Can you believe that we are coming to the end of a decade of music? A decade of sonic evolution and experimentation. A decade of living legends continuing to make music and novice artists on the popular rise. A decade of , “What the hell is going on’s,” and “Okay, I like that’s.” A decade of groundbreaking innovation and unapologetic idiosyncrasies but what albums deserve a spot in the ‘Top 20 Albums of the Decade?’ It’s an arduous task but below I’ve listed some of my favorites, check it out!
20. Jacob Banks Village (2018)
(Tracklist: 1. Chainsmoking 2. Love Ain’t Enough 3. Mexico 4. Prosecco 5. Kumbaya 6. Slow Up 7. Grown Up 8. Keeps Me Going 9. Be Good To Me 10. Nostalgia 11. Caroline 12. Witness 13. Unknown (To You) 14. Peace of Mind)
Banks put poetry into an album, laced it with cinematic like executions and immaculate production inevitably rendering this body of work a classic. He’s a UK marvel and a vocal powerhouse, without question. The imagery filled sonic spirituals and his personal awareness of life’s woes, joy and detrimental effects allows this project to linger on your aural taste buds. In an era chockablock with mumble rappers and popular substance lacking tunes it’s refreshing to partake in a sound like this one.
19. Brent Faiyaz Sonder Son (2017)
(Tracklist: 1. Home 2. Gang Over Luv 3. Burn One 4. First World Problemz/ Nobody Carez 5. Mission Out 6. Stay Down 7. L.A. 8. Talk 2 U 9. Sonder Son 10. So Far Gone/fast Life Biuez 11. Needed 12. All I Want)
This album is an inevitable bop for this generation and the next; it’s a 90’s classic for the modern times. If you love the sounds of Jon B., Carl Thomas, Craig David, Musiq Soulchild etc. then you’ll fall in love with the sounds of Brent Faiyaz. Each record on this album explodes with emotion, pensive lyricism, real soul tendencies and the story-like reflection of a young man from Maryland who’s now Los Angeles living, dream hunting and self discovering. The splendor of a body of work such as this one isn’t merely its ageless listening experience but its solid, significant contribution to music, an excellent addition to this decade’s archives.
18. The Weeknd House Of Balloons (2011)
(Tracklist 1. High For This 2. What You Need 3. House Of Balloons/Glass Table Girls 4. The Morning 5. Wicked Games 6. The Party & The Afterparty 7. Coming Down 8. Loft Music 9. The Knowing 10. Twenty Eight (bonus track))
The Weeknd spearheaded a genre of lo-fi tendencies and melancholy undertones. He put his narrative into his music, unapologetically so, and we thank him for that. Records like “Wicked Games” and “What You Need,” still resonate today. Although, he hasn’t been as active in the music scene recently, he left a firm imprint in this decade with this ikonic body of work.
17. Wale The Album About Nothing (2015)
(Tracklist: 1. The Intro About Nothing 2. The Helium Balloon (ft. Jerry Seinfeld) 3. The White Shoes 4. The Pessimist 5. The Middle Finger 6. The One Time In Houston 7. The Girls On Drugs 8. The God Smile 9. The Need to Know (ft. SZA) 10. The Success 11. The Glass Egg 12. The Bloom (AG3) 13. The Matrimony (ft. Usher) 14. The Body (ft. Jeremih))
I’ve seen many ‘Album of the Decade’ lists and I’m perturbed by the consistent absence of any Wale albums. To not include at least one of Wale’s project would be a gross miscarriage on hip-hop justice. The Album About Nothing was literally the album about everything, from drug use to battling life’s turbulence to the current state of our culture; he expertly infused substance into good music without over commercializing or losing his grit. It’s a quintessential hip-hop album, one that helped revolutionize the decade.
16. Lil Wayne The Carter IV (2011)
(Tracklist: 1. Intro 2. Blunt Blowin’ 3. MegaMan 4. 6 Foot 7 Foot f/ Cory Gunz 5. Nightmares of the Bottom 6. She Will f/ Drake 7. How to Hate f/ T-Pain 8. Interlude f/ Tech N9ne 9. John f/ Rick Ross 10. Abortion 11. So Special f/ John Legend 12. How to Love 13. President Carter 14. Its Good f/ Drake & Jadakiss 15. Outro f/ Bun B, Nas, Shyne & Busta Rhymes 16. I Like the View* 17. Mirror* 18. Two Shots*)
Lil Wayne, another living ikon, flourished in the 99’ and the 2000’s but in 2011 he released another revered Carter, not as popular as his third Carter but a worthy addition nonetheless. It boasts with hits like “6 Foot 7 Foot” and “She Will” featuring the rising phenom Drake. From the sure-fire production to the star studded feature lineup, we can’t sleep on this album, it helped kick off the decade strong.
15. Frank Ocean Channel Orange (2012)
(Tracklist: 1. Start 2. Thinkin Bout You 3. Fertilizer 4. Sierra Leone 5. Sweet Life 6. Not Just Money 7. Super Rich Kids (f. Earl Sweatshirt) 8. Pilot Jones 9. Crack Rock 10. Pyramids 11. Lost 12. White (f. John Mayer) 13. Monks 14. Bad Religion 15. Pink Matter (f. André 3000) 16. Forrest Gump 17. End)
Do you remember how you felt the first time you heard “Thinkin Bout You?” I was in absolute love with this record, it melted into my soul and I kept it on repeat. This was before the market was as saturated as it is today. People bumped an album like this one for months, not days. Frank Ocean made a huge splash with this project, one that will solidify him as a staple in music for decades to come.
14. Solange A Seat at the Table (2016)
(Tracklist: 1. Rise 2. Weary 3. Interlude: The Glory Is In You 4. Cranes In The Sky 5. Interlude: Dad Was Mad 6. Mad Ft. Lil Wayne 7. Don’t You Wait 8. Interlude: Tina Taught Me 9. Don’t Touch My Hair Ft. Sampha 10. Interlude: This Moment 11. Where Do We Go 12. Interlude: For Us By Us 13. F.U.B.U. Ft. The Dream & BJ The Chicago Kid 14. Borderline (An Ode To Self Care) Ft. Q-Tip 15. Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It” Ft. Kelly Rowland & Nia Andrews 16. Junie 17. Interlude: No Limits 18. Don’t Wish Me Well 19. Interlude: Pedestals 20. Scales Ft. Kelela 21. Closing: The Chosen Ones)
Solange doesn’t live in the shadow of her sister but she’s indeed in a class all her own and this album proved that. There isn’t a moment in time where this album will not be relevant, ageless and therapeutic. Everything about this project was simply immaculate from the visuals to the production to the lyricism and flawless execution, she out did herself with this one.
13. Beyoncé Lemonade (2016)
(Tracklist: 1. Pray You Catch Me 2. Hold Up 3. Don’t Hurt Yourself 4. Sorry 5. 6 Inch 6. Daddy Lessons 7. Love Drought 8. Sandcastles 9. Forward 10. Freedom 11. All Night 12. Formation)
Does this entry really need an explanation? She’s Beyoncé. This album was straight crack. The cultural influences were vast and essential and the visuals were so quality that they could have appeared in theaters. Case closed.
12. Nicki Minaj The Pink Print (2014)
(Tracklist: 1. All Things Go 2. I Lied 3. The Crying Game 4. Get On Your Knees (feat. Ariana Grande) 5. Feeling Myself (feat. Beyoncé) 6. Only (feat. Chris Brown, Drake & Lil Wayne) 7. Want Some More 8. Four Door Aventador 9. Favorite (feat. Jeremih) 10. Buy a Heart (feat. Meek Mill) 11. Trini Dem Girls (feat. Lunchmoney Lewis) 12. Anaconda 13. The Night Is Still Young 14. Pills N Potions 15. Bed of Lies (feat. Skylar Grey) 16. Grand Piano Deluxe songs: 1. Big Daddy (feat. Meek Mill) 2. Shanghai 3.Win Again)
We can’t pretend like Nicki Minaj didn’t own the better part of this decade of music. The Pink Print proved to be one truly stellar album, from the awards to the number of albums sold – she shifted the industry on its axis. The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 with 244,000 album units sold in its first week, of which 198,000 were pure sales. More than just a female rapper, she’s a trendsetter and record breaker. This body of work garnered her not only the attention of the hip-hop community but the world as a whole. From Queens, NY to Japan, people were falling in love with the music stylings of The Barbie. This album is her defining moment.
11. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
(Tracklist: 1. Dark Fantasy 2. Gorgeous (feat. Kid Cudi & Raekwon) 3. Power (feat. Dwele) 4. All of the Lights (Interlude) 5. All of the Lights (feat. Alicia Keys, Charlie Wilson, Elly Jackson, Elton John, Fergie, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, Ryan Leslie, The-Dream & Tony Williams) 6. Monster (feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver) 7. So Appalled (feat. Jay-Z, Pusha T, Cyhi Da Prynce, Swizz Beatz & RZA) 8. Devil in a New Dress (feat. Rick Ross) 9. Runaway (feat. Pusha T) 10. Hell of a Life 11. Blame Game (feat. John Legend) 12. Lost In The World 13. Who Will Survive In America)
I don’t recognize Kanye West now, but when I did, he made this kind of music. His My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album, holds a strong second in my list of favorites next to his 2004 release The College Dropout. This body of work took us for a ride, a good one. From anthems like “Monster” featuring one of Nicki Minaj’s most glorified verses alongside other hits like “All of the Lights” and “Power,” this project is doused in inevitable acclaim.
10. Rihanna Anti (2016)
(Tracklist: 1. Consideration featuring SZA 2. James Joint 3. Kiss It Better 4. Work featuring Drake5. Desperado 6. Woo 7. Needed Me 8. Yeah, I Said It 9. Same Ol’ Mistakes 10. Never Ending 11. Love on the Brain 12. Higher 13. Close to You 14. Goodnight Gotham 15. Pose 16. Sex With Me)
Every ikonic artist has an album that fans just can’t get enough of. Rihanna’s Anti is like a double dose of versatile hits and unprecedented vocal performances. More than just that cute chick from Saint Michael, Barbados, she’s now a mogul. The “Love on the Brain” singer has yet to release another album but that’s okay because we’re still allowing this one to sizzle in our spirits. This project is one of her most experimental efforts and a profound addition to this decade of music.
9. Cardi B Invasion of Privacy (2018)
(Tracklist: 1. Get Up 10 2. Drip 3. Bickenhead 4. Bodak Yellow 5. Be Careful 6. Best Life 7. I Like It 8. Ring 9. Money Bag 10. Bartier Cardi 11. She Bad 12. Thru Your Phone 13. I Do)
Cardi earned a Grammy for this album! Invasion of Privacy represents her earned ascent to fame, true love for making music and an undeniable prowess as a lyricist that most people didn’t foreshadow. She raps hard like hip-hop predecessors partnered with her distinct flow and raw content. Cardi B isn’t just a moment or a phase in music. Clearly she works tirelessly to create quality records and exceptional visuals. She’s continued to produce class-A music and this debut album carved a sturdy spot in the top albums of the decade.
8. Rapsody Laila’s Wisdom (2017)
(Tracklist: 1. Laila’s Wisdom 2. Power f. Kendrick Lamar and Lance Skiiiwalker 3. Chrome (Like Ooh) 4. Pay Up 5. Ridin’ f. GQ 6. Sassy 7. Nobody f. Anderson .Paak, Black Thought and Moonchild 8. Black and Ugly f. BJ The Chicago Kid 9. You Should Know f. Busta Rhymes 10. A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love f. Musiq Soulchild and Gwen Bunn 11. U Used 2 Love Me f. Terrace Martin 12. Knock On My Door f. BJ The Chicago Kid13. OooWee f. Anderson .Paak 14. Jesus Coming f. Amber Navran)
Grammy nominated, exceptionally scripted, flawlessly produced and inevitably timeless, Rapsody’s Laila’s Wisdom is a necessary entry into hip-hop’s budding catalog. This album listens with diary-like cognition, irrefutable flows and overall quality. The Queen also received features from heavy-hitters like Kendrick Lamar, Busta Rhymes and Musiq Soulchild to name a few amid production from 9th Wonder , The Soul Council, Nottz and Terrace Martin. We need this kind of music for the culture and definitely for the decade. Rapsody is hip-hop in some of its finest moments, the quintessence of its original roots, the epitome of hip-hop excellence.
7. Meek Mill Championships (2018)
(Tracklist: 1. Intro 2. Trauma3. Uptown Vibes featuring Fabolous and Anuel AA 4. On Me featuring Cardi B 5. What’s Free featuring Rick Ross and Jay-Z 6. Respect The Game 7. Splash Warning featuring Future, Roddy Ricch and Young Thug 8. Championships 9. Going Bad featuring Drake 10. Almost Slipped 11. Tic Tac Toe featuring Kodak Black 12. 24/7 featuring Ella Mai 13. Oodles O’ Noodles Babies 14. Pay You Back featuring 21 Savage 15. 100 Summers 16. Wit The Shits (W.T.S.) featuring Melii 17. Stuck In My Ways 18. Dangerous featuring Jeremih and PnB Rock19. “Cold Hearted II”
Meek’s evolution as a man and as an artist erupted in the linings of this masterpiece. This project listened like an album; this wasn’t a makeshift mixtape imbued with hood anthems but a deliberate well-sculpted effort that delves into his narrative but also garnered worldwide acclaim, deserved acclaim. If you doubted Meek’s talent before, you can’t do that now. Each track from nostalgic vibes like “Oodles O’ Noodles Babies” to stay-woke records like “What’s Free” and fantasy collaborations like “Going Bad,” represent the Dreamchaser’s unapologetic advancement as a true creator of ageless music.
6. J. Cole Born Sinner (2013)
(Tracklist: 1.Villuminati 2.Kerney Sermon (Skit) 3.Land Of The Snakes 4. Power Trip (feat. Miguel) 5. Mo Money (Interlude) 6. Trouble 7. Runaway 8. She Knows (feat. Amber Coffman) 9. Rich Niggaz 10. Wheres Jermaine (Skit) 11. Forbidden Fruit (feat. Kendrick Lamar) 12. Chaining Day 13. Aint That Some Shit (Interlude) 14. Crooked Smile (feat. TLC) 15. Let Nas Down 16. Born Sinner (feat. Fauntleroy) Deluxe Edition 17. Miss America 18. New York Times (feat. 50 Cent & Bas) 19. Is She Gon Pop 20. Niggaz Know 21. Sparks Will Fly (feat. Jhene Aiko)
J.Cole is another name I haven’t seen appear on mainstream music publications ‘Albums of the Decade’ lists and it baffles me. Born Sinner represents hip-hop at one of its greatest hours. From hits like “Forbidden Fruit” featuring Kendrick Lamar to hip-hop homage laden tracks like “Let Nas Down,” Cole gifts us quality music, unparalleled lyricism and humility. He’s never come off as supercilious or haughty during his stint in music, although he could be. Cole, hands down, is one of the best lyricist of our generation, never releasing a bad album and never trading substance-less lyrics for commercial gain. J. Cole is J. Cole; he remains true to his craft, his narrative and his abilities – this album proves that.
5. Jay-Z 4:44 (2017)
(Tracklist: 1. Kill Jay Z 2. The Story of O.J. 3. Smile f. Gloria Carter 4. Caught Their Eyes f. Frank Ocean 5. 4:44 6. Family Feud 7. Bam f. Damian Marley 8. Moonlight 9. Marcy Me 10. Legacy 11. Adnis 12. Blues Freestyle / We Family feat. Blue Ivy Carter 13. MaNyfaCedGod)
Over 30 years in the game, myriad awards on his mantle and the Marcy Projects on his back, Jay-Z is the living embodiment of longevity and hip-hop excellence. This man can’t make a bad album. 4:44 gifted us the grown, sophisticated and lyrically prophetic mastermind he’s always been with a gloss of a modern aura. Lyrically he touches on social injustices, cultural diversity, familial plights and the art of becoming a man. Jay-Z has conquered each decade of music since the 90’s and he does so yet again with this project; it’s one of the most pivotal albums of this decade.
4. Beyoncé Beyoncé (2013)
(Tracklist: 1. Pretty Hurts 2. Haunted 3. Drunk In Love (featuring Jay Z) 4. Blow 5. No Angel 6. Partition 7. Jealous 8. Rocket 9. Mine (featuring Drake) 10. XO 11. ***Flawless (featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche) 12. Superpower (featuring Frank Ocean) 13. Heaven 14. Blue (featuring Blue Ivy) 15. 7/11 16. Flawless Remix (featuring Nicki Minaj) 17. Drunk in Love Remix (featuring Kanye West) 18. Ring Off 19. Blow Remix (featuring Pharell) 20. Standing on the Sun Remix (featuring Mr. Vegas)
Beyoncé bodied this album! From seductive classics like “Drunk In Love” to the “Flawless Remix” featuring Nicki Minaj, it’s dripping in nothing but hits. While records like “Pretty Hurts” reveal a necessary truth for this generation and those before it. It reveals our obsession with beauty and perfection and how it can be detrimental to the psyche. This wasn’t just an expected lusty album from one of the world’s most beautiful women but the dawn of her creating music that lyrically captures the current state of our culture.
3. Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
(Tracklist: 1. Sherane A.K.A Master Splinter’s Daughter 2. Bi**h, Don’t Kill My Vibe 3. Backseat Freestyle 4. The Art Of Peer Pressure 5. Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock) 6. Poetic Justice (Feat. Drake) 7. good kid 8. m.A.A.d City (Feat. MC Eiht) 9. Swimming Pools (Drank) (Extended) 10. Sing About Me I’m Dying Of Thirst 11. Real (Feat. Anna Wise Of Sonnymoon) 12. Compton (Feat. Dr. Dre) 13. The Recipe (Feat. Dr. Dre) 14. Black Boy Fly 15. Now Or Never (Feat. Mary J. Blige) 16. Bi**h, Don’t Kill My Vibe (Remix) (Feat. JAY-Z)
This was the decade of Kendrick Lamar’s evolution. He went from underground wordsmith to Grammy award winning, mainstream phenom without sacrificing his personal art. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City placed him in a higher caliber as an emcee and as an artist. Few doubted his lyrical capabilities but being able to rap and being able to create good music are two completely different talents. Records like “B**ch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Swimming Pools (Drank) proved that he can combine indisputable lyricism with catchy, stuck-in-your-head hooks thus making his music addictive and potent. The 90’s had a slew of legendary wordsmiths but so did the 2010’s and thankfully so. Kendrick produces timeless music. This album can bump from car stereos now and forever.
2. Adele 21(2011)
(Tracklist: 1. Rolling In The Deep 2. Rumour Has It 3. Turning Tables 4. Don’t You Remember 5. Set Fire To The Rain 6. He Won’t Go 7. Take It All 8. I’ll Be Waiting 9. One And Only 10. Lovesong 11. Someone Like You)
Adele has a voice like butter, lyricism that melts the soul and emotive performances that jolt the crowd and reel you into her moment. From Billboard to Grammy awards this was the body of work that turned the Tottenham, London native into an international sensation. 21 solidified her stake in music. She channels raw, unfiltered emotion and creates records that listens like something fresh off a movie soundtrack. The production is grand, her vocals are explosive and the lyricism is unparalleled. An album like this one will not only remain relevant in this decade but in decades to come.
1. Drake Take Care (2011)
(Tracklist: 1.Over My Dead Body 2. Shot For Me 3. Headlines 4. Crew Love feat. The Weeknd 5. Take Care feat. Rihanna 6. Marvins Room / Buried Alive feat. Kendrick Lamar 7. Underground Kings 8. We’ll Be Fine feat. Birdman 9. Make Me Proud feat. Nicki Minaj 10. Lord Knows feat. Rick Ross 11. Cameras / Good Ones Go (Interlude) 12. Doing It Wrong feat. Stevie Wonder 13. The Real Her feat. Andre 3000 & Lil Wayne 14. HYFR feat. Lil Wayne 15. Look What You’ve Done 16. Practice 17. The Ride BONUS TRACKS: 18. Hate Sleeping Alone 19. The Motto feat. Lil Wayne)
Drake, similar to the likes of JAY-Z, Lil Wayne and Method Man, in regard to the consecutive quality of his albums, reeks with legendary status. His climb to fame, although over a decade in the making, began with one of his first and most notable releases Take Care – the true genesis of his career. Every record off this album gives listeners the chance to get to know who Drake is, what he’s battling in life, his relationship woes and more. It was his major debut and it was an album that rocked the 2010’s, helped define the era and gave birth to his reign over music. What would this decade be without the introduction of Drizzy Drake, let’s be honest, this was his decade, his perfect ten.