40. Nelly, Country Grammar
Released On: June 27, 2000 (Universal)
With a strategically placed Band-Aid and a couple of nursery rhymes, Cornell Haynes, Jr., transformed himself from aspiring, professional baseball player to multiplatinum selling rapper in the time it takes Ozzie Smith to turn a double play. Country Grammar, the St. Louis native’s blockbuster debut, spawned a litany of popular singles, including “Ride Wit Me,” “E.I.” and the instant smash title track. The album would go on to becoming the seventh highest selling hip-hop LP of all-time, selling close to 8.5 million records and launching Nelly into the upper echelon of 2000s hip-hop superstars.
39. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot, Supa Dupa Fly
Released On: July 15, 1997 (Elektra)
With an eye to the future, forward-sounding hip-hop has always been the calling card for Missy Elliot. On Supa Dupa Fly, Missy Elliot’s bugged-out debut, Missy and her partner-in-crime, Timbaland, sound as if they traveled from the Year 2186 after spending a year-abroad on a Neptunian moon. Lead single, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” is trippy-as-hell and the fisheye lens and trashbag chic of the single’s iconic video is as memorable as anything hip-hop has ever produced. Supa Dupa Fly launched Missy’s successful career and transformed Timbaland into the auteur producer-du-jour of the next decade in hip-hop.
38. LL Cool J, Bigger & Deffer
Released On: June 2, 1987 (Def Jam/Columbia/CBS Records)
After his debut album, Radio, became one of the first cohesive and commercially successful rap albums in hip-hop history, the expectations for LL Cool J’s follow-up were extremely high. In the summer of 1987, LL released Bigger & Deffer and he fulfilled the promise. Bigger & Deffer remains LL’s most successful album to-date selling over three million copies and becoming one of rap’s cultural touchstones after it’s million-selling single, “I Need Love,” basically invented rap’s most polarizing tradition, the hip-hop love song. A formula that generates commercial success and eye-rolling groans in equal measure ever since.
37. Main Source, Breaking Atoms
Released On: July 23, 1991 (Wild Pitch/EMI)
Breaking Atoms, the debut LP from seminal East Coast rap group, Main Source, remains one of the last important LP from hip-hop’s Golden Age. Noted for it’s layered, jazzy production and smart, relatable rhymes, Breaking Atoms is a sonically rich experience that launched the career of Large Professor, the group’s primary beatmaker, as one the greatest producers of the 1990s. The album’s most famous moment might be, however, the debut of a teenaged Nas whose verse on “Live at the BBQ” has only grown in legend over the years.
36. Master P, Ghetto D
Released On: September 7, 1997 (No Limit/Priority)
In the summer of 1997, Master P and the rest of the No Limit Soldiers ruled the Billboard charts with pens, pixels and golden tanks. Ghetto D, Master P’s magnum opus spawned memorable singles like “I Miss My Homies, “Bourbons & Lacs” and “Make ‘Em Ughhh!” Ghetto D remains his biggest-selling album of his career and transformed No Limit Records into a dominant commercial force of the late 90s helping to launch the career of Silkk the Shocker, C-Murder and Mystikal.