9. The Pharcyde - Labcabincalifornia
Labcabincalifornia wasn't as exciting as its more playful predecessor, but it represented a fully formed group eager to show their maturity.
8. Smif-n-Wessun - Dah Shinin'
Backed by lush soundscapes, courtesy of Da Beatminerz, Tek and Steele nudged New York crime rap forward with their thrilling debut.
7. Dogg Pound - Dogg Food
After the respective successes of The Chronic and Doggystyle, DPG followed with a casserole of gutter raps, synthetic rhythms, and g-funk basslines.
6. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - E 1999 Eternal
This dark and somber album silenced critics who previously dismissed Bone Thugs as a one-hit wonder.
5. KRS-One - KRS-One
Using mere words as weapons, KRS-One's selft-titled album not only dare you to think, it also dared you to blink.
4. Mobb Deep - The Infamous
A pinnacle of East Coast crime rap, this album features deep-in-the-crates beats courtesy of Havoc and unsettling lyrics from a young Prodigy.
3. GZA/Genius - Liquid Swords
New York crime rap and Cali g-funk weren't the only dominant themes that characterized 1995. There was also the lyrical wizardry of GZA on this certified hip-hop classic.
2. 2Pac - Me Against the World
Me Against The World was 2Pac at his very best: no excessive thug braggarts, no name-inscribed lyrical missiles aimed at New York rivals. In fact, he stops to pay homage to rap pioneers on "Old School," irrespective of region.
1. Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Nas is not the first artist to drop the N-word from his album title. Raekwon's classic debut was initially titled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx N*ggas, but Rae excised the last six letters at the last minute. Provocative titles aside though, Cuban Linx was an extension of Enter the Wu-Tang's narration-anchored steez.