Label: Def Jam/Columbia

Buying an album based on the cover art might be unheard of to those whose music consumption has come primarily in the iTunes era, but when you saw what Public Enemy looked like on the front of Yo! Bum Rush the Show back in ‘87, you knew their album had to be the shit.

The dimly lit image of Chuck D., Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X and the S1Ws in paramilitary attire told you that these guys were on some next-level seriousness, and the album delivered with some of the most aggressive and provocative raps ever laid to wax, from the bourgie-broad–baiting “Sophisticated Bitch” to the menacing “Miuzi Weights A Ton.”

But the best track on the whole album was already three years old by the time Def Jam put it in stores: “Public Enemy No. 1,” a battle rap over the JB’s “Blow Your Head” that Chuck had originally recorded as a promo for the Adelphi University radio station, was so good that Rick Rubin literally called Chuck’s house for years trying to get him to sign a record deal. The reluctant MC finally gave in, PE was born, and the rest is history.