9. Organized Konfusion - Stress: The Extinction Agenda
Having arrived on the heels of Pharoahe Monch's father's death, Organized's 2nd album was shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty and introspection.
8. OutKast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
On their first LP, Big Boi and Dre redefined most people's perception of Southern Rap by drenching their witty rhymes in funk-soul instrumentation.
7. The Roots - Do You Want More?!!!??!
This production-driven album took listeners for an unforgettable ride that culminated with notable hits like "Proceed" and "Mellow My Man."
6. Gang Starr - Hard to Earn
Hard to Earn was a clean break from Gang Starr's previous albums: it was harsher, it was more claustrophobic, and it hinted at the duo's frustration with the rap scene.
5. Scarface - The Diary
On his 3rd foray as a solo MC, Scarface quickly established himself as the Rakim of the South with thoughtful and street-savvy rhymes.
4. Jeru the Damaja - The Sun Rises in the East
Fame proved elusive for the Brooklyn MC, but Jeru's edutainment and Premier's mind-blowing compositions made his debut one of the quintessential 90s hip-hop albums.
3. Common - Resurrection
Common released this undeniable masterpiece at a time when there was no shortage of great hip-hop albums, boasting such classics as "Resurrection" and "I Used to Love H.E.R."
2. Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
Biggie's unique ability to mine comedy from the most serious topics was the real star of his classic debut.
1. Nas - Illmatic
Illmatic, the much ballyhooed hip-hop bible, lives up to every inch of the hype it's been associated with over the years. Nas crammed into 39 minutes more potent material than most rappers could muster in twice that time. An an all-star production cast that included DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Large Professor sealed the deal.