Label: 4th & Broadway/Island
Release Date: 7/7/1987

Ironically, the songs on Paid in Full aren't really about money, they're about rapping. For all his lyrical innovations-every rapper preceding Rakim sounds like a neanderthal prior to his walking human-the subject matter didn't vary much on his debut. Rakim is the king of rapping about rapping. And yet, more than two decades after the fact, Rakim's rhymes sound fresh as ever and just about every rapper under the sun is influenced by him, largely thanks to his incredible debut.

Additionally, the production was groundbreaking, and those beats are just as much of the reason why rap hasn't been the same since Paid in Full first hit shelves.