Prodigy, "Mac 10 Handle" (2007)
Terrific New York chroniclers like Ka and Roc Marciano would sound very different if not for Prodigy's influence. His 2007 album with the Alchemist, Return of the Mac, set the template for pairing grimy, half-whispered crime raps with barely-there loops. Arriving at a moment when New York rap seemingly waned amidst a renaissance in the South, Return of the Mac proved that the city could sustain aesthetic brilliance no matter how its artists fared on the charts. The project's centerpiece is "Mac 10 Handle," where Prodigy takes inspiration from Scarface's intro on "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," and then subverts it. "I sit alone in my dirty-ass room staring at candles, high on drugs/All alone with my hand on my Mac 10 handle, scheming on you niggas." Despite the customary bravado, he conveys a sense of desperation. M.R.