Hip-Hop is, undoubtedly, one of the most influential musical genres in the world. Over the last thirty years the genre has produced lyrical masters of ceremonies with immeasurable talent and prowess, producers of dope tunes that have become the soundtrack of the urban lifestyle, and personalities that will be remembered for generations. Here is a look at some of the five most influential hip-hip albums of the last three decades.

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy

Regarded as Public Enemy’s Magnum Opus this album is considered to be one of the finest hip-hop albums ever produced. Released in 1988 the acclaim for ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ and Public Enemy’s 1990 follow-up, ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ is vast. With honest lyrics, spouting the frustrations of the adult male black community the album struck a chord with people of all ethnic origins across the country. Hip-Hop hasn’t been the same since.

Paul’s Boutique, Beastie Boys

If its rib tickling rhymes and solid melodies that appeal to you, then you don’t get much better than the Beastie Boys. Influencing a generation of musicians, the Beastie Boys are renowned for their slick production – production that would guide them through future catalogue classics like ‘Ill Communication’ and the often overlooked ‘Hello Nasty.’ However, it was ‘Paul’s Boutique’ that features a more cohesive collection of tracks and a masterpiece of the style and genre.

3 Feet And Rising, De La Soul

This is the must-own album of the beginnings and break out of Hip-Hop. 3 ‘Feet And Rising’ introduced the world of Hip-Hop to New York City trio, De La Soul, and effortlessly broke into the mainstream. The album also showcased the talents of producer, Prince Paul, a former member of Stetsasonic who would go on to be a true force to be reckoned with. 3 Feet works on multiple levels, both as an expression of feelings over front, tow tapping beats and a kaleidoscope of sounds.

Illmatic, Nas

Nas’’ Illmatic’ has been described as intelligent, sprawling, introspective, ambitious, simple-laced, suggestive and inspiring to name but a few adjectives. Collecting together a series of recordings over a two year period, Nas laid down the freshest Hip-Hop sound of 1994. A regular feature on best ever lists of all genres the legacy of this album is vast – being the album that completely re-wired east coast hip-hop ushering in an era of hardcore mentality.

Enter The Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang Clan

The power of the seminal offering from The Wu-Tang Clan still packs the same punch today as it did over two decades ago. A multi-headed rap monster that is The Wu-Tang Clan laid down intertwined rhymes over maverick production by RZA. Sublime eeriness overplays the many compositions, inspiration from the Far East is in abundance not only in the self-mythological and dark soul lyricism but the chopped up beats as if each of the tracks were chopped and sliced together.

These are just five of the most influential hip-hop tracks of all time. Listening to any contemporary artist today you’ll hear the influence these albums have.