Ridin' Dirty is Southern Rap's Illmatic, an album that plays more like a coming-of-age tale, in which male characters wrestle with elements manufactured by their setting.

Even at its smoothest, the album hits hard with crunching bass and snare hits from DJ Paul & Juicy J. Misogyny. He even took things a step further, remixing "God's Son", an album by Jay-Z's then rival rapper, NaS. Try "Nothing 2 Lose" their striking song in which they join Slimm Calhoun and Sleepy Brown to imagine their escape from slavery. But, it isn't. Today, a nearly 15-year streak of dominance over rap's mainstream belongs to rappers from various Southern cities, such as Atlanta, Miami and Houston.

There was even some attention spent on radio play, with two decently successful singles "Rollin' Vogues" and "Hit Da Floe". He's a jester.

It's an all-star affair that pointed the entire South's compass down Crunk Avenue.

Songs like "Pimps" verge on the utterly despicable, but the startling content is a byproduct of the unrelenting societal ills that plagued Memphis' seedy underworld. The album cover for this record isn't safe for work. So, when listening to Big K.R.I.T, Rae Sremmurd and Ugly God, it's important to know where everything started. Their spam-like business structure consisted of a window of years in which the label released a blistering amount of material to retailers from month to month. Overnight, the album circumnavigated the blogsphere, breaking the rap Internet in half. From track to track, Bun and friends bring that trademarked Houston (by way of Port Arthur) sound and proved Bun was quite legit on his own. However, he remains fresh throughout via bold creativity. Naw’lins own Juvi presented an album full of anthems, but none more so than the booty-glorified, “Back That Azz Up” that remains an all-time club classic.

This was a game changer for the south. "I got to get flee to a better place" Brown sings on the chorus before affirming that "We got nothin' to lose," in tune inspired by Marvin Gaye's "God is Love". 2003 was the year mainstream rap shifted to include 50 Cent, a New York artist who leaned into Southern sensibilities. Not for any legal issues he might have been involved in (although there were some). Where NaS tackles his surroundings in Queensbridge Projects, NYC, to formulate rap's most pivotal album, Pimp C and Bun B navigate their Southern identity for the entirety of Ridin' Dirty. Being that hip-hop is a musical genre tied closely to a cultural movement, the impact of released materials is subject to thorough evaluation. But, I'll lay by biases to my hometown aside. Three 6 Mafia – Chapter 2: World Domination The breakout album from Three 6 Mafia made a mainstream buzz with this album, filled with dark, hypnotic beats and content that makes one ready for war. It was a truly unique gangster rap experience, bolstered by album highlights like "Bang Bang", "Thou Shall", "Bonafide Hustler", "Black Mask" and the beef-laden single "Stomp!" Young Jeezy's album is at the crux of this transitional period. Frankly, it benefits from its position, embodying all the group's best qualities to become their de facto best effort. His debut album was superb, however. That's not atypical of small-press Southern rap albums from this era, though.

This album's biggest draw is the collection of guests that turn in career-defining verses. How the minds behind YSP were able to license a little taste of several Southern rap scenes and commit them all to one CD, I'll never know. There's little here to make coherent criticism about. Songs by the likes of Young Lo, Gangsta Blac, Skinny Pimp and Playa G feel like time capsules of independent ingenuity from a time when Southern rap labels rejected the allure of big music business. Unfortunately, his album work hasn't lived up to the underdog-like following he garnered during the mixtape run prior to his debut LP in 2011. Not "misunderstood", but more literally, hard for uninitiated listeners to comprehend. for "Highs & Lows" and by Marcus for "In Dem Guts". Like Mystikal, Juvenile was able to use this combination of local color and disregard for enunciation to his advantage. Boo worked hard for the distinction of the state's first breakout solo star. Yeesh! It's apparent Young Buck was truly special, delivering once again on his sophomore album, even after the embers of G-Unit-mania had cooled off. Each album on this list corresponds with a moment in which a Southern rap act ruled rap's greater dialogue and provided profound context for what it meant to be Southern in the genre. Even on his own, Jeezy is a force. His Def Jam debut, Let Get It: Thug Motivation 101, was trapping at its finest.

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