Label: Tommy Boy/Warner Bros.

The mad genius behind De La Soul’s first three albums and the Gravediggaz (not to mention classic records by 3rd Bass, among others) producer Prince Paul crafted a masterpiece he could call his own in Prince Among Thieves. No rapper himself, the "Dew Doo Man" tapped Breezly Brewin of the Bronx’s Juggaknots as his muse/spokeman and recruited a cast of MC all-stars like Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane and Kool Keith for supporting roles on this melodramatic concept album about a rapper's hustle gone horribly, horribly wrong. A Prince Among Thieves, the movie never materialized as planned but it didn't matter: the LP played out like one—the first true "hip-hop opera."