As it turns out, 2019 is a significant year for many reasons. Not only is it the final year before the roarin’ 2020s, but it’s also when several nostalgia-inducing albums will be turning 20 years old. Of the hundreds of albums that debuted in 1999, here are 10 that have stuck with us to this day.
…Baby One More Time — Britney Spears
Spears’ debut album, …Baby One More Time, became number one on Billboard 100 within a week of its release. As a result, Spears became the youngest female artist at just 18 to have a number one album and song (of the same name) on the Billboard charts within the same week. She later became revered as the poster child for teen pop, with her unique, nasal-y vocal style and talents in performing. Some of the most notable singles from the album include “…Baby One More Time”, “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and “Sometimes”.
The Slim Shady LP — Eminem
Following Dr. Dre’s discovery of Eminem and his subsequent signing under Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records, Eminem released The Slim Shady LP — a follow-up to The Slim Shady EP, which he released while still an independent rapper. The LP quickly made headlines with its controversial subject matters and unique style of rap. Thus, it became the album that launched Eminem to stardom. Some of the best-known songs on the LP include “My Name Is”, “Guilty Conscience (feat. Dr. Dre)”, “Brain Damage”, “97 Bonnie and Clyde”, “Rock Bottom”, “Role Model” and “Just Don’t Give a F*ck”.
FanMail — TLC
Despite TLC’s commercial success and popularity throughout the ‘90s, the hip-hop and R&B group unexpectedly went into a hiatus after declaring bankruptcy in 1995. During the hiatus, they received a considerable amount of mail from fans who were heartbroken by their absence. As a result, the three recuperated in 1999 and released their tribute album, FanMail. It quickly rose to fame for its futuristic sound, and was number one for five weeks straight on the US Billboard 200. Not only that, but TLC also went on their first concert tour, called The FanMail Tour, to promote the album. Some of the most popular tracks on this album include “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty”.
Californication — Red Hot Chili Peppers
After the Red Hot Chili Peppers replaced their guitarist Dave Navarro with former-guitarist John Frusciante, the band released its most internationally-popular studio album, Californication. The replacement of guitarists altered the band’s sound greatly, with Frusciante insisting they transition to a more mellow, relaxed sound. After its release, Californication was widely praised for its transformative sonics and better quality than the band’s previous album, One Hot Minute. The album also dealt with several dark themes prevalent to the band members’ lives, such as drug use, suicidal ideations and death. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis ultimately attributed the title of the album to the poignancy of losing oneself while trying to achieve the American dream in sunny California. Some of the albums greatest hits include “Around the World”, “Scar Tissue”, “Otherside” and “Californication”.
The Writing’s on the Wall — Destiny’s Child
The last album to feature Destiny’s Child’s original group members, The Writing’s on the Wall became their best-selling record after spending 99 consecutive weeks on the US Billboard 200, and was produced by people like Missy Elliot and Beyoncé Knowles herself. It launched the group to mainstream success, even after rivalries between members and their management led to a reformation that ended with Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams in the group. Unliked their previous album of the same name, members of Destiny’s Child had a bigger hand in writing and producing the tracks on The Writing’s on the Wall — one of the many reasons why it was a bigger success. Some of the most notable singles on the album include “Bills, Bills, Bills”, “Bug a Boo”, “Jumpin’, Jumpin’” and “Say My Name”.
Tha Block is Hot — Lil Wayne
Debuting as a solo artist for the first time, Lil Wayne released Tha Block is Hot under Ca$H Money Records and Universal Music Group when he was just 17 years old. Executively produced by Birdman and Slim and produced by Mannie Fresh, the album became number three on the Billboard 200 its first week of release. It also featured Wayne’s former Hot Boys group mates, Juvenile, B.G. and Turk. While the album itself didn’t receive much critical acclaim, its significance as Wayne’s first solo project is still relevant today. The best-known song on the album is of the same name, and was labeled the 50th greatest hip-hop song of all time by VH1.
Millennium — Backstreet Boys
Holding the U.S. record for most CD shipments in one year, the Backstreet Boys’ third album, Millenium, is one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, one of the factors leading up to its highly-anticipated release was the help of Britney Spears, who featured previews of songs on the Millenium album on …Baby One More Time. Millenium debuted at number one on Billboard 200, and stayed there for the next 10 weeks. Some of the most popular songs on this album include “I Want it That Way”, “Larger than Life”, “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “The One”.
Christina Aguilera — Christina Aguilera
Christina’s self-titled debut album originated after the artist recorded “Reflection” for Disney’s Mulan in 1998. The album debuted at number one on Billboard 200, and Aguilera won Best New Artist at the 2000 Grammy awards. This was especially critical to her career at the time, since she and Britney Spears were both nominated for the award. Her strong vocals on the album were later compared to well-known divas like Whitney Houston. Some of the album’s greatest hits include “Genie in a Bottle”, “What a Girl Wants”, “Come On Over Baby (All I Want is You)” and “Reflection”.
Da Real World — Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott’s second studio album, Da Real World, became best-known for its extensive list of featured artists and empowered use of the word “bitch”. Some of the artists included in the features were Beyoncé, Eminem, Eve, Aaliyah, Big Boi from Outkast and Lil Kim. Elliott also dedicated the album to victims of the Columbine High School Massacre. Da Real World debuted at number 10 on the US Billboard 200, and was well-received by music critics. Some of the most notable tracks on the album include “All n My Grill (feat. Big Boi and Nicole Wray)”, “Hot Boyz” and “She’s a B*tch”.
Operation: Doomsday — MF Doom
In the early ‘90s, hip-hop trio KMD was just beginning to witness their rise to fame when group member DJ Subroc was struck by a car and killed. His older brother and fellow group member, MF Doom, spent the next four years living on the streets of New York and recovering from the grief of losing his sibling. In 1999, six years after his brother’s death, Doom released the jazz rap album Operation: Doomsday. The original cover of the album depicted Marvel supervillain Dr. Doom rapping, since MF Doom based his rap persona after the character. This cover was eventually redone in 2011 due to licensing issues, and now depicts MF Doom with his Dr. Doom mask on rapping instead. Later dubbed “Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper” because of his calculated lyricism and intricate sounds, MF Doom gained critical acclaim for Operation: Doomsday. The album has since been given spots on various lists of greatest rap and hip-hop albums by publications like Complex, Consequence of Sound and Hip Hop Connection. Some of the best-known songs on the album include “Doomsday” and “Rhymes Like Dimes”.
Honorable mention: “All Star” by Smash Mouth (not an album, but still).
Carla Suggs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @carla_suggs.