Ranked (under duress @andersun ) by overall excellence of the album, based on concept, execution and quality.
  1. The Blue Print (Jay Z) https://youtu.be/VIaBx_2AzTk
    At the time Jay Z was a bit of a punchline, with other rappers freely taking shots at him without fear of reprisal. That all changed with this album and Jay Z's response to his haters, as well as the mainstream success of his singles. The only guest appearance on the album is by Eminem(at the height of his fame) adding to the credibility. It's also the album that provided the breakout performance of producer Kanye West! Officially the album where Jay Z took his seat on the thrown as King of NY.
  2. The Chronic (Dr.Dre) https://youtu.be/zIG9BNugOEs
    There might not be anything in Hip Hop better than this album, ever. But, somehow, I have it ranked ninth. You can thank this album for the popularity of music sampling. You can thank this album for the popularity of hip hop in the mainstream. You can thank this album for the genre within hip hop called G Funk. Dr.Dre basically reinvented Hip Hop twice! Once with NWA and then again with this album. There is no producer, in hip hop history, as important as Dr.Dre. He's just not the best rapper 😕
  3. Enter the Wu Tang: 36chambers (Wu Tang Clan) https://youtu.be/PEnwXYJcSZc
    The east coast answer to NWA, they took the ensemble group to a whole new level. Wu Tang, with 9 members, brought playfully skilled rhyming with Method Man, raw grittyness with Ol Dirty Bastard and everything in between. Wu Tang has their own style, which cannot be replicated, and this album showcased it comprehensively. They all launched solo careers, with much success, but I don't think any of them are better than when they're together. No other group has their own emoji 👐🏻
  4. Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys) https://youtu.be/Xa7MGHosWqw
  5. Not my favorite Nas album (God's Son), but widely considered his best. So great, the album ruined hip hop. 9 songs with 5 different producers! Prior to Illmatic, most albums had one producer and a singular vision, sometimes artists would stay with that producer for multiple albums. Illmatic changed that and changed the way artists/producers approached an album. The problem was, the content was so good on Illmatic, that everyone tried to copy that strategy but not enough mc's have Nas' talent.
  6. Straight outta Compton (NWA) https://youtu.be/WmoC5cj8sw4
    Created the genre of Gangster Rap, which I think is the pinnacle of Hip Hop, and why most of the albums on this li.st fit that category. A genuine super group featuring Ice Cube, Eazy E and Dr.Dre (also MC Ren and Yella). This album featured uplifting tracks with a positive message like Express Yourself to gritty realities of the streets like Fuck tha Police. With so much talent and diversity of skill, they were able to touch every corner of the genre on one album.
  7. Ready to Die (Biggie) https://youtu.be/_JZom_gVfuw
    Several debut albums make this li.st because when someone is truly great, they separate themselves, making you feel like it's something you've never heard before. Biggie's story telling ability was capable of tapping into your imagination and transporting you to wherever he was rapping about. While Pac took the technique of gangster rap and did it better than anyone, Biggie told the story of a gangster and made it relatable to everyone.
  8. The Slim Shady lp (Eminem) https://youtu.be/XHdag4dmcPQ
    Most rappers, in my opinion, are a slave to the words; meaning they will change the structure of a sentence or use a synonym of the word they really want, to make the rhyme scheme work. Eminem is one of a small handful of artists that always sounds like he has complete control over not just every word, but every syllable as it relates to the beat. Every song on this album is a masterpiece of word play, talent and execution, at the time it was done in a way we had never heard before.
  9. Doggystyle (Snoop) https://youtu.be/s8rGpHqM_q4
    The album that brought style to gangster rap. Snoop made it fun and playful, instead of angry and hard, without sacrificing credibility. After breaking out as a featured artist on Dr.Dre's The Chronic, demand was high for Snoop to release his own album, and it did not disappoint - every single song was a smash hit! So much so, that every member of Tha Dog Pound got to release their own underwhelming album. Only one rapper has ever been able to match the raw talent snoop displayed on this album.
  10. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Tupac) https://youtu.be/xTmyXOH6s7A
    The absolute pinnacle of hip hop during the East coast vs West coast beef generation. This album is the equivalent of Barry Bonds during the steroid era in baseball. Instead of releasing one battle track on an otherwise average album, like most of the era, Pac released an entire battle album and brought the heat to everyone that he had beef with all at once. Not to mention changing his stage name to Makaveli just before dying and posthumously releasing the best rap album ever. 🏆