Album: The Infamous
Label: Loud, RCA, BMG
New York hip-hop in the early '90s was a hot-bed of beat-digging culture, as DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor and the D.I.T.C. crew attempted to outdo each other by flipping increasingly rare and obscure samples as those tried-and-true James Brown loops became increasingly difficult to clear. When Mobb Deep dropped their second album, Havoc (with some assistance from Q-Tip) established himself as an equally adept beat miner, as The Infamous established the new sound of hardcore QB rap. It wasn't until 2011 that the source of the loop was revealed to be the piano from Herbie Hancock's "Lucy," laced with a menacing bassline, distorted horns, and hard-as-nails drums to create what may be the hardest rap beat of all time. You know a beat has made an impact when cats are still freestyling over it more than a decade later.
Mobb Deep "Shook Ones Pt. II" (1995)