- Daniel Berthiaume & Justin Laudano
10 Best Rap Albums of the Decade
10. Drip Harder- Lil Baby & Gunna (2018) -This album sets the tone for the mumble rap era. With unique instrumentals, creative lyrics, and a vast array of featured artists (Drake, NAV, Young Thug), this album can get you ready for any occasion. This collaboration album leaves listeners wanting more collaboration duos to work together, as Lil Baby's smooth voice pairs perfectly with Gunna's new-age cadence.
9. Future- FUTURE-Future has become one of the biggest names in the rap industry in the last decade, and this album is one of the reasons why. With hit tracks like Mask Off and Might as Well Future establishes his ability to rap on a wide variety of instrumental styles, as some of his tracks incorporate heavy flute patterns and classical piano. Whether you want to chill out or get pumped up, this album has it all. Future also came out with an album titled WZRD (one of Mr. Laudano's favorite albums) which almost made our list.
8. SAINt JHN- Ghetto Lenny's Love Songs (2019)-Wow. Perhaps the greatest blend between rap and R&B we have ever heard. SAINt JHN is a genius in the way he discusses "ghetto" topics in such an eloquent style. The album combines heavy-bass instrumentals with classical instruments like the acoustic guitar, harp, flute, and even the glockenspiel (gotta keep your glock on you). I challenge anyone to listen to tracks like Monica Lewinsky and Trophies without getting them manicaly stuck in your head for weeks. SAINt JHN's ability to create catchy songs without sounding mainstream is truly an accomplishment beyond comparison.
7. AstroWorld- Travis Scott (2018) Travis Scott came into 2018 after years of anticipation and promise for his concept album ASTROWORLD. The album itself was based off of the beloved amusement park that was formerly located in Houston, Texas, sharing the same name, where Travis grew up. It closed during the early years of his childhood, and ever since he had dreamed of becoming a rapper, he planned on dedicating an album to the park. Thus, anticipation for ASTROWORLD was massive. Safe to say that Travis didn't disappoint. Not only did he create a collection of bangers, such as the classic SICKO MODE and the ridiculously catchy BUTTERFLY EFFECT, he also managed to make a cohesive album where every song led to the next, creating atmosphere and theme around the album. Every song is distinct in its own way, with its own styles, genres, and topics, but all fall into the umbrella of ASTROWORLD, making it a literal rollercoaster of an album.
6. Culture- Migos (2017)-Coming in at number 6 is the incredibly popular debut album Culture by Migos. What makes this album stand out from others is the fact that the Atlanta-based rap group features such a variety of signature voices, each with their own unique style. With hit songs like Bad and Bougee and Kelly Price it is difficult to keep this album off of our list. This album blends heavy bass instrumentals with incredible lyrical variety, as each member of Migos seems to bring their own unique flow to the table.
5. Death Race for Love- Juice WRLD (2019) The now saddening and at least somewhat prophetic last album of Juice WRLD's was still one to be remembered. Featuring diverse sounds, the album was an amazing body of work by a gifted rapper with enormous potential. Part of the reason the album is so effective and well done is that Juice is unafraid to venture into complex, sophisticated topics and embracing what he feels (shown on songs like Maze and Fast). He was a legend in the making and the loss of his life is immeasurable. Rest in peace.
4. Take Care - Drake- (2011) It is tough to leave currently the number 1 artist in the world (according to Spotify) off of our list. With introspective songs like Over My Dead Body and Marvin's Room, it is clear that Drake is not afraid to let his emotions do the talking. Though some might criticize him for his vulnerability and lavish lifestyle, we believe this album is what springboarded Drake's career to the next level. Say what you want about him, but I defy anyone to listen to songs like Headlines, Underground Kings, HYFR without bobbing their head. In this album, Drake tends to focus on making quality music, rather than solidifying himself as a "hard-core" rapper (which obviously he is not). Drake plays to his strengths in this album and allows listeners of all types to resonate with his music.
3. Forest Hills Drive- J.Cole-(2014) After releasing a seemingly unbeatable album titled Born Sinner in 2013, J.Cole proved he is the only one who can outdo himself, with his project titled Forest Hills Drive. The title references J.Cole's hometown in North Carolina, as the album looks to be a window into J.Cole's past,present, and future. To be honest, this is one of the most personal albums we have ever listened to. J.Cole embraces vulnerability as he raps about losing his virginity, his birthday, and the internal battles that come with success. The album has a diverse range of song types as well, with booming tracks like Fire Squad and G.O.M.D and relaxing tracks like January 28th, Apparently, and Note to Self (an 11 minute track!).
2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye West (2010) Kanye was coming off of a series of tragedies and mishaps leading into this album, which he recorded and produced in Honolulu by himself, with only collaborators on the project on the island with him. The dedication and effort that he put into the album ended up making it one of his best. He reached outside of his, or frankly anyone's, artistic and sonic comfort zone, and somehow was able to make a personal yet grand masterpiece out of the pain he was experiencing. From the bombastic drum rolls and horns of All of the Lights and the tantalizingly hedonistic Devil in a New Dress, to the wonder of Lost in the World and the somber piano chords of Runaway, Kanye created an album considered not only one of his personal best, but also one of the best of the decade. Its abstract qualities give it an idiosyncrasy that is distinct and unforgettable, which is why it ranks so high on our list.
1. good kid m.A.A.d city- Kendrick Lamar (2012) good kid might not technically be the best rap album of this decade, or even Kendrick's best. However, as an album telling a story with a narrative, a main character, and growth in the setting of the streets of Compton, kid works better than any other album this decade. The main storyline of this album is Kendrick as a kid, trying to get through an everyday life of drugs, violence, and poverty. Since Kendrick was hot off of the success of his breakout album, Section.80, this was more of a retrospective piece of work, but he still remembers all the hardships he went through. He presents them in a way that is both unique and universal. Kendrick looks through his own experiences and not only elaborates on them, but also puts them into words so well that any listener from any background could take that music and relate it to themselves. You can see these in the themes of the airy-summer vibes of Money Trees and B" h, Don't Kill My Vibe, which sonically seem to be bright, but lyrically deal with very mature, complex topics. Kendrick walks through the history of life, looking on how he made it out. The best thing about the album is that its story is so compelling that every song feels unique, but the whole album feels like a particular story put together cohesively, which is something that every album should strive for. There may never be another album like good kid that is as well done, and if there is, it's probably not not coming for a very long time.