Source: Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin / Getty

June is Black Music Month. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed that the month of June would be dedicated to celebrating the African American music and musicians that have helped the country to dance, express their faith through song, march against injustice, and to defend the country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.

As a musical artist, there are very few things that feel as good as dropping a debut album that many regard as a classic. Equally, there are very few things that are more stressful and terrifying than trying to recreate the magic that was made with the first record. With critics, label executives and fans all looking for an extraordinary follow-up, it can sometimes be a daunting task to accomplish. Oftentimes, artists and groups become consumed in the hype surrounding their second efforts and it doesn’t turn out as nearly as well as its predecessor. This is surely where the phrase ‘sophomore slump’ originated from. Legendary artist Missy Elliott offered advice to artists on how they could avoid this mishap in a Twitter post a couple years back.

While some artists slip and struggle on album number two, there are those that meet and exceed the expectations that are set for them. One clear sign that an artist has unique talent is them being able to ignore the excitement, predictions and buzz that come with the release of an album and still being able to deliver a timeless project.

We thought it would be a perfect to highlight some of our favorite sophomore albums of all-time. From Public Enemy to Beyoncé, these artists took it upon themselves to lock in and offer up critically acclaimed records that matched and in some cases surpassed the albums that came before them.

Check out our list below! Let us know what you think about it, what your favorite sophomore album of all-time is and if you feel like we left any worthy albums off the list in the comments!

1. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

Source:Channel ZERO

Release Date: June 28, 1988

Singles: Rebel Without a Pause, Bring the Noise, Don’t Believe the Hype, Night of the Living Baseheads, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

Certifications: Platinum (United States), Gold (United Kingdom)

2. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991)

Source:A Tribe Called Quest

Release Date: September 24, 1991

Singles: Check the Rhime, Jazz (We’ve Got), Scenario

Certifications: Platinum (United States), Silver (United Kingdom)

3. Ice Cube – Death Certificate (1991)

Source:Ice Cube / Cubevision

Release Date: October 29, 1991

Singles: Steady Mobbin, True to the Game

Certifications: Platinum (United States)

4. Mary J. Blige – My Life (1994)

Source:Mary J Blige

Release Date: November 29, 1994

Singles: Be Happy, I’m Goin’ Down, Mary Jane (All Night Long), You Bring Me Joy, I Love You

Certifications: 3x Platinum (United States), Gold (United Kingdom, Canada)

5. TLC – CrazySexyCool (1994)


Release Date: November 15, 1994

Singles: Creep, Red Light Special, Waterfalls, Diggin’ on You

Certifications: 12x Platinum (United States), 8x Platinum (Canada), 2x Platinum (Japan, Australia), Platinum (United Kingdom, New Zealand), Gold (Netherlands, Austria) 

38th Annual Grammy Award Wins: Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (Creep), Best R&B Album

6. Aaliyah – One in a Million (1996)

Source:Blackground Records 2.0

Release Date: August 13, 1996

Singles: If Your Girl Only Knew, Got to Give It Up, One in a Million, 4 Page Letter, The One I Gave My Heart To, Hot Like Fire

Certifications: 2x Platinum (United States), Gold (United Kingdom, Japan, Canada)

7. Nas – It Was Written (1996)


Release Date: July 2, 1996

Singles: If I Ruled The World, Street Dreams 

Certifications: 3x Platinum (United States), Platinum (Canada), Gold (Denmark, France, United Kingdom)

8. Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever (1997)

Source:Wu-Tang Clan

Release Date: June 3, 1997

Singles: Triumph, It’s Yourz, Reunited

Certifications: 4x Platinum (United States), 2x Platinum (Canada), Gold (United Kingdom)

9. Brandy – Never Say Never (1998)


Release Date: June 9, 1998

Singles: The Boy Is Mine, Top of the World, Have You Ever?, Almost Doesn’t Count, U Don’t Know Me (Like U Used To), (Everything I Do) I Do For You

Certifications: 5x Platinum (United States), 4x Platinum (Canada), Platinum (Japan, United Kingdom, Australia), Gold (France, New Zealand)

41st Annual Grammy Awards Wins: Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (The Boy Is Mine)

10. Dr. Dre – 2001 (1999)

Source:Dr. Dre

 Release Date: November 16, 1999

Singles: Still D.R.E., Forgot About Dre, The Next Episode, The Watcher

Certifications: 6× Platinum (United States), 5x Platinum (Canada), 4x Platinum (Australia, United Kingdom), 2x Platinum (New Zealand), Platinum (Denmark), 2x Gold (France), Gold (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland)

43rd Annual Grammy Awards Wins: Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group (Forgot About Dre)

11. Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Source:Kanye West

Release Date: August 30, 2005

Singles: Diamonds from Sierra Leone, Gold Digger, Heard ‘Em Say, Touch the Sky, Drive Slow

Certifications: 4x Platinum (United States), 3x Platinum (United Kingdom), 2x Platinum (Canada, Ireland), Platinum (New Zealand, Australia), Gold (Japan)

48th Annual Grammy Awards Wins: Best Rap Solo Performance (Gold Digger), Best Rap Song (Diamonds from Sierra Leone), Best Rap Album 

12. Beyonce – B’Day (2006)


Release Date: August 31, 2006

Singles: Déjà Vu, Ring The Alarm, Irreplaceable, Beautiful Liar, Get Me Bodied, Green Light

Certifications: 3x Platinum (United States, Russia, Ireland), Platinum (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom), Gold (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland)

49th Annual Grammy Awards Wins: Best Contemporary R&B Album

13. Drake – Take Care (2011)


Release Date: November 15, 2011

Singles: Marvins Room, Headlines, Make Me Proud, The Motto, Take Care, HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right), Crew Love

Certifications: 6x Platinum (United States), 4x Platinum (Canada), 2x Platinum (United Kingdom) 

55th Annual Grammy Awards Wins: Best Rap Album 

14. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D. City (2012)

Source:Kendrick Lamar

Release Date: October 22, 2012

Singles: The Recipe, Swimming Pools (Drank), Backseat Freestyle, Poetic Justice, Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe

Certifications: 3x Platinum (United States), 2x Platinum (Australia, Denmark), Platinum (New Zealand, United Kingdom), Gold (Canada)

15. SZA – SOS (2022)


Release Date: December 9, 2022

Singles: Good Days, I Hate U, Shirt, Nobody Gets Me, Kill Bill, Snooze 

Certifications: 4x Platinum (Canada, New Zealand), 3x Platinum (United States, Brazil), Platinum (Australia, Denamrk, Poland, United Kingdom), Gold (France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden)