It was recently announced that for the first time in history, rap has become the most popular genre in America finally toppling rock. This is based on streams, downloads and sales of music with a huge part of that down to the new era of rap. This decade has for me seen raps greatest ever albums, the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye and Jay-Z have been such huge driving force in raps success. Every single year for the past decade there has been multiple amazing rap albums, the likes of Danny Brown, Travis Scott, Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator all miss out on this top 10 list it was that star studded, see below for yourself at my top 10 rap albums of the decade.
10. J Cole- Forest Hills Drive (2014)
Do you know that this album went double platinum with no features? Let’s get one thing straight, J. Cole is neither trash nor is he GOAT. This album was fantastic, for me it’s easily his best piece of work, something I feel he’ll never top. The story telling in tracks like ‘Wet Dreamz’ show Cole’s skills in terms of brilliant story telling. Cole will be known as someone with an amazing brain, his work is often a step ahead of everyone in terms of concept and delivery, but the comparisons to Kendrick are silly really.
9. Vince Staples- Big Fish Theory (2017)
He’s been near the top for a while, and this album was the huge breakthrough for Vince in terms of being a star. The production on this is second to none in 2017, that along with Vince’s amazing skills made this a better album than his previous work (which was all marvelous) and it basically made the world take notice, he’s up there with the very best now. The Kendrick feature in this album means the two best current rappers in the world are on a track in my opinion.
8. Chance The Rapper- Coloring Book (2016)
The first ever Grammy winning mixtape. Let it sink in that Chance The Rapper, near enough single handedly, changed the Grammy rules. Bare in mind the Grammys is mega close minded, he changed it all, he stood with what he believed in and it all came good in the end, it made him even more lovable. Not only was it a huge game changer, it was one hell of an album, Chance has a good variety of genres within his rap and he has no real specialty, he’s an all rounder. This was the number 2 rap album in 2016, only to be topped by his biggest rap mentor…
7. Kanye West- The Life Of Pablo (2016)
A very underrated album in my eyes, it’s not ranked up there with Kanye’s best but it definitely should be. There is so many tracks that are amazing on this that are almost pointless listing them. It’s easily the top rap album of 2016 for me, in what was a solid year of rap. It was as controversial as ever and it still hasn’t become stale to me, it’s as interesting as it was when it was first released. ‘Ultralight Beam’ is possibly the best rap song of 2016, while it’s not GOAT level Kanye, it’s pretty damn close.
6. Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2 (2014)
This album is Run The Jewels finest work by some distance, topping most end of year rankings. Killer Mike is beyond underrated, he and EI-P together made an album that was dark and full of fantastically deep and intense moments. Lyrically the only thing close to it this year was Cole’s album which is placed 10 on this list. Quality production which is more than a rappers average trap, and lyrics that have more depth than average mumble, this is an underappreciated masterpiece that deserves way more recognition to a larger audience, if you love rap, you’ll love ‘RTJ2’.
5. Chance The Rapper- Acid Rap (2013)
Before Chance was a Grammy winner, he was a rapper trying his hardest to break the glass ceiling, and this did it. I would regard this is my favourite mixtape ever, every track is memorable as is every feature. Chance has the most distinct voice in rap, the features were all fantastic but none overpowering of Chance himself. ‘Lost’ and ‘Acid Rain’ are two of my all time favourite songs. Chance is a special kind of artist, it’s rare someone has this ability and this kind of power and ability to make a change.
4. Drake- Take Care (2011)
Surprisingly the only Drake album on this list, but it’s clear to me it’s Drizzy’s best. It has depth and meaning to it, something that Drake often misses the mark on these days. This is a album filled with love, loss and heartache, it makes for a connected listen that was missed on the likes of ‘Views’ and this is why this is a million times better. Each and every feature was fantastic, and the glimpses of conscious rap shown were special, I prefer this Drake to the modern day mandem Drake, it’s a lot deeper and interesting, meaningful tracks like ‘Marvin’s Room’ have become a rarity in Drake’s portfolio now.
3. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)
This is probably regarded is the best rap album of the decade, and I get why completely. I’d argue that this is the best written album ever. The production was a such a surprise given the previous Kendrick albums, but it was unique and entirely fresh, the narrative is second to none, with only Kendrick’s most recent album ‘DAMN’ coming near. Although I prefer other albums to this, I feel like this rap album will be hailed as the most influential, game changing, and ultimately greatest of all time. Not just for this album, but I feel like Kendrick Lamar will go down as the best to ever rap.
2. Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
Kendrick Lamar is number 1 in the world for a reason, I don’t think he’s been anything but number since this album. He’s the best for a reason, his flow is up there with the best of them, but it’s his lyricism that puts him a million miles ahead of the game. The narrative in this album is special like every Kendrick album, maybe it’s not as good as ‘TPAB’ but I would argue that the pure rapping ability is there that bit more in this album, hence it being that place above. You’ll be hard pressed to find a rap album with as many universal bangers as this one, the kind of songs that people who hate rap will know. Aside from the bangers I say ‘Sing About Me I’m Dying Of Thirst is possibly my favourite Kendrick track ever. I will stand by it that Kendrick has the chance to be the greatest of all time, not just in rap but in music.
1. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
For me the greatest album of all time. From start to finish I fail to pick a single fault, from production, to flow, to features. If you can get Nicki Minaj to pull out a worldie verse you’re on to a winner. This album shows Kanye at his very best, mixing and mashing old styles from previous albums with fresher styles. There proof is here that Kanye has it all, he is a pure visionary. If we go in depth into particular songs, I could argue that ‘Runaway’ which is, for me, easily the best on this album, could also be regarded is one of the best rap songs of all time, and with my obsession with rap I could argue it’s one of the greatest songs ever. ‘Devil In A New Dress’ has to have Rick Ross’ best feature ever, possibly his best verse ever. The mixture of sub genres makes each track interesting, it feels like every song you hear could be the lead single. All in all the best album I’ve ever heard from start to finish, and there’s really only Kendrick Lamar who could make something better at the moment.