5. Nas - Illmatic
Always in the conversation as one of the most important albums ever released in hip-hop, Nasir Jones’s debut Illmatic proved that East Coast hip-hop could still make noise. Showcasing beats from DJ Premier, Large Professor and Pete Rock, Illmatic only managed to go Gold in the U.S., but the album’s impact is immeasurable. Sharply contrasting the commercial hip-hop that was dominating the airwaves, Nas’s songs on Illmatic sounded like mini stories and first person narratives about life in Queensbridge, NY. Illmatic is Nas at his sharpest, proving he’s one of the best lyricists ever to emerge from the rap game.