Thomas's Favorite Seven Albums of the Decade

The 2010s is coming to a close, and the rap game during this decade has yet to be judged. It has definitely seen its ups and downs, but the past decade was peppered with master pieces for those looking. 


Since it’s relatively impossible to limit a best album of the decade list by number, this list is purely my opinion, and is NOT the top seven albums of the decade.


Without further adieu, here are seven of my personal favorites from the decade that I’ll be taking with me into 2020.


good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar 

Does this one even need an explanation anymore? K. Dot put together what is probably the best debut album of all time, being ground-breakingly original and showcasing an unparalleled story-telling ability while bringing the listener through his life coming up in Compton. This was Kendrick’s true introduction to the world and he viewed it as such, as GKMC serves as a lens into the artist , the person and the celebrity, showcasing his versatility on hits like m.A.A.d city to originally conceptual tracks like Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.


2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

J. Cole’s career has been a testament to artistic versatility and range, from the passion-lined bars of his early mixtape days, to the slowed down wisdom of 4 Your Eyez Only or the lyrical prowess of Born Sinner, and 2014 Forest Hills Drive is his pinnacle. Sorry for beating a broken drum, but the first rapper in 25 years to go platinum with no features is an absolute testament to 2014 as Cole’s ability to switch up flow and style coherently.


Bandana by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

Freddie Gibbs is easily one of the most underrated artists in the game right now and he always has been, but teaming up with legendary producer Madlib for a second time couldn’t have paid off more. Gibbs’ flows are unlike any other and Madlib’s deeply layered production sounds like the beat was personally tailored to his ability. Gibbs is harder than your favorite gangster rapper but his story-telling ability, word play, and ability to fit into pockets make for one of the greatest pure rap albums of the decade.


All-Amerikkkan B4DA$$ by Joey Bada$$

Pro Era’s head man came onto the scene as a revival of the boom bap era of New York rap with his debut mixtape 1999 at just 17 years old, focusing primarily on simple beats and that signature New York flow reminiscent of Biggie, Nas, Big L and Pun. As 1999 was Joey’s coming out as a spitter, All-Amerikkkan B4DA$$ was his coming out as a complete artist, displaying a song-making ability not before mastered by the young spitter, with tracks like Devastated, Temptation and Babylon.


Astroworld by Travis Scott

I can’t think of a single album comparable to Astroworld in terms of originality, execution and production (that is, outside of the rest of Travis’ discography). No one ever questioned Travis’ ability to make a song, but somehow the complexity of Astroworld brought him to another level, from the depth of production, vocals (both as production pieces and primary vocals), and even improved writing, Astroworld showed Travis flash back to the flows of his early days while evolving into an almost can't-miss artist.


Vacation in Hell by Flatbush Zombies

Flatbush has a refreshing presence in the game, redefining innovation through the combination of extremely original content, rangey production and classic flows true to their Brooklyn roots. All three of the Zombies got a bit out of their comfort zone for this project as notoriously deep and raspy-voiced Meechy even sings a bit. This project is the most complete the Zombies have put out as Meechy’s lyrical ability combines with the song-making of Eric Arc and the on-track energy of Juice to make for arguably the most original project produced by raps’ most original group.


Cilvia Demo by Isaiah Rashad

When Isaiah Rashad got signed to Top Dawg entertainment, Cilvia Demo served as his introduction to the world. Cilvia Demo showcased an artist with unlimited flows and an even better musical and vocal ability, all dominated by that southern drawl the game has come to love so much. Without overstepping, I can’t listen to this album without “ANDRE 3K” screaming in my head. Rashad’s Cilvia Demo is not only a sonic masterpiece, but it’s relatable to the average listener as his story, pain, and passion are clearly on display in an album that never gets old.

Written by Thomas Herron