By Nick Sligh
To read more about the background of the list and my thoughts on making it, check out the introduction to my rankings. Without further ado, here are #100-91 of my top 100 hip-hop/rap albums of the 2010s list.
100. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR (2019)
Tyler, The Creator’s evolution throughout his career has been interesting to watch. From his Odd Future days, to his early albums, to his most recent work, the tone and maturity of Tyler has been pretty remarkably different. On IGOR, Tyler’s heartfelt and vulnerable writing meshes with his elaborate and nuanced production to create a listening experience that feels like a mystical journey through Tyler’s emotions and his complications within his love and relationships. This is an album that truly pushes the boundaries of the hip-hop genre, experimenting with the synthesis of many different genres, including neo-soul, pop and funk. It is hard to be able to tell the long-term impact of this album in the moment given its relatively recent release, but IGOR will likely prove to serve as one of the most impactful experimental hip-hop albums to come out of this decade.
Favorite Songs: “A Boy is a Gun”, “Earfquake”, “Gone, Gone / Thank You”, “Are We Still Friends?”
99. Migos: Culture (2017)
Migos were able to put together their most complete album in their discography with Culture. The Atlanta trio has never been known (and will never be known) for intricate wordplay or conceptual work. However, Culture does a great job in achieving what it is aiming for. Setting the bar for much of the modern southern trap scene, this album provides an energy and an authentic southern bounce over iconic trap production. Donald Glover claimed that Migos were “The Beatles of This Generation”, and while that statement may be a reach, the Migos did provide a classic trap album with true cultural influence that they targeted.
Favorite Songs: “T-Shirt”, “Bad and Boujee”, “Call Casting”
98. Kota The Friend: FOTO (2019)
A mellow and smooth listen from front to back, FOTO provides one of the most well constructed lo-fi hip-hop records of the decade. The 27-year-old rapper from Brooklyn offers a vulnerable and calm journey through his childhood, his current life and his philosophy. An immensely personal album, Kota creates moving music through fairly simple and pleasant production and relaxed flows. Kota’s ability to build off of the sound and personality built in his earlier music with constantly evolving levels of maturity and technical ability make FOTO a great listen.
Favorite Songs: “Solar Return”, “Chicago Diner”, “Full Bloom”, “For Colored Boys”
97. 2 Chainz: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music (2017)
On Pretty Girls Like Trap Music, 2 Chainz shows how to effectively evolve in rap music without completely leaving behind a familiar sound. A great job is done in developing and refining the sound that the southern rap veteran has become associated with while experimenting with new ways of presenting it. Providing a handful of enjoyable “party” songs, 2 Chainz was able to create a fun and complete collection. This album is one of the primary examples of how trap music can be made fun and appealing to mainstream audiences while staying true to its roots.
Favorite Songs: “Riverdale Rd”, “Good Drank”, “Burglar Bars”, “4 AM”
96. Mac Miller: The Divine Feminine (2016)
The Divine Feminine was Mac’s attempt at experimenting with making a love album that utilized elements of jazz rap and neo-soul in ways that he previously hadn’t gone as deep with. The result of this experiment was Mac’s most cohesive and consistent project and a great album that accomplished his goals. Singing significantly more on this project than on his previous works, Mac really aims for a different feel with The Divine Feminine. Although his singing voice is certainly far from the best, his imperfect vocals almost make him a more personable figure to follow through this journey throughout his love. From front to back, there is a degree of focus that far exceeds much of his earlier work. With features from Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, CeeLo Green and Bilal, the whole album oozes soul and emotion. Mac’s Divine Feminine was a triumphant journey through his world of emotions.
Favorite Songs: “God Is Fair, Sexy, Nasty”, “Planet God Damn”, “Stay”, “Dang!”
95. Future: Dirty Sprite 2 (2015)
Future’s brutally honest journey through his chaotic life provides one of the landmark trap albums of the decade. Future’s music is sometimes criticized for its simplicity or lack of substance (and to be fair, these claims are well justified in some of his projects), but DS2 is much more than a simple trap album with club bangers. There is a deep drive and hunger within Future that manifests to make an epic and almost cinematic listen. A dark album that explores the tormented state of Future’s life and mind, DS2 culminates in Future’s most focused and most influential work.
Favorite Songs: “Slave Master”, “Kno The Meaning”, “The Percocet & Stripper Joint”
94. Schoolboy Q: Oxymoron (2014)
Top Dawg Entertainment’s very own, Schoolboy Q, fights to make sure that Gangster Rap gets a fresh adjustment in sound while remaining true to its roots. Oxymoron is a focused, gritty, and bleak album that encompasses a sound that Schoolboy Q has refined with great precision. The primarily dark and intense production throughout blends very well with the often dark and intense lyrics and tone that are delivered. An undeniable hunger and passion is exuded for the duration of the project, and the modern west-coast gangster rap album that Q was hoping for was achieved.
Favorite Songs: “Man Of The Year”, “Collard Greens”, “Hell of a Night”
93. Childish Gambino: Because The Internet (2013)
What can’t Donald Glover do? Donald Glover had arguably the most interesting decade of any rapper. The 2010s saw Glover release three studio albums, five mixtapes, three extended plays; win song of the year and record of the year at the Grammys for “This is America”; voice Simba in the live action remake of The Lion King; play Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story and executive produce, direct, write and act in his critically acclaimed television series Atlanta. In the midst of this prolific decade for the modern-day renaissance man, Because The Internet served as one of the most fascinating and bold efforts put forth by a rapper. Gambino refines many of the severely immature aspects of his younger rap work, while maintaining the energy and creativity that make him such a likeable personality.
Favorite Songs: “3005”, “Telegraph Ave.”, “Sweatpants”, “The Worst Guys”
92. Drake: If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (2015)
A rapper that needs no introduction. With seven chart-topping solo albums over the last decade, Drake’s success speaks for itself. Sure, popularity doesn’t correlate directly to quality, but Drake has put out some of the most quality work of the past decade in the genre. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late is an immensely confident work that shows that Drake knows exactly where he stands in hip-hop. A variety of refined and epic production, flows and themes, IYRTITL provides some of Drake’s most quintessential music.
Favorite Songs: “Jungle”, “6 PM in New York”, “Legend”, “6 God”, “No Tellin’”
91. Noname: Room 25 (2018)
It is hard to find many rap albums over the past decade that would commonly be described as having a “sweet” or “bubbly” sound, but Room 25 is certainly one of them. Noname, the Chicago wordsmith, began her rise to prominence with her fantastic early collaborations with Chance The Rapper and has since proved her incredible solo talent. Noname is able to relay her thoughts, her struggles, and her life in a truly special way over elegant production. Room 25 is a coming-of-age record for Noname that is triumphant and powerful while soothing and beautiful.
Favorite Songs: “Ace”, “Don’t Forget About Me”, “With You”
After every segment of my Top 100 rankings are published, I will be creating a Spotify playlist with my favorite songs from the albums that are in each section. Just go to my Spotify Profile (@nicholassligh) where I will be posting the playlists in descending order of rank. Go to this link to view this week’s playlist for the albums ranked #100-91! I hope that my list gives credit to deserving artists and helps people that enjoy hip-hop and rap (and even those less familiar with the genre) to find new music that connects with them and that they simply enjoy.
Contact Nick Sligh at nick1019 ‘at’ stanford.edu.