Nas ruffled some feathers when he announced that his 9th album would be titled Nigger. After retailers threatened to boycott the CD, he caved to pressure and decided to release it without a title. Turns out Nas isn’t alone in his plight. Here are 10 other rap album titles — some even more provocative than anything Nas could dream of — that never made it to the shelves.
1. Illegal – The Untold Story (1993)
>>Original Title: Black Little Bastards
It wasn’t just the thought of your 14-year old going to buy an album dubbed Black Little Bastards, it was the thought of two 14-year old rappers (Jamal Phillips and Malik Edwards) releasing an album dubbed Black Little Bastards. Whether the teen-rap duo had their potential customers in mind or not, one thing was certain: Rowdy Records wasn’t having any of it.
2. Tragedy Khadafi (pka Intelligent Hoodlum) – Tragedy: Saga of A Hoodlum (1993)
>>Original Title: Black Rage
Here’s another Queensbridge MC who wanted to convey his frustration with social injustice on his album title. Not only did A&M Records shoot down the idea, they refused to release Saga of A Hoodlum until Tragedy agreed to excise an anti-police song titled “Bullet” from the album. As if that wasn’t enough, they also dropped Tragedy from their roster after that saga.
3. Lady of Rage – Necessary Roughness (1997)
>>Original Title: Eargasms
Sure, Eargasm‘s suggestive title had something to do with Rage’s first CD being shelved, but there were other points of controversy, including saucy song concepts like “Ride on the Eargasm,” “Late In The Midnight Hour (a song which Rage admitted was about masturbation),” and “Butter Scotch (her take on oral sex).”
4. Gravediggaz – 6 Feet Deep (1994)
>>Original Title: Niggamortis
Here’s pure proof of our long-running obsession with political correctness: While Gravediggaz met a blockade here in the U.S., they successfully released Niggarmortis overseas with the OG title intact.
>>Original Title: Don’t Be A Faggot (1986)
Ahh, the much ballyhooed slur “faggot.” The mighty mighty word that has slayed everyone from Isiaha Washington to Ann Coulter. Though the origin of the word “faggot” dates as far back as 1914, it was still considered a pejorative term in 1986. Can you imagine what the reaction would be if Beastie Boys attempted to name their album Don’t Be A Faggot today?
6. Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
>>Original Title: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Niggaz
Oh, so you thought the ellipses in the title was there for fancy? Rae was forced to yank the N-Bomb from his semi-solo debut (Ghost was a big part of the success, yo) at the last minute.
7. Coolio – It Takes A Thief (1994)
>>Original Title: The Last Original Nigga
Coolio’s last great hurray, 95’s Gangsta’s Paradise, was more hard-edged than It Takes A Thief. Still, the powers-that-be couldn’t bear the thought of losing revenue over a silly album title.
8. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill (1991)
>>Original Title: America’s Most Blunted
In hindsight, America’s Most Blunted sounds way more interesting than Self-Titled. So much that MF Doom and Madlib borrowed that same title on Madvillainy.
9. Da Lench Mob – Guerrillas In The Mist (1992)
Original Title: Pin The Tail on The Honky
Ice Cube and his Lench Mob crew released their debut CD, Guerrillas In The Mist, in 1992. The original title, Pin The Tail on The Honky, reflected the black community’s exasperation with racial bias and police brutality during the LA rebellion/Rodney King controversy.
10. Beastie Boys – The Mix-Up (2007)
>>Original Title: Thick Like Beyonce’s Leg
According to Mike D, Beastie Boys flirted with the idea of naming their instrumental-only 7th album Thick Like Beyonce’s Leg. Apparently, someone decided (I’m looking at you, Mr. Carter) it wasn’t such a grand idea. Mike later explained: “Beyonce’s very talented and beautiful and she’s probably stronger than we are…we didn’t want to have any problems with her.”