Top 5 hip-hop/rap albums of the past decade


Zulfiqar Ahmed

Some of the best hip-hop/rap albums of the past decade, including albums from Kanye West and Drake.

Hip-hop/rap has evolved dramatically over the past decade. Multiple subgenres have spawned from development of platforms like Soundcloud, that have allowed people from every corner of the world to share their music and build communities. Mumble rap, jazz rap, trap and country rap are a few of the newest sub genres that have changed the landscape of hip-hop/ap. Nevertheless, artists that possess longevity in the scene have produced some of the greatest pieces of music in the genre. Here is a top five pick for some essential hip-hop/rap albums that you should listen to.

Future – “DS2 (Deluxe)”

The sequel to the Dirty Sprite album series, “DS2 (Deluxe),” is widely considered one of greatest trap albums ever made. Future created an album that was absolutely apt for the time period, featuring some of the very best beats from producers Metro Boomin, Southside and Zaytoven to name a few. His distinct voice flows smoothly over the entire length of the project, supported solely by a single Drake feature on the track ‘Where Ya At’ that peaked at number 28 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The unique bass heavy beats inspired a sound that influenced an entire new generation of trap artists. Some standout tracks from the 18 track project are “I Serve the Bass,” “Blow a Bag” and “Lil One.”

Drake – “Views”

Views stands out in Drake’s discography as his most well crafted album. Switching genres, collaborating with international artists like WizKid and discussing his insecurities, the album has it all. The intro track “Keep The Family Close” sets the tone for the entire tracklist on every listen. Featuring guest appearances from label mates dvsn, Majid Jordan, PartyNextDoor, Rihanna and Future, the spectrum of sounds offered in 20 tracks adds to the longevity of the project. “Weston Road Flows,” “With You” and “Grammys” are some of the best tracks on the album.

Kanye West – “The Life Of Pablo”

As the title suggests, the album is Pablo Escobar, Pablo Picasso and everything in between. Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Electronic and so many other genres clash into a beautiful symphony that led to its huge success. The features on the album are carefully picked, something that’s expected from a Kanye West project, as each artist blends in perfectly. Most tracks on the album exhibit West’s rapping ability rather than him as a producer. “Waves,” “Real Friends,” “Wolves” and “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1” are stand out tracks.

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib – “Bandana”

The only collaborative project on this list combined the sample-filled wisdom in production from Madlib and the lyrical ability of Freddie Gibbs into a solid 10/10 album that stood out in their discographies. The album reflects sounds of nostalgia and carries a sense of experience that the two rap veterans have gained over the years. “Fake Names,” “Giannis (feat. Anderson .Paak)” and “Freestyle S**t” are standout tracks that rarely sustain the instrumental all the way through. 

Kendrick Lamar – “To Pimp A Butterfly”

Arguably one of the highest rated albums in Lamar’s discography, “To Pimp A Butterfly” features some of the most theme-centered rap albums produced. It flows like a movie with intros, transitions, and story lines that stay consistent through his previous work. The album takes a unique approach to narrating stories that are significant to Black history which makes the project much more conversational. Songs like “King Kunta,” “Wesley’s Theory,” “How Much A Dollar Cost” and “These Walls” are sonically some of the most unique songs in Lamar’s catalog.