from The Diplomats, the project has since been regarded as one of the most classic records of the past decade, especially from a rap group. It arrived after Cam’Ron’s third studio album, with the collaborative effort helping all members to continue emerging into their respective places in contemporary rap history.

Master P – MP Da Last Don

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Master PMP Da Last Don

Year: 1998

Reception/Background: MP Da Last Don marked the seventh studio album from Master P, going on to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and sell 496,000 copies its first week. The project was also accompanied by a short film of the same name. MP Da Last Don was originally billed as Master P’s final album, but luckily for fans, he didn’t follow through with that promise.

Cypress Hill – Skull & Bones

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Cypress Hill – Skull & Bones

Year: 2000

Reception/Background: Cypress Hill’s fifth studio effort had the group doubling up, releasing one disc with a focus on hip-hop (Skull) and the other primarily focused on rap metal (Bones). With guest appearances from the likes of Eminem, N.O.R.E., Everlast, Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, Chino Moreno of the Deftones and more, the project was received well from critics, with many saying that the group broke down barriers of genre with the release.

Nelly – Sweat/Suit

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

NellySweat/Suit

Year: 2005

Reception/Background: While this project is a compilation, it was packaged as a double album, combining Nelly’s 2004 releases, Sweat and Suit, as well as including a handful of extra tracks. Nelly originally wanted to release one album, but due to his recording rate, decided to extend his plans to accommodate two cohesive projects, with each focusing on different aspects of his artistry and sound.

UGK – Underground Kingz

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

UGKUnderground Kingz

Year: 2007

Reception/Background: Underground Kingz marked UGK’s fifth studio album, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and selling 160,000 copies its first week. The double album featured guest appearances from Talib Kweli, Rick ROss, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Slim Thug, Dizzee Rascal, OutKast, Three 6 Mafia and more, as well as featured production from Pimp C, Lil Jon, N.O. Joe, Swizz Beatz, DJ Paul & Juicy J, Scarface, Marley Marl and more. While the album was met with critical acclaim, it also represents heartache, with one-half of the duo, Pimp C, passing away four months after its release.

Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

15 Double Disc Albums To Revisit

Vince StaplesSummertime ’06

Year: 2015

Reception/Background: With the release of Summertime ’06, Vince Staples broke through to a new audience and solidified his reputation as an emerging rapper to keep on one’s radar. With the project doubling as his official studio debut, Summertime ’06 received widespread acclaim from critics, with many noting that the rapper not only went all in, but was immensely focused in his lyrical ambitions and passionate delivery.