Album: Step in the Arena
Label: Chrysalis/EMI Records

This is without question the best hip-hop record to ever include the terms "puny protozoa" and "Petri dish" in its lyrics. But seriously, for all the times Guru's voice has been described as a "monotone," you'd think he flowed like some emotionless robot devoid of finesse—something that couldn't be further from the truth given classics like "Check the Technique." In fact, between this, "Step in the Arena," and "Take a Rest," he's probably never sounded so agile on record. Production-wise, if you're wondering why no one else has tried flipping Marlena Shaw's "California Soul" since Premier got to it back in '91, it's because it'd be pointless to try; the OG is still basically synonymous with "Check the Technique" after all these years.