I know I'm late with this, but my access to the internets is restricted at the DBC, outside of these mandatory posts. My tardiness can't be argued, but my choices are up for discussion.
1. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back/Public Enemy
Conceptually sound, impeccable production and powerful lyricism. I memorized every word, sample and sound of this record. I might still know it, too.
2. 3 Feet High and Rising/De La Soul
A groundbreaking declaration of individuality and creativity. The album proved that its okay to be different, as long as you're dope.
3. Amerikkka's Most Wanted/Ice Cube
Anchored by Bomb Squad production, Ice Cube make one of the edgiest records of his time. Nothing set me off like hearing these songs back in the day.
4. Black Star/Mos Def and Talib Kwelli
Indisputable proof that real hip hop can still be made, if you're willing to try.
Perfect poetry and production from hip hop's greatest beat makers. No one tells a story like Nas.
6. Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk/Son of Bazerk
I've already written a lot about this group on this site. The most explosive release of the '90s.
7. Criminal Minded/BDP
KRS-One's voice was the primary instrument of the minimalist production of BDP's debut. His timing, inflection and emphasis are impeccable. The politics and philosophy were often confusing, but that only made things more interesting.
8. The Cactus Album/3rd Bass
Deadly serious and seriously funny at the same time. The best hip-hop duo, pre-Outkast.
9. De La Soul is Dead/De La Soul
A skillful reinvention complete with a read along storybook. I listened to this so much, the lyrics became part of my everyday conversation. Sometimes this manifests at inopportune moments, like when we group last week, and there was a debate over seating arrangements, and I said "I'm Hemroid! I'm the leader!"
10. Hard to Earn/Gangstarr
Consistently indestructible beats and rhymes. It took a guy from Boston and another from Texas to make some of the best NY hip hop ever.
11. And The Winner Is .../Chubb Rock and Hitman Howie T
Chubb Rock's compelling delivery belies his intelligence and sharp sense of humor: "Some artists mix me with go-go/Def lyrics but it sounds so-so. Howie T's production chops were at their apex here and the Chubbster was in rare form.
12. Young Black Teenagers/Young Black Teenagers
The Bomb Squad and four guys rapping at once, none of them black or in their teens. That's keeping it real. The Bomb Squad nearly outdid themselves here, giving the YBT a potent sonic landscape that matched frustration and rage of their lyrics.
13. All Hail the Queen/Queen Latifah
One of the best releases from the Native Tongue collective. The Queen rapped and sang over beats from hip hop's A-List of producers with gratifying results. The chorus of Wrath of My Madness still haunts me. What is she saying?
14. Straight Out The Jungle/Jungle Brothers
I really got into this after the Native Tongue had begun. I was aware of it when it came out and I was attracted to their laid back style. This was an innovative record that launched a musical movement and the first rap hybrid - hip-house.
15. Blue Funk/Heavy D
The Heavster didn't make this one for the ladies who loved Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown. Blue Funk, with production from Pete Rock, DJ Premier, was for the heads. Classic material.
16. Sex Packets/Digital Underground
The closest any hip-hop group got to the conviction and spirit of P-Funk. Shock G came with dual identities, tales of fictitious sex drugs and everything on the one. I still have my ticket stub from Gutfest '89.
Hip-Hop's most consistent duo proved they were here to stay with their third solid release. The ultimate Oukast record is tainted only by the ungroovable "Mamacita."
18. Brand Nubian/One For All
Politics, religion and social commentary over phat loops and inspired production. Puba, Derek X and Lord Jamar's relaxed deliveries made making a classic look real easy.
19. Eric B & Rakim/Follow the Leader
Rakim's verbal dexterity grew more complex on their second album. The instrumental tracks, a rap rarity these days, were needed to digest Ra's vigorous wordplay and furious styles.
20. Run-DMC/Raising Hell
This record is so full of timeless tracks, it sounds like a compilation of hits. Raising Hell was a landmark moment for hip hop, after "Walk This Way," there could be no turning back.
21. The Notorious B.I.G./Ready to Die
Radio friendly hip hop with a street edge from Brooklyn's finest. This record would be the blueprint for any rapper dreaming of commercial success. But nobody could do it like Biggie.
22. Dr. Dre/The Chronic
The Doctor prescribed a heavy dose of funk, replaying the sounds of soul hits interspersed with the original voices. Rhymes from Snoop Dogg and humor from the D.O.C. made this operation a success. Dre created a professional reputation with this record that remains unshakable. However, his personal reputation ... let's just say were it not for Dre, the would be no DBC.
23. Pharcyde/Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
The Pharcyde rapped songs about lost love, regret, drugs and ya mama. J Swift's production on this record was jazz-influenced by it's samples and spontaneity. It was the roller coaster ride the record cover promised, thrilling from end to end.
24. Redman/Whut? Thee Album
Redman introduced the WTFF factor to hip hop. He steered clear of preset categories of rap music and created a lane for himself, with fearless approach to making songs. He even freaked in Korean.
25. A Tribe Called Quest/The Low End Theory
The promise of "People's Instinctive Travel ..." was fufilled on this release. The sounds were sparse, yet more effective and integral to the work as a whole. Phife came into his own as Q-Tip continued to perform at the top of his game.