20 Artists Whose Second Album Was Their Best

Previous / NextShift + → 1 of 21

As indie darlings The xx gear up for their second album, Coexist, they’ve dropped off a solid array of singles that have been, for the most part, favorably received. With each leak, the pressure wanes slightly (as it becomes evident that the album may in fact live up to expectations) and rises (as expectations increase, often to impossible heights). All that got us thinking: making a second album is hard, especially if people loved your first release.

Dealing with the hopes of fans, artistic desires, critical reactions, and marketing potential can cripple creativity and crush an album’s chances before it even sees the light of day. These same forces can also elevate an artist to craft something new and memorable. Then, of course, there are those unburdened by the weight of public memory–artists whose debuts slipped quietly under the radar, buzzing enough to keep an artist moving, but never enough to paint an immovable picture.

So here’s a toast to breaking the sophomore slump, whether fueled by doubters, motivated by prior success, or liberated by near-anonymity. Check out 20 artists who put their best foot forward with their second album.

Hit “next” or click the pictures to read on…

Related: The Best Songs of 2014 (So Far)
Related: The Best Albums of 2014 (So Far)

  • Carson

    Late Registration was Kanye’s best? Idk, I’d take College Dropout and MBDTF before that one.

  • CP

    agreed with above. college dropout is a straight classic. i’d put graduation before late registration

  • Nick

    Yeah I agree with Carson…..plus Thank Me Later came out in 2010. Small thing but otherwise good post

  • http://potholesinmyblog.com Andrew

    Solid list folks!

  • Ryan

    thats the thing, it may not be his best but just the fact that its SO good means it has to be on this list, its is a mammoth second album he made to prove to people he would not be a flop. hadnt even got to it and i knew itd be on here

  • Incilin

    No way 2001 is better than Chronic. Hitman raps on like 12 songs on it.

  • Mr. Magnificent

    This list became invalid after placing 2001 over The Chronic! And Nevermind is NOT BETTER than Bleach! Most commercial yes but no where near the debut.

  • Brad

    Ya’ll are crazy if you think ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ is any where close to ‘Lord Willin”! I agree with the rest of the list, but that is waaaaay off

  • Confusion

    I feel the argument on The Chronic 2001. That’s fine. But BLEACH? No way. In Utero maybe. Not Bleach.





  • http://inboxsessions.com The Company Man

    Tough call on ‘Kast. ATLiens is official…but so is Aquemini…and Stankonia…and Speakerboxx/The Love Below. Any ‘Kast, really is understanable….well…except for Idlewild. Not as bad as popular opinion. But clearly their weakest endeavor. Dope list concept, either way.

  • James

    What??! Liquid Swords over Words From the Genius?! You’re crazy

  • knisi

    chronic droped 1992 and hell hath was clipse‘s third lp.

  • Rosewood

    Lord Willin is the best Clipse album. College Dropout is better that College Drop Out and The Chronic is one of the best rap albums of all time. There’s no way that 2001 is better. It’s a classic as well, but definitely not on par with how influential The Chronic was.

  • Crunchcaptain

    College Dropout > Late Registration

  • Age 19

    Tooo hard to decide the best Kanye album, though I think Late Registration worked better as an album than The College Dropout (All Falls Down, doe).

    Lord Willin was too good. Waaay too good.

    The Chronic was too classic. 2001 was really entertaining though, as to not overshadow its presence.

  • Burp Reynolds

    Everything Outkast has done is classic, but Aquemini is definitely their best work. I actually agree that Hell Hath No Fury is the best work from the Clipse. Lord Willin’ is great but Hell Hath eclipsed it. Otherwise a great list, a lot of different shit represented. That LCD Soundsytem be that fire.

  • Carson

    In my opinion, Late Registration was Kanye’s weakest album. Not bad by any stretch, but it felt like an awkward step in between the raw energy of College Dropout and the musicality of Graduation. Then MBDTF was just a beast.

  • CatastrophePersonality

    “Thunderously sparse” is amazing, btw. Good writing.

  • Mars-Hi

    Pretty good list, I disagree though with Drake. His first album was really good.

  • Mathew12

    Idk if Kanye really fits the list. Who really knows what his best album was?

  • Mathew12

    Well put Carson. People forget to note the “musicality of Graduation. Graduation is so good that Kanye wouldn’t even have to rap on that album for it to be a good album. Thats how good the beats were.

  • Cadda

    Don’t agree with Late Registration, ATLiens or The Marshall Mathers LP being their best albums, but good list either way.

  • Joseph42

    I like Ironman more than Supreme Clientele, Chronic more than 2001, and the Slim Shady LP more than the Marshal Mathers LP.

    Other than those three, i think the list is accurate. I may also like Licensed to Ill more than Paul’s Boutique, but i’m not sure.

  • http://ajcrew.com A.J. Crew

    Not sure about “Late Registration” being Kanye’s best overall work, but I’d have to agree about “Take Care” and “The Marshall Mathers LP”.

  • mike

    But I thhink Late registration was better, MBDTF is close but late registration was ahead out its time. & uh if you can’t appreciate 2001 but then The Chronic you must be a little insane. You only like that old shit if you are stuck in the past because that music was so next level that if you play it in 2012 you’ll still get the same “YO MY NIGGA THAT SHIT FIRE”

  • patches ohoulihan

    this list is invalid without my bloody valentine- loveless

  • Boss

    Oasis – What’s the Story Morning Glory

  • http://www.entitledmillennial.com Entitled Millennial

    I very much disagree with your Beastie Boys, ATCQ, and Kanye opinions.

    I think Licensed to Ill is better than Paul’s Boutique, Midnight Marauders is imho by far the best Tribe album, and Late Registration is the second worst Kanye album after 808s. College Dropout was revolutionary, and almost a decade later I still think it’s revolutionary.

    I do think you got Eminem, Ghostface, and Daft Punk right though

    As good as Infinite and Slim Shady LP were, Marshal Mathers LP was his best work.

Latest News