2. Above the Rim
Release date: March 22, 1994
Record label: Death Row/Interscope
Unlike the Juice soundtrack, which supported a Tupac Shakur movie without any new 2Pac songs, Death Row Records' Above the Rim blessed the inner city basketball drama with two joints from the movie's hard-rhyming star. Let the history books show that Pac's emotionally devastating "Pain" and his Thug Life posse cut "Pour Out a Little Liquor" represent his earliest, pre-deal recordings for the Death Row family, a nice bit of trivia for Cali hip-hop aficionados.
Above the Rim wasn't all about 2Pac, though. Who can forget the Lady of Rage's radio killer "Afro Puffs"? Or, even more unavoidably, Warren G. and the late Nate Dogg's Billboard-topping "Regulate"? Using those big singles (as well as R&B trio SWV's "Anything") to lure listeners in, the Death Row massive surrounded Above the Rim's more accessible records with two strong album cuts from Tha Dogg Pound, the Snoop Dogg-assisted "Big Pimpin'" and "Dogg Pound 4 Life."