Best Albums of the Decade

Kanye West

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Kanye West

David Rowe, Staff Writer

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As 2019 comes to an end, we can begin to look back on the best music of the 2010s. From the breakout of stars such as Frank Ocean, Khalid, and Chance the Rapper, to the continued dominance of Kanye West, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and Beyonce, the introduction of streaming services over the past decade has drastically changed the way we listen to music. People are able to listen to a lot more music, making it easier for new artists to break through.  Here’s a look at what I consider to be some of the greatest albums of the decade:

1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)- Kanye West

Kanye West has been one of the most popular and influential artists of not only the decade, but the entire century. His 808s & Heartbreak album revolutionized modern day Hip Hop in 2008, but he did not stop there. On November 22, 2010 Kanye released his 808s & Heartbreak follow up and it did not disappoint. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy peaked at #1 and is regarded as not only one of the top albums of the decade, but as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums ever released. The album is certified 2x platinum and won the 2012 Grammy for best rap album.

Notable Hits: POWER, All of the Lights

2. American Teen (2017)- Khalid

Khalid Robinson, known monogamously as Khalid, came onto the music scene in 2016 with his release of  “Location” which went viral after Kylie Jenner posted a video of her singing along to it on her Snapchat. The El Paso artist released his debut album American Teen on March 3, 2017. The album reached the top ten on the Billboard 200. “Location” earned Khalid a nomination for best R&B song at the Grammys, and the project as a whole earned his nominations for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best New Artist. American Teen will forever be the anthem for “young, dumb, broke high school kids.”

Notable Hits: “Location,” “Young, Dumb, and Broke”

3. Blonde (2016)- Frank Ocean

Blonde is the second studio album released by singer Frank Ocean in August of 2016. The album was led by its hit single, “Nikes,” and peaked at number one on the charts following its release. The “Thinkin’ Bout You” hitmaker has been one of the most popular artists of the decade, in part due to the popularity and high praise of Blonde. Ocean blends a variety of genres into his style, often lead by smooth guitar riffs and melodies. The certified platinum project contains signature Frank songs “Nights,” “Ivy,” “Self Control,” and “Pink + White,” among many more. 

Notable Hits: “Nights,” “Ivy”

4. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)- Kendrick Lamar

In Kendrick Lamar’s major-label debut album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, he lets out everything, telling his stories of growing up in the streets of Compton, California. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, earning the Southern California rapper widespread praise. It is now certified 3x platinum in the U.S. and earned Lamar many awards including Album of the Year at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards.

Notable Hits: “Swimming Pools,” “Money Trees”

5. 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)- J. Cole 

Fayetteville, North Carolina rapper J. Cole released an instant classic in 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The nostalgic album tells Cole’s tales of growing up in the streets of “the ‘ville.” The “Born Sinner” artist gained a loyal following through his creative storytelling and superb producing. The album went 3x platinum with no features, won BET Hip Hop Album of the Year and Billboard Best Rap Album, and led to J. Cole being one of the most highly thought of artists in the industry.

Notable Hits: “No Role Modelz,” “A Tale of 2 Citiez”

6. Coloring Book (2016)- Chance the Rapper

“Kanye’s best prodigy/He ain’t signed me but he still proud of me,” the Chicago artist raps in “Blessings” on his 2016 project Coloring Book. Chance drew lots of attention after his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. Chance combines a myriad of styles through the use of choirs and live instruments on Coloring Book. He alternates between his high energy flow and his more mellow, story-like flow. He raps his love for his city, Chicago, as well as his love for God. Coloring Book led to heavy praise and a loyal following for the “Cocoa Butter Kisses” artist.

Notable Hits: “No Problem,” All We Got”

7. Stoney (2016)- Post Malone

Austin Post, known as Post Malone is a singer, rapper, and songwriter raised in Grapevine, Texas. Starting out as a talented guitarist, he is known for his heavily rock-influenced and soulful music. His debut album, Stoney, was released on December 9, 2016. It was led by Post’s breakout hit “White Iverson,” whose video has been viewed over 550 million times on YouTube. The album as a whole went 3x platinum, contained six platinum singles, and earned him a nomination for New Artist of the Year at the 2016 AMAs. Stoney was the start of Post Malone’s unlikely rise to the top of the music industry.

Notable Hits: “Congratulations,” “White Iverson”

8. Take Care (2011)- Drake

After breaking into the music industry with his mixtape So Far Gone and his debut album Thank Me Later, Drake released his more personal second album, Take Care. He touches on friends, family, relationships, and his struggles with his new fame. The project includes features from artists The Weeknd, Rihanna, and Lil Wayne, among others. Take Care peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and is certified 6x platinum.

Notable Hits: “Marvin’s Room,” “Take Care”

9. Beerbongs & Bentleys (2018)- Post Malone

Beerbongs & Bentleys is the second studio album by artist Post Malone. The album followed the release of his first studio album, Stoney. Led by hit single “rockstar,” the album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and is certified 3x platinum, containing 8 individual certified platinum songs. Post received the 2018 American Music Award for “Favorite Album Rap/Hip Hop” for the project, and broke several streaming records following its release.

Notable Hits: “Better Now,” “rockstar”

10. Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016)- Travis Scott

Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is the second studio album by Houston rapper Travis Scott, which followed his first studio album, Rodeo. Three singles- “wonderful,” “pick up the phone,” and “goosebumps,” were released before the album’s September, 2016 release. The project received lots of praise, debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and eventually becoming certified platinum. 

Notable Hits: “pick up the phone,” “goosebumps”

Notable Mentions: 

Channel ORANGE (2012)- Frank Ocean

ANTI (2016)- Rihanna

To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)- Kendrick Lamar

Acid Rap (2013)- Chance the Rapper

Nothing Was the Same (2013)- Drake

Beyoncé (2013)- Beyoncé

Goodbye and Good Riddance (2018)- Juice WRLD

Watch the Throne (2011)- Kanye West and Jay-Z

Flower Boy (2017)- Tyler, the Creator

Yeezus (2013)- Kanye West

K.I.D.S. (2010)- Mac Miller

House of Balloons (2011)- The Weeknd

Culture (2017)- Migos

DS2 (2015)- Future

Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)- Kid Cudi

Freudian (2017) Daniel Caesar

Tha Carter IV (2011)- Lil Wayne

Blue Slide Park (2011)- Mac Miller

Divide (2017)- Ed Sheeran

Doo-Wops and Hooligans (2010)- Bruno Mars