10 Best Hip Hop Albums Of The Decade

Rap's recent history is rich, diverse, and full of great music.

kanye west
Roc-A-Fella Records

Hip hop is in a great place in 2017. It's easy to criticise what goes on in the mainstream, but the genre has never been as diverse as it is today, and while it's tough to say if we're in the midst of a second 'golden age' or not, this is an incredible time to be a rap fan.

Services like Spotify, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp have made it easier for artists to get their music to the masses than ever before. This has created a crowded marketplace, but there's something for everyone these days. From chart-toppers like Drake and Migos to Danny Brown, Death Grips, and the genre's other experimentalists, hip hop's current sonic palette is rich and diverse, with countless great albums appearing at both ends of the spectrum.

The 2010s have been incredible so far, and the sheer volume of outstanding albums released since 2010 is daunting to sift through. It's impossible to honour every big release, and notable omissions are inevitable. Regardless, the decade's finest albums stand among the best the genre has ever produced.

Only time will tell if they become era-defining classics, but these are the records that represent the best hip hop's that modern age has to offer.

10. Killer Mike - R.A.P Music

Killer Mike has spent the past few years ruling hip hop as one half of Run The Jewels, but in 2012’s R.A.P. Music, he has a solo project capable of rivalling anything in the RTJ back catalogue. It’s worth mentioning that El-P, this fellow Jewel Runner, produced the whole record, but R.A.P.’s aesthetic is one of pure, righteous, southern hip hop: the kind of music he grew up around, and embodies in everything he does.

This is Mike’s definitive solo work. Simmering with unrepentant anger, it is, like all the best hip hop albums, fuelled by Mike’s dismay at the state of the world around him. Tracks like “Reagan” and “Don’t Die” are unapologetically political, while the likes of “Big Beast” hit like a George Foreman uppercut, and don’t let up throughout.

R.A.P. Music is no one-note album, however. “Anywhere But Here” and “Untitled” cut through the aggression with quieter contemplation, though the album’s socially conscious themes remain constant throughout. It’s these changes of pace that make R.A.P. so palatable, and El-P more than fulfils his end of the bargain, crafting a varied collection of bombastic, southern-friend beats to soundtrack Mike’s rebellious energy.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for eight years and is currently WhatCulture's Wrestling Channel Manager. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.