Albums to listen to before you die (Sket’s pick)

Joshua Sket, Staff Writer

Welcome to Part I of a three-part series in which your very own beloved author shares some of the best and brightest music of all time.  

In this part, I will be picking my top albums that YOU need to listen to before you bite the dust. 

Part two of the series (soon to come) will feature albums that students chose, and part three will showcase the albums that teachers chose.

Music is a staple in almost everyone’s lives. Songs can affect people, motivate them or even inspire them. Each song or melody can completely change someone’s mood- whether it be the unique track behind the song, or the moving lyrics.

These are the albums you need to listen to before you die:


Kanye West – Late Registration

Late Registration is the second studio album by American rapper and producer Kanye West. Released on August 30, 2005, through Def Jam Recordings and Roc-A-Fella Records. 

Kanye finally made his mark with sounds never heard before in the hip-hop industry. The Recording Industry Association of America awarded Five-Times Platinum Certification to Late Registration after it eventually sold more than 3,000,000 copies in the US.

This album holds so much power from not only a musical standpoint, but the message that is being conveyed across. The injustices against black people in America, the ghetto, and the topic of uncertainty and being told he couldn’t succeed as a rapper since he was only a producer are all covered in this album. 

The best song from this album is his third track: “Touch The Sky”


Mac Miller – K.I.D.S.

On August 13, 2010, Rostrum Records released K.I.D.S, the fourth “mixtape” by American rapper Mac Miller. The title is a reference to the 1995 film Kids, which is quoted throughout the album. 

The first real steps of Mac Miller’s career in music can be seen in K.I.D.S.. Prior to the release of K.I.D.S., Mac Miller primarily produced mixtapes under the name “Easy Mac” while maintaining a low profile. 

Despite being one of Mac’s early works, the mixtape has some really outstanding songs. It was his debut album, and as he says on the tape’s seventh song, “Don’t Mind if I Do,” when he initially started working on it, “people were amazed he was still in high school.” K.I.D.S. is a delightful album to listen to, with tracks that follow an uplifting and spirited vibe. 

The best song from this album is his eleventh track: “Knock Knock”


Van Halen – 1984

1984 is the sixth studio album by American rock band Van Halen, released on January 9, 1984. The music reviewers gave 1984 excellent feedback. On their list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s, Rolling Stone put the album at number 81.

One of the most influential guitarists in rock history, Van Halen is credited for popularizing the tapping method, which makes it possible to play rapid arpeggios (any chord that is played one note at a time) with two hands on the fretboard.

Future hard rock guitarists were forever changed by Van Halen. He had a significant impact on a whole new generation of rock music, particularly the hard rock that emerged in the 1980s.

The best song from this album is their third track: “Panama.”


Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ seventh studio album, Californication, was released on June 8, 1999, by Warner Bros. Records. The album included lyrics that imposed the themes of mortality, depression, California, drugs, globalization, and travel.

The album “Californication” explores the dark side of American culture. Underneath the golden exterior of the American Dream, there is dishonesty, plasticity, and desperation. The Red Hot Chili Peppers recognized California as standing for these opposites—both the ornate, gilded exterior and the shadowy within.

The best song from this album is their fifteenth track: “Road trippin’.”



Eagles – Hotel California

Hotel California is the fifth studio album by American rock band Eagles. Released on December 8, 1976, by Asylum Records. 

The songs on the album explore the dark underbelly of the American dream, idealism realized and idealism thwarted, illusion versus reality, the challenges of balancing loving relationships and work, attempting to square the conflicting relationship between business and art, the loss of innocence, the cost of naiveté, the perils of fame, of excess; the corruption in politics, the fading away of the Sixties dream of “peace, love, and unity.” 

The title “Hotel California” brings with it all kinds of connotations, powerful imagery, mystique, etc. that fires the imaginations of people in all corners of the globe. With that word comes a mythology by default—a mythology of American culture produced by the motion picture and music industries.

The best song from this album is their second track: “New Kid in Town.”


Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

The Marshall Mathers LP is the third studio album by American rapper Eminem, released on May 23, 2000, by Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records. The album was produced mostly by Dr. Dre and Eminem, along with The 45 King, the Bass Brothers, and Mel-Man.

The album’s more reflective lyrics include Eminem’s reflections on his journey from poverty to riches, the criticism of his music, and his estrangement from his wife and family. It was recorded over the course of two months in a number of studios in the city of Detroit. It is a subversive composition that combines satirical music with horrorcore and extreme hip hop.

Eminem provided damaged teenagers with a platform to express their hatred and fury while also understanding that they weren’t the only ones going through difficult times. He was able to show this by using his experiences growing up in a very problematic household. 

The best song from this album is his second track: “The Real Slim Shady.”




Childish Gambino – Camp

Under his stage name Childish Gambino, American music artist Donald Glover released his first studio album Camp, on November 15, 2011. 

Glover signed with Glassnote on September 6, 2011. He has a strong sense of rock ‘n’ roll, irreverence, and sincerity, according to producer Daniel Glass. Glover fit in with their lineup because he was an alternative musician.

The record is conceptual in and of itself. The album’s title, “Camp,” refers to the tale it recounts about a young boy and his summer camp experience. In my opinion this is one of Gambino’s best albums. 

When you listen to the entire album, it becomes obvious why Gambino contrasts too assured and “hype” rap beats with moving songs with strong leads. The  Gambino persona reveals that his overly confident demeanor is entirely phony and that he battles with his identity.

The best song from this album is his seventh track: “Backpackers.”


The Beatles – Revolver

Revolver is the seventh studio album by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 5 August 1966. The album represents the band’s fascination with LSD, Eastern philosophy, and the avant-garde while tackling topics like mortality and transcendence from worldly problems. Some analysts have referred to this album as the beginning of the group’s psychedelic period. 

The Beatles and producer George Martin had distinguished themselves as masters of pop music sequencing by the time of “Revolver.” 

They skillfully counterpoised each new song on their album with radical shifts in tone and sound. With “Revolver,” The Beatles were able to start what is possibly the most significant demographic change in entertainment history.

The best song from this album is their second track: “Eleanor Rigby.”