Label: Chrysalis

These days it's the subject of more bloggery-per-bandwidth than any other subject in the known world, but back in the late '80s, moving from the hinterlands to Brooklyn (Bed-Stuy via East New York no less) wasn't the most popular migratory path for young people. Luckily for hip-hop, Keith Elam made that trek. There's lots of great "Moving to New York" stories in literature, but this is easily the best in the rap canon. With vivid, detailed imagery-laden bars, Guru puts the listener in the middle of his unique BK experience, but makes it seem entirely universal at the same time: The limited friends you start with, the weed spots and bookstore hangouts you develop, the first apartment, and that awesome New York feeling of going somewhere "just to look around." It's a portrait of the borough at its fullest: gritty, rough, but beautiful. —Jack Erwin