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My Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums...ever (as of right now)

I've been a metalhead for most of my life, but growing up in Atlanta I was exposed to a lot of hip-hop...good and bad. Later on in life (about 4 or 5 years ago) I began to get into underground (or, indie) hip-hop and it completely changed my perspective on music and what I wanted to play. These are my 10 favorite albums within the genre with special attention paid to those that influenced me the most. (note: I decided to limit myself to one release per artist for this list. Otherwise there might be too much Atmosphere and P.O.S.)
1Atmosphere
Lucy Ford


It's not so much that I believe this to be the BEST Atmosphere album (that honor goes to God Loves Ugly) but this was one of the first underground rap records I got, and it profoundly influenced my thinking about the genre. Slug's rhymes also really hit home with me due to some personal stuff I was dealing with at the time.
2P.O.S.
Audition


P.O.S. is probably my favorite emcee ever. This was the first disc I heard from him and I was blown away at how he combines so many elements of music into hip-hop. He raps, sings, screams and plays the guitar, bass, keys and pretty much everything on the record. Lyrics range from social/political to observational and deeply personal. Just fantastic stuff.
3Aesop Rock
Labor Days


This is such an amazing album on so many levels. It took quite a few listens for me to truly grasp the scope of this record, but the lyrics and beats flow so well together to make a comletely cohesive listening experience. The lyrics deal mostly with trying to strike a balance between the security of a day job and the thrill of chasing your dream. I was dealing with very similar issues a few years back, and this album really helped me gain perspective.
4Brother Ali
Shadows on the Sun


Think you've got it bad? Wait until you hear part one in the saga of Brother Ali. He paints beautiful pictures with his lyrics and the rhyme schemes are off the chain. Ant's production really helps make this a classic.
5Murs
Murs 3:16: the 9th Edition


Some of the best story-telling you will hear in underground hip-hop. In my opinion, this is Murs' best work. He's just such a natural at making a story seem like it's happening right in front of your eyes.. it's unbelievable. Definitely opened my mind to a different style of wordplay and lyricism.
6Mac Lethal
The Original 11:11 Sessions


This one's probably not on Sputnik (actually, I just added it), but this was the album Mac originally recorded to be his Rhymesayers debut. Everything was put on hold after his girlfriend miscarried their child and his mother passed away; which lead to him eventually shelving this and recording what would be released as 11:11 in 2007. This collection of songs is much more personal and basically just better. Hard to choose just one Mac Lethal album for this list, but if I'm picking one -- this is it.
7Ghostface Killah
Fishscale


Man, what don't I love about this record? This was 'Face announcing to the world he was back and hungrier than ever. He's got everything you want in a rapper; crazy wordplay and rhyme schemes, story-telling and that personal Ghostface touch. In my opinion, this record represents everything a classic hip-hop album should be.
8Doomtree
Doomtree


I waited for this to come out for like 3 years! Definitely my most anticipated hip-hop record ever, it did not disappoint. The sheer breadth of this album can be overwhelming at first; but there's just so much great lyricism and songwriting on display here... it's almost not even hip-hop. Maybe it's something more...
9Outkast
ATLiens


This was the first hip-hop record I ever bought -- I must have been like 12 years old. It's still my favorite Outkast disc because it displays everything about them that made them legends. Fantastic production from Organized Noize, clever lyrics and cadence from Andre and Big Boi plus that futuristic, spacey feel that made it so much fun.
10DOOM
MM ... Food


Well, once again, it was hard to narrow it down to one DOOM disc. There's not really one that blows me away all the way through, but mm...Food is the closest it gets. While Operation Doomsday was great, and the Viktor Vaughn albums were a lot of fun (not to mention DangerDoom and Born Like This) I think this one best represents everything I love about MF Doom. From the catchier-than-fuck beats to the insane lyrics, this record's a classic.
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