'Ready to Die,' by Notorious B.I.G.

A record that has become so steeped in hip-hop fable that it's hard to critique, 'Ready to Die' introduced the world to the deep-voiced Biggie Smalls, who was equal parts manic-depressive storyteller, 'One More Chance' baller and 'Gimme The Loot' gun-bucking Brooklyn bad boy. With production by Premier, the Hitmen and Easy Mo Bee, 'Ready to Die' was Big's defining work -- a sadly prophetic, undebatable classic.