Dark Light

The Southern takeover, which had started at the beginning of the decade, was in full swing by 2005. With names like Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall dropping landmark albums this year, the South would begin to define hip hop for the next decade and running.

While that was happening, Kanye and his fellow Chicago rapper Common were holding it down for the Windy City with two stellar releases that would rank amongst the best albums of the year. Over the West Coast, The Game was picking up L.A. and putting it on his back with the release of his multiplatinum debut (with lots of help from Dre and 50).

From Young Jeezy’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 to Kanye West’s Late Registration and The Game’s The Documentary, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 2005.

25. Memphis Bleek – 534

Released: May 17, 2005

Label: Get Low, Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Like That”, “Infatuated”, “Dear Summer”

Features: Young Gunz, M.O.P., Rihanna, Jay-Z, Denim, Livin’ Proof

24. Tony Yayo – Thoughts of a Predicate Felon

Released: August 30, 2005

Label: G-Unit, Interscope

Singles: “So Seductive”, “Curious”, “I Know You Don’t Love Me”

Features: 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, Olivia and Spider Loc, as well as T.I., Eminem, Obie Trice, Jagged Edge, Joe and Kokane

23. AZ – A.W.O.L.

Released: September 6, 2005

Label: Fast Life, Quiet Money, Koch

Singles: “The Come Up”

Features: Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Half-a-Mil, Begetz, Bounty Killer, CL Smooth, Ralo

22. Roots Manuva – Awfully Deep

Released: January 28, 2005

Label: Big Dada

Singles: “Colossal Insight”, “Too Cold”

Features: Hazel Sim, DJ MK, Marshmello, Lotek

21. Beanie Sigel – The B. Coming

Released: March 29, 2005

Label: Dame Dash, Def Jam

Singles: “Gotta Have It”, “Don’t Stop”, “Feel It in the Air”

Features: Freeway, Young Chris, Peedi Crakk, Twista, Snoop Dogg, Redman, Bun B, Melissa Jay, Rell, Grand Puba, Sadat X, Peedi Crakk, Oschino, Omillio Sparks, Jay-Z, Cam’ron

20. 50 Cent – The Massacre

Released: March 3, 2005

Label: Shady, Aftermath, Interscope

Singles: “Disco Inferno”, “Candy Shop”, “Just a Lil Bit”, “Outta Control”

Features: The Game, Tony Yayo, Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, Eminem, Olivia, Jamie Foxx

19. Mike Jones – Who Is Mike Jones?

Released: April 19, 2005

Label: Swishahouse, Asylum, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Still Tippin'”, “Back Then”

Features: Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Big Moe, Lil Bran, CJ, Mello, Bun B, Lil Keke

18. Rapper Big Pooh – Sleepers

Released: February 8, 2005

Label: 6 Hole, Caroline

Singles: N/A

Features: O-Dash, Spectac, Darien Brockington, Joe Scudda, KeKe, Tyesha, Murs

17. Paul Wall – The Peoples Champ

Released: September 13, 2005

Label: Swishahouse, Atlantic, Asylum

Singles: “Sittin’ Sidewayz”, “They Don’t Know”, “Girl”, “Drive Slow”

Features: Three 6 Mafia, Mike Jones, Trey Songz, Freeway, T.I., Big Pokey, Bun B, B.G., Lil Wayne

16. Blackalicious – The Craft

Released: September 27, 2005

Label: Anti

Singles: “Your Move”, “Powers”

Features: Ledisi, Larry Saunders, Ledisi, Lateef, Pigeon John, George Clinton, P.E.A.C.E., Kween, Lyrics Born

15. Juelz Santana – What the Game’s Been Missing!

Released: November 22, 2005

Label: Diplomat, Def Jam

Singles: “Mic Check”, “There It Go (The Whistle Song)”, “Make It For Ya”, “Clockwork”

Features: Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Cam’ron, Sizzla, Hell Rell, Razah, Bezel

14. Little Brother – The Minstrel Show

Released: September 13, 2005

Label: Atlantic

Singles: “Lovin’ It”, “Slow It Down”

Features: DJ Jazzy Jeff, Chaundon, Khrysis

13. Chamillionaire – The Sound of Revenge

Released: November 22, 2005

Label: Chamillitary, Universal

Singles: “Turn It Up”, “Ridin'”, “Grown and Sexy”

Features: Natalie Alvarado, Krayzie Bone, Bun B, Scarface, Billy Cook, Killer Mike and Pastor Troy

12. Bun B – Trill

Released: October 18, 2005

Label: Rap-a-Lot, Asylum, Atlantic

Singles: “Draped Up”, “Get Throwed”, “Git It”

Features: Ying Yang Twins, Pimp C, Young Jeezy, Z-Ro, Jay-Z, Lil’ Keke, J. Prince, Mannie Fresh, Ludacris, Scarface, Jazze Pha, Trey Songz, Mike Jones, Birdman, T.I., Too $hort, Juvenile, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Aztek, Lil’ Flip

11. Buckshot & 9th Wonder – Chemistry

Released: June 21, 2005

Label: Duck Down

Singles: N/A

Features: Keisha Shontelle, Big Pooh, Joe Scudda, L.E.G.A.C.Y., Phonte, Sean Price and Starang Wondah

10. Quasimoto – The Further Adventures of Lord Quas

Released: May 3, 2005

Label: Stones Throw Records

Singles: “Bus Ride”

Features: Madvillain, M.E.D.

9. Sean Price – Monkey Barz

Released: June 13, 2005

Label: Duck Down

Singles: “Rising To The Top / Spit Game”, “Boom Bye Yeah / 60 Bar Dash”, “Onion Head”

Features: Buckshot, Louieville Sluggah, Rock, Starang Wondah, Steele, Tek, Ruste Juxx.

8. DJ Muggs & GZA – Grandmasters

Released: October 25, 2005

Label: Angeles Records

Singles: “General Principles”

Features: Raekwon, RZA, Masta Killa, Prodigal Sunn, Sen Dog

7. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter II

Released: December 6, 2005

Label: Cash Money, Young Money, Universal

Singles: “Fireman”, “Hustler Musik”, “Shooter”

Features: Kurupt, Currensy, Robin Thicke, Nikki Jean, Birdman

6. Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Released: October 10, 2005

Label: Lex, Epitaph, Metalface Records

Singles: “Sofa King”, “Old School”

Features: Talib Kweli, Ghostface Killah

5. Missy Elliott – The Cookbook

Released: July 4, 2005

Label: Goldmind, Atlantic

Singles: “Lose Control”, “Teary Eyed”, “We Run This”

Features: Mary J. Blige, Grand Puba, Mike Jones, Slick Rick, Ciara, Fatman Scoop, Fantasia, Vybz Cartel & M.I.A.

4. The Game – The Documentary

Released: January 18, 2005

Label: Aftermath, G-Unit, Interscope

Singles: “Westside Story”, “How We Do”, “Hate It or Love It”, “Higher”, “Dreams”, “Put You on the Game”

Features: 50 Cent, Eminem, Nate Dogg Faith Evans, Tony Yayo, Dion, Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes

3. Young Jeezy – Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101

Released: July 26, 2005

Label: Corporate Thugz, Def Jam South

Singles: “And Then What”, “Soul Survivor”, “Go Crazy (Remix)”, “My Hood”

Features: Trick Daddy, Young Buck, Lil’ Will, Jay-Z, Mannie Fresh, Lil Scrappy, T.I., Akon, Bun B, Lloyd, Slick Pulla

2. Kanye West – Late Registration

Released: August 30, 2005

Label: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella

Singles: “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, “Gold Digger”, “Heard ‘Em Say”, “Touch the Sky”, “Drive Slow”

Features: Adam Levine, Jamie Foxx, Common, Brandy, Jay-Z, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, Paul Wall, GLC, The Game, Really Doe, Consequence, Cam’ron

1. Common – Be

Released: May 24, 2005

Label: Geffen, GOOD

Singles: “The Food”, “The Corner”, “Go!”, “Testify”, “Faithful”

Features: Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets, Kanye West, John Legend

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