2000- Andre 3000
The turn of the new millennium saw Outkast release the critically acclaimed ‘Stankonia’ which gave the group both their first number one album and number one single with ‘Ms. Jackson’. 3000 is widely regarded as one of the best rappers of all time with one of the best flows, it was proven time and time again on this album. For me this album was a big game changer, a new millennium would see a new era of rap.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Eminem, 3rd Big Boi
Eminem released arguably his best album in 2000 in ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ it was from here that Eminem would become one of the biggest names in rap, in 3rd place we have Andre 3000’s fellow Outkast member Big Boi, often a forgotten name but he at often times outdone Andre on tracks.
‘The Blueprint’ holds a very high place when you rank all of the Jay-Z albums, this was the year that Jay-Z went from a rapper the THE rapper, he topped that charts and in terms of ability nobody came close to him this year, had Jay-Z shown this consistency throughout his career he would undoubtedly be top 5 of all time.
Honorable mentions- 2nd DMX, 3rd Missy Elliot
DMX is one hardcore man and while ‘The Great Depression’ wasn’t seen as one of the all time great albums, it does bang hard and it was the biggest commercial success in rap in 2001. Missy Elliot is the only female to make this list and as of this moment is easily the best female rapper of all time, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ came out this year along with a critically acclaimed album.
This was Eminem’s year whether you love him or hate him. He was a major part of the ‘8 Mile’ soundtrack which produced Eminem’s biggest song ‘Lose Yourself’ the work on 8 Mile saw Eminem win a Grammy, on top of this he released ‘The Eminem Show’ to both critical and commercial acclaim.
Honorable mentions- 2nd 50 Cent, 3rd Jay-Z
Eminem not only dropped big tracks in 2002, he also signed 50 Cent, 50 would go on to drop a mixtape that would get major publicity, everybody was excited to see what this man could do, Jay-Z would consistently drop solid albums throughout the early 2000’s, this time it was ‘The Blueprint 2’ which as always with Jay-Z, gained commercial success like no other, except Slim Shady of course.
2003- 50 Cent
‘Get Rich Or Die Trying’ is one of the biggest rap albums of the entire 2000’s, often overlooked as an all time great, 50 would release his debut album this year which went on to sell 8.4 million copies making it go 8x platinum, on top of this he had two chart topping tracks on the album, one of which ‘In Da Club’ would go on to be the number one track on the billboards end of year list, people saw this coming from a mile off after the 2002 successes.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Jay-Z, 3rd T.I
Jay-Z is a regular at this point, he was putting out solid releases year after year but this year it was a million miles away from 50. T.I managed to gain some success and got everybody buzzing with the release of a couple solid mixtapes, people knew to watch out for him in the future.
2004- Kanye West
Yeezy was the new kid on the block, ‘The College Dropout’ was released to both critical and commercial success, music in general would never be the same after this, Kanye was refreshing, unique and had a certain ‘it factor’ about him from there on out anything Kanye touched turned to gold. Although I prefer new school Kanye I cannot knock the old school version, which had a more simplistic theme, you knew you were going to get a great rap album every time.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Dizzee Rascal, 3rd Eminem
Dizzee Rascal. A man who sold out to make the money. Long before the sell out happened Dizzee would drop two albums in 2004, and although they go unnoticed, it was when he was actually amazing, both albums gain fantastic reviews. Eminem was just being the same old Eminem, ‘Encore’ would go straight to number one in the album charts much like all of Eminem’s releases, while not as good as previous years it was still a great album, and this was the last time we would see a good Eminem.
2005- Kanye West
Kanye is the only person on this list to go back to back years on top. This year Kanye would be dropping ‘Late Registration’ which is personally my favourite old school Kanye album, this was the year that the commercial war begun with Kanye and 50 Cent, and although he lost this year, in terms of quality Kanye destroyed 50 in 2005.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Lil Wayne, 3rd 50 Cent
Lil Wayne would release ‘Tha Carter 2’ this year, and it was the album that made Wayne a star, I personally love Lil Wayne, he gets a lot of hate but I just think he’s lit. You cannot argue with the numbers 50 Cent put up selling over a million copies of ‘The Massacre’ in it’s first week, but the commercial success couldn’t match the fact that Kanye was just too good for him.
2006- The Game
The Game is easily one of the most underrated rappers of all time, ‘Doctor’s Advocate’ was the second number one album for The Game. There was an abundance of big stars featured on this album, it had a big commercial success and was generally speaking a good album in what was an average year of rap music.
Honorable mentions- 2nd T.I, 3rd Lupe Fiasco
T.I dropped his 4th studio album ‘King’ and it was a chart topper no different to The Game, the top spot here was pretty much even. ‘Food & Liquor’ was Fiasco’s debut album and a lot of people would argue that it was the best rap album of 2006.
2007- Kanye West
2007 saw the biggest chart battle in rap history, it was 50 Cent vs Kanye West, and West dominated smashing the charts, outselling 50 by over 250,000 sales in the first week with ‘Graduation’ an album that a lot of old school Kanye fans say is the best album of his. I wouldn’t say it’s his best work but there is no such thing as a bad Kanye project.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Jay-Z, 3rd 50 Cent
Jay-Z dropped ‘American Gangster’ it was a very very solid album and was yet again another number 1 album, something Jay-Z was used to at this point, 50 Cent lost the battle with Kanye, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that 50 sold over 600,000 copies of ‘Curtis’ in one week.
2008- Lil Wayne
In 2008 Lil Wayne dropped ‘Tha Carter III’ an album that sold over a million copies in the first week which is simply outstanding numbers, on top of the sales this for me is easily Wayne’s best album that I cannot ever see him topping. The album to this date is triple platinum selling 3.6 million copies, ‘A Milli’ and ‘Lollipop’ were both smash hits, people trash Wayne but this was something special.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Kanye West, 3rd T.I
Kanye dropped ‘808’s And Heartbreaks’ one of my favourite Kanye albums, it was a deep and dark masterpiece that often goes underappreciated, T.I dropped ‘Paper Trail’ which received both critical and commercial success.
After a decades worth of music, Jay-Z finally got a number one single with ‘Empire State Of Mind’ he also got his 11th number 1 album with ‘The Blueprint III’ which for me is one the better Jay-Z albums, with the previously mentioned ‘Empire State Of Mind’ and ‘Run This Town’ and ‘Young Forever’ being the leading tracks.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Gucci Mane, 3rd Drake
Gucci dropped 2 albums in 2009 and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, regardless of the sentence Gucci has always managed to make good music and that was proven, Drake was the opposite, this was the year a star was born as he dropped the ‘So Far Gone’ EP which would be the beginning of a change in music.
2010- Kanye West
‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ is very possibly my favourite album of all time, it is a true masterpiece as close to perfection as an album could possibly get, from start to finish everything just works massively. Critically it is seen as one of the greatest albums ever, and commercially it went platinum, not much more could’ve went right with this, one of the easiest years to decide on.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Big Boi, 3rd Drake
Big Boi often goes unnoticed, but in 2010 his album ‘Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty’ was dropped and received amazing reviews among both fans and critics, Drake dropped his debut studio album ‘Thank Me Later’ which is not as good as projects after, but still received commercial success.
A year after his debut album, Drake dropped what for me is his best album to date in ‘Take Care’ it was the album that put Drake at the forefront of music and changed hip hop as we know it. It’s hard to deny Drake at this point, the album was a killer album and one of the years best sellers, had an abundance of features and a great variety of songs from ‘Crew Love’ to ‘Marvins Room’
Honorable mentions- 2nd Lil Wayne, 3rd Kendrick Lamar
Lil Wayne dropped ‘Tha Carter IV’ which in terms of rap is one of the best selling albums of all time, outselling Drake in 2011, Kendrick dropped his debut studio album ‘Section.80’ which is extremely underrated, people don’t often include it when they speak of Kendrick’s greatness which is just mind boggling.
2012- Kendrick Lamar
In a relatively quiet 2012 we saw Kendrick Lamar drop his second studio album ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ and the rest would be history. An album that was not only the best rap album of the year, but the best album of the year in general, nobody came close to Kendrick in terms of rap, which tends to be the case whenever he tries.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Chief Keef, 3rd Rick Ross
It wasn’t the best year for rap, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that you can get massively turnt to Chief Keef, who in 2012 dropped ‘Finally Rich’ which featured ‘Don’t Like’ and ‘Love Sosa’, as for Rick Ross he dropped another number 1 album and released ‘Diced Pinapples’
2013 was a monster year for music, with Eminem, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, A$AP Rocky and many more dropped albums, but it was Drake who dropped one of his best albums to date with ‘Nothing Was The Same’ that was the rapper of the year. Tracks such as ‘Just Hold On We’re Going Home’ and ‘Started From The Bottom’ were too big to not have Drake top the year.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Kanye West, 3rd Childish Gambino
‘Yeezus’ was easily Kanye’s most innovative and unique album, tracks like ‘Black Skinhead’ and ‘Bound 2’ made Kanye come as close as possible to the number 1 spot but the commercial success of Drake along with his straight fire made it too much to ignore. Gambino dropped ‘Because The Internet’ which is his best album, and a massively underrated album. A great year for hip hop that see’s many people not make the list.
2014- Killer Mike
The wild card on this entire list. 2014 was a relatively quiet year for hip hop, but that doesn’t take away from the fact the Killer Mike was unstoppable, as part of Run The Jewels, Mike and EI-P dropped ‘Run The Jewels 2’ an album that reached critical acclaim with good reason, it was straight fire. Both Killer Mike as an individual and Run The Jewels as group are vastly underrated, a lot of people don’t know them and a lot of people don’t appreciate them, but in 2014 it was very hard to deny Killer Mike.
Honorable mentions- 2nd J Cole, 3rd YG
A lot of people would’ve put J Cole top of this year with the release of ‘Forrest Hills Drive’ but for me it was just a little bit behind the RTJ’s album, as for YG ‘My Krazy life’ often goes under appreciated as does the rapper himself but it was a brilliant album.
2015- Kendrick Lamar
Was it not obvious? ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ is top 5 rap album of all time, Kendrick is potentially the greatest conscious rapper there has ever been, and potentially the greatest rapper of all time. Some trap fans would say that albums like this are too heavy, and on occasion it is, but there is no denying it’s place at the top, and there’s no denying that Kendrick was the best rapper of 2015.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Drake, 3rd Vince Staples
Drake had a monumental 2015, had Kendrick not been the G.O.A.T Drake would’ve walked away with this year, dropping two chart topping albums, one of which with Future. I feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface of how good Vince Staples is, I feel like in the years to come he could make this list.
2016- Chance The Rapper
2016 was a huge year in terms of hip hop. Most people expected Drake to dominate, and commercially he did, but nobody would’ve thought a man who didn’t sell a single copy of his album would be the rapper of the year. Chance was unstoppable, He won 3 Grammy’s for his work in 2016, his mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ was a major turning point in music that allowed free music to be included in the Grammy’s, aside from the fact this mixtape was a game changer, it was simply wonderful. Chance is a one of a kind rapper, his unique voice and killer flow, along with brilliant lyrics made for the best hip hop project of the year, for me only ‘TLOP’ came close, but we’re at a cross roads in music where even legends like Kanye West are pushing and promoting Chance more than they push themselves. On top of all of this, Chance is genuinely appears to be the nicest man in hip hop.
Honorable mentions- 2nd Kanye West, 3rd Danny Brown
As mentioned earlier, Kanye was the only person for me who comes close to Chance in 2016, ‘TLOP’ will likely be an album that we look back on in 10 years the same we look at ‘Graduation’, it will stand the test of time as one of Kanye’s best projects. As for Danny Brown he dropped his best album to date in 2016 with ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. I feel bad if I don’t mention 4th place, Travis Scott was as close as they come.