This August, 10 years after the first Documentary — an album whose success he hasn’t let us forget on any of his recordings since — Compton rapper The Game releases The Documentary 2. It's by no means rap's first album sequel. Whether MCs have wanted to continue an artistic vision, revisit an older style or celebrate an anniversary, there have been plenty of reasons over the years that they’ve released direct follow-ups, to the point where it even started a brief sequel fad at the top of the decade. We’ve revisited all of them, and have cut them down to the 20 best ones.
A few ground rules: These albums had to be direct sequel albums in title and intent. That means no “spiritual successors” and no mixtapes. We also didn’t include albums where sequels were released on the same day as the original, such as Esham’s Judgment Day 1 and 2, and Nelly’s Sweat and Suit.
So without any further ado … here are our picks for the top 20 rap album sequels of all time.
20. Kool Keith, Nogatco Rd.
There have been three released sequels to Kool Keith’s groundbreaking Dr. Octagon project, on two of which (Dr. Octagon Part II and The Return of Dr. Octagon) his involvement seemed minimal at best. Nogatco Rd. is the best of the three, saved mostly through Keith working directly with underground producers at the time who had the same hunger as he did in ’96.
19. Onyx, Bacdafucup Part II
Almost a decade after first blowing up with the chaotic singles “Slam” and “Throw Ya Gunz,” Onyx reunited for Bacdafucup Part II. Containing songs that were direct sequels to its predecessor (“Slam Harder,” which sampled the Welcome Back, Kotter theme), Bacdafucup II’s greatest strength comes from how much fun you can tell the guys in Onyx had reuniting in the studio.
18. Lloyd Banks, H.F.M. 2
Bouncing back after his disappointing sophomore release Rotten Apple, Lloyd Banks decided to revisit his debut with H.F.M. 2 (The Hunger For More 2), saying he wanted to address some stories he didn't have a chance to touch on with The Hunger for More. It's a return to former glory with some successful singles on it.
17. 2 Chainz, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time
Boasting one of the strangest titles for a sequel, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time takes its acronym from Chainz’s Based on a True Story one year prior. The album benefits from being an immediate sequel, made directly after the original’s completion. Not much changed in that one year interval, and the results are in the rhymes.
16. Madvillain, Madvillainy 2
Label Stones Throw has been teasing a proper Madvillain follow-up since about 2006, but at some point producer Madlib decided to just remix collaborator MF Doom’s vocals from the original and put it out as the sequel. As cool as the beats are, it just barely qualifies as a sequel, and we hope Doom someday peppers the production with original lyrics.
15. Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000
Upon his 1999 release from prison, Death Row final boss Suge Knight wasn’t immediately going to reconcile with estranged artist Dr. Dre. As Dre was said to be preparing a follow-up to his 1992 album The Chronic, Knight decided to beat him to the punch by releasing a compilation of the label’s new artists as Chronic 2000. While it’s a release more known for the beef it caused, there’s still some great late '90s gangsta rap on this double-disc set that’s worth a revisit.
14. Bun B, II Trill, Trill O.G.
Bun B originally dropped Trill in 2005 while UGK partner-in-rhyme Pimp C was incarcerated. The follow-up, released roughly six months after Pimp C's death, was another collaboration-heavy endeavor, giving us the UGK sound just when we needed it most. The third sequel, Trill O.G. (“Trilogy”), doesn’t quite live up to its clever title.
13. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Attempting to recreate the aesthetic of 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP, largely considered his magnum opus, Eminem surprised fans with the announcement of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 in 2013. While there’s nothing comparable to the Rihanna collaboration on the original, tracks like “Rap God” gave us an Eminem who has something to prove again.
12. Method Man, Tical 2000: Judgement Day
Considered by many to be the first rap album sequel, 1998’s Tical 2000: Judgement Day debuted at number two, just behind a Garth Brooks double-live album. Method Man’s futuristic take on his dusted-out original was just brooding enough for devoted Wu completists, with a few crossover moments like the D’Angelo-assisted “Break Ups 2 Make Ups.”
11. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Responding to justified criticisms that her debut album, Pink Friday, didn’t have enough actual rapping on it, Nicky Minaj’s Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was half straightforward rap album, followed by a second half that was entirely a traditional pop album. Roman Reloaded is Minaj having her cake and eating it too.
10. Fat Joe, Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), Jealous Ones Still Envy 2
Fat Joe’s Jealous Ones Still Envy is the sequel to his Jealous Ones Envy album, making Jealous Ones Still Envy 2 the sequel of a sequel. Still, that first sequel produced some of Joe’s career-defining singles and has aged comparatively well.
9. Method Man and Redman, Blackout 2
Method Man and Redman’s original Blackout album was cool because listeners could tell the two were largely breaking character to just be two best friends in the studio having a blast. Ten years, a failed sitcom and substantial label drama later, Method and Red reunited for Blackout 2. While not quite as fun as the first, you can tell for both it was a necessary, cathartic release that allowed each to do things they wouldn’t be able to do on solo projects.
8. Curren$y, Pilot Talk II
Curren$y’s original Pilot Talk album was a collection of songs he recorded with producer Ski Beatz, and made for an infectious, feel-good and unpredictable record to vibe out with. The quickly released follow-up, Pilot Talk II, sacrifices some of the surprising elements due to Curren$y and Ski deliberately making something with a sequel in mind, but their chemistry was still hitting its stride to make for a great album.
7. Prodigy, H.N.I.C. Part 2
Before his late 2000s prison stint, Mobb Deep member Prodigy went on a recording spree, including a sequel to his 2000 album H.N.I.C. The follow-up was just as gritty as the first, and the special triple-disc edition included a DVD with videos for each track, and an additional CD with Prodigy and his collaborators’ audio commentary for each track.
6. B.G., Chopper City in the Ghetto
One of the biggest albums Cash Money Records had released up to that time, B.G.’s Chopper City in the Ghetto was the follow-up to his 1996 album Chopper City. The label’s longtime franchise player, B.G. proved why he’s their flagship artist with the definitive anthem “Bling Bling.”
5. Jay-Z, The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse
While Jigga stretched his talents too far by making Blueprint 2 an unnecessary double-disc, the bulk of the album still boasts Jay in his prime over top-notch productions. Austin Powers references aside, it’s aged very well and gets somewhat overlooked, being the middle child between The Blueprint and The Black Album.
4. Nas, Stillmatic
After several years of criticisms and challenges to his throne, Nas roared back with the 2001 release of Stillmatic, evoking the title of his landmark debut Illmatic. A career saver, Stillmatic contains tracks that to this day rank of some of Nas' best work.
3. Lil Wayne, Tha Carter II, III and IV
We’re putting all Tha Carter sequels (so far — the long-promised Tha Carter V is still on ice) here together for this one, seeing as their releases have all been definitive moments in 2000s hip-hop. While Wayne’s contributions to the fourth installment were somewhat disappointing, the second and third Carter albums carried hip-hop during the years that the genre was hurting the most.
2. Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II
It took him four years between announcement and release, but Raekwon exceeded the expectations of even the most devoted of Wu fans by making a proper sequel to his classic, original Only Built 4 Cuban Linx album. By grabbing just the right producers to make that classic Wu-Tang sound, it’s The Godfather: Part II of rap sequels.
1. Dr. Dre, 2001
While Suge Knight's aforementioned Chronic 2000 album was a deliberate monkey-wrench in Dre’s plans, he soldiered right along with the sequel to his 1992 album The Chronic. Originally called Chronic 2001: No Seeds, eventually the album was released as just 2001 with a picture of a marijuana leaf on the cover, signifying that it's still the definitive Dre follow-up. Tremendously influential, even from a mixing and mastering standpoint, it has had an impact on every rap album since.