42. T.I. & P$C, In Da Streets Pt. 1 (2002)
After his major label debut album, I'm Serious, failed to set the charts on fire, despite production from The Neptunes, T.I. took matters into his own hands. He formed the Grand Hustle label and released a series of tapes with the sole purpose of rebuilding his career. Repackaging slept-on tracks from his debut along with some new joints, Tip regained his footing.
Standout single "Dope Boyz" returned, joined by bounce record "404" and 8Ball-sampling "Willie B. Mackin," one of several tracks that introduced his P$C crew. Perhaps most impressive was "Jackin Fo Beats 2001," which found T.I. spitting high-density raps in his distinctive rounded-vowel flow over a series of recent hits, Ice Cube-style.
The buzz behind this, its sequel, In Da Streets Pt. 2, and a scene-stealing guest performance on Bonecrusher's "Never Scared" led to a new record deal, this time with Atlantic. From that point on—give or take the occasional bout of legal trouble—T.I.'s career was back on track. But In Da Streets is where it all began. —David Drake