As we tumble into 2016, that means the 20th anniversary celebrations of these 20 beloved albums will be officially upon us.
Pac's best-selling album – the first rap double-CD – was the first of three he was contractually obligated to record for Death Row Records in exchange for Suge Knight and Jimmy Iovine bailing him out of jail.
On her second album, the hushed singer largely left behind the new jack swing that R. Kelly had crafted for her debut in favor of a more subtle and skittering style from a little-known songwriting and production team out of Virginia, in effect introducing Timbaland and Missy Elliott to the world.
Apple released her Gold-selling alt-pop debut when she was just 18. When she won a Video Music Award for the video to "Sleep to Dream" the following year, she famously declared to the audience, "This world is bullshit, and you shouldn't model your life about what we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying."
Beck started work on a moody acoustic record, partially inspired by the death of his grandfather, the conceptual artist Al Hansen, but changed course midway through the sessions. He brought in sample-crazed partiers the Dust Brothers, the producers behind the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, and created this critically acclaimed genre pastiche.
This tuneful breakthrough was actually the second album the Glasgow indie-pop group released in 1996. Their debut, Tigermilk, was released earlier in the year by their art college's label.
Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage" and Beck's "Rowboat" were unlikely, though inspired, songs for the country legend to sing; but Cash also cut a version of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" during these sessions.
The album that spearheaded the revitalization of DJ-driven instrumental hip-hop in the late Nineties was mostly crafted on a Technics SL-1200 turntable, an Alesis ADAT recorder, and, most significantly, an Akai MPC60 sampler.
The wiseguy-pop songwriting team of Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger named their band (and their debut album) after a lawn ornament store on Route 46 in North Jersey that was also featured in an episode of The Sopranos.
The groundbreaking rap trio's "Ready or Not," which Barack Obama listed as his favorite song in 2008, sampled Enya's "Boadicea" without permission. The New Age superstar agreed to an out-of-court settlement once she was convinced that the Fugees' music wasn't gangsta rap.
Jay had initially planned to call his debut Heir to the Throne, and wanted the cover to feature speedboats and Versace linen. He switched to the less grandiose title and art design at the last minute.
Marvin Gaye was such a powerful influence on neo-soul pioneer Maxwell that he chose to collaborate on his debut with both Leon Ware, who had co-produced Gaye's I Want You, and funk guitarist "Wah-Wah" Watson, the featured player on the Let's Get It On LP.
In 1995 the Atlanta rap duo was booed at the Source Awards while accepting the Best Newcomer trophy, inciting Andre 3000 to defiantly announce "The South got somethin' to say" from the stage. A year later, he and Big Boi backed up that boast with their sophomore album and their first Top 20 single "Elevators (Me & You)."
The cover of the rap-metal group's second album tweaked "Crimebuster," a 1993 work by pop artist Mel Ramos.
Shortly after the Olympia punk trio finished their second album, drummer Lora MacFarlane's visa expired and she had to return to her native Australia. She would never record with Sleater-Kinney again.
One reason the pop group's breakthrough hit "Wannabe" emits such giddy charm is that it was written and recorded in the studio in less than an hour, with the Girls adding their parts over a drum loop set up by producer Richard Stannard.
On their tenth album – and their last until 2010 – the New York avant-rockers toyed with loops and ambient passages.
The packaging for Tool's second studio full-length was as distinctive as the art-metal band's sound: The "Multi-Image CD case" featured four separate illustrated inlays that could be arranged behind a lenticular lens of sorts to simulate animation.
The Texas rap duo's third album was also their best selling, but the Underground Kingz went on an extended hiatus shortly afterward. They re-emerged with prominent guest spots in 2000 on Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'" and Three 6 Mafia's "Sippin' on Some Syrup."
Rivers Cuomo abandoned work on a rock opera called Songs from the Black Hole to record the follow-up to the band's hit debut. It's named for AF Pinkerton, a character in Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly."
Jeff Tweedy was so determined to put out a double album that was priced the same as a single CD that he agreed to compensate Reprise Records for any financial loss. The decision cost the Wilco frontman $600,000.