1. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five f/ Melle Mel & Duke Bootee "The Message" (1982)
Producer: Jiggs Chase, Ed Flethcer, Sylvia Robinson
Album: The Message
Label: Sugar Hill
Perhaps the most recognizable hip-hop record of all time, "The Message" offered a welcome change of pace from the brag rap and party chants of the era. In-house Sugarhill Records session player Duke Bootee (who later went on to produce "King Kut" and his own solo projects) had recorded an instrumental called "The Jungle," which he gave Melle Mel to rhyme over. The resulting electro-driven, claustrophobic track served as a stark contrast to the upbeat, live band of other Sugarhill releases, providing a fitting backdrop to Melle's dead-serious subject matter. The desolate feel of the track was so far ahead of the game that the subsequent passage of time has left it virtually unschathed, as demonstarted by Ice Cube jacking the track for his "Check Yo' Self" remix, while Puffy and Ma$e grabbed it for their hit collaboration "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down." Countless production trends have come and gone since the "The Message" first hit the airwaves, yet it still stands strong as the definitive hip-hop anthem that will sound just as fresh in another 30 years.