If you hung out in the outer boroughs of NYC during the late summer of 2002, the beat was inescapable: a deranged jangle that sounded like an ice cream truck running on a dying battery. You didn't even need to know about the buzz around 50 Cent at the time. It was simple street science: any song that reaches that sort of saturation point is going to be huge.

When the video for "Wanksta" dropped that fall, No Mercy, No Fear became one of the most important mixtapes of all time. Most important doesn't mean the best; it wasn't even the G-Unit's best offering that summer. But it was also more than just "Wanksta" ("Banks Victory" rates as a classic in itself), and as a "moment in time" event, it ranks with the greatest of the genre. —Jack Erwin