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.

After dropping The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000 and spending most of 2001 proving to the rap world why he was the biggest and best rapper alive, Eminem was back in 2002.

Preceded by the global smash hit “Without Me,” the Detroit rapper went on to have an even bigger year than he did the years prior. It was official, Eminem was the biggest thing rap had ever witnessed.

In other news, empowered by his beef with Hov (which New York deemed he won), Nas was back on track creatively and commercially with two classic releases in 2002.

We had Cam’ron linking up with Roc-A-Fella and shooting his way up the charts with “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma,” while positioning Juelz Santana to be next in line. Nelly was also doing his thing. Like Jay-Z said on “Excuse Me Miss”: “Only dudes movin’ units – Em, Pimp Juice and us.” While all this was happening, two brothers from Virginia linked up with their longtime friend, Pharrell Williams, and changed the coke rap game with their debut.

From Nas’ God’s Son to Clipse’s Lord Willin’ and The Roots’ Phrenology, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 2002.

25. Ja Rule – The Last Temptation

Released: November 19, 2002

Label: Murder Inc., Def Jam

Singles: “Thug Lovin'”, “Mesmerize”, “Murder Reigns”

Features: Bobby Brown, Ashanti, Nas, Alexi, Charli Baltimore, 2Pac, Caddillac Tah, Celeste Scalone, Eastwood, Crooked I, Young Life & Chink Santana

24. Common – Electric Circus

Released: December 10, 2002

Label: MCA

Singles: “Come Close”, “I Got a Right Ta”

Features: Vinia Mojica, Marie Daulne, Sonny Sandoval, Bilal, Omar, Dart Chillz, Mary J. Blige, Lætitia Sadier, Pharrell Williams, Cee Lo Green, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn

23. Eve – Eve-Olution

Released: August 27, 2002

Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope

Singles: “Gangsta Lovin'”, “Satisfaction”

Features: Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Truth Hurts, Alicia Keys, Mashonda, Jadakiss, Styles P, Anthony Hamilton

22. Jay-Z – The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse

Released: November 12, 2002

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”, “Hovi Baby”, “Excuse Me Miss”

Features: Faith Evans, The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Rakim, Truth Hurts, Beyoncé, Sean Paul, Big Boi, Killer Mike, Twista, Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, Scarface, Lenny Kravitz, Young Chris, Memphis Bleek, Freeway, Young Gunz, Peedi Crakk, Sparks, Rell, Marc Dorsey, Pharrell

21. Erick Sermon – React

Released: November 19, 2002

Label: J Records

Singles: “React”, “Love Iz”

Features: Free Marie, Icarus, Keith Murray, Khari, Lyric, MC Lyte, Rah Digga, Red Café, Redman, Sy Scott and Gregory Howard

20. Nelly – Nellyville

Released: June 25, 2002

Label: Universal, Fo’ Reel

Singles: “Hot in Herre”, “Dilemma”, “Air Force Ones”, “Work It”, “Pimp Juice”

Features: Cedric the Entertainer, La La, Kyjuan, Murphy Lee, Ali, Kelly Rowland, Justin Timberlake, Beanie Sigel

19. GZA – Legend of the Liquid Sword

Released: December 10, 2002

Label: MCA, Universal Records

Singles: “Knock, Knock”, “Fame”

Features: Ghostface Killah, Streetlife, RZA, Masta Killa, Young Justice, Anthony Allen, Santi White, Governor Two’s, Inspectah Deck, Armel, Prodigal Sunn, 12 O’Clock

18. Busta Rhymes – It Ain’t Safe No More…

Released: November 26, 2002

Label: Flipmode, J

Singles: “Make It Clap”, “I Know What You Want”

Features: Mariah Carey, The Flipmode Squad, Rah Digga, Meka, Sean Paul, Carl Thomas, Spliff Starr

17. Styles P – A Gangster and a Gentleman

Released: July 9, 2002

Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope

Singles: “Good Times”

Features: Jadakiss, Sheek Louch, J-Hood, Eve, Angie Stone, Lil’ Mo, M.O.P. and Pharoahe Monch

16. Xzibit – Man vs. Machine

Released: October 1, 2002

Label: Open Bar, Loud, Columbia Records, Sony Music

Singles: “Multiply”, “Choke Me, Spank Me (Pull My Hair)”, “My Name”, “Symphony in X Major”

Features: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, M.O.P, and Nate Dogg

15. Snoop Dogg – Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss

Released: November 26, 2002

Label: Doggystyle, Priority, Capitol

Singles: “From tha Chuuuch to da Palace”, “Beautiful”

Features: Jay-Z, Nate Dogg, Soopafly, Pharrell, Charlie Wilson, LaToiya Williams, Kokane, Traci Nelson, Kokane, Goldie Loc, Redman, Warren G, Goldie Loc, Ludacris, The Lady of Rage, RBX

14. Cormega – The True Meaning

Released: June 25, 2002

Label: Legal Hustle

Singles: “Built for This”, “The Come Up”

Features: Large Professor

13. Tech N9ne – Absolute Power

Released: September 24, 2002

Label: Strange Music

Singles: “Slacker”, “Imma Tell”, “Here Comes Tecca Nina”, “I’m A Playa”

Features: 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains, D12, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Skatterman & Snug Brim

12. J-Live – All of the Above

Released: April 2, 2002

Label: Coup d’État

Singles: “Satisfied?” / “A Charmed Life”, “Like This Anna” / “MCee” / “3 Out of 7”

Features: Asheru and El Da Sensei

11. Talib Kweli – Quality

Released: November 19, 2002

Label: Rawkus

Singles: “Good to You” / “Put It in the Air”, “Waitin’ for the DJ” / “Guerilla Monsoon Rap”, “Get By”

Features: Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Dave Chappelle, Cocoa Brovaz, Bilal, Mos Def, DJ Quik, Res, Novel, Kendra Ross

10. Nas – The Lost Tapes

Released: September 23, 2002

Label: Ill Will, Columbia

Singles: N/A

Features: N/A

9. Cam’ron – Come Home with Me

Released: May 14, 2002

Label: Diplomat, Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Oh Boy”, “Hey Ma”, “Daydreaming”

Features: The Diplomats, DJ Kay Slay, Daz Dillinger, Tiffany, Jay-Z, McGruff, Memphis Bleek, and Beanie Sigel.

8. Missy Elliott – Under Construction

Released: November 12, 2002

Label: Goldmind, Elektra

Singles: “Work It”, “Gossip Folks”, “Back in the Day”

Features: Method Man, Ludacris, Jay-Z, Ms. Jade, Beyonce, TLC

7. Scarface – The Fix

Released: August 6, 2002

Label: Def Jam South

Singles: “Guess Who’s Back”, “My Block”, “Someday”

Features: Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Kanye West, Kelly Price, Nas, Tanya Herron, Faith Evans, WC

6. Blackalicious – Blazing Arrow

Released: April 30, 2002

Label: MCA, Quannum Projects

Singles: N/A

Features: Zack de la Rocha, Saul Williams, Lyrics Born, Sela Kerr, Chali 2na, Lateef the Truth Speaker, Gil Scott-Heron, Ben Harper, Cut Chemist, Rakaa, DJ Babu

5. Eminem – The Eminem Show

Released: May 26, 2002

Label: Shady, Aftermath, Interscope

Singles: “Without Me”, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “Superman”, “Sing for the Moment”, “Business”

Features: Obie Trice, D12, Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Dina Rae, Hailie Jade Scott-Mathers

4. Nas – God’s Son

Released: December 13, 2002

Label: Ill Will, Columbia

Singles: “Made You Look”, “I Can”, “Get Down”

Features: Kelis and Claudette Ortiz, Bravehearts, 2Pac, J. Phoenix, Alicia Keys, Lake, Jully Black

3. El-P – Fantastic Damage

Released: May 14, 2002

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Stepfather Factory”, “Deep Space 9mm”, “Truancy”, “Dead Disnee”

Features: N/A

2. Clipse – Lord Willin’

Released: August 20, 2002

Label: Star Trak, Arista

Singles: “Grindin'”, “When the Last Time”, “Ma, I Don’t Love Her”, “Cot Damn”

Features: Ab Liva, Roscoe P. Goldchain, Faith Evans, Fabolous, Jadakiss and Styles P

1. The Roots – Phrenology

Released: November 26, 2002

Label: MCA

Singles: “Break You Off”, “The Seed (2.0)”

Features: Cody ChesnuTT, Musiq Soulchild, Talib Kweli, and Jill Scott

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