#28: MC Lyte
"Cha Cha Cha," from Eyes On This (1989)
Lyte's heralded 1988 album, Lyte as a Rock, has long been regarded as a hip-hop classic. But it was her follow-up that earned her a taste of critical success. And that started with "Cha Cha Cha," which peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Rap Singles chart, thanks to a slick Kraftwerk sample and Lyte's deft skills on the mic: "MC Lyte is back and better than before, as if that was possible/My competition, you'll find 'em in the hospital!"
#27: 50 Cent
"Killa Tape (Intro)," from Guess Who's Back? (2002)
New York City! You are now rockin' with 50 Cent! Are you ready?! I said, are you ready?! Before 50 blew the eff up with his 2003 debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin', he was just another rapper from New York City trying to make a name for himself. Most rap fans didn't get their hands on Guess Who's Back? until after they were formally introduced to Fif through his mixtapes, but the album's intro continues to serve as a wrinkle in time to show that, once upon a time, a young, hungry MC named 50 Cent knew how to murder a mic.