Producer: Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons
Album: Raising Hell
Label: Profile/Arista Records

Swiftest beginning to a rap record ever: a 10-second acapella intro goes by in a blink and all of a sudden the song is off and skipping on the brass bells of Bob James' "Take Me To the Mardi Gras." There are no choruses and no melodies. What's left when you empty the contents of conventional song structure? The answer: three-and-a-half minutes of verbal double-dutch in which each line creates momentum that leads directly into the next with barely a pause. And yet, for all its hardness, "Peter Piper" still has the light touch. When Run-DMC got the party started they put the emphasis on "started." Let "Peter Piper" be the antidote to the bloated beginnings of contemporary rap albums. —Sam Sweet