New Amerykah, Pt. 1These 20 albums have a couple personal things in common. All of them required dozens of listens to be fully appreciated. Just as significantly, I longed to hear each one -- whether during sixth-hour English (the second album listed), a lengthy blackout (number 19), or while outside an operating room (number 17). Those qualities were not prerequisites; the list merely worked out that way. Naturally, there are many regrettable omissions (90 of which are listed here). Those that made the cut mean the most. Special mention to The Collapse of Modern Culture, this list's buried treasure and a Detroit techno classic. Whenever I'm in the city, some kind of force pushes the "play" button inside my head.

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War
The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die
The-Dream - Love/Hate
Urban Tribe - The Collapse of Modern Culture
OutKast - Aquemini
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
Michael Mayer - Immer
Tricky - Maxinquaye
Metro Area - Metro Area
Nas - Illmatic
Moodymann - Black Mahogani
J Dilla - Donuts
Bilal - Airtight's Revenge
Throwing Muses - University
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Live and Let Die
The Foreign Exchange - Leave It All Behind
Teedra Moses - Complex Simplicity
D'Angelo - Voodoo
King Midas Sound - Waiting for You