20. Main Source - Breaking Atoms
The sample-heavy Breaking Atoms is one of the most influential ever, in that it helped launch the careers of Nas, Akinyele, and others. It also inspired a production technique that's still widely emulated today.
19. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle
Doggystyle kicked the door wide for many west coast emcees. Dr. Dre's finesse aside, Snoop's piquant delivery and melodic flw were equally crucial to Doggystyle's success.
18. Fugees - The Score
Fugees' second album The Score was so remarkable that most fans forgot about their less memorable debut. Truth be told, The Score was a huge improvement on the lackluster Blunted on Reality.
17. Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill
There are two stars on Licensed to Ill and both deserve equal credit. Rick Rubin, the true pioneer of rap rock is the one pulling the musical puppet strings on this thing. But the album is nothing without the Beasties destroying every track with their unbridled passion.
16. Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill
Aside from being the first popular Latino rap group, Cypress Hill also did a respectable job of bridging the gap between rock and hip-hop on their self-titled debut album. Highlights include: "How I Could Just Kill a Man" and "The Phunkcy Feel One."
15. OutKast - Aquemini
Aquemini is evidence of just how often Boi and Dre loved reinvent their sound. They abandoned everything that worked in the past and went straight for harmonica, acoustic guitar, and even a tinny splice of electro.
14. Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt
BeforeReasonable Doubt, no other rap album walked the thin line between sin and glory so well. On one hand, Jay romanticized a superficial lifestyle of the hustler; on the other, he flirted with regrets and shortcomings from said obsession with superficiality.
13. Ice Cube - Death Certificate
Cube's debut, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, was outstanding. But his follow-up was even better, even more venomous than the first. The thing is named Death Certificate, after all. The album's 'Death' side presented an image of the present, while the 'Life' side offered a vision of the future.
12. 2Pac - Me Against the World
Me Against The World is 2Pac at his best. No thugcore tracks, no name-inscribed missiles aimed at east coast rappers. Simply Pac at his most poignant and most defiant. The duality in all its brilliance.
11. Run-D.M.C. - Raising Hell
Raising Hell Run DMC was the most uncompromising Run DMC. Raising Hell Run DMC was also the most accessible. The album has this gloriously invigorating feel that resonated with audiences--old and new. Raising Hell is important for its originality as well as its influence. "My Adidas" is still an anthem for hip-hop fashion, while "Walk This Way" helped started a trend of rock-rap fusion.