When we debuted our April/May double covers of Kendrick Lamar and Miguel yesterday on these here Internets, there was much excitement about the pairing of hip-hop and R&B’s leaders of the new cool. But there was also some chatter about what exactly comprises a “List Issue” and ready-to-go debates on the cover line pitting R. Kelly’s musical brilliance against Kanye West’s 20/20 artistic vision. That’s where this definitive list comes in, anchoring the issue and highlighting the 20 minds that have provided the greatest push to music since ’93.

Determined to spark deep thought and emerge with definitive rankings, VIBE’s debate squad brainstormed an entire feature well of lists and spent a sweatshop worth of hours in a war room, strapped with 20 years of facts and verbal PowerPoints. We defined “genius” as infinitely creative artists and producers (no executives) able to alter the course of music, and we posed scenarios like: If we plopped that genius in a studio solo, would he/she resurface with something radical?

Click through to see our definitive selections, along with commentary from their contemporaries or successors. Look out for the Top 10 dropping tomorrow (April 11).