The 100 Greatest Rap Albums of All Time (100-76): Staff List

Hip-Hop has spoiled us. In the 50 years since a group of kids decided to throw a party in the Bronx, the genre has grown and blossomed in ways Kool Herc couldn’t have imagined. Hip-hop left New York and moved south to Atlanta, Miami, Memphis, and Houston, and west to Chicago and St. Louis. It took up shop out in Los Angeles and The Bay Area and reinvented itself before moving back across the country. And in that time, as it worked its way across this country, we’ve been fortunate to experience a seemingly endless amount of incredible, culture-shifting, delectable, classic albums.

There have been so many amazing albums that it’s damn near impossible to capture them all in one list. You can point to any corner of the map and find 50 albums that could be the best album ever made. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably already had this conversation multiple times at parties or over dinner or in your various group chats. It’s a tough nut to crack. But, it’s a challenge we relish.

So, to round off Black Music Month, we decided to attempt the impossible and rank the 100 greatest rap albums of all time. Yep, of all time — and, yep, from all regions. A few members of our staff huddled to come up with a list of albums we believe represent the best of what the genre has given us over the past 50 years. We had a few criteria when deciding: We only included full-length projects that were commercially released, so no mixtapes or EPs. We took into account the world into which the album was released: Did it break new ground or was it just a different version of a more popular album? We weighed the album’s impact and how it’s endured over time: Did it change the game? Do people still play it? And, of course, since we’re Billboard, we took into account how the albums performed commercially — though ultimately, that was a lesser consideration.

To make this more digestible, we’re going to roll this out over the next four weeks, 25 albums at a time. Make sure to check back each Thursday to see what made the list. And remember, every album on this is incredible. Even though 100 sounds like a big number, when compared to all the albums that have dropped over the years, it’s nothing. There are going to be some incredible albums that did not make it. So it goes. If there are some you strongly believed we missed, let us know.