Bob Marley and Rihanna Included on Apple Music’s “100 Best Albums” List

The streaming service Apple Music has compiled a list of the 100 Best Albums in history. Several albums by artists with ties to Jamaica are included on the list. The 100 Best Albums ranking is an opinion survey created by the Apple Music team and a group of artists that include Pharrell Williams, J Balvin, Maren Morris, and Charli XCX. On May 13, 2024, the albums ranked in the bottom ten were announced, with the entire list being revealed at ten albums per day for the following ten days.

“Ready to Die” at Number 32

Jamaican American songwriter, actor, and hip-hop artist Biggie Small, also known as The Notorious B.I.G., was born in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of parents who were Jamaican immigrants. He released the Number 32-ranked album “Ready to Die” in 1994 on the Bad Boy Records and Arista Records labels. Recorded from 1993 to 1994 in New York City, the album features Small’s unique East Coast gangsta rap, which includes slang and references rooted in Jamaica’s music and culture, and Jamaican Patois and dancehall were important elements in his lyrics and influenced the popularization of Jamaican phrases in the general public. “Ready to Die” tells of the artist’s criminal past and was the only studio album to be released during Small’s lifetime. He was murdered just 16 days before his second album, “Life After Death,” was released. “Ready to Die” hit Number 15 on Billboard’s 200 list and became a critical and commercial success. Several singles from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks, and Hot Rap Singles. The song “Big Poppa” peaked at Number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1996. The album was certified 6x Platinum in 2018 by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and had a significant influence in boosting the East Coast hip-hop scene. Many critics have ranked it as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time and was chosen for the National Recording Industry Registry by the United States Library of Congress in 2024 for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

“Exodus” ranked Number 46

“Exodus,” the ninth studio album by Jamaican music legends Bob Marley and The Wailers, was ranked Number 46 in Apple Music’s Top 100. The album was released in 1977 on the Island Records label. It differed from the band’s previous albums by focusing on the themes of change, religion, politics, and sexuality. “Exodus” was recorded in London where Marley traveled following his attempted assassination in December 1976 and was a critical and commercial success. This was the album that brought Marley to the international stage. Remastered and re-released 40 years later, more tracks from “Exodus” were included on Marley’s greatest hits album, “Legend,” than from any of his other recordings. It is said that Marley had the title for the “Exodus” album before writing the song and was inspired by the political situation surrounding Jamaica’s 1976 elections. Then Prime Minister Michael Manley’s campaign slogan was, “We know where we’re going,” and Marley wrote the title song of the album in response. The song “Exodus” ranked Number 1 in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, and Germany upon its release.

“Anti” by Rihanna at Number 55

Superstar singer Rihanna was born in Barbados in 1988 and has become one of the most prominent recording artists in the 21st century. She released “Anti,” her eighth studio album in 2016 with Roc Nation and Westbury Road. She began recording in 2014 after leaving Def Jam Records, which released all her albums since her debut in 2005. Rihanna recorded “Anti” in Canada, the United States, and France with several producers, including Jeff Bhasker, Boi-1da, DJ Mustard, Hit-Boy, Brian Kennedy, Timbaland, and No I.D. The album was created in an atmosphere of creative struggle and emotional turmoil, which it expressed via distorted vocals and downtempo arrangements. It represented a departure from Rihanna’s previous recordings of dance-friendly songs. “Anti” has been described as a dancehall, psychedelic soul, alternative R&B album that features influences from a wide range of musical genres, including doo-wop, country, and rap. It was Rihanna’s second album to hit Number 1 in the United States and the first by a Black woman to rank on the Billboard 200 list for 300 weeks. It was certified 6x platinum by the RIAA and received multi-platinum certifications in France, New Zealand, Belgium, Canada, Poland, and Denmark. “Anti” and its singles got six nominations at the 2017 Grammy Awards, including one in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. It was ranked Number 230 on the Rolling Stone 2020 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As of March 2024, the album was the fourth-longest-charting by a female artist in the history of the Billboard 200. In 2007, the single “Umbrella” from her third album brought her first Grammy Award. She is the second-best-selling female recording artist of all time and has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. She has the highest certification of any female artist in history on the RIAA Top Artist Digital Singles chart and the highest number of US diamond-certified singles of any female artist. She is also recognized for her humanitarian work, entrepreneurship, and influence on the global fashion industry. With LVMH, she became the first Black woman to lead a luxury fashion brand. The government of Barbados appointed her an ambassador in 2018, and she was made a National Hero of Barbados in 2021.

“Blue Lines” at Number 87

Jamaican roots reggae singer/songwriter and Rastafarian, Horace Andy, is featured on the “Blue Lines” album from the group Massive Attack. Horace Keith Hinds, known professionally as Horace Andy, was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1951. His distinctive voice and hit songs brought him success with the British trip-hop group. His first single. “This Is a Black Man’s Country,” was recorded in 1967, but his real breakthrough came in 1970 when he auditioned as a solo act for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One. One of his most popular songs is “Skylarking,” which first appeared on the “Jamaica Today” compilation from Dodd. Andy had several Number 1 singles in Jamaica, including 1973’s “Children of Israel,” but his most successful relationship with a producer was in the 1970s with Bunny Lee, which brought out the classic singles “Just Say Who,” “Don’t Try to Use Me,” “You Are my Angel,” among others. Andy achieved mainstream success through his work with Massive Attack in 1990. He is the only artist to contribute to all five of their pioneering studio albums. Andy released “Midnight Rocker” in 2022, with the vocals recorded in Jamaica and tracks sent to producer Adrian Sherwood at On-U Sound. “Blue Lines” was the debut studio album by Massive Attack and was released in 1991 by Wild Bunch and Virgin Records. It combined hip-hop elements with dub, soul, reggae, and electronic music. It was included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Number 1 album has a Jamaican connection

Apple Music ranked “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill as the Number 1 album on the list of the Best 100 Albums in history. Released in 1998, it is the only solo studio album by the American singer-songwriter and rapper who had previously recorded with the Fugees. It is classified as a “neo soul” and R&B album, with some of its tracks based in hip-hop soul and reggae. Its themes are God and love, with the title referring to a film and autobiographical novel “The Education of Sonny Carson” and “The Mis-Education of the Negro” by Carter G. Woodson. Hill’s connection to Jamaica comes through her relationship with Bob Marley’s son, Rohan Marley, with whom she had a child. The pregnancy inspired her to record a solo album, which was produced chiefly at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1997 and 1998.