1. “All Eyez On Me” Tupac Shakur
“All Eyez On Me” is the fourth album by Tupac Shakur, who many consider to be the greatest rapper of all time. Released in 1996, the album is one of the crowning achievements of hip-hop music and made history as the first double-full-length hip-hop solo studio album released for mass consumption. The album was certified 5x platinum after two months of its release and 9x platinum two years later, making it among the fastest selling albums in history.
2. “Life After Death” The Notorious B.I.G.
The second and final album by The Notorious B.I.G. affectionally known as “Biggie,” was released after his death in 1997. The album was certified Diamond, the highest rating in the RIAA in 2000. The album centers on many of the themes that made Biggie’s debut album “Ready To Die” famous. These include life on the streets, gang warfare, hardships of growing up in “the hood” and family and relationships between friends and intimate figures.
3. “The Chronic” Dr. Dre
Released in 1992, Dr. Dre’s debut release quickly took off as an anthem for young people. His first release on his own label Death Row Records jumpstarted Dre’s career and enabled him to go on to sign many artists that also became prominent figures in hip-hop. Since the title of the album refers to high quality marijuana and the cover is an homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers, the album quickly found its home in the counter culture of the 1990s through today.
4. “Doggystyle” Snoop Doggy Dogg
Like Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg (now known as just Snoop Dogg) found his home in the counter culture of the 1990s. His debut album, released in 1993, took the U.S. by storm and he quickly became one of the most recognizable voices and faces in hip-hop history. The album exemplifies west coast living in its fullest. His fans may disagree about his more recent work, but I challenge any rapper to produce something that comes close to “Doggystyle.”
5. “Reasonable Doubt” Jay-Z
“Reasonable Doubt” is the debut album by “the greatest rapper alive,” Jay-Z. Released in 1996, the album centers around a mafioso theme and touches on themes like betrayal and reminiscence. The album was certified platinum by the RIAA in 2002. Jay-Z has gone on to release many albums that critics and fans agree are classics. The album has been called Jay-Z’s crowning achievement and while not a personal favorite, deserves recognition.