From Illmatic to Madvillainy, To Pimp a Butterfly to Aquemini, Tha Carter II to De La Soul Is Dead, we look at the best hip hop albums of all time, year by year.

By the beginning of the ’90s, hip hop had transformed from an emerging music genre into a truly recognised global force.

With the rise of pop acts like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice with their hit singles like “Ice Ice Baby” and “U Can’t Touch This,” the music industry were no longer able to deny that people wanted rap music.

But while those two acts eclipsed any other hip hop artists on a commercial level, 1990 was also the year we saw the debuts of A Tribe Called Quest and Brand Nubian – two important rap groups to the alternate movement – the rise of Ice Cube as a solo rapper, who would become one of the best rappers of the 90s, and the comeback of LL Cool J, amongst many other great releases.

From Eric B. & Rakim’s Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em to Fear of a Black Planet and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 1990.

25. MC Hammer – Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Released: February 12, 1990

Label: Capitol, EMI

Singles: “Help the Children”, “Dancin’ Machine”, “U Can’t Touch This”, “Have You Seen Her”, “Pray”, “Here Comes the Hammer”

Features: N/A

24. K-Solo – Tell the World My Name

Released: May 22, 1990

Label: Atlantic

Singles: “Spellbound”

Features: N/A

23. Poor Righteous Teachers – Holy Intellect

Released: May 29, 1990

Label: Profile, Arista Records

Singles: “Time to Say Peace”, “Holy Intellect”, “Rock Dis Funky Joint” (1990), “Shakiyla (JRH)”

Features: N/A

22. Compton’s Most Wanted – It’s a Compton Thang

Released: June 19, 1990

Label: Orpheus Records

Singles: “This Is Compton”, “One Time Gaffled Em Up”, “I’m Wit Dat”

Features: N/A

21. D-Nice – Call Me D-Nice

Released: July 24, 1990

Label: Jive Records

Singles: N/A

Features: Dawnn Lewis

20. Above the Law – Livin’ Like Hustlers

Released: February 20, 1990

Label: Ruthless, Epic

Singles: “Murder Rap”, “Untouchable”

Features: N.W.A.

19. N.W.A. – 100 Miles and Runnin’

Released: August 14, 1990

Label: Ruthless, Priority

Singles: “100 Miles and Runnin'”

Features: N/A

18. Grand Daddy I.U. – Smooth Assassin

Released: September 14, 1990

Label: Cold Chillin’, Reprise, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: N/A

Features: Desiree Price, Raezia Rolle, Toni Rolle, Mary Brown

17. X Clan – To the East, Blackwards

Released: April 24, 1990

Label: 4th & B’way, Island

Singles: “Raise the Flag”/”Heed the Word of the Brother”, “Funkin’ Lesson”/”Shaft’s Big Score”, “Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It?”

Features: N/A

16. Too $hort – Short Dog’s in the House

Released: September 11, 1990

Label: Jive Records, RCA

Singles: “Short But Funky”, “The Ghetto”

Features: Ice Cube

15. Masta Ace – Take a Look Around

Released: July 24, 1990

Label: Cold Chillin’/Reprise/Warner Bros.

Singles: “Together / Letter to the Better”, “Me and the Biz”, “Music Man”, “Movin’ On”

Features: N/A

14. Paris – The Devil Made Me Do It

Released: October 9, 1990

Label: Scarface, Tommy Boy

Singles: “The Devil Made Me Do It”

Features: N/A

13. Tragedy Khadafi – Intelligent Hoodlum

Released: July 10, 1990

Label: A&M, PolyGram Records

Singles: “Black and Proud”, “Back to Reality”

Features: N/A

12. Ice Cube – Kill at Will

Released: December 18, 1990

Label: Lench Mob, Priority

Singles: “Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)”

Features: Chuck D

11. Digital Underground – Sex Packets

Released: March 20, 1990

Label: Tommy Boy, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Doowutchyalike”, “The Humpty Dance”

Features: N/A

10. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead or Alive

Released: August 14, 1990

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: “Streets of New York”, “Erase Racism”, “Bad to the Bone”

Features: Large Professor, Freddie Foxxx, Ant Live, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie

9. Boogie Down Productions – Edutainment

Released: July 17, 1990

Label: Jive, RCA Records

Singles: “Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love)”, “Ya Know the Rules”

Features: Kwame Toure, Special K, Heather B., Jamal-Ski, Ms. Melodie, Harmony, D-Square

8. Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth – Funky Technician

Released: February 6, 1990

Label: Wild Pitch, EMI Records

Singles: “Baby, You Nasty”/”Track the Movement”, “Funky Technician”/”Bad Mutha”, “Stricly for the Ladies”/”Back to Back Rhyming”

Features: A.G.

7. EPMD – Business as Usual

Released: December 18, 1990

Label: Def Jam, Rush, Columbia

Singles: “Gold Digger”, “Rampage”, “Give the People”

Features: Redman, LL Cool J

6. Brand Nubian – One for All

Released: December 4, 1990

Label: Elektra

Singles: “Brand Nubian”, “Feel So Good”, “Wake Up”, “Slow Down”, “All for One”

Features: N/A

5. LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out

Released: September 14, 1990

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “To da Break of Dawn”, “The Boomin’ System”, “Around the Way Girl”, “Mama Said Knock You Out”, “6 Minutes of Pleasure”

Features: Big Money Grip, Bomb, HIC

4. A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Released: April 10, 1990

Label: Jive, RCA Records

Singles: “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”, “Bonita Applebum”, “Can I Kick It?”

Features: N/A

3. Eric B. & Rakim – Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em

Released: June 19, 1990

Label: MCA Records

Singles: “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em”, “In the Ghetto”, “Mahogany”

Features: N/A

2. Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet

Released: April 10, 1990

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “Fight the Power”, “Welcome to the Terrordome”, “911 Is a Joke”, “Brothers Gonna Work it Out”, “Can’t Do Nuttin’ for Ya Man”

Features: Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane

1. Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted

Released: May 16, 1990

Label: Lench Mob, Priority

Singles: “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”, “Who’s the Mack?”

Features: Chuck D, Lil Russ, Flavor Flav, Yo-Yo

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