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.
1. N.W.A -- Straight Outta Compton Gangsta rap began with Straight Outta Compton, and in all likelihood, it will never be done more effectively. Besides the so-in-your-face-it's-subtle political message, the lyrics, anchored by heavyweights Ice Cube and Eazy-E, were so vicious and visceral, they were immediately captivating whether you loved or hated what they were saying. The impact of this album on hip-hop and America at large was monumental. The album was so popular, and perceived as so potentially corrupting, the American media had a full-blown moral panic attack. And this was the genius of the album: By representing the gang-filled parts of America that had been subjected to systemic neglect and urban decay, and causing such a stir that mainstream America couldn't help but take notice, voices for the marginalized poor gained an economic foothold in our primarily capitalist society and thus gained some measure of power -- which, despite being compromised by the consolidation of the music industry, has yet to be relinquished.