41. Gucci Mane, Chicken Talk (2006)
Gucci would go on to greater heights, and at the time, Chicken Talk was an underground regional hit at best. But the double-disc tape, hosted by DJ Burn One, was, in conjunction with Gucci's debut LP Trap House, the real blueprint for the rapper's career. While he would develop a more musical approach as time went on, adopt a more improvisational technique, and push in a more effortlessly lyrical direction, Chicken Talk was the first domino in the wake of the attempt on his life that set the next five years into action, driving Gucci to the top of Atlanta's hip-hop food chain in the late '00s.
Each track to drop after Chicken Talk seemed to have some precedent on that tape: "Stupid" was the origin point of one of his most distinctive flows; "Street Nigga" was a statement of purpose that put him in the N.W.A. lineage. "My Chain" was the original track to focus with single-minded fascination on his jewelry. "Work Ya Wrist" was the beginning of a series of creatively fruitful collaborations with Yo Gotti. "745" was a scathing diss track, addressing Young Jeezy and firing opening shots at Jay-Z.
Meanwhile, "Swing My Door" was, perhaps, the hardest drug rap since Master P's "Ghetto D," a gut-wrenching track eerily lacking in artifice, its kick drums distorting as if heard from a rumbling car trunk. Like most of the tracks on Chicken Talk, the germ of an idea that he would blow up later existed here as well, foreshadowing one of his biggest songs ("Lemonade"): "Yellow 'vette nicknamed Chiquita." â€”David Drake