The 25 Greatest Rap Albums of 1996
1996 was a monumental year for hip-hop. The genre's crossover momentum had been building for a decade, and in 1996, it hit an undeniable peak. Rappers slowly and steadily became less wary of embracing R&B later in the '90s. By 1996, the resistance that many rappers had shown towards R&B sounds in the early 90s had given way to unapologetic fusions of the two genres from high-profile artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and LL Cool J. And in 96, there was no resistance to hip-hop stars incorporating R&B hooks into their music to rise to the top of the pop charts.
But 1996 wasn't only a significant year in hip-hop because rap singles were all over Pop radio; nor is the drama of the East Coast/West Coast feud the only noteworthy aspect of the year. 1996 saw a steady stream of classic albums from some of the genre's most significant artists. 2Pac became a full-blown superstar--and the genre's most tragic figure--in 1996; his status as both a hip-hop folk hero and as a confrontational rebel came to a head when he joined Death Row at the end of 1995, and he capitalized on it by dropping All Eyez On Me, his most high-profile album. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, a pair of female emcees that had emerged in 1995, dropped Hard Core and Ill Na Na--two highly successful albums in 96; and OutKast showed that they were one of the most visionary acts in the game with their forward-pushing sophomore album, ATLiens.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, go ahead and check out our list of the 25 greatest albums of 1996. This is a chance to celebrate all of those albums and more.
Check out the 1996 albums gallery above--and if you want to revisit 1991, the classic rap albums turning 25 this year are below.