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The 50 Greatest Debut Albums in Hip-Hop History

11. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded (1987)

Label: B-Boy Records
Release Date: 3/3/1987

Many people credit N.W.A. as the creators of the "gangsta rap" blueprint. But while the L.A. rap crew was profoundly influential, they drew inspiration from many others who came before them. The Bronx duo BDP, for instance, dropped Criminal Minded over a year before Straight Outta Compton, just as crack was transforming entire sections of NYC into urban war zones. One glimpse of the cover art—with KRS-ONE and DJ Scott LaRock surrounded by enough firepower to stage a rap coup d'etat—left no doubt just how militant their mentality could be.

But it was the music—Kris' profoundly petulant poetry atop raw beats co-produced on the low by Ced Gee of Ultramagnetic MCs—that made an indelible impact. "The Bridge Is Over" was historic for its decisive role in the epic Queensbridge versus South Bronx rap wars, as well as its early fusion of rap and dancehall reggae. But the whole album was stacked with anthems like "9mm Goes Bang," "The P is Free" and "South Bronx" that can still rock any party. Scott LaRock was murdered just months after the album's release, but with such a powerful debut, the BDP movement would prove unstoppable for years to come.

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