19. De La Soul "I Am I Be" (1993)
Producer: De La Soul & Prince Paul
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Label: Tommy Boy/Warner Bros.
It's doubtful that "I Am I Be" would convert any non-believers to the De La Soul cult, but for die-hard fans this is a shining moment. There isn't a single concession made to anyone outside of the group here; this is a song that will either captivate your full attention or repel you entirely. De La knew this, and it makes the song even better. Pos hits a sweet spot between abstraction, technical perfection, and heartfelt emotion that most rappers will never effectively achieve, and Dave keeps up with him. A challenging, beautiful record.