1. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
Label: Def Jam, Columbia
By the time Public Enemy released their debut, many of the tracks sounded old hat in the rapidly developing rap scene. Boogie Down Productions and Rakim had upped the ante with fresh new styles and beats, sending the Strong Island collective back to the lab to create the legendary "Rebel Without A Pause."
Bringing together topical issues of the day and the chaotic "noise" of the Bomb Squad's beats, Public Enemy would go on to make most of the their peers sound lightweight in comparison. There's the frantic pace of "Night of the Living Baseheads," the condemnation of the American prison system on "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," and the mighty dedication to their DJ that is "Terminator X to the Edge of Panic."
Regarded by many as the greatest hip-hop album of all time, Chuck D and the crew changed the perception of what rap albums could be with this seminal release.