Ten essential gangsta-rap albums
Many hip-hop fans, those who love rap -- hell, even some rappers -- have an aversion to gangsta rap for its objectionable content. Common named the rise of gangsta rap as one of the many steps in hip-hop's downfall in "I Used to Love H.E.R." -- a sentiment that, of course, began a contentious relationship between him and Ice Cube. But whatever your take on the morality of the genre, it's hard to argue how insightful the music has been, or that each of these albums has impacted the landscape of hip-hop forever. Keep reading for a list of the ten essential gangsta-rap albums.
10. Big L -- Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
One in a long line of talented rappers whose lives have been tragically cut short by violent crime, Big L is the heavy hitter most often neglected. With a remarkable flair for storytelling, sharp yet unassuming punchlines and pitch-black humor, Big L is one of the most entertaining MCs in recent memory. With underwhelming production, despite contributions from standout producers Lord Finesse and Buckwild, and a short supply of radio- or television-friendly singles, the album was a commercial failure, but that does not take away from its status as a gangsta-rap staple. Though L matured both as a lyricist and a songwriter for his second studio album, The Big Picture, released posthumously, it was not as gritty or as raw as his debut.