Right out of the gate we see why this blog is a good idea – where else can you pit synthesized girly pop against bad ass gangsta rap? This is all the more interesting considering these two secretly dated for a while, and it led to a wacky appearance by Madonna on David Letterman (Tupac would later apologize in a very expensive letter, apparently).
Anyway…Madonna’s first album holds up a lot better than expected. With infectious songs like “Lucky Star”, “Borderline” and “Holiday”, the pop star burst upon the music scene fully formed, knowing what she wanted to do and how she was going to do it. The world didn’t know she was going to change pop music, but she did.
But does it have the gravitas to topple Tupac’s post-prison magnum opus? Actually, yes. All Eyez on Me has lots of great stuff and is overflowing with ambition and hefty themes, but it is far from perfect – it’s hard to make a 2+ hour album without filler. It was a grand statement from a guy who continues to have influence over his genre (To whit: The world’s current greatest rapper, Kendrick Lamar, closed his masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly with a fascinating imagined conversation with 2Pac). But it’s a lot of work to sit through.
And, he was just one of several legends of 90s gangsta rap. Madonna, on the other hand, is one of a kind — the archetype for every pop princess who would follow, from Britney Spears to Rihanna to Katy Perry to Keisha (why am I naming some of them – it applies to all of them). She would have even better albums still to come, and not just in the 80s, but it all started with this one.
WINNER: Madonna, Madonna (1 point)
Next week’s battle – #49: The Feelies, Crazy Rhythms (1980) vs. Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor (1996)