The Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of All Time

All it takes is a glance at the charts to know hip-hop is one of the most popular genres of modern music. Not only is its influence felt creatively, but hip-hop has also been used by artists to soundtrack the highs and lows of key social movements. If you’re looking for an introduction to the genre of hip-hop, check out the top albums of all time below. 

10. The Marshall Mathers LP (Eminem)


After the immense success and popularity of Eminem’s debut “The Slim Shady LP,” he went with a more autobiographical and transgressive direction for his follow-up album. The tracks in the album revolve around his personal life, his struggles with fame, and everything in between. 

This album takes a closer look into the life and mind of Marshall Mathers. Although it had cartoonish and horrorcore elements, the album essentially changed the trajectory of his life as an artist and had a huge impact on the hip-hop genre. 

9. The Infamous (Mobb Deep)


“The Infamous” was the second studio album by hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, which consisted of rappers Prodigy and Havoc. The album was released in 1995, and it went on to become the foundation of hardcore New York hip-hop. In a sense, it was a spiritual successor to Nas’ “Illmatic.”

The tracks in the album combine gritty, bare-bones beats with brutally raw lyrics. Both artists, Prodigy and Havoc, were great vocalists and were able to make history in the Hollywood music industry with “The Infamous.” The album went on to influence the next generation of hip-hop music as well. 

8. Paul’s Boutique (Beastie Boys)


After the amazing success of “Licensed to Ill,” the Beastie Boys left Def Jam to find their own identity as artists. The group wanted to shed their frat boy aesthetic and carve out a place for themselves in the world of hip-hop. 

After they ran into the Dust Brothers at an L.A. nightclub, the Beastie Boys found their next album’s backdrop. Using funky bass lines and eclectic samples, the Beastie Boys were able to focus on producing legendary music, free from dissing and boasting. 

7. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (D.M.X.)


D.M.X.’s magnum opus album “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” is a compilation of tracks that focus on all the trials and tribulations he’s had to face and overcome. Through this album, we’re left with tracks that are some of the most touching and influential songs the genre of hip-hop will ever see. 

“Stop Being Greedy,” “Get at Me Dog,” and “The Convo” are just some of the few songs that make this album from D.M.X. a classic that can never be forgotten. The tracks in the album will continue to be blasted for years to come. 

6. 3 Feet High & Rising (De La Soul)


De La Soul’s debut album would change the face of American hip-hop forever. After its release, this album went on to influence a whole generation of rap fans. Everything from the characters, the skit, the comedy, and the samples, makes this album unique, light-hearted, and just truly magnificent. 

Although De La Soul has released more poignant and focused albums after this (which were also well received), nothing will compare to “3 Feet High & Rising,” which contributed to the progression of hip-hop in the country.

5. Doggystyle (Snoop Dogg)


After making his much talked about debut with Dr.Dre on the latter’s studio album “The Chronic,” Snoop Dogg was ready to take over the Hollywood music industry. In 1993, he released the album “Doggystyle,” which was entirely produced by him. 

It was the perfect backdrop to Snoop Dogg’s charismatic lyrics and gangster rap. “Doggystyle” defined the hip-hop scene on the West Coast and became one of the most popular and influential music albums to be released in that era. 

4. To Pimp a Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar)


After releasing the well-received sophomore album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City,” there are various directions that artist Kendrick Lamar could have gone. However, no one would have believed that he would release the masterpiece “To Pimp a Butterfly” as his next album.

This all-encompassing album showcased his expert songwriting, rapping, and musicianship. It created for a listener a world that they could venture into and get lost in. It had a sense of nostalgic revivalism combined with personal depth and political lyrics, making this an important album for the hip-hop genre. 

3. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Kanye West)


No one but Kanye West could have created a grandiose album that would have such a big impact on hip-hop and music in general. With this album, Kanye was able to bring his vision to life, and he was able to put together a cast of expert musicians who were capable of helping him manifest his vision. 

A few notable collaborators on this album were Charlie Wilson, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, Jay-Z, Elton John, Seal, Common, Alicia Keys, and many more. What was most impressive about “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was that Kanye was able to blend together so many different themes and songs in a meaningful manner. 

2. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Lauryn Hill)


Although this album is composed of neo-soul, R&B, and reggae sounds, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is undoubtedly one of the greatest contributions to the genre of hip-hop. Lauryn Hill had already made a name for herself as a successful artist with the album “The Score.”

But when this album was released, she was able to cement herself as a hip-hop megastar. The songs had memorable lyrics that were focused on themes like motherhood, heartbreak, reminiscence, God, and love, and the vocals were divine. 

1. The Chronic (Dr. Dre)


Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” was a hip-hop album like no other – it was a game changer and redefined West Coast music. “The Chronic” is, in fact, considered one of the best hip-hop albums of all time, given that it has continued to influence mainstream music ever since its release. 

Dr. Dre went big on this album and collaborated with numerous young undiscovered talented artists, like Daz, Kurupt, and, of course, Snoop Dogg. Songs like “Dre Day,” “G’Thang,” and “Nuthin” from the album are cemented in hip-hop legacy and continue to be popular. 

This article originally appeared on and was republished with permission.