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With the hip hop community still reeling from the death of 2Pac the year prior, rap fans were hoping for a calmer year in 1997 but still bracing for the worst to happen.

It wasn’t long into the year before hip hop would lose another one of its young, incredibly talented artists when The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down March 9 in L.A. while leaving the Vibe afterparty. In just 6 months, rap had lost two of its biggest and most influential figures.

But before Biggie was tragically murdered, he had finished putting the final touches on his sophomore album, Life After Death. It would be the project that took his name to the highest level of rap music and cement his legacy as one of the greatest rappers of the ’90s.

From Master P’s Ghetto D to Puff Daddy’s No Way Out and Jay-Z’s In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 1997.

25. KRS-One – I Got Next

Released: May 20, 1997

Label: Jive

Singles: “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”, “Word Perfect”, “Step into a World (Rapture’s Delight)”, “Heartbeat”, “A Friend”

Features: Redman, Angie Martinez, Mic Vandalz, Thor-El and Puff Daddy

24. Mack 10 – Based on a True Story

Released: September 16, 1997

Label: Priority

Singles: “Backyard Boogie”, “Only in California”

Features: Ice Cube, Allfrumtha I, E-40, Snoop Dogg, The Comrads and Too $hort

23. The Beatnuts – Stone Crazy

Released: June 24, 1997

Label: Relativity, Epic

Singles: “Find That”, “Do You Believe?”, “Off the Books”, “Here’s a Drink”

Features: Gab Gacha, Big Pun, Cuban Link, Hostyle, Blaq Poet, Don Gobbi, Horny Man

22. Del the Funky Homosapien – Future Development

Released: November 18, 1997

Label: Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings

Singles: N/A

Features: Casual

21. EPMD – Back in Business

Released: September 16, 1997

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Da Joint”, “Richter Scale”

Features: Das EFX, Redman, Keith Murray, Nocturnal

20. Suga Free – Street Gospel

Released: June 24, 1997

Label: Polygram

Singles: “If U Stay Ready”

Features: Playa Hamm, DJ Quik, Hi-C, El DeBarge

19. Atmosphere – Overcast!

Released: August 5, 1997

Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment

Singles: N/A

Features: Beyond

18. Master P – Ghetto D

Released: September 2, 1997

Label: No Limit, Priority

Singles: “I Miss My Homies”, “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!”

Features: C-Murder, Silkk The Shocker, Mystikal, Pimp-C, Mo B. Dick, O’Dell, Sons of Funk, Kane & Abel, Mac, Fiend, Big Ed, Mr. Serv-On, Mia X, Mercedes, Lawand, Lil Gotti, Prime Suspects

17. O.C. – Jewelz

Released: August 19, 1997

Label: PayDay, FFRR

Singles: “Far From Yours”, “My World”, “Can’t Go Wrong”

Features: Organized Konfusion, Big L, Freddie Foxxx, Yvette Michele, Roc Raida

16. Three 6 Mafia – Chapter 2: World Domination

Released: November 4, 1997

Label: RED, Relativity, Hypnotize Minds

Singles: “Hit a Muthafucka”, “Tear Da Club Up ’97”, “Late Night Tip”

Features: Dayton Family, Prophet Posse, Project Pat

15. Rakim – The 18th Letter

Released: November 4, 1997

Label: Universal

Singles: “Guess Who’s Back”

Features: N/A

14. LL Cool J – Phenomenon

Released: October 14, 1997

Label: Def Jam, PolyGram

Singles: “Phenomenon”, “4, 3, 2, 1”, “Father”, “Hot Hot Hot”, “Candy”

Features: Ricky Bell, Ralph Tresvant, Busta Rhymes, The Lost Boyz, LeShaun, Keith Sweat, Canibus, DMX, Master P, Method Man, Redman, Tamia

13. Busta Rhymes – When Disaster Strikes…

Released: September 16, 1997

Label: Flipmode, Elektra

Singles: “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See”, “Dangerous”, “Turn It Up (Remix)/Fire It Up”

Features: Lord Have Mercy, Dolemite, Spliff Star, Jamal, The Flipmode Squad, Rampage, Anthony Hamilton, The Chosen Generation, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Mase

12. Slum Village – Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1)

Released: July 11, 1997

Label: Counterflow, Donut Boy Recordings

Singles: N/A

Features: Phat Kat, 5 Elementz

11. Puff Daddy – No Way Out

Released: July 22, 1997

Label: Arista, Bad Boy

Singles: “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”, “I’ll Be Missing You”, “It’s All About the Benjamins”, “Been Around the World”, “Victory”

Features: The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Mase, Lil’ Kim, Carl Thomas, Jay-Z, Black Rob, The LOX, Ginuwine, Twista, Foxy Brown, Faith Evans, and 112

10. Jay-Z – In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

Released: November 4, 1997

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “(Always Be My) Sunshine”, “The City Is Mine”, “Wishing on a Star”

Features: Puff Daddy, Lil’ Kim, Backstreet, Babyface, Foxy Brown, Sauce Money, Too $hort

9. Common – One Day It’ll All Make Sense

Released: September 30, 1997

Label: Relativity

Singles: “Retrospect for Life”, “Reminding Me (Of Sef)”, “All Night Long”

Features: Lauryn Hill, Posdnuos, Trugoy, Cee-Lo, Malik Yusef, Erykah Badu, Black Thought, Q-Tip, Canibus, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn

8. Scarface – The Untouchable

Released: March 11, 1997

Label: Rap-A-Lot, Noo Trybe

Singles: “Smile”, “Mary Jane”, “Game Over”

Features: Roger Troutman, Lisa Crawford, Daz Dillinger, Devin the Dude, K.B., 2Pac, Johnny P., Devin the Dude, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Too Short

7. Camp Lo – Uptown Saturday Night

Released: January 28, 1997

Label: Profile, Arista

Singles: “Luchini AKA This Is It”

Features: Trugoy the Dove, Butterfly, Jungle Brown, Karachi R.A.W. and Bones

6. Mase – Harlem World

Released: October 28, 1997

Label: Bad Boy, Arista

Singles: “Feel So Good”, “What You Want”, “24 Hrs. to Live”, “Lookin’ at Me”

Features: Kelly Price, DMX, Puff Daddy, Lil’ Kim, Pharrell Williams, Billy Lawrence, 8Ball & MJG, Busta Rhymes, Total, Lil’ Cease, Jay-Z, 112, The LOX, Black Rob, Monifah

5. Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report

Released: June 17, 1997

Label: Penalty, Tommy Boy, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Illegal Life”, “L.A., L.A.”, “T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)”, “Closer”

Features: Imam T.H.U.G., Busta Rhymes, Havoc, Tragedy Khadafi, Castro, Musaliny, Mendosa, Troy Outlaw, Mobb Deep

4. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – The Art of War 

Released: July 29, 1997

Label: Ruthless, Relativity

Singles: “Look Into My Eyes”, “If I Could Teach the World”

Features: Mr. Maje$ty, 2Pac, Souljah Boy, Tre, Mo Thugs Family

3. Missy Elliott – Supa Dupa Fly

Released: July 15, 1997

Label: The Goldmind, Elektra

Singles: “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”, “Sock It 2 Me”, “Beep Me 911”, “Hit Em wit da Hee”

Features: Busta Rhymes, Ginuwine, 702, Magoo, Da Brat, Lil’ Kim, and Aaliyah

2. Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever

Released: June 3, 1997

Label: Loud, RCA

Singles: “Triumph”, “It’s Yourz”, “Reunited”

Features: Cappadonna, Streetlife, 4th Disciple, True Master, and Tekitha

1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death

Released: March 25, 1997

Label: Bad Boy, Arista

Singles: “Hypnotize”, “Mo Money Mo Problems”, “Sky’s the Limit” / “Going Back to Cali”

Features: 112, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Too $hort, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., R. Kelly, The Lox, and Puff Daddy

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