18. REASONABLE DOUBT (1996)
Production: DJ Premier, Clark Kent, Ski
Acclaim: Before this classic, never had the glitz and emotional complexities of a drug dealer’s day-and-night been articulated with such premium, though coded, lyricism.
Peak moment: Verse two of “D’Evils,” where the tale of a friend-turned-foe is spun with sinister brilliance (“Thinking back when we first learned to use rubbers/He never learned/so in turn/I’m kidnapping his baby’s mother”).