Album: All Hail the Queen

Waaaaaay back before Queen Latifah was an Oscar nominee—or even a lead on one of the greatest sitcoms of all time—she grabbed the attention of Tommy Boy Music with a demo by way of then-Yo! MTV Raps host Fab 5 Freddy. The result? Latifah's debut single "Wrath of My Madness," a classic meet-me-the-MC boom-bap track anchored by a Reggae-tinged hook and a home cooked New Orleans-style bass groove courtesy of a sample from The Meters's "Chicken Strut." It wasn't so much an introduction as it was the reveal of a woman, rapping, who could—in two bars—laugh at the ever-growing thematic wells of gangsta rap, bling, and beef, wearing a sly smile spitting a slick diss, without overtly evoking the fact that she was busting into an all-boys club, either: "Some MC's have gold and African vein/And using each other to compete with/Their subjects I pity because their rhymes are not witty like mine/To write a rhyme so delicious you can eat it," she rapped at the start of the second verse. "Eat it," people did. While "Madness" didn't chart, the 18-year-old rapper attracted enough attention to yield the release of her 1989 debut album All Hail the Queen, which would go on to become one of the best-selling rap albums of the 80s, and embed the Queen in rap and pop culture fame. —Foster Kamer