N.E.R.D Fly or Die (2004)
N.E.R.D. took genre-bending to new levels in with their debut album, In Search Of.... They set the bar high, and they also set themselves up for a difficult sophomore release. The hate was plentiful when Fly or Die dropped in 2004, and the biggest complaint seemed to be that these guys were jumping way outside their skill set, indulging in some jumbled rock star dream that they weren't built for.
The beautiful thing about this album, though, is that N.E.R.D. really was living out their rock star dreams. By this point, they were comfortable enough to do whatever they wanted. They were playing their own instruments, and they weren't held back by the all-too-familiar "know your role" attitude that so many eclectic acts get tossed at them. For N.E.R.D., there has never been a role, and that's why we liked them in the first place.