Beats. For most fans of rap music, they're just the background for the "real" action: the lyrics. To others, they can make or break a track completely. And to some, beats are music all by themselves.

Instrumental hip-hop isn't the most popular music out there, although the admiration of J Dilla, respect for Pete Rock, and mainstream success of a guy like Pretty Lights, you could make the case that it isn't exactly a secret either.

Instrumentals aren't always widely available, but you can find them on single versions of your favorite tracks. Additionally, there's a strong handful of artists who make these lyric-less tracks for our listening pleasure. Whether you're getting down to some Stones Throw Records or lurking around on Soundcloud, there's no shortage of great stuff out there. Today, we're compiling our list of must-listen instrumental hip hop albums.