Top 10 Best Hip-Hop Albums of the Decade (2010-2019)
10. A$AP Rocky — LIVE.LOVE.A$AP
3 Standout Songs: “Thought It Was a Drought,” “Stick Talk,” “The Percocet & Stripper Joint”
Rocky’s debut displayed his masterful ability to blend sounds and style, while still taking his own unique twist. Elements of Southern Hip-Hop, ethereal cloud rap, and New York spirit could all be felt on the album. Due to A$AP’s ability to bring together so many of his styles and influences, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP quickly became seen as a masterpiece by many critics and fans launching him into stardom. LIVE.LOVE.A$AP not only catapulted Rocky to superstar status, but it also marked a new era of hip-hop going on to influence numerous rappers making it one of the best albums of the decade.
9. Kendrick Lamar — DAMN.
3 Standout Songs: “DNA.,” “HUMBLE.,” “FEAR.”
An instant classic from Kendrick, DAMN is the ultimate display of his massive and diverse skill set. Kendrick on this album delivered an incredible and complex narrative about personal faith, hopelessness and hopefulness. Damn is filled to the brim with personal and deep songs that beam to the listener the very real and relatable imperfections of one of the greatest rappers of this era. Through a complex study of his emotions and actions Kendrick delivered an incredible album that proved to every doubter that he is truly one of the greatest rappers in the world.
8. Vince Staples — Summertime ’06
3 Standout Songs: “Lift Me Up,” “Norf Norf,” “Señorita”
Summertime ’06 is one of the most underrated albums of the 2010’s. Vince Staples put his all into this album displaying his, beyond his years, ability for technical and lyrical rapping. The one accomplishment on this album that shown above all others was Vince’s ability to make you feel restless in your seat through his slow and deliberate flows. Songs like “Norf Norf” and “Lift Me Up” serve as a testament to this skill and are the reason for why this album was ranked so highly.
7. Drake — Take Care
3 Standout Songs: “Over My Dead Body,” “Marvin’s Room,” “Cameras / Good Ones Go
One of the most influential albums of modern Hip-Hop, Take Care built on the success of Kayne’s 808s & HeartBreak and propelled the theme of heartbreak back into the Hip-Hop genre. Seven years after its release, Drake’s influence can be seen on numerous artists today such as: Juice Wrld, XXXtentacion, and Lil Skies. As Drake has continued to come out with more commercial and confused albums, eschewing his talent in favor of radio play, Take Care has continued to be the ultimate display of Drake’s immense talent.
6. Kanye West — Yeezus
3 Standout Songs: “Black Skinhead,” “New Slaves,” “Bound 2”
Like a good bottle of wine, Yeezus has only gotten better with age. At the time of its release many complained of Kayne’s assault on the listener’s eardrums over the course of Yeezus; however, almost every great artist now owe their sound to the mixing on this album. If you play an Hip-Hop song from the 2000s you will automatically hear the difference in mixing to the modern age. On Yeezus, Kayne’s mixing and raw streams of consciousness have became highly influential and changed the opinions of many critics of the album in 2013.
5. Chance The Rapper — Acid Rap
3 Standout Songs: “Good Ass Intro,” “Pusha Man / Paranoia,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
One of the most authentic and quirky albums that ever come out of Soundcloud, Acid Rap utilized a mixture of gospel and live instrumentation, but mostly, a hungry rapper ready to show his talents to the world. Seen as a classic by many underground rappers Acid Rap used heartfelt lyricism that empathized with every listener. While Coloring Book may have made Chance a star, Acid Rap is what made him an underground king.
4. Travis Scott – Rodeo
3 Standout Songs: “90210,” “Maria I’m Drunk,” “Antidote”
Do you know why almost every time you hear a new Hip-Hop song there is auto tune on it? Its most likely because of Travis Scott’s masterful use of auto tune on cult classic Rodeo. Even though it may not have the best lyrics of some of the albums on this list, something that Rodeo massively excels over the others on is production. Travis’s dark and auto tune heavy style can be felt throughout this album especially on songs like 90210 and Maria I’m Drunk which are a pure masterclass of production and have gone on to be put on a pedestal by many great producers.
3. Kendrick Lamar — To Pimp a Butterfly
3 Standout Songs: “u,” “Alright,” “How Much a Dollar Cost”
To Pimp a Butterfly is Kendrick’s most daring work, an album that shows him examining his actions and motivation; While, at the same time, walking through the world that surrounds him. This album serves as an incredible narrative of the world around us and especially the unfortunate racism that comes with it. Kendrick through this album is able to change the minds of listeners by using his masterful lyricism and production. Yet again, To Pimp a Butterfly serves as another masterpiece in Kendrick’s discography.
2. Kendrick Lamar — good kid, m.A.A.d city
3 Standout Songs: “Money Trees,” “m.A.A.d city,” “Sing About Me / I’m Dying of Thirst”
Good kid, m.A.A.d. city is an album filled with Kendrick’s signature narration and lyricism. This can be seen through the flow of the album and story behind it. It starts off with Kendrick talking about how he wants to earn praise from his audience and be seen as a good kid (“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”). He then goes on to express admiration for his hometown (“Compton”), and finally eliminates the negativity swirling around him (“Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”). Even with this grand story behind the album Kendrick is still able to make ever song enjoyable by itself which is extremely impressive for a narrative centered artist. Through his lyricism and story-telling Kendrick shows the world the real and harsh realities behind his childhood; Which allow him to spread awareness about the neglected parts of America. Because of Kendrick’s masterful use of essential Hip-Hop techniques and his larger affect on United States’ politics Good kid, m.A.A.d. city comes in as the second best album of the decade.
1. Kanye West — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
3 Standout Songs: “POWER,” “Devil in a New Dress,” “Runaway”
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the greatest album of this decade and may be the greatest album of all time. A roller coaster of an album, listener’s emotions and feelings are controlled like a puppet. From the insane highs on Power, to agonizing lows on Blame Game, and finally to the ultimate self-reflection on Runaway this album is truly a masterpiece of narration. Not only was the narration incredible, but the lyricism was magnificent too. Even to this day, every time I replay this album I’m still able to sit down and enjoy lines that I haven’t picked up on before. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was not only a turning point for Kanye West but for the Hip-Hop genre as a whole.
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