Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of the 2010’s


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Omar Benitez, Staff Reporter

I wanted to start off by saying I feel terrible about leaving out so many good albums.  Only 10 can make the list, so honorable mentions are listed after. Now on to the official Top 10 list:

  1. 1999 – Joey Bada$$ (2012) – Every time I listen to this album, I am still absolutely amazed that a 17-year old made it. The Brooklyn rapper has a real nostalgic feel on this album, very strong ’90s vibes with jazzy beats and a classic New York flow. He is fully supported by his fellow Pro Era group members throughout the album and even a song that includes every single Pro Era member. All this makes for an instant classic, and to this day this album is such a vibe.

Favorite three songs: Third Eye Sh*t, Snakes, Killuminati

  1. 2014 Forest Hills Drive – J. Cole (2014) – Double platinum with no features, should I keep going? Not only were there no features on the album but it was almost all entirely produced by Cole himself. A legend of the game in his own right, this album is him at his peak. He comes with that attack, the beat, aggressive style that we know him for but he also touches on more serious topics such as depression and infidelity. He oozes confidence on this album and makes it known he comes for the top.

Favorite three songs: G.O.M.D., A Tale of 2 Citiez, January 28th

  1. AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP- A$AP Rocky (2015) – A$AP Rocky’s sophomore album was much more experimental than his previous work. He took a deep dive into psychedelic rap and the world of hallucinogens and we see that influence heavily on this album. Rocky’s flow, swag and charisma take over this album and he makes his presence felt. The production is also excellent and has quite a few great samples on it. This all comes together to make Rocky’s best album.

Favorite three songs: Excuse Me, L$D, Jukebox Joints

  1. DAMN – Kendrick Lamar (2017) – This was the first rap album to ever win a Pulitzer Prize, it was also Lamar’s highest charting album of his career and deservedly so. At this stage in Lamar’s career, his wordplay and storytelling ability is nothing short of elite. He touches on topics such as racism, love, depression and even responded to some of his critics. On the song DUCKWORTH, he tells one of the most interesting stories in Hip-Hop. Lamar is on the pinnacle of rap and he shows it on this album.

Favorite three songs: YAH, ELEMENT, PRIDE

  1. Flower Boy – Tyler The Creator (2017) – Flower Boy was seen almost as a coming out album for Tyler. It was an album that revolved around themes such as loneliness, depression, sexuality, love and friendship. On this album, Tyler goes into detail about his sexuality; he talks about his journey of coming to terms with his sexuality and accepting himself and the difficulties he faced. Tyler truly has had a huge amount of growth over the years and it shows in this well deserved Grammy-nominated album.

Favorite three songs: Boredom, See You Again, 911/Mr. Lonely

  1. Victory Lap – Nipsey Hussle (2018) – Nipsey Hussle’s only official studio album and also his last before he was tragically murdered. The name of the album was very fitting because it truly was a victory lap for Nipsey. The album was long awaited and had a hyped build up that culminated into this Grammy-nominated debut album that fully delivered. The album detailed Nipsey’s upbringing in the gang life of south central Los Angeles and his long journey to becoming a star.

Favorite three songs: Dedication, Loaded Bases, Last Time That I Checc’d

  1. good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar (2012) – Lamar’s breakout album; this album greatly details Lamar’s upbringing in Compton and all the struggles that came along with it. He talks about being a good kid in a “mad city” like Compton and dealing with gangbanging, murder, and all the dangers that come with being an adolescent Black male such as the constant peer pressure from his friends. The album was executively produced by Dr. Dre and is the longest charting hip-hop album of all time for a reason.

Favorite three songs: B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe, Compton, Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst 

  1. 4:44 – JAY-Z (2017) – His 13th studio album, (all platinum by the way) his first in four years, and perhaps his most intimate and mature one. On this album JAY-Z goes into his infidelity with his wife, R&B artist Beyonce and the struggles he’s had dealing with himself and his marriage afterwards. He talks about killing his ego and moving past his old self for the sake of his new family. Other topics he raps about include being raised by a lesbian mother and institutional racism. All these topics make for a great listen. 

Favorite three songs: Bam, Moonlight, The Story of O.J.

  1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West (2010) – When Kanye set out to start this album, right from the start he knew he wanted perfection. From secluding himself and everyone involved on the album out in Hawaii, to making featured rappers rewrite their verses several times until he felt they made the cut. He was truly meticulous with everything when putting together this album and trying to make it perfect. I’d honestly say he very nearly got there and it’s second here for a reason.

Favorite three songs: Devil In a New Dress, Runaway, Gorgeous

  1. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (2015) – Lamar takes the top spot here with this incredible funk and soul filled album that takes inspiration from 1970s R&B and soul. With samples from The Isley Brothers, George Clinton and so many other great samples, the production was meticulous. This album is the epitome of a conscious album, tackling topics like institutional racism, police brutality, Black on Black violence and depression. It even includes a surprise Tupac interview. This album is truly a great album that’s deserving of the top spot.

Favorite three songs: King Kunta, Alright, U


Honorable Mentions

DAYTONA – Pusha T (2018) – Production was all done by Kanye West and Pusha, and it comes with bars to match the energy. This is highly regarded as Pusha’s best album and I agree., It was Grammy nominated and you should definitely check it out. 

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest (2016) – The reunion we all wanted for one last album, this legendary group’s last hurrah deserves a listen. It also served as Phife Dawg’s last work before he passed.

Watch The Throne – JAY- Z & Kanye West (2011) – Two massive legends linking up to make an absolute banger, say no more. This album showcases some of Kanye’s best production, and JAY-Z is in prime form as always.

Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight – Travis Scott (2016) – This album showcases Scott’s unique style that combines and takes inspiration from southern trap rap and psychedelic rap to make an innovative album that slaps to this day. 

Piñata – Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (2014) – Two vets, rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib, link up to make one of the best rap albums of the decade. Every time these guys get together they never disappoint.