35. Black Star, "Definition"
The Rawkus Records crew founded a new school of underground Brooklyn hip-hop, living up to Black Star's promise to "keep it blacker than the back of your neck." They picked up where the Native Tongues posse left off – De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers – a Rolie-free zone of tribe vibes and consciously militant politics. Mos Def and Talib Kweli formed the duo Black Star, denouncing the violence and materialism in hip-hop, taking their name from Marcus Garvey, dismissing playas like Puffy as "Spice Girl MCs." In "Definition," they react to the murders of Biggie and Tupac, but set their sights higher – as Mos says, they specialize in "accurate assassin shit/Me and Kweli close like Bethlehem and Nazareth." Their oft-promised second album remains one of rap's most long-awaited sequels ever.