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 2004 the Southern takeover was in full swing. What started out as a trickle in the early ’90s with OutKast and the Geto Boys transformed into a tidal wave with artists like Mike Jones, Z-Ro, and Lil Jon. It was a sign of what was to come.

In other news, underground legend MF DOOM had a banner year in 2004 with a couple of drops that would live forever as classics. Cam’ron continued his outstanding run at Roc-A-Fella with the release of Purple Haze, and speaking of the Roc, a young Chicago rapper-producer by the name of Kanye West also dropped his debut this year and go on to become one of the most influential rappers of the 2000s.

From Masta Ace’s A Long Hot Summer to Kanye West’s The College Dropout and Madvillain’s Madvillainy, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 2004.

25. Z-Ro – The Life of Joseph W. McVey

Released: February 24, 2004

Label: Rap-A-Lot 4 Life, J. Prince Entertainment, Asylum

Singles: “I Hate U Bitch”

Features: Trae tha Truth, Scarface and Tanya Herron

24. Royce da 5’9″ – Death Is Certain

Released: February 24, 2004

Label: Koch

Singles: “Hip Hop”, “Death Is Certain Pt. 2 (It Hurts)”

Features: Ingrid Smalls, 6 July, Cha Cha and Cutty Mack

23. MF DOOM & MF Grimm – Special Herbs + Spices Volume 1

Released: May 11, 2004

Label: Day By Day Entertainment

Singles: N/A

Features: Kurious, Bashton the Invizabul Mang and Lord Smog

22. Young Buck – Straight Outta Cashville

Released: August 24, 2004

Label: G-Unit, Interscope

Singles: “Let Me In”, “Shorty Wanna Ride”

Features: 50 Cent, The Game, Ludacris, Lil’ Flip, David Banner, D-Tay, Stat Quo, Tony Yayo, Stat Quo

21. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: BME Recordings, TVT Records

Singles: “What U Gon’ Do”, “Lovers & Friends”, “Real Nigga Roll Call”

Features: R. Kelly, Ludacris, Ice Cube, Usher, Bun B from UGK, Jadakiss, Nas, T.I., the Ying Yang Twins and Pharrell

20. Nas – Street’s Disciple

Released: November 30, 2004

Label: Columbia

Singles: “Thief’s Theme”, “Bridging the Gap”, “Just a Moment”

Features: Kelis, Scarlett, Quan, Emily, Busta Rhymes, Olu Dara, Doug E. Fresh, Ludacris, Maxwell

19. Jadakiss – Kiss of Death

Released: June 22, 2004

Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope

Singles: “Time’s Up”, “Why?”, “U Make Me Wanna”

Features: Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, Anthony Hamilton, Mariah Carey, Pharrell, Sheek Louch, Styles P, Kanye West, Eminem, Nesha

18. Lloyd Banks – The Hunger for More

Released: June 29, 2004

Label: Interscope, G-Unit

Singles: “On Fire”, “I’m So Fly”, “Karma”

Features: Tony Yayo, DJ Whoo Kid, Snoop Dogg, Young Buck, The Game, Eminem, 50 Cent and Nate Dogg

17. The Roots – The Tipping Point

Released: July 13, 2004

Label: Geffen

Singles: “Don’t Say Nuthin'”, “I Don’t Care”, “Stay Cool”

Features: Wadud Ahmad, Aaron Livingston, Martin Luther, Dice Raw, Devin The Dude, Jean Grae & Mack Dub

16. Talib Kweli – The Beautiful Struggle

Released: September 28, 2004

Label: Rawkus, Geffen

Singles: “I Try”, “Around My Way”

Features: Jean Grae, Common, Faith Evans, Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige and John Legend

15. Snoop Dogg – R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: Doggystyle, Star Trak, Geffen

Singles: “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Let’s Get Blown”, “Signs”, “Ups & Downs”

Features: Pharrell, Bootsy Collins, Bee Gees, Lil Jon, Trina, Charlie Wilson, 50 Cent, Soopafly, Justin Timberlake, Nelly

14. Proof – I Miss the Hip Hop Shop

Released: June 15, 2004

Label: Iron Fist Records

Singles: N/A

Features: Journalist, MU, T-Flame, Fatt Father, 1st Born, Famous, Killa Khann, Dogmatic

13. Masta Killa – No Said Date

Released: June 1, 2004

Label: Nature Sounds, Fontana

Singles: “No Said Date”, “Digi Warfare”, “D.T.D.”, “Queen”

Features: Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Streetlife, Prodigal Sunn, Killah Priest, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Allah Real, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and GZA

12. Viktor Vaughn – VV:2

Released: August 3, 2004

Label: Insomniac, Inc.

Singles: N/A

Features: Manchild (MARS ILL), Iz-Real, Carl Kavorkian, Kool Keith, Poison Pen

11. Handsome Boy Modeling School – White People

Released: November 9, 2004

Label: Elektra

Singles: “The World’s Gone Mad”

Features: Linkin Park, Del tha Funky Homosapien, The Mars Volta, De La Soul, Jack Johnson, Cat Power, Lord Finesse, Pharrell Williams, John Oates, RZA, Julee Cruise, El-P, Mike Patton, Tim Meadows and Father Guido Sarducci

10. Blockhead – Music by Cavelight

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Ninja Tune

Singles: “Insomniac Olympics”, “Sunday Seance”

Features: N/A

9. Beastie Boys – To the 5 Boroughs

Released: June 15, 2004

Label: Capitol

Singles: “Ch-Check It Out”, “Triple Trouble”, “Right Right Now Now”, “An Open Letter to NYC”

Features: N/A

8. Murs & 9th Wonder – Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Bad Man!” / “3:16”, “H-U-S-T-L-E” / “H-U-S-T-L-E (Remix)”

Features: Phonte

7. Ghostface Killah – The Pretty Toney Album

Released: April 20, 2004

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Tush”, “Run”

Features: Sheek Louch, Styles P, Trife da God, Missy Elliott, Allan Real, Jacki-O, Jadakiss, Musiq Soulchild and K. Fox

6. Masta Ace – A Long Hot Summer

Released: August 3, 2004

Label: M3 Macmil Music

Singles: “Good Ol’ Love”, “Beautiful”, “Da Grind”, “Do It Man”

Features: Mr. Lee G, Leschea, Wordsworth, Punchline

5. De La Soul – The Grind Date

Released: October 5, 2004

Label: A.O.I., Sanctuary Urban

Singles: “Shoomp/Much More”, “Shopping Bags (She Got From You)”, “Rock Co.Kane Flow”

Features: Yummy Bingham, DJ Premier, Daniel Wallace, Bönz Malone, Spike Lee, Carl Thomas, Ghostface Killah, Common, Flava Flav, MF DOOM

4. Cam’ron – Purple Haze

Released: December 7, 2004

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

Singles: “Get Em Girls”, “Lord You Know”, “Shake”, “Hey Lady”, “Girls”, “Down and Out”

Features: Kanye West, Syleena Johnson, Juelz Santana, Mona Lisa, Jaheim, Jim Jones, Nicole Wray, Twista, Psycho Drama, Freekey Zekey, J.R. Writer, Un Kasa

3. MF DOOM – Mm..Food

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: Rhymesayers

Singles: “One Beer”, “Hoe Cakes”

Features: Count Bass D, Angelika, 4ize, Mr. Fantastik

2. Kanye West – The College Dropout

Released: February 10, 2004

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Through the Wire”, “Slow Jamz”, “All Falls Down”, “Jesus Walks”, “The New Workout Plan”

Features: Jay-Z, Mos Def, Jamie Foxx, Syleena Johnson, Ludacris, GLC, Consequence, J. Ivy, Talib Kweli, Common, Twista, Freeway

1. Madvillain – Madvillainy

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Stones Throw

Singles: “Money Folder”, “All Caps”

Features: Quasimoto, Wildchild, Viktor Vaughn

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