Looking back 15 years ago, 2005 was the year that hip-hop officially broke through the mainstream. Rappers like 50 Cent, Common, Missy Elliott delivered stellar albums while producers like Just Blaze, 9th Wonder, Scott Storch and The Neptunes became household names with their commercially-driven production.
In 2005, Houston became the epicenter for explosive rap talent. H-Town rappers Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Chamillionaire and the trill O.G. Bun B released chart-climbing debut albums and continued putting Texas on the rap map. Additionally, southern rappers started whispering in their songs. Atlanta spitters Ying Yang Twins and Mississippi rapper-producer David Banner both had big hits with their whisper-rap songs on their respective studio albums. Crunk music was still rising in popularity, but ATL rapper Jeezy became a new voice in the trap music genre.
Meanwhile, Chicago MC Kanye West cemented his superstar status with his towering album Late Registration along with his production assists on Common’s classic album, Be. Fellow rapper and New Orleans native Lil Wayne proved he’s the “best rapper alive” with Tha Carter II. Over in Philly, Beanie Sigel showed once again why he's a captivating street poet with his third album, The B. Coming.
The underground hip-hop scene also made its presence felt in 2005. Michigan rapper One.Be.Lo delivered S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M., his phenomenal debut album. Rapper Big Pooh also dropped a fantastic debut project, Sleepers. Meanwhile, producer 9th Wonder crafted head-nodding beats for two indie albums: Monkey Barz by the the late Sean Price and Chemistry, his collaborative album with rap veteran Buckshot.
It's clear hip-hop became a dominate force in popular culture by the mid-2000s. So XXL highlights some of the best hip-hop albums from 2005. What's your favorite?
See 26 of the Best Hip-Hop Albums From 2005