9. Nas "N.Y. State of Mind" (1994)
Producer: DJ Premier
DJ Premier was at the top of his game when he handed Nas this formidable aural canvas, having just released Hard To Earn with GURU and handled beats for Jeru The Damaja's entire debut. Despite Primo's punishing schedule, "NY State of Mind" was one of his most powerful and evocative productions of the period. A menacing piano riff from Joe Chambers' "Mind Rain," claustrophobic guitar, and booming drums of death take the listener deep into the heart of a New York subway tunnel at 3 a.m. aka "the dungeons of rap."
Related: DJ Premier Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records