8. 50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin'
Release Date: 2/6/2003
All eyes were on 50 Cent in 2003. After getting dropped from Columbia (who subsequently didn't release his previously completed debut, Power of The Dollar), revolutionizing the mixtape game, and teaming up with Eminem and Dr. Dre, Get Rich became the most anticipated hip-hop debut since Doggystyle. He had a lot to prove but from the opening sounds coins dropping and a gun cocking, you knew 50 Cent's major label debut would live up to the hype.
One of the hallmarks of Get Rich was that whether it was 50's flow or even Dre's beats, everything had a region-less feel. Plus, the album was so incredibility calculated, featuring one of nearly every type of rap record: The club song ("In Da Club"), the girl song ("21 Questions"), the weed song ("High All The Time"), etc. But what made those songs work-and made the album such a monster-was 50's songwriting skills. Like Eminem and DMX before him, 50 could take the most hardcore topics and craft the catchiest hooks around them. 50 didn't need R&B divas to sing hooks for him like his nemesis Ja Rule because he was mostly singing his own hooks thanks to his knack for melody.
Meanwhile, his rhymes took place in the streets and he was the main character of all his tales, never a casual observer. He traded in realness and everything he said sounded like it could be true because his life story was already like a comic book. The album would go on to tell over eight million copies in the US and not only did 50 get rich and avoid dying, but he became one of the few true new rap stars of the 2000s.