My top 10 Hip-Hop albums of the decade
Words by Nirav Doshi
10. LIVE.LOVE.A$AP (2011) – A$AP Rocky
Whilst being less known to new fans, Rocky’s debut project remains my favourite in his catalogue. Crafting psychedelic soundscapes, the lasting influence, popularity and originality of this tape cannot be denied. Flacko rapping over Clams Casino beats will forever be legendary.
Favourite Tracks: Palace, Kissin’ Pink, Out of This World
9. Doris (2013) – Earl Sweatshirt
Timeless raps. Earl Sweatshirt can say more with 5 words than what most mainstream rappers can say in 50. At 19, Earl showcases some of the most creative rhyme schemes and colourful wordplay that this decade has seen. When it comes to lyricism, only Kendrick is matching Earl in this decade.
Favourite Tracks: Burgundy, Molasses, Sunday
8. Atrocity Exhibition (2016) – Danny Brown
Some of the beats on this album don’t even sound like they should be rapped on, but Danny Brown manages to find a way, and his execution is perfect. One of hip-hops most eclectic and abstract artists, the Detroit rapper is so true in creating forward-thinking and progressive hip-hop.
Favourite Tracks: Pneumonia, Lost, Really Doe
7. Piñata (2014) – Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
When it comes to street rap, there is no topping this album. One of the most unlikeliest pairings, the chemistry between Freddie’s raps and Madlib’s chopped up loops and samples is undeniable. After releasing ‘Bandana’ earlier this year, MadGibbs have blessed us with two masterpieces in this decade.
Favourite Tracks: Thuggin’, High, Deeper
6. Rodeo (2015) – Travis Scott
After ‘Astroworld’, Travis reached an immense level of stardom, yet it is ‘Rodeo’ that remains his best body of work to date. Giving us so many anthems, iconic collaborations, Travis really took the genre to a new level. This album will never age; it became the pace setter for modern trap artists today.
Favourite Tracks: 90210, Apple Pie, Oh My Dis Side
5. We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (2016) – A Tribe Called Quest
18 years since their last release, Tribe came together one last time to create a classic. Vividly demonstrating their unassailable greatness and continued relevance, Q-Tip proved once again why he is one of this genre’s most respected producers; this was the perfect send-off to the late Phife Dawg.
Favourite Tracks: Dis Generation, Conrad Tokyo, We the People…
4. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012) – Kendrick Lamar
One of the first albums I ever listened to, it wasn’t until later that I realised how excellent of a narrative Kendrick had portrayed in this work. Providing a gospel of the Compton lifestyle, it has everything you would want in a hip-hop album.
Favourite Tracks: The Art of Peer Pressure, good kid, Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst
3. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010) – Kid Cudi
“This here is dedicated to all of the kids like me”. Music can heal, and this album is the perfect example of how Cudi became a voice for the lost and confused of this generation. The most influential artist of the decade, Cudi will always be in his own lane because of how much genuine soul he puts into his music.
Favourite Tracks: Mr. Rager, GHOST!, Mojo So Dope
2. To Pimp a Butterfly (2015) – Kendrick Lamar
Artistically exquisite and emotionally profound, Kendrick curated an album that exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the African American experience in a manner that the mainstream had never seen. This project brought hip-hop back to the roots of one of its initial missions – to be a catalyst for social change through art and expressionism. Kendrick’s work this decade makes him the single most impactful and essential voice in rap music today.
Favourite Tracks: u, How Much A Dollar Cost, Hood Politics
1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – Kanye West
It is a very rare occasion when you listen to an album, and by the end of it, everything you thought you knew about music loses all of its meaning. This is the greatest album from the greatest artist that this generation has ever seen. Displaying the perfect balance between creativity and accessibility, Kanye created a body of work that genuinely transcended music.
Favourite Tracks: Devil In A New Dress, So Appalled, Runaway