12. N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton
Release Date: 8/8/1988
"You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge" were the opening words on N.W.A's debut album, and looking back 24 years after the release of Straight Outta Compton, it's fair to say that even Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella didn't know their own strength. Selling millions of copies with virtually no radio play, N.W.A changed the rap game forever with lyrics like "AK 47 is the tool/Don't make me act a motherfuckin' fool." They weren't called "the world's most dangerous group" for nothing.
Songs like "Fuck Tha Police" were so hardcore that an FBI agent wrote Priority Records a letter in 1989 urging them to stop distributing N.W.A's music. But three years later, when the streets of Los Angeles exploded into riots following the L.A.P.D.'s brutal beating of Rodney King, N.W.A's critique of police brutality was widely cited as a warning that had gone tragically unheeded.