With apologies to De La Soul, five is the magic number. It’s usually the amount of albums in a standard record deal, but few MCs ever fulfill their contractual obligations with as much aplomb as they started. Whether an artist peaks early or late, staying consistent over the duration of five albums has proven challenging no matter the era in hip-hop. It’s a feat worth acknowledging.

Today, XXLMag.com kicks off a new countdown focused on the 25 rappers (solo, duos or groups) with the best first-five album runs in hip-hop history. A new act and their ranking will be revealed each day of the week throughout the month of October and the Top 5 will be revealed on November 5th.

The rankings were determined by the XXL staff and a committee of veteran hip-hop writers and editors who used consistency and sustainability as main indicators for the selections. They factored in: impact, influence, and classic albums as criteria.  MCs who began their career as part of a group were allowed to combine group and solo efforts provided that they were the sole MC in the group, (i.e. Rakim and Eric B. & Rakim).

So, who had the best first-five album run in hip-hop? Kanye West? OutKast? A Tribe Called Quest? Jay-Z? Let us know and get the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #XXLFirst5. —Carl Chery (@cchery)