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From a new way of expressing artistically to a mainstream genre, rap has come a long way indeed, and it couldn’t have if it wasn’t for these best rap albums of all time, the cream of the crop. We take a glad look back at the most pivotal, genre-influencing and just plain amazing albums rappers have cooked up in studios all across the United States throughout the last 35 years or so.
10. 50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ (2003)
As quickly and as low as he has fallen, 50 Cent was once the supreme leader of the rap genre, quite possibly the one that returned it to the spotlight after a short slumber. He did it with his second, but the first major-label album which was pretty stacked with 19 tracks and at least a dozen hits like 21 Questions, Many Men, In da Club, Wanksta and P.I.M.P.. Thanks to Get Rich or Die Tryin’ rap game was dominated by a similar style for at least five years and with all due respects to Kanye, it was this album that held rap in the 21st century.
9. Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill (1991)
If you get to last 26 years without disappointing your fans you must be doing something right, and Cypress Hill announced their skill to the world with a well-recognized Cypress Hill album back in 1991. A different take on rap from the spirit of the era, yet one that has found its audience and brought rap closer to fans of other genres. Cypress Hill’s track’s from their debut album became cult classics and 26 years later no one can resist bouncing to them as if it’s the first time hearing them.
8. Nas – Illmatic (1994)
One of the most artistically revered rap albums of all time, Nas’s Illmatic may have just 10 tracks on it but it has genuinely influenced more people than the majority of artists manage to do throughout their careers. A true representative of East Coast school of rapping, it’s the closest rap has come to a professor’s lecture. Illmatic is the home to some of the truest and best rap lines since someone coined the name for the genre. Impressively enough, Nas achieved this high level of cultural relevance with just one feature on the whole album.
7. Gang Starr – The Ownerz (2003)
Probably the most surprising entry on this list of best rap albums of all time, yet the quality all areas of the project have warant for a place in high society. The East Coast duo of DJ Premier and Guru are inexplicably less-known, therefore the album isn’t on many lists like this, but it’s one of the technically best albums ever. DJ Premier delivers the perfect, distinctive, memorable beats, while Guru slides over them delivering his powerful, important messages. It’s a ride along the streets of New York, and you have the best tour guides.
6. Eminem – The Eminem Show (2002)
The establishment of rap as a mainstream genre, regardless of how much it has evolved and moved from its roots, couldn’t have been done without Eminem, as his wacky earlier style drew a generation towards it. The Eminem Show is rapper’s fourth album, yet all of them came in quick succession, and it’s the 2002 one that had the most hits and showed proper maturity. It was the year’s best-selling album in the United States, and it reached the number one spot in 19 countries!