After listening to a million hours of music this past week, I've compiled a list of the best rap albums of the decade.
The list is not in order and I have to say that this was one of the hardest tasks I've ever had to complete. Some of my tips might upset you, and I'm fine with that. Art is subjective and I think that's great. I would also like to see what you think should and shouldn't be on the list.
Happy new decade!
Album: "4:44" (2017)
They say rap is a young man's game; it is not. Jay-Z, a married man approaching 50, father of three and new therapy advocate, released arguably the best album of his incredible career in 2017.
The guy who dominated street rap and crack ballads flipped the switch on the industry, showing the devastating side effects of the drug game, and what happens when you live long enough to break out of the semi-auto era?
"4:44" talked about personal relationships, his mother's departure, financial responsibilities, mistakes, the power of love and aging. It was the perfect album for both older hip-hop fans and the younger generation who wanted to know that older guys like Jay got to where he is now. My favorite songs are "Kill Jay-Z", "Smile", "Family Feud" and "Marcy Me".
Artist: J Cole
Álbum: "Forest Hill Drive" (2014)
Cole is one of the most respected rap artists since his debut mixtape The Come Up, followed by The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights. They were all classics. He's a master of words with language hip-hop fans haven't seen since Nas released "Illmatic" in 1994.
After Cole's studio debuts The Sideline Story and Born Sinner, many hip-hop fans yearned for Cole's mixtapes. While Cole's first two studio releases were great, as studio albums are meant to appeal to a wider audience and create music with radio potential, they didn't give us the same feel as his mixtapes. He then released Forest Hill Drive in 2014, a brilliant 13-track studio album with an underground mixtape feel. You can listen to the album front to back and back to front. The best tracks on the album, and it was also a very difficult task, are "Fire Squad", "January 28It could",and "I love Yourz."
Artista: Nipsey Hussle
Álbum: "Victory Round" (2018)
Nipsey Hussle was the king of the underground throughout his career. I first heard "Marathon" in 2010 and was impressed by the way it mixes history with street life, gang culture and social responsibility. And Hussle didn't just rap, he lived it, establishing scholarships for kids, building a STEM program, and literally buying the neighborhood.
Although Victory Lap was his first studio album, Hussle has been ready for the big leagues since he started releasing mixtapes in his 20s. We tragically lost Nipsy Hussle to a senseless act of violence this year - he was gunned down outside a mall he owned - we'll never know how good that could have been.
All songs on "Victory Lap" are classics, my favorites are "Blue Laces", "Last Time That I Checc'd", "Dedication", "Grinding All My Life" and "Hussle & Motivate".
Album: "Life Is Good"
Nas has been hailed as one of the greatest rappers alive since appearing on Live at the Barbeque in 1991 and spewing the infamous lines: "Street pupille, my raps are meaningless, I shoot bullets, my brain is like a gun / Stampede." "" . Backstage, I keep the mic split / I play Mr. Tuffy while / I do pretty tone shit / Verbal killers, my architect pleases / When I was twelve I went to hell for killing Jesus. That moment established Nas' greatness and he hasn't disappointed since.
Life is Good came about after the artist took a four-year break from love, welcomed a new child, and then got divorced. The classic album cover ofThe life is goodshows a photo of Nas holding his ex-wife's wedding dress. He has explored marriage, its place in hip-hop, nostalgia and the rules of survival in the game for over 20 years. I love No Introduction, Daughters, Reach Out, A Queens Story, Cherry Wine with Amy Winehouse and Stay.
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Album: "Flight" (2017)
Kendrick Lamar has released four albums this decade, and all of them could have a spot on this list. He is the tallest young rapper alive and is already a hip-hop legend. The most fascinating thing about Kendrick is that he gets better with every album. Some artists succumb under the weight of fame, but the pressure seems to make Kendrick even better.
“DAMN” is a perfect album, from start to finish; includes premium writing, creativity, thought-provoking content, and original graphics. "DAMN" brought us "Love" and "Lust", two conflicting but connected tracks, masterful storytelling on "Duckworth" and megahit "DNA". It's also the first rap album to win a Pulitzer Prize, so there's that. I can't wait to see what he does next.
Album: "The Wisdom of Laila" (2017)
One gem that emerged from the decade is Rapsody. She is one of the greatest live hosts, not female hosts, but female hosts. He has the flexibility, dedication, skills, knowledge and work ethic that can only be matched by the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
Rapsody has released three albums in the last 10 years including The Idea of Beautiful, Laila's Wisdom and Eve and they are all worth a listen but Laila's Wisdom is my favorite, it was her debut album and the only one that made her a household name . My favorite songs from the project are "Power", "Sassy" and "Nobody".
Artist: Kanye West
Álbum: "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (2010)
Long before Kanye was a MAGA groupie or A-list church mega-performer, he was making hip-hop and creating some of the best beats, songs and albums in rap history. The Chicago native had a string of classic albums before MBDTF, including College Dropout and Late Registration.
The whole project was great, from the visuals, the Runaway mini-movie, to the features: Kanye brought in the amazing Raekwon, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, John Legend and Nicki Minaj, whose "Monster Verse Was best thing on the record. The guy had a song, "The Blame Game," that combined a rap, a poem, and a comedy sketch, and surprisingly, it worked. Man,miss the old Kanye! He was the best and this album proved that.
Artist: Pusha T.
Album: "My name is my name" (2013)
Clipse was one of the biggest rap bands of the early 2000s. Initially, it wasn't uncommon for people to pair them with Mobb Deep and A Tribe Called Quest when debating the greatest rap group of all time. . After their third album Til the Casket Drops in 2009's Malice, the eldest of the Clipse brothers found Jesus and got out of the rap game.
Pusha T didn't miss a beat: he went out and released mixtape after mixtape before celebrating his first studio hit, "MNIMN". The album had 12 tracks, all featuring Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Kelly Rowland and Kendrick Lamar. The album is raw, so raw that it almost went underground despite being so commercially successful. Pusha T released three major albums over the decade, "MNIMN" being the best.
Artista: Jay Rock
Album: "Salvation" (2018)
Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) has become one of the most respected labels in hip-hop history, largely because all of its artists are extremely talented, from Ab Soul, Schoolboy Q and SZA to Isaiah Rashard and Kendrick Lamar. Jay Rock fits the West Coast with his masterful skills and nationally acclaimed determination.
Kendrick Lamar was obviously TDE's biggest draw; however, die-hard local fans who really want to feel like Watts are always looking for Jay Rock. The Grammy-winning artist released his third studio album, Redemption, in 2018 after recovering from a life-changing motorcycle accident. The lyrics are tough and relevant, sometimes emotional and funny. My favorite tracks on the album are "The Bloodiest", "ES Tales", "Wow Freestyle" and "Redemption".
Artist: Cardi B.
Album: "Invasion of Privacy" (2018)
Cardi B is our own Cinderella trap. She burst onto the scene about six years ago with the viral Instagram videos that led to "Love and Hip Hop." Reality TV wasn't her last stop; Cardi B's platform and reach continued to grow, and she turned her fame into a music career.
Many people dismissed the album because they saw Cardi B as a reality star, but everyone had to eat their words because her single "Bodak Yellow" was an instant hit, even an underdog anthem. People loved it as it was activated in clubs, cars, basketball games everywhere! I heard it the other day and I still can't get enough of it. "Bodak Yellow" was followed by Cardi B's album release "Invasion of Privacy" and it did not disappoint, topping the charts, winning a Grammy for Best Rap Album and moving over 3 million units in the US.
My favorite songs on the album are "Be Careful", "Bickenhead" and of course "Bodak Yellow".
What is considered the best rap album of all time? ›
- Illmatic: Nas. View at Amazon. ...
- To Pimp A Butterfly: Kendrick Lamar. £17.99. ...
- Madvillainy: Madvillain. View at Amazon. ...
- Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers): Wu-Tang Clan. View at Amazon. ...
- Ready To Die: Notorious BIG. View at Amazon. ...
- The Chronic: Dr Dre. ...
- All Eyez On Me: 2Pac. ...
- The Marshall Mathers LP: Eminem.
|Rank||Artist||No. 1 total|
- 1 Bob the Drag Queen - GAY BARZ - EP. buy from iTunes $5.99.
- 2 BigXthaPlug - Amar. buy from iTunes $6.99.
- 3 Ball Greezy - Bae Day 4. buy from iTunes $7.99.
- 4 Dr. Dre - The Chronic. ...
- 5 Drake & 21 Savage - Her Loss. buy from iTunes $6.99.
- 6 mike. - ...
- 7 Tony Yayo - The Loyal. ...
- 8 2Pac - Greatest Hits.
Ranking the 'Big 3' Every Year Since 2010. A decade ago, three rappers emerged at the top of their class: Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole. Each of them have approached their careers in very different ways in the years since then, but all three have made lasting contributions to rap.What is the #1 album of all time? ›
Michael Jackson's Thriller, estimated to have sold 70 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album ever. Jackson also currently has the highest number of albums on the list with five, Celine Dion has four, while the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Madonna and Whitney Houston each have three.Who has the most #1 hip hop albums? ›
|No. of albums||Artist|
As the following chart shows, no other rapper can hold the mic to Marshall Mathers in terms of album sales. With 36.5 million units sold, 2Pac, who passed away in 1996, comes closest, with Jay-Z third with 27.5 million (solo) albums sold.What was the first rap #1 album? ›
On this day in 1987, Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill became the first hip hop album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. This is a huge deal. When the album was released in November 1986, hip hop was still a niche genre that many dismissed and ignored.Who is the #1 rap artist right now? ›
The top 100 most-streamed artists of 2022 is experiencing a rap takeover. Sitting at number one is Drake, who is now this year's top-streamed artist so far with at 6.7 billion in streams.
What are the top 5 albums right now? ›
- (new) new. The Name Chapter: Temptation (ep) Highest Debut. Tomorrow X Together. ...
- (1) Sos. SZA. ...
- (2) Midnights. Taylor Swift. ...
- (5) Heroes & Villains. Metro Boomin. ...
- (6) Her Loss. Drake and 21 Savage. ...
- (8) Dangerous: The Double Album. Morgan Wallen. ...
- (new) new. Gloria. ...
- (7) Un Verano Sin Ti. Bad Bunny.
- 1 Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd. This is simply the greatest album ever made. ...
- 2 Sgt. ...
- 3 Abbey Road - The Beatles. ...
- 4 Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO) - Led Zeppelin. ...
- 5 Revolver - The Beatles. ...
- 6 The Wall - Pink Floyd. ...
- 7 A Night at the Opera - Queen. ...
- 8 Thriller - Michael Jackson.
- Eminem. Eminem introduced rap listeners to a unique style. ...
- Nas. Nas possesses all of the qualities of a Rapper, although he prefers to be less rigid with the norms of technical rhyming. ...
- Tupac Shakur. ...
- Jay-Z. ...
- Sage Francis. ...
- Tech N9ne. ...
- Rapper Kool G. ...
Alicia Keys' song "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)" ranked as the number one song on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs year end list.What was the #1 rap song in 2011? ›
DJ Khaled's song "I'm On One", featuring Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne, spent 11 non-consecutive weeks at number one, and was the longest running number one single on the chart in 2011. Big Sean's collaboration with Kanye West & Roscoe Dash, "Marvin & Chardonnay", topped the chart for one week.What is the longest #1 album on Billboard? ›
Harry Belafonte (37 weeks)
Calypso is tied with the South Pacific soundtrack as the longest-running No. 1 album of the 1956-59 period.
- Fleetwood Mac — “Rumours” ...
- Hootie & the Blowfish — “Cracked Rear View” ...
- Pink Floyd — “The Wall” ...
- Led Zeppelin — “Zeppelin IV” ...
- The Beatles — “The Beatles” ...
- AC/DC — “Back in Black” ...
- Eagles — “Hotel California” ...
- Michael Jackson— “Thriller”
|8||The Rolling Stones|
|7||Dave Matthews Band|
- 1 Snoop Dogg96%
- 2 Kanye West95%
- 3 Eminem93%
- 4 Jay-Z93%
- 5 Ice Cube93%
- P. Diddy91%
- 7 MC Hammer91%
- 8 Beastie Boys90%
- GZA ft. ...
- N.W.A – “Gangsta Gangsta” ...
- LL Cool J ft. ...
- Eazy-E – “Boyz-n-the-Hood” ...
- Three 6 Mafia – “Who Run It” ...
- Dr. ...
- Audio Two – “Top Billin'” ...
- Jeru the Damaja – “Come Clean”
Who has the most No 1 hits? ›
The most modern act on the list is Rihanna, who has released 14 chart-topping singles in her career. The oldest is Elvis Presley, who's had 18 No. 1 songs.Who is the king of rap of all time? ›
#1 Jay-Z. Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, hails from NYC, a fact he raps about consistently over the course of his nearly three-decade career. He quickly rose to fame in the mid-1990s when he released his debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, from his own record label Roc-A-Fella Records.What rapper went diamond? ›
At the time, Posty joined fellow rappers Juicy J, T.I., OutKast, Tupac Shakur and Drake who have also reached diamond status for either features on a song, their own albums or a song they released during their careers.What is the fastest selling rap album? ›
With the release of his sophomore album The Marshall Mathers LP, the “Rap God” smashed records for the biggest first-week sales in hip-hop. The album sold a whopping 1.7 million copies in seven days. One of the highest selling artists of all time, Em is responsible for six of the top 20 biggest first-weeks in history.Who made rap popular? ›
Rapping first gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1970s as a kind of street art, especially among African American teenagers. But it wasn't until 1979, when the Sugarhill Gang released their breakaway hit, "Rapper's Delight", that record producers took notice of this emerging musical genre.Who was the first mumble rap? ›
Widely credited as the first mumble rap song, Future's “Tony Montana” (2011)12 includes many characteristics of mumble rap. The song begins with a highly repetitive hook, where the two words “Tony Montana” are uttered almost ad nauseam through Auto-Tune.Who was the first rapper to go triple platinum? ›
Raising Hell is the third studio album by American hip hop group Run-D.M.C., released on May 15, 1986, by Profile Records. The album was produced by Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. Raising Hell became the first Platinum and multi-Platinum hip hop record.Who are the big 3 rappers? ›
To this day, with Lil' Wayne's southern flow, Drake's melodic raps, and Nick Minaj's NYC hard-core style, they still release great music together and will always be known as the Big Three.Who has the most top 10 hits on a single album? ›
Just four other albums have made it to seven top 10 singles, which currently stands as the most impressive performance among all albums in U.S. history: Michael Jackson's Thriller, Bruce Springsteen' Born in the U.S.A., Janet Jackson's Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 and Drake's Scorpion (which holds the record for ...Who sold 1 million albums in the first week? ›
"Midnights" by Taylor Swift
It's already the biggest debut sales week of her career, surpassing "1989." Swift is the only artist in history to have five different albums with million-selling weeks. Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Eminem trail with two apiece.
Who has a Top 5 album in 6 decades? ›
Springsteen is first artist to have top 5 album over 6 decades in US.Who has number 1 album? ›
Taylor Swift's tenth studio album, Midnights, opened with over one million copies sold and became the best selling album of 2022.What album has the most Top 5 hits? ›
Coincidentally, Michael Jackson's Bad and Katy's Teenage Dream are the only albums in US chart history to each score five Number 1s on the Billboard Hot 100.What is America's best-selling album ever? ›
The top selling album of all time in the United States based on certified unit sales is currently the Eagles' Greatest Hits, with 38 million copies sold.Who is the #1 selling artist of all time? ›
Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles are top of the list for best-selling artists worldwide, with 183 million units certified sales. Second is Garth Brooks with over 157 million units sales, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units.What albums have gone diamond? ›
|Year of release||Artist(s)||Title|
|1980||AC/DC||Back in Black|
|1971||Led Zeppelin||Led Zeppelin IV|
During his 30+-year career, the global best-selling producer, often cited as hip-hop's GOAT behind the boards, boasts a treasure trove of lyricists who have written for him, from Ice Cube, the D.O.C. and Snoop Dogg to Eminem, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar.
- 6: Cardi B (1992- present) ...
- 5: Yo-Yo (1971- present) ...
- 4: Little Simz (1994- present) ...
- 3: MC Lyte (1970- present) ...
- 2: Roxanne Shante (1970- present) ...
- 1: Missy Elliott (1971- present)
By the count of all music awards received, Eminem is the only rapper who made it to Top 10 most celebrated musicians of all genres. Michael Jackson sits on top with 834 awards, leaving a wide gap to breach for Beyoncé who is the second with 691 awards.What was the #1 rap song in 2000? ›
|Single||Artist||Reached number one|
|"Callin' Me"||Lil Zane featuring 112||July 15, 2000|
|"Bounce with Me"||Lil' Bow Wow featuring Xscape||August 19, 2000|
|"Callin' Me" ↑||Lil Zane featuring 112||September 2, 2000|
|"Bounce with Me" ↑||Lil' Bow Wow featuring Xscape||September 9, 2000|
What was the #1 rap song in 1980? ›
The Breaks (1980) [Single]
That's the breaks! Well everyone knows this one, pretty much the most popular hip hop single from the early era after Rappers Delight.
On Nov. 3, 1990, rap cemented its finally unignorable mainstream influence with its first-ever No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100: Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." Here are 15 more of the most…What was the #1 rap song in 2013? ›
1. Kanye West - 'Bound 2'What was the #1 rap song in 1992? ›
|Single||Artist||Reached number one|
|"They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)"||Pete Rock & CL Smooth||June 27, 1992|
|"Take It Personal"||Gang Starr||July 18, 1992|
|"Warm It Up"||Kris Kross||July 25, 1992|
|"Don't Sweat the Technique"||Eric B. & Rakim||August 15, 1992|
Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It!)” Beyoncé leads the chart-toppers with one of her most famous and successful songs, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It!)”.Who has the most #1 hits in rap? ›
1 Hits. Drake has tallied 11 No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 in his career, the most among rappers.Who was the first hit rapper? ›
The Sugar Hill Gang's 12-inch single "Rapper's Delight" - released in 1979 - became the first rap song to be played on the radio. The 15-minute song was edited down to six and a half minutes and reached Number 36 on the pop charts, making it the first hip-hop single to become a Top 40 chart hit.