When people talk about influential hip-hop of the 80's I feel like De La Soul get forgotten a lot. I obviously find this unfair, especially with this being one of my favorite albums of all time. Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, N.W.A. and Eric B. & Rakim all get a lot of credit for their influence on hip-hop, and rightfully so, those first four have also released some of my favorites, and EB.&R are a fantastic (though not a favorite) and undeniably talented and influential act. De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising is a laid back album that demands to be listened to over and over. It's catchy, intelligent, and unforgettable, right down to it's absurdly happy album cover.
It stylistically influenced more popular (and arguably better) act, A Tribe Called Quest, who were one of the best groups of the 90's, and that is enough to make De La Soul an important fixture in music in general.
This is probably top 5 in my favorite hip-hop albums of all time, and because I said this, I will probably be posting my top 30 (or something) favorite hip-hop albums of all time. Look out for that I guess.