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The Top 250 Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time: Part 1

Hip hop is a rich, supremely talented culture that has consistently evolved since the 1970s, so selecting the top 250 best hip hop albums of all time was almost impossible, believe me.

Over the decades, there have been countless talented artists who have contributed to the evolution of hip hop, releasing groundbreaking albums that have left a lasting impact on the genre. From the early disco-inspired days of rap to the boom-bap era of the ’90s to the ATL trap movement, this list encompasses a wide range of styles and influences and celebrates the diverse and rich history of hip hop.

So let’s not waste any time and get straight into it. From Illmatic to Madvillainy , To Pimp a Butterfly to Aquemini , Tha Carter II to De La Soul Is Dead , here are the top 250 best hip hop albums of all time.


250. 2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music

100 Rappers Their Age Classic Album 2 Chainz

Released: June 16, 2017

Label: Def Jam

Opulent, introspective and packed full of vintage Tity Boi one-liners, Pretty Girls Like Trap Music is easily the best 2 Chainz album to date. After reinventing himself and going on a legendary features run in 2011-2012, the Atlanta rapper made his solo debut with Based on a T.R.U. Story and cemented himself as a staple in the hip hop world, but it was with this album that it felt like 2 Chainz finally hit his stride as an album artist.

249. Ludacris – Word of Mouf

Ranking Ludacris First Week Album Sales Word Of Mouf

Released: November 27, 2001

Label: Disturbing tha Peace, Def Jam South

The album that solidified Ludacris as one of the most important Southern rappers of his generation, Word of Mouf is the perfect blueprint of what makes him such a great MC and entertainer. In between massive hit singles like “Area Codes” and “Rollout (My Business),” Luda sneaks in deceptively complex rhymes delivered in his signature dizzying flow.

248. Joey Badass – All–Amerikkkan Badass

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2010S Joey Badass

Released: April 7, 2017

Label: Pro Era, Cinematic

Sometimes an album doesn’t need to be impactful to be among the best, and the quality of All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ is enough for it to make the list. It’s a political assault on American society, with Joey delivering some of his most impassioned and vicious verses of his career. The host of features is legendary, with J. Cole, Styles P and Meechy Darko being a few examples of guests on this star-studded modern classic.

247. Gucci Mane – The State vs. Radric Davis

100 Rappers Their Age Classic Album Gucci Mane

Released: December 8, 2009

Label: 1017 Brick Squad, Asylum, Warner Bros.

Gucci Mane had already become a local Atlanta legend by the time The State vs. Radric Davis came out, but this was the album that put him into the spotlight. One of the most beloved projects in his extensive catalogue, the album featured blissfully ignorant cuts like “Wasted,” the unlikely collaboration “Spotlight” with Usher, and of course, “Lemonade,” a song in the running for the greatest Gucci Mane track of all time.

For the most part, Gucci is turnt up and running amok throughout the album, although there are enough introspective moments on here that make you realise he’s more self-aware than people give him credit for. Guwop would go on to become arguably the most influential Atlanta rapper of all time , and this album undoubtedly helped kick everything off.

246. The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 1990S Pharcyde

Released: November 14, 1995

Label: Delicious Vinyl

Following the success of their debut album, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde , released in 1992, the group were hoping to connect with Q-Tip to produce their next body of work. The fact that they had split up with their previous producer J-Swift probably prompted the move. Instead of agreeing to work with them, the Tribe frontman pointed them in the direction of an up-and-coming Detroit producer by the name of Jay Dee, who would go on to produce a number of tracks on Labcabincalifornia and score the first hit (“Runnin'”) of his young career. While Dilla’s production on here is often lauded as the highlight of the album, The Pharcyde more than keep up their end of their bargain with their trademark nonsensical raps and infectious energy.

245. Playboi Carti – Die Lit

Ranking Playboi Carti First Week Album Sales Die Lit

Released: May 11, 2018

Label: AWGE, Interscope

On his 2018 debut album, Die Lit , Playboi Carti takes everything in the traditionalist hip hop playbook and throws it out while doing a stage dive. A product of the burgeoning SoundCloud rap movement of the 2010s, Carti was quickly catapulted into the spotlight off the back of two hits “Magnolia” and “wokeuplikethis*” before dropping Die Lit . Everything that made Carti a beloved figure of the new rap generation shows up in full force on this album – the verbal tics, twitchy adlibs, and penchant for catchy melodies over brazen soundscapes – and cemented him as one of the most daring artists of his generation.

244. Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1998 Busta

Released: December 15, 1998

Label: Flipmode, Elektra

Following two solid releases – his debut The Coming in 1996 and When Disaster Strikes… in 1997 – Busta Rhymes dropped his third album Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front , which also happens to be his best release. Playing on the disaster-themed movies that were all the rage at the time, Busta harnessed that energy and unleashed it over some of the funkiest futuristic production, courtesy of Nottz, Swizz, Rockwilder and DJ Scratch.

243. Lil Uzi Vert – Luv Is Rage 2

Every Single Hip Hop Billboard Number One Album Since 1986 Lil Uzi

Released: August 25, 2017

Label: Generation Now, Atlantic

Preceded by the spectacular “XO Tour Llif3” which go on to become Lil Uzi Vert’s signature song, Luv Is Rage 2 would cement the Philly rapper’s position as a natural born rock star and one of his generation’s most forward-facing artists. From the banging, trap inspired experimental production to Uzi’s blazing performances on each track, Luv Is Rage 2 is absolutely one of the best hip hop albums of all time.

242. DJ Quik & Kurupt – Blaqkout

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2000S Dj Quik Kurupt

Released: June 9, 2009

Label: Mad Science, Pentagon, Fontana Distribution

DJ Quik and Kurupt’s Blaqkout is a dynamic and experimental hip hop album that showcases the duo’s complex and undervalued careers. Quik’s production takes risks and subverts expectations, while Kurupt’s lyrics embrace rap-for-rap’s-sake experimentalism. With a mix of confrontational funk, dubbed-out interludes, and thudding basslines, Blaqkout is an underrated West Coast record that highlights two legends at the peak of their craft.

241. Kool Moe Dee – How Ya Like Me Now

Greatest Sophomore Rap Albums Of All Time Kool Moe Dee

Released: November 3, 1987

Label: RCA

An absolute legend of the old school hip hop era, Kool Moe Dee was one of the few MCs who managed to transition from rocking block parties and live shows to dropping commercially successful albums. On his sophomore album, Moe Dee, who was in the middle of a feud with the up-and-coming LL Cool J, took the opportunity to show that he could create complete bodies of work while maintaining his deadly lyrical abilities. Hits like “Wild Wild West” proved the Harlem rapper was a viable commercial force while the title track is one of the best rap diss tracks ever .

240. Digable Planets – Blowout Comb

Digable Planets Blowout Comb

Released: October 18, 1994

Label: Pendulum, EMI

The sophomore album of jazzy alternative hip hop trio, Digable Planets, following the well-received debut, Blowout Comb takes everything that made Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) great, and added more textures and experimental grooves, resulting in their best release ever. With lyrical themes of inner-city life and black nationalism dominating the album, Blowout Comb is also Digable Planets’ most ambitious work, from a production as well as rapping standpoint.

239. Travis Scott – Astroworld

Every Single Hip Hop Billboard Number One Album Since 1986 Astroworld

Released: August 3, 2018

Label: Cactus Jack, Grand Hustle, Epic

Travis Scott had been grinding away in the rap game since the late 2000s before breaking through with his 2013 mixtape, Owl Pharaoh . But even after making it big with his well-received debut, Rodeo , which cracked the Billboard top 5, it still felt like everything leading up to 2018’s Astroworld was a warm-up for the Houston rapper-producer. As soon as you heard the beat switch on the opening track “Stargazing,” you knew this listening experience was going to be different from all his other projects. From Frank Ocean’s surprise visit on “Carousel” to the Drake-assisted blockbuster “Sicko Mode” to the beautifully woozy “Stop Trying to Be God,” everything on Astroworld was a goddamn moment.

238. The Diplomats – Diplomatic Immunity

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2000S Diplomatic Immunity

Released: March 25, 2003

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

Released at the peak of their powers during their tumultuous stay on Roc-A-Fella Records, The Diplomats’ 2003 debut album is a tour-de-force of 2000s New York hip hop. Backed by the hard-hitting, soul-sampling production of Just Blaze and The Heatmakerz, Dipset strut their way through 27-tracks of violent energy like they run the city. In a way, they totally did.

237. Heltah Skeltah – Nocturnal

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1996 Heltah

Released: June 18, 1996

Label: Duck Down, Priority

One of the hardest rap duos to ever grace a mic, Heltah Skeltah (comprised of Jahmal “Rock” Bush and Sean “Ruck” Price) sprung from the seeds of the legendary Boot Camp Clik, a primarily Brooklyn-based supergroup which also included members of Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun and O.G.C. On the duo’s debut, Nocturnal , is one of the many peaks of mid-90s underground New York hip hop: the production is minimalistically layered and thumping while Rock and Ruck go for each other’s throats on every track.

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

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2004 Murs

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Definitive Jux

Hailing from the West Coast but fitting right in at the home of underground New York hip hop, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition is a prime showcase of the L.A. rapper’s traversing lyrical style. Paired up with celebrated Little Brother producer, 9th Wonder, who provides the hard-hitting funk, Murs taps into his everyday man persona as he waxes lyrical about life, love and loss. Stylish, intelligent and always of substance, Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition is one of Murs’ most iconic releases and definitely one of the best hip hop albums of all time.

235. Arrested Development – 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1992 Arrested

Released: March 24, 1992

Label: Chrysalis, EMI

Dropped a couple of years before OutKast came out with their landmark 1994 release, the debut of this underrated Atlanta hip hop group is often overlooked when we look back at the South’s rise. Built on the samples of timeless acts like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth, Wind & Fire, Minnie Riperton and The Persuaders, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… captures all the funky grooves and soulfulness of past decades, with the rappers establishing themselves as a new voice in hip hop. With huge singles like “Tennessee,” “People Everyday” and “Mr. Wendal,” the album wasn’t just acclaimed, it took over the mainstream airwaves, selling over 4 million copies.

234. Sticky Fingaz – Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 2001 Sticky Fingaz

Released: May 22, 2001

Label: Universal

Black Trash: The Autobiography of Kirk Jones is a cinematic concept album with an all-star cast, but Sticky Fingaz never leaves the spotlight. This is his impactful debut structured like a movie, following the life of ex-con Kirk Jones. From its glamorous sound to vivid storytelling, it plays just like a film, making for one of hip hop’s most cohesive and engaging concept albums. With it, Sticky Fingaz redefined just how imaginative album concepts could be.

233. Cam’ron – Purple Haze

100 Rappers Their Age Classic Album Camron

Released: December 7, 2004

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

Dipset frontman and renowned Harlem tongue-twisting spitter Cam’ron has always been one of the most naturally talented MCs in the game , and nowhere does this show up more than on his fourth album, Purple Haze . Released six years after his debut and two years after his commercial breakthrough, the album finds Killa Cam doing what he does best: talking shit effortlessly with copious internal rhymes over the soul-seeped production of The Heatmakerz, Kanye West, and others. While lacking the hits that propelled Come Home with Me into a platinum record, Purple Haze is the quintessential Cam’ron album and unarguably features his best work ever.

232. Method Man & Redman – Blackout!

Biggest Hip Hop Album First Week Sales Of 1999 Blackout

Released: September 28, 1999

Label: Def Jam

During the mid-90s, Method Man and Redman were at the height of their rap careers. Meth, fresh off dropping his chart-topping “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” with Mary J. Blige, was by far and away the biggest rapper to emerge from the Wu-Tang Clan. Red, on the other hand, had dropped two gold albums and made high-profile features on EPMD records.

They were two of the most exciting and best rappers of the ’90s and their collaboration, Blackout! , captures all of the energy of “How High” and then some. Maybe the most enjoyable rap record of the ‘90s, the album is pure funk and fun, with Meth and Red flexing their superb rapping talents over the production genius of Erick Sermon, Rockwilder, DJ Scratch and RZA.

231. The LOX – Money, Power & Respect

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1998 Lox

Released: January 13, 1998

Label: Bad Boy, Arista

Coming straight outta Yonkers, New York, The LOX had spent a better part of the mid-90s building a buzz for themselves by dominating the underground rap circuit and spitting fire on DJ Clue mixtapes. After signing to Bad Boy Records, the trio were on a superstar trajectory with big features on “It’s All About the Benjamins,” Mariah Carey’s “Honey” and Mase’s “24 Hrs. to Live.”

The LOX’s debut wasn’t what hardcore hip hop heads were expecting from the street-oriented group, but that doesn’t stop it from being a ‘90s classic. While the shiny suit era production perhaps hasn’t aged as well, Money, Power & Respect features some of the hungriest raps from Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch as they were determined to fill the huge void left by Big’s untimely death.

230. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP

100 Rappers Their Age Classic Album Schoolboy Q

Released: July 8, 2016

Label: TDE, Interscope

Setbacks put him on the map, Habits & Contradictions made him a star, Oxymoron solidified him as one of the biggest rappers of his generation, but Blank Face LP is the best Schoolboy Q album, bar none. A sprawling, cinematic album that features some of the darkest imagery Q has conjured up on wax, Blank Face LP checks all the boxes for pristine production and vivid rapping. While Kendrick opted for a jazz-funk inspiration on To Pimp a Butterfly , Q dives headfirst into psychedia on here; from the smoky Anderson .Paak-featured “TorcH” to the ominous “Tookie Knows II,” the album is Q’s most complete and ambitious work to date.

229. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient

Greatest Sophomore Rap Albums Of All Time Pete Rock Cl Smooth

Released: November 8, 1994

Label: Elektra

While the duo’s debut album, Mecca and the Soul Brother , gets all of the praise and recognition, in my opinion, their sophomore album is right up there with it. In fact, The Main Ingredient is my favourite project from the duo’s unfortunately limited catalogue. While there’s nothing on here that transcends the album like “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” overall the production – made up of warm soul and lush jazz samples – and rapping – CL Smooth is in prime form here – just feels more polished and satisfying. It’s a tragedy that Pete Rock and CL Smooth split up after this album, because they showed with two albums and one EP that they were one of the greatest hip hop duos to ever do it.

228. Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli

Most Influential Hip Hop Songs Of All Time Waka

Released: October 5, 2010

Label: 1017 Brick Squad, Asylum, Warner Bros.

An absolute game-changing hip hop album that doesn’t get the full credit it deserves, Waka Flocka Flame’s 2010 debut laid down the foundation for trap music’s dominance over the next decade. While the New York-born, Atlanta-raised hyperkinetic rapper is a whirlwind here with his cold intensity and reductive chants, the real MVP is Lex Luger, whose frenetic drum loops and thrilling synths would influence the likes of subsequent production maestros like Metro Boomin and Young Chop.

227. Whodini – Escape

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 1980S Whodini

Released: October 17, 1984

Label: Jive

One of the greatest yet unheralded rap groups of all time, Whodini’s sophomore album, recorded over the course of 16 days in London, was a game-changer when it dropped in 1984. While rappers Jalil Hutchins and Ecstasy are spitting vintage, old school party raps here, it’s producer Larry Smith (legendary for his work with Run-D.M.C.) who’s the real MVP here. Drawing on a collage of soul, rock, R&B, Smith laces Escape with some of the funkiest, hypnotic production ever laid down on a hip hop album.

226. J. Cole – 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Ranking J Cole First Week Album Sales 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Released: December 9, 2014

Label: Dreamville, Columbia, Interscope

Inspired by his home in Fayetteville, North Carolina where J. Cole lived as a youth, 2014 Forest Hills Drive is an autobiographical masterpiece that firmly solidified the rapper’s position at the top of his generation. While Cole’s first two albums both had some great moments and delivered (somewhat) on his potential, it wasn’t until the third time around that he proved he belonged up there with Kendrick and Drake as one of the best rappers alive . From a commercial standpoint, 2014 Forest Hills Drive was also Cole’s biggest album to date and kicked off the whole “platinum with no features” trend.

225. The Roots – Game Theory

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2000S Game Theory

Released: August 29, 2006

Label: Def Jam

When J Dilla tragically passed away at the young age of 32, hip hop culture froze. The Roots’ seventh album, Game Theory , dives into that grief, with a turbulent backdrop – lyrically and production wise – making for one of the group’s most cohesive works to date. It’s a touching tribute which sounds fantastic too, with Black Thought performing at his most lyrically profound. For its emotional depth and homage to Jay Dee, there’s no denying the importance of Game Theory to the culture.

224. T.I. – Trap Muzik

Ranking Ti First Week Album Sales Trap Muzik

Released: August 19, 2003

Label: Atlantic, Grand Hustle

How many rap albums have as much influence as Trap Muzik ? When it dropped, trap music was in its infancy. In 2003, T.I., along with the help of producers like DJ Toomp and Jazze Pha, helped shape the bombastic and hard-hitting sound of trap which hasn’t left the mainstream since. And its impact doesn’t end there – with this project, T.I. brought the phrase ‘trap music’ into the mainstream, which is now a term so common it’s synonymous with hip hop. A key album in launching T.I. into the spotlight, the influence of Trap Muzik is unrivalled in the South. Not only is it one of the best hip hop albums of all time, this T.I. classic is one of the most influential Southern rap albums ever.

223. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

Greatest Hip Hop Producer Line Ups Of All Time Big Boi

Released: July 5, 2010

Label: Purple Ribbon, Def Jam South

Big Boi had a lot to prove with his solo debut, but thankfully, he didn’t disappoint. Sir Lucious Left Foot captures all the glamour and braggadocious energy he portrayed on Speakerboxxx , amplified to the max. With long-time collaborators Organized Noize, Mr. DJ, Sleepy Brown and Big Rube, as well as guest stars like the scorching Gucci Mane, T.I. and Janelle Monae, coming along for the ride, it was like an OutKast family reunion with a few new faces. The album is a flashy celebration of the South and a pivotal moment for Big Boi’s post-Andre career, kickstarting a consistent run of solo projects.

222. Digital Underground – Sex Packets

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 1990S Digital Underground

Released: March 20, 1990

Label: Tommy Boy, Warner Bros.

Hundreds of rappers have tried their hands at concept albums, but to debut with a wild concept is a risky move. Regardless, that’s what Digital Underground did with Sex Packets , and the risk paid off, leading to an instant classic all about these fictional pleasure pills. Digital Underground helped define what a hip hop concept could be, pushing a wave of creativity never before seen in rap music. Fun, rambunctious and irreverent, Sex Packets is one of the most iconic rap releases of all time.

221. 2 Live Crew – As Nasty as They Wanna Be

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 1980S 2 Live Crew

Released: February 7, 1989

Label: Atlantic, Luke

As Nasty as They Wanna Be is so dirty that shopkeepers in Florida were arrested for selling it – that should be enough to understand the impact this album had. The lyrics are borderline disgusting, pushing the limits of how pornographic hip hop could be. But that’s what makes the album so special: the fact it pushed so many boundaries was like an act of protest, just to annoy those who hated everything hip hop.

220. Young Thug – Barter 6

Ranking Young Thug First Week Album Sales Barter 6

Released: April 17, 2015

Label: 300, Atlantic

Listen to Barter 6 and you’ll get a full picture of Thug’s unrivalled style at the prime of his recording career The mixtape has everything he is known for – fast, energetic beats, eccentric singing and an animated vocal style simply no other rapper could replicate. Thug’s sound reached its peak here, making this a staple in trap music, and showcasing just how far the genre has evolved since its inception.

219. Eazy–E – Eazy–Duz–It

Rappers With The Most Platinum Albums Of All Time Eazy E

Released: November 23, 1988

Label: Ruthless, Priority

A few months after Straight Outta Compton dropped and rocked the music world, Eazy-E blasted right back into the studio and delivered one of the most explosive solo debuts of the ‘80s. The album is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, the production is vintage N.W.A. Dre, with thicker bass lines and even funkier samples than the group’s debut.

Secondly, as an MC, Eazy will never appear high on a list of the greatest rappers of all time, but his high-pitched voice and over-the-top, cartoonish raps were so undeniable that he became a West Coast icon. Even with barely any promotion on radio stations, Eazy–Duz–It tapped into the energy of the L.A. streets and went platinum in less than a year.

218. LL Cool J – Bigger and Deffer

Greatest Sophomore Rap Albums Of All Time Ll Cool J

Released: May 29, 1987

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

The ‘80s was full of hip hop stars who came and went, but Bigger and Deffer was LL Cool J’s message that he was going nowhere. It was a massive success which allowed him to take over the hip hop mainstream, proving himself a legend of his era with songs to make the crowds move as well as ballads like “I Need Love” which appealed especially to women. While Radio established the Queens legend as an up-and-coming star in the rap game, Bigger and Deffer had LL laying down the blueprint for subsequent generations, cementing his own legacy in the process.

217. Del the Funky Homosapien – I Wish My Brother George Was Here

Top 250 Best Hip Hop Albums Of All Time Del

Released: October 22, 1991

Label: Elektra

This album is exactly why Del calls himself the Funky Homosapien – it’s an animated journey into the world of boom bap with no shortage of funk influence. Del shows off all the skills which would make him such a legendary MC, with a flow as smooth as the funk he raps over. The project kick started his career and got him some mainstream clout from the beginning thanks to his biggest single ever, “Mistadobalina”.

216. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon: The End of the Day

Ranking Kid Cudi First Week Album Sales Man Moon

Released: September 15, 2009

Label: Dream On, GOOD, Universal, Motown

Man on the Moon: The End of the Day is a psychedelic adventure into the dreams of Kid Cudi with a spacey, otherworldly sound which has become his iconic style. Cudi’s melodic rapping and atmospheric sound have influenced hundreds of MCs, namely Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, Juice WRLD, Logic, and A$AP Rocky, just to name a few. While he may not be as lyrical or technically complex as others, the raw, emotional sound of his music has made such an impact, and it all started with Man on the Moon .

215. Westside Gunn – Flygod

Flygod 1024X1024

Released: March 11, 2016

Label: Griselda, Empire

The album that set everything off for Griselda’s takeover of the underground. Westside Gunn had been toiling in the murky shadows of the rap game for over a decade with his brother, Conway the Machine, but Flygod was the pivotal moment that set the Buffalo crew on their current trajectory.

A clear disciple of ‘90s-era New York rap, especially Rae’s fly luxurious rap talk and Ghostface’s unhinged, absurdist poetry, West weaves in bars about fashion and coke with the effortless grace. Backed by the lofi boom-bap of Griselda in-house producers Daringer and Camouflage Monk as well as Apollo Brown, Statik Selektah and The Alchemist, Flygod is one of the ages.

214. UGK – Too Hard to Swallow

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1992 Ugk

Released: November 10, 1992

Label: Jive

In the early ‘90s, all you would hear about were the East and West Coasts, but UGK rose to show that the South had something to say. The Southern twang to their voices is something that puts a lot of people off, and for that reason, Too Hard to Swallow was overlooked in the ‘90s and continues to be underrated today. UGK helped shape the bombastic and funky sound that is the foundation for Southern hip hop.

213. Atmosphere – God Loves Ugly

Top 250 Best Hip Hop Albums Of All Time Atmosphere

Released: June 11, 2002

Label: Rhymesayers

Decades after God Loves Ugly dropped, its influence in the abstract scene is undeniable. It features dark, warped production which was a real departure from the boom bap of the ‘90s, opening the door for other rappers to explore stranger sounds instead of the classic styles hip hop was known for. Slug’s storytelling is unique too , speaking from the perspective of an ordinary white man, showing rap music could always be entertaining, regardless of subject matter. One of the greatest underground rap albums ever, God Loves Ugly is an undeniable classic.

212. Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

Ranking Tyler The Creator First Week Album Sales Flower Boy

Released: July 21, 2017

Label: Columbia

Inaccessible, vulgar, and edgy – those were the words used to describe Tyler before 2017. But with Flower Boy , Tyler turned his career around with his most lyrically mature and sonically beautiful project to date. The album is an essential in his catalogue, marking his transition from an edgy source of controversy to one of hip hop’s greatest creatives, with gorgeous synth-heavy production and deeply personal writing Tyler fans didn’t know he was capable of.

211. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 1980S Fresh Prince

Released: March 29, 1988

Label: Jive, RCA

Love him or hate him, Will Smith is a crucial figure in hip hop, and it all stems back to this album. The Philly rapper’s rhyming and storytelling is carefree, as are the funky beats he raps over, but it’s not the style itself which makes this album so great, but its success. He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper went triple platinum, showing a lighter side of hip hop to the mainstream which helped the public accept and embrace rap music. The first double album in hip hop history, its second single, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance.

210. Mos Def – The Ecstatic

50 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The 2000S Mos Def

Released: June 9, 2009

Label: Downtown

Released 10 years after his universally acclaimed debut album, Black on Both Sides , Mos Def’s fourth album, The Ecstatic , was a return to form for the Brooklyn rapper who had spent a better part of the past decade juggling his film and rap careers. Featuring standout guest appearances from Slick Rick and longtime collaborator Talib Kweli, as well as rich, esoteric production from Madlib, J Dilla, and Oh No, The Ecstatic is a triumph in beats and rhymes while solidifying Mos Def as the pre-eminent poet of his generation.

209. Method Man – Tical

Rappers With The Most Platinum Albums Of All Time Method Man

Released: November 15, 1994

Label: Def Jam

The shining star on the Wu’s debut, Method Man was only one of two members who had a solo track on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) , the other one was GZA. Thanks to his distinctive husky voice, butter smooth flow and undeniable mic presence, the Ticallion Stallion was first off the block on the solo tip.

While Tical may not be mentioned in the same breath as esteemed Wu solo albums like Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… , Liquid Swords and Supreme Clientele , the album is a strong offering from the Clan’s most charismatic member and holds all the ingredients for a Wu classic – murky RZA production that knocks on the headphones, ill lyricism from Method Man and crazy features from Chef, Inspectah Deck and Streetlife.

208. Too Short – Life Is…Too Short

Rappers With The Most Platinum Albums Of All Time Too Short

Released: January 31, 1988

Label: Dangerous Music, Jive, RCA Records

By the time 1988 rolled around, Bay Area rapper Too Short was already a local icon and veteran of the music industry. Long before Jive came calling, the Oakland native had already dropped several albums independently via his own label 75 Girls; legend has it he hustled 50,000 copies of his fourth album Born to Mack out the trunk of his car.

By all measurements, Life Is…Too Short is Too Short’s best and most well-known album out of his extensive catalogue. There’s nothing groundbreaking or innovative here, Too Short is just being Too Short – outrageous, sexually explicit raps over some of the funkiest ‘70s production – but the Oakland rapper does it in such a stylish and commanding way that it’s irresistible.

207. Salt–N–Pepa – Hot, Cool & Vicious

Most Influential Hip Hop Songs Of All Time Salt Pepa

Released: December 8, 1986

Label: Next Plateau

When you think of ‘80s hip hop legends, it’s mostly male rappers who come to mind – but when Salt-N-Pepa broke onto the scene with Hot, Cool and Vicious , that all changed. They brought a unique flavour of hip hop which didn’t feel girly or manly – it’s a compromise that everybody could enjoy, no matter who you were. With this album, women were finally given a voice and success in hip hop, influencing generations of female MCs.

206. Ice–T – Power

Greatest Sophomore Rap Albums Of All Time Ice T

Released: September 13, 1988

Label: Sire

You could make a pretty strong argument for Ice-T’s first four albums being included on this list. That’s how strong the West Coast OG’s early catalogue is. Ice’s sophomore album, Power , is the pinnacle of late ‘80s gangsta rap – from the decadent artwork to the lyrical themes and sparse production. There are the usual sex, money, violence raps from the Los Angeles MC, of course, but delivered with enough intelligence and morality that the album doesn’t descend into mindless gangsta stereotypes.

205. King T – Act a Fool

Top 250 Best Hip Hop Albums Of All Time King T

Released: November 15, 1988

Label: Capitol

Although he may not always get his flowers, King T is an unquestionable ‘80s legend for putting out Act a Fool . Groups like N.W.A. pushed a more violent, ‘gangsta’ sound, but T defied this – he used the same abrasive production and dark themes but with a playful style and lyricism which separated him from the rest. For his originality, Act a Fool is so important to the ‘80s scene.

204. Rick Ross – Teflon Don

Ranking Rick Ross First Week Album Sales Teflon Don

Released: July 20, 2010

Label: Maybach Music Group, Slip-n-Slide, Def Jam

Everybody knows a song or two from Teflon Don , and that just goes to show the profound impact and success of this album. It’s a militant run of nonstop bangers featuring guests from all over the culture. Teflon Don is almost cinematic with its bombastic production, waiting to see what superstar will be featured next. This is Rick Ross’s magnum opus, and that should be enough to realise its greatness.

203. Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

Ranking Kanye West First Week Album Sales 808S

Released: November 24, 2008

Label: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella

Polarising and misunderstood when it was first released, 808s & Heartbreak has steadily grown to be recognised as one of Kanye’s most influential albums ever. Enlisting moody singer-rapper Kid Cudi to help him sketch out the ideas for the album, Kanye abandoned plans for his planned fourth album, Good Ass Job , and looked to turn his grief into pop art. Even if 808s & Heartbreak ’s only accomplishment was directly influencing the rise of Drake, then it would go down as a modern-day classic. But influence-aside, the album is a underrated gem of the 2000s, with beautiful melodies floating over moody soundscape and booming 808s.

202. Chief Keef – Finally Rich

Greatest Rapper Hooks Of All Time Chief Keef Love Sosa

Released: December 18, 2012

Label: Interscope, Glory Boyz

With timeless Chicago anthems like “I Don’t Like” and “Love Sosa” preceding the album’s release, Finally Rich would have been one of the biggest albums of the decade if it had dropped in the new streaming era. Instead, the album only did 50,000 in its first week and Chief Keef was seen as a commercial failure. Sometimes things just work out as they do for a reason.

The Chicago rapper wasn’t destined for the mainstream spotlight – if you look at him now, he’s much happier doing his thing as an independent artist. As an album, Finally Rich is an undeniable classic and deeply influential. Chief Keef’s adlibs, mesmerising melodies and dead-eyed one liners mesh perfectly with the genius of Young Chop’s immediate production on this rap classic.

201. Slum Village – Fan–Tas–Tic (Vol. 1)

Top 25 Best Hip Hop Albums Of 1997 Slum Village

Released: July 11, 1997

Label: Counterflow, Donut Boy Recordings

Anything J Dilla touched turned to gold, so a whole album produced by Jay Dee was bound to be an instant classic. Part of why it’s such an essential album in hip hop is the fact it was one of J Dilla’s first ever projects, marking the start of the career of one of rap music’s most inventive minds. It was an underground hit and paved the way for Slum Village to attract even more attention with Vol. 2 .

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