Album: Hell On Earth

"Blood on my kicks, shit on my knife" is the sort of PTSD recollection that's long made listening to Mobb Deep a stressful, if wonderful, experience. After releasing their sophomore, breakout album, The Infamous, in the spring of 1995—the very best rap album of that year, in fact—Hell on Earth expanded Mobb Deep's sphere of influence while still a close-knit circle, including Nas, Big Noyd, and the Wu. "It took us two years to make that album because of all the death that was happening around us," Prodigy once told Complex. "It sounds like some dark, hardcore, grimy shit." The second single from Hell On Earth, "Front Lines," is indeed some of the bleakest street rap you'll ever hear, coupled with a beat that reeks of alcoholism. In a year when New York hip-hop reclaimed much of the genre dominance that the East Coast previously lost to g-funk, Havoc scored the city's post-apocalyptic resurgence with the dimest of twinkling keys. —Justin Charity