My Top 50 Favourite Albums of the Decade
The past ten years in music have been some of the best years we’ve had in awhile, with the downfall of pop music to the post rock sound that has stormed the underground. The popularization of hip hop in young America and popular culture, music has became more accessible then ever through streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. The past five years have been the best of my life, opening my ears to so many different sounds in music and broadening my tastes to multiple genres and listening to hundreds of albums. All of this information gave me the idea to release my top 50 Favourite Albums of the Decade, again not the best in quality but my personal favourites. Let’s jump in.
50. Iridescence – Brockhampton
2018 has been a rough year for the best boy band since One Direction, losing one of their strongest members Ameer Vann in May 2018 over sexual misconduct allegations which forced them to remove Ameer from the group. This postponed the release of their fourth studio album, originally titled “Puppy” till after summer rather then a June release date. After a four month wait, we received Iridescence, the first album in a trilogy of thermal covers giving the band a whole new experimental rebrand. Merlyn steals the show on this album giving some of his wittiest bars and most incredible vocal performances to date. Kevin gives a nice ballad on his openly gay relationship status and there is a three piece Interlude sampling “Videotape” from Radiohead in which an ominous violin instrumental accompanies it. One of the stronger releases from this past year, Brockhampton slips into our list at number 50.
49. Colouring Book – Chance the Rapper
On the third mixtape from Chicago MC, Chance the Rapper he executes a beautifully written tale of drug use, new parental experiences as well as falling in love while maintaining his anti-label status in the process. With colourful instrumentals and outstanding lyrics he flows over this album vocally well filling it to the absolute brim with gospel samples as well as a solid track list full of A status guest features showing how successful you can get without a label. “Juke Jam” with Justin Beiber is a total sleeper hit from this album with a mellow vibe and a gloomy but up beat instrumental reminiscing about a past relationship from what seems like Earl adolescence. Chance executes his Grammy winning mixtape perfectly and shows that he is here to stay as one of the best rappers out of Chicago.
48. Unorthodox Jukebox – Bruno Mars
On the sophomore release from vocalist Bruno Mars he delivers with my favourite project of his on this thirty minute ten track album. Bruno gets heavy into his feelings on this project and displays how enhanced his music can get with production, bringing in beautiful instrumentals in which he tells tales about. “If I Knew” is the closer track to this album and is by far the most slept on Bruno Mars song, telling a story about falling in love with a girl who he can’t have. Talking about how he wishes he was young again so maybe he could have a better chance with her and it’s my personal favourite song on the album. It takes me back to my childhood listening to songs like Treasure or When I Was Your Man, hurting my head thinking that these songs were released six years ago. This is by far my favourite Bruno Mars project and an album I will listen to for years carrying a timeless vibe.
47. Dirty Sprite 2 – Future
Three years ago I walked into a Walmart with my dad. I had just started getting into rap music and was curious about what Albums I could find at our local grocery store. Me being the fourteen year old I was, I was pretty heavy into the Chief Keef and the Young Thug as many of us were, but the one album that hit my eye more then any other was “Dirty Sprite 2” by Future. I remember buying this album and being excited because I’d never listened to Future before and when I pressed play for the first time I was hooked. In 2015 this was by far my most listened to album, I listened to this album every day on my laptop and could hit repeat constantly without getting tired of it. The instrumentals are sparkly and watery, the auto tune is executed better then most modern examples of it and there are some pretty funny bars in this album. This is by far the most consistent project from Future Hendrix and is a modern day trap classic which sits at the top of my trap album list.
46. Swimming – Mac Miller
The last album released before his untimely death on September 7th 2018, Swimming was a representation of the personal demons that Mac Miller was battling in the final weeks before his death. Releasing 34 days before his death, Swimming told a tale of self love and moving forward through the darkest of times, detailing the fallout between him and his ex girlfriend Ariana Grande. He also experienced a DUI just two months before the release of this album, literally detailing his downfall throughout the course of this album. There’s so many subtle hints at his death in this album that give me chills, the album literally sounded different before his death to me sounding like a typical jazz rap album. But then after his passing it grew on me more and it stuck out to me, this being one of the strongest albums in his discography by a long shot as it gave you the most clear visual of who the person Malcolm McCormick was and had become over the time of becoming famous.
45. Big Fish Theory – Vince Staples
In the summer of 2017 times were much more simple then they are today. Vince Staples knew that this would be the case and created an album full of summer jams that would be constant earworms to this day. Staying true to himself in this album, Vince Staples goes down a bit more of a dancehall vibe when creating Big Fish Theory giving us anthems such as “Big Fish” and “745” both of which have absolutely monstrous instrumentals and create the waviest vibes by having the lofi bars coming out of Vince like a machine gun. This album is so unpredictable and is highly experimental for a well known West Coast emcee who generally stuck to the route of post-gangster rap by creating one of the most entertaining and strongest pieces of art released in 2017. Also the run time of this album is perfect sitting just over half an hour giving just enough time for a well enjoyed listening experience to what is a truly fantastic album.
44. T R A P S O U L – Bryson Tiller
This album is an R&B masterpiece running at just under an hour and not having a single skippable track, Trapsoul is an A standard piece of music having a packed track list with no features, with production from some of the most legendary producers in the game such as Timbaland and Boi 1da, this album is perfect for every time of the year and day. Trapsoul is the debut studio album from Kentucky native Bryson Tiller, a truly surprising first project being a damn near perfect album which has an incredible high replay value. I’ve been listening to this album at a least once a week for the last three years and would probably be higher on my list if I didn’t get so sick of listening to it. Point is, is that this project is really well executed and a fantastic R&B project that really set the tone for what the new wave of trap R&B flavour would sound like making this one of personal favourite albums of all time.
43. Blank Face LP – Schoolboy Q
Blank Face is the follow up record to the Oxymoron album released in 2012 from the TDE representative. This record is what progress looks like, Schoolboy Q proves himself to be one of the best rappers of the new school on this record giving us some solid trap bangers as well as some lyrically conscious songs. Also the Black Hippy remix of “That Part” goes super hard and I wish it was the original version of the song as I feel like it would have brought more of a west coast vibe to the album. The production on this album is superb with Q getting into some of his most personal lyrics to date talking about overcoming his addictions to OxyContin and prescription pills which he said had affected how he was raising his daughter. Wealth, drugs and guns are the three most rapped about topics in this album and it’s actually awesome and delivered in the most badass way possible from one of the strongest rappers from the Top Dawg Entertainment label.
42. Die Lit – Playboi Carti
Die Lit is the sophomore release from Atlanta Rapper Playboi Carti, who delivers one of the most experimental trap albums of all time. With an absolute monstrous guest list with features ranging from Young Nudy to Nicki Minaj all the way over to Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott. Die Lit is a trap masterpiece having psychedelic tracks such as “Fell in Love” with a lofi feature from Bryson Tiller and a minimalist vibe on “Love Hurts” with Travis Scott where the best is barely noticeable. Playboi Carti has an ear for production and knows it too, this album being packed with some of the most interesting instrumentals that have ever been released in trap music. This is an unlikely pick for one of my favourite albums but the replay value and creativity that come with this project is mind bending and makes for one of the best trap albums of the decade.
41. Section80 – Kendrick Lamar
Section 80 is the debut studio album from Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. This record is told from the perspective of a young Kendrick Lamar and not the present day Kendrick Lamar who is considered to be the greatest alive. However, across this record you can see the potential in Kendrick. His voice and lyrical content are hungry for wanting to be on top of the game, you can tell he wants to be known as the best and he tries his absolute hardest of this record to make sure that you know that he is here to stay. Kendrick also released one of his most interesting tracks to date on this project “Keisha’s Song” depicting the story of two women who hated men so much that they ended up sleeping together and then denying their actions being too afraid to openly express themselves as lesbians. It really is a high point in Kendrick’s career, showing how strong his storytelling is and has been for almost the last ten years. “HiiiPower” is the closing track to the album and is a top 5 Kendrick Lamar song for me being produced by J Cole featuring a stuttering electronic instrumental which Kendrick hungrily rides.
40. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae is a name that I hadn’t heard in a long time until I recently discovered her at the end of 2018. Listening to her music made me realize that I had remembered her from her feature on the 2012 hit song “We Are Young”, by Nate Ruess a song depicting an abusive relationship that somehow became the biggest pop song in the world at one point. Dirty Computer is one of the strongest R&B albums of the decade providing a really cool concept and some insanely interesting vocal performances that make this album so addicting. Dirty Computer is an album that doesn’t know what it is, but it knows that and it provides a spacey vibe that fits in for any occasion giving some of the most slept on songs and anthems of the year created by an incredibly underrated R&B singer who definitely deserves to receive more attention for the effort that goes into her craft.
39. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside – Earl Sweatshirt
Earl Sweatshirt is one of my favourite rappers of the new school, at least in my top 3 behind Joey and Kendrick, this album is one of my personal favourites of the past five years providing a very interesting insight on life. At a bleak thirty minutes and ten tracks this album is very self aware of what it is. The depressing atmosphere of this album and the dreary vocals from Earl make this a hard to listen to album that you cannot stop hearing. The instrumentals are so fresh and unique and jazz inspired it makes you feel like Earl is rapping over songs out of a jukebox at an old folks home. I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside is the most claustrophobic listening experience I’ve ever had and is as dark as it is sincere meaning every single word that is spoken within. Earl Sweatshirt solidified himself as one of the greatest rappers of today on this album, making it just under the top 40 of my list.
38. The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience was released during such a pivotal time in my life. I’d just moved across the country and my parents had just separated. I was starting at a new school with no friends. But this album constantly was on the radio and acted almost as a soundtrack for my entire year in 2013. Justin Timberlake collaborates with longtime producer Timbaland (my personal favourite producer of all time) and released unforgettable tracks such as “Suit and Tie” and “Not a Bad Thing” which are still just as good as the first time I heard them. But my favourite track on this whole record is “Mirrors” an eight minute epic single depicting a long time relationship that tells an absolutely incredible story and is still my favourite Justin Timberlake song ever. This album is absolutely incredible and one of the best pop records of all time incorporating R&B and new-soul themes.
37. Yeezus – Kanye West
Kanye West released this disaster of an album nearly six years ago and it still sounds just as fresh and unique as it did back then. This album has such a highly held presence of power and capability that makes for an incredible listening experience. Kanye West is at his most experimental on this album and dives lyrically and conceptually deep into this album. The story of Yeezus depicts a cocky arrogant asshole who transitions from one of a douchebag into a grown man who has his eyes set on a relationship meaning the album can be broken down into three parts. “New Slaves” is a top 5 Kanye song for me having one of the best best switches of all time on it as well as a very low key Frank Ocean feature. “Bound 2” was the song that got me into hip hop as I know it, sampling a song from the nineteen seventies. Yeezus is timeless and going to go down as one of the greatest of the twenty first century.
36. Government Plates – Death Grips
Government Plates is a highly experimental hip hop rock fusion project led by the Death Grips foreman MC Ride. The production on this album is absolutely mind bending and uses some of the most weird and abstract uses of instrumentation I’ve ever heard in music. Using unorthodox song structure as well as no features, this album is absolutely dark and blacked out to the core with some of the most politically incorrect lyrics I’ve ever listened to stating several unpopular opinions in today’s society and an absolutely absurd amount of mind altering topics which aren’t supposed to be talked about in music. This album is incredible and is a really fun listen however it definitely isn’t for everybody and could offend most people just from the production without even understanding the lyrics. Nonetheless an interesting concept that is executed in a beyond strange way.
35. Bloom – Beach House
One of the most interesting alternative records released within the decade, Beach House knows what to say and do on their record “Bloom”. Providing some very serious lyrics over some of their most psychedelic instrumentation to date putting you into an almost trance like state for the fifty minute run time of this album. The alternative and unique sound that Beach House brings is so different on every single one of their records and in my opinion Bloom is their masterpiece. Bloom is an experiment gone horribly wrong that somehow managed to work, literally seeming like a pop rock record while keeping an original sound that somehow maintains my interest for the very short ten track run time of this album. Nonetheless an intoxicating album at its finest and definitely an album I’ll be listening to for years to come.
34. Jeffrey – Young Thug
A wise man once said that mimicry was the strongest form of flattery. Young Thug proves this statement to be true on his 2016 album Jeffrey, sitting at a very short 39 minute run time with only nine tracks he tries to copy his inspirations on this album and nails it bang on. The opening track “Wyclef Jean” is such a relaxing song where Young Thug whips out a one of a kind flow over a very mellow and chill instrumental, while tracks like “Swizz Beats” and “Harambe” show themselves to be high points where Young Thug dives into heavy experimental vibes with how far he can go with using his voice as an instrument. Young Thug truly is one of the greatest trap artists of all time and lands at a very high position on my list for being one of the best at what he does.
33. XXX – Danny Brown
Everything said about this album can be said about another Danny Brown album on my list “Atrocity Exhibition”, only this album feels like it isn’t as well prepared as it’s followed. XXX is a dark tale of insanity coming from the chaotic mind of Danny Brown where he dives into the themes of addiction and substance abuse which follow him around in his own life while still talking about the high points of his drug use. This album is so chaotic and absolutely bonkers and blows my mind every time I listen to it, having several different flows and clever punch lines that go over my head to this day. Danny Brown is that of a complex rapper who has studied music theory thoroughly and tells his dark autobiography of madness throughout his debut studio project. XXX is symbolic for the substance abuse that follows Danny Brown constantly and cannot escape his mindset, he has admitted to being an addict several times and this album is basically a therapy session in which Danny gets to talk to us as an audience of what bothers him in his life.
32. Tetsuo and Youth – Lupe Fiasco
On the 2015 release from MC Lupe Fiasco, he dives into his most consistent and lyrical album to date. Some say that this album is the equivalent to “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar in terms of lyricism and I must say that is indeed close in terms of overall quality. The replay value for this album is the only thing that kind of turns me off this project however god damn this album is really incredible. “Mural” is a nine minute track having some of the hardest hitting rhyme schemes in hip hop history delivering some of the coldest flows over an epic instrumental and it feels as if it belongs in a museum. This whole album is super underrated and one of the most important pieces of music in hip hop history being one of the most lyrical pieces of art that I’ve ever listened to.
31. 4 Your Eyez Only – J Cole
J Cole dives into his most personal record to date detailing the story of two of his friends from his youth who were both locked away by the justice system and were taken out of the world at a young age, one of them leaving a daughter who got to hear the story of her dads passing through this 40 minute long soundtrack. 4 Your Eyez Only is a beautiful album full of songs that are made solely for the daughter of his friend James, some standout tracks being “Immortal” which is a brief autobiography of how her father acted when he was on the streets. Another standout being the title track which ties all of the songs together into an eight minute letter to the daughter of James telling her why her fathers story was so important. About how corrupt the American justice system was, and how intolerable the streets were. It’s really an excellent story that needed to be heard and it lands incredibly high on my list because it also has the highest replay value out of any J Cole album in my personal opinion.
30. Freudian – Daniel Caesar
Daniel Caesar hits kind of home for me personally mainly because I saw him in concert not even five months ago, but just because of how sincere and pure his music is. There is a total beauty to his music that paints such vivid memories and stories that it’s impossible not to enjoy. Daniel Caesar is an incredible vocalist and was born in the same hometown as I was and as a fellow Canadian I can tell you that he represents our country very well on this album. Delivering several gospel inspired songs while performing absolutely phenomenal vocal progressions, he makes sure that he delivers his absolute best across this record recording several standout singles that make for one of the most interesting albums of 2017 and one of the best R&B albums of the decade.
29. DAMN. – Kendrick Lamar
DAMN. is the 2017 release from Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar and the latest album that he’s put out. Kendrick Lamar proves himself to be able to be a conscious rapper who is able to switch over to the mainstream media without even trying. Kendrick Lamar really is one of the smartest rappers ever being able to transition from these two extremely different sub genres of rap and be able to blend them to both audiences as if it were a regular thing. Kendrick Lamar has talent and proves it on tracks such as “Fear” which is a seven minute track on every single thing that Kendrick has ever been afraid of and the story on “Duckworth” which derails how his record label boss had almost killed his dad nearly twenty years prior. Truly an overhated album that still lands fairly high on my album list.
28. The Never Story – JID
“Never been shit, never had shit, never knew shit, never out never do shit damn”, the title track of this album is an incredible two sided song that dives into the themes of wealth and luxury while maintaining a steady fast paced flow that almost feels as if you’re encountering a heart attack. Personally I don’t see why people compare JID to Kendrick Lamar, I do see the very high talent in JID a lot though and have for a very long time specifically before people hopped on the 2018 bandwagon after his appearance in the 2018 XXL Freshman list in which by the way he was the standout rapper in the group. This project is a drowsy and well written piece of work that tells the story that never happened and the story that could’ve been what JID could’ve been but he wasn’t. He went out to be himself and so he did across this short album which still has my replay value to this day and holds up as one of the best breakout projects of the decade still holding up two years after its release.
27. Isolation – Kali Uchis
On her debut studio album the R&B singer proves herself to be one of the most unique and interesting voices in her genre. Collaborating frequently with rappers and other R&B singers, Kali Uchis has slowly become one of the biggest R&B artists of our decade despite only releasing one full length studio project. Kali gained traction from her 2017 feature on “See You Again” by Tyler he Creator and later on the song “Get You” by Daniel Caesar both of which have become gold singles. Kali Uchis performs exceptionally well on this project in a rich and warmly produced album full of excellent vocal performances and having a hit song with “After the Storm” which features frequent collaborator Tyler the Creator making it my personal favourite R&B album of 2018 and definitely a standout project on this album.
26. Watch The Throne – Jay Z and Kanye West
Being a Stan if Jay Z and Kanye West for the better part of five years made me appreciate this album ten times more then the average casual listener. Watch the Throne is the second greatest collaboration album of all time, Only being behind one more Kanye West collaborative project which will also make an appearance on this list. Now this album is coming off of Kanye’s best Project to date, MBDTF and Jay Z’s worst “The Blueprint 3”, and even though Kanye totally carries Jays ass across this record when it comes to the rich soulful production as well as memorable lines they still make themselves gel incredibly well with high chemistry. Favourite Tracks off this album include “Made in America”, “No Church in the Wild”, and “Otis” all of which have incredible samples and memorable lines from both Hov and Ye making this one of my favourite projects of the decade and my second favourite collab album of all time sitting behind one more.
25. Pure Heroine – Lorde
Released when she was under the age of 18, the New Zealand singer and songwriter knows how to make mainstream pop music with an experimental twist. There’s something about “Pure Heroine” that’s so sincere and honest that you cannot find in most pop music and turns me off of music like Ed Sheehan. This music is pure and real and makes you feel something and see the art for what it is and not what you want it to be. Lorde has her most incredible vocal performances ever on this album and it makes for one of the most interesting records of the decade for sure being able to execute pop music on such a high level. Lorde is excellent and a great musician and I’m insanely excited to see what kind of musical direction she goes into next as she progressively is getting more experimental throughout her career. My favourite track on the album is “Team” being a very claustrophobic and realistic track on loyalty and sincerity in a relationship.
24. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – Drake
On the 2015 mixtape/album from Canadian rapper Drake, he shakes up the game and creates the “Drake Era” completely taking the world by storm with his non promoted album IYRITYL selling more then five hundred thousand copies in its first week alone doing unheard of numbers in the streaming era. This album is an absolute gem and represents what the city of Toronto stands for. “Legend” is one of my favourite Drake intros of all time and is followed by a sleuth of records detailing what summer time in Toronto feels like and then what winter time in Toronto feels like. This album contains a bunch of my favourite Drake songs like “Preach” and “Know Yourself” and most importantly the song that brought Travis Scott exposure which was “Company” which is a 5 minute epic again on what a regular summer night in Toronto feels like. Whenever I’m in an airport or about to catch a flight somewhere, this is my album solely for the reason that it makes me feel like I’m at home no matter where I go and that’s what makes it my favourite Drake record by an absolute landslide.
23. Rodeo – Travis Scott
Calling Rodeo a trap classic is an understatement, this is literally the crown jewel of what trap music should sound like and is the golden standard of what trap music sounded like after 2015. Travis Scott pioneered a unique sound that was absolutely incredible and acted almost as a ring leader much like his contemporary Kanye West by bringing in an enormous amount of features on his guest list creating an absolute trap masterpiece. Rodeo has some phenomenal tracks on it that I still play to this day, this album having an unreal amount of replay value still being fresh and original nearly four years after its initial release. Another five years and this album will be solidified as a classic album without any questions, the production on this album is so dark and ominous and Travis seemingly melts into the background of every song. “Pray 4 Love” is my favourite song on the album, every one Travis and Abel work together they create some absolute heat and this being their best collaboration by far means that it makes for an incredible listening experience. This album has kept me entertained for a very long time and I’m sure will keep me entertained very far into the future this album blows my mind every time I listen to it and is a personal classic.
22. Summertime 06 – Vince Staples
Summertime 06 is the debut studio album from Long Beach rapper and Odd Future affiliate Vince Staples. This album acts as an autobiography of Vince’s youth as it’s split into two discs but still remains under an hour long but spanning at a total of twenty tracks containing ten on each disc. This whole album is really dark and ominous and has a lot of crazy moments on it having a very low amount of features on it but it still contains a lot of content of what Long Beach feels like in your youth and what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a bullet as well as being the one who’s pointing the gun. The raw feeling of this album is one thing that intrigued me every time I listen to it, the sharp cuts on this album make for a vivid listening experience almost as if I’m watching a movie which really taps into the potential in which Vince Staples can reach when he wants to. I love this album a lot and really hope that Vince is able to stay this consistent with his music through the rest of his career.
21. Lonerism – Tame Impala
The alternative sound of Tame Impala is one of a kind and shows on this album. The incredibly dense and colourful production on this album is what makes Tame Impala so accessible and interesting, the vocal performances are something I could literally care less for. But the production on this cut is absolutely mind blowing and in my opinion the best produced album of the decade having some of the catchiest guitar riffs as well as some of the most melodic vocal patterns layered with the instrumentation which show the pure complexity of Tame Impalas music. This album is an absolutely beautiful piece of art from top to bottom making for an extreme cohesive listen providing a real artistic statement through audio enhancements. Tame Impala delivers Harder them ever on this album and is only topped by one other album in their discography.
20. Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
On the debut studio album from California T&B singer Frank Ocean he dives into a unique reality that brings back a nostalgic vibe from that of the nineteen seventies and sixties grabbing inspirations from that of the Beatles and David Bowie. Frank Ocean delivers some of the most impressive vocal highlights of his career in this eighteen track album. The albums centrepiece, “Pyramids” is a ten minute epic depicting a love interest that spans for more than 3000 years from the times of ancient Egypt to a lonely night in a New York City strip club. The purity of this album is so blank and sincere depicting some highlight songs that are still spine chilling to this day such as “Thinking Bout You” and “Forrest Gump” which drop subtle hints at Franks sexuality early on in his career. Channel Orange is a fantastic R&B project and one that brings a breath of fresh air to an ever so cluttered genre setting Frank Ocean much more ahead of his peers and putting himself into a class of his own.
19. 2014 Forest Hills Drive – J Cole
J Cole delivers his most consistent project to date and some of his most memorable projects across this fourteen track record depicting his teenage years at the 2014 Forest Hills Drive address that he stayed at with his mother. His mother dated around when Jermaine was younger and turned to alcoholic and nicotine when she couldn’t cope with her problems anymore. This leaving Jermaine to be free to do whatever he pleaded, although he chose a smarter route. He did well in school, he just hung out with the wrong group of people. Telling tales about having conversations with drug dealers in his area to a song about his first time, J Cole gets more personal on this record then he does in any other. It also spawned his biggest single to date “No Role Modelz” which was an anthem detailing his teenage years and how he used to think fame was so much different then how it actually was. Nonetheless a future classic rap record and one of my personal favourites of the past ten years with songs that are still heavy in my rotation to this day.
18. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West
Kanye West has had quite the interesting decade, from releasing one of the most legendary albums of all time to his weird experimental phase and the current stage of having a very public beef with Canadian rapper Drake. To say Kanye is a man of few words would be a lie, but his music speaks for itself and leaves a huge culture shock every single time Yeezy season approaches. The Life of Pablo took the world by storm only being released through Tidal, selling 653,000 copies in its first week only through streaming services and zero percent of those coming from pure sales. The Life of Pablo is an abstract piece of art depicting the life of the three Pablo’s, “Escobar”, “Picasso” and the common Pablo in America, displaying a wide arrange of art and power in one monstrous project. “Ultralight Beam” is my favourite Kanye West Intro to date and has Chances best guest feature with a lofi beat with gospel samples and chord progressions. This album is a modern masterpiece and set the standard for an excellent year of music in 2016.
17. Awaken My Love! – Childish Gambino
I’ve never really been a big fan of Donald Glover or the things he’s been associate with. I thought “Because the Internet” was a pretty mediocre show and I never really cared for his acting career. However “Awaken My Love” is a fantastic album depicting the ups and downs of fame in Hollywood being a dual talented celebrity taking ventures in both acting as well as music. The soul inspired instrumentals across this project a long with the 1970s sound wave type production choices which are insanely bold statements for a rap record released in 2016. This album closed off a great year of music in a fascinating way in the genre of rap. Donald Glover makes a phenomenal and monstrous artistic statement on the song “Redbone” a funk inspired ballad depicting the positive sides of life. Overall a fantastic record and potentially one of the best records of 2016.
16. Wildheart – Miguel
On his 2014 release, Miguel dives into his most ambitious and experimental release to date. Incorporating sounds of rock into a jazz inspired R&B record bringing out all the stops with top tier production and excellent song writing making this his best Project by miles ahead of his others. Miguel performs exceptionally well on tracks that he is on by himself giving himself the spotlight with him just riding an instrumental for three to four minutes. The rock sounds incorporated into this album are so raw and pure and well put together making for an interesting fifty minute album of solid energy that is hard to find in modern R&B. Standout songs like “Coffee” display the impressive vocal range of the R&B singer and how well his songwriting has came since ventures like “Kaleidoscope Dream” making it a top five R&B album of the decade for me.
15. Daytona – Pusha T
The first album released from the GOOD Summer launch fronted by Kanye West, Daytona is a seven track album sitting at just twenty five minutes, becoming a top 3 rap album of the year for me in this past year. On this album, Pusha T dives into the criminal underworld as well as wealth and power in his lyrics being very braggadocios towards the listener. Pusha T has an absolutely phenomenal flow and a cold delivery on every song over some buttery Kanye West production which is soul chopped like his original work. Pusha T hits heavy with every song on this record making it a damn near perfect project with some of my favourite tracks being “Come Back Baby” as well as the intro “If You Know You Know” making it the president of Good Musics best record of the past ten years.
14. Trilogy – The Weeknd
The two and a half hour behemoth that contains three mixtapes from Toronto artist Abel Tesyafe, Trilogy is the beginning of modern trap R&B as we know it. The majority of this record was recorded in 2010–2011 in the city of Toronto, being released over the course of 2011 and then being repacked as Trilogy very early in the 2012 first quarter. The story told over Trilogy is absolutely incredible giving you a Birds eye view of what night life in Toronto feels like. “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” is a seven minute track that is double sided describing the highs and lows of substance abuse while never directly referencing drugs. “Thursday” is an atmospheric spacey song full of strange vocal passages that glide mellowly across a lofi instrumental giving The Weeknd a real spotlight. “Same Old Song” is a moody six minute track describing how girls only want you when either your at your best and don’t need her or when your at the lowest and don’t want her. Trilogy is an R&B masterpiece and one of my personal favourite albums of all time and is one of the most replay-able albums on this entire list and is definitely an album that you should check out.
13. Veteran – JPEGMafia
Holy hell this is a sleeper for a top tier album list. Veteran by Baltimore artist JPEGMafia is an experimental hip hop album released in the first quarter of last year that is packed to the absolute brim with experimental vibes and loaded with content. Veteran is a claustrophobic listening experience that has spawned some of the most unique hip hop sounds of the decade such as “Real ****” as well as “Baby I’m Bleeding” which both incorporate distorted vocal samples that are twisted to beyond recognition. This album has such a raw and underground sound that makes you appreciate it even more when you find out that JPEGMafia produced every single one of these tracks by himself. This album is a perfect experimental hip hop album and in my opinion has potential for the sub genre to actually go somewhat mainstream. This album also contains one of the most chilling bars I’ve ever heard, “White boy better put his hands up” is screamed derivatively in the middle of a verse on the criminal justice system in America landing this album as one of the highest rated albums from me last year as well as the decade.
12. Flower Boy – Tyler, The Creator
My favourite album from 2017, Flower Boy by Tyler the Creator is one of the Crown Jewels of rap music within the past ten years. With spacey synths and splashing chords all across this pop-rap record show the full transition of how Tyler went from an edgy seventeen year old who made jokes about killing others and devil worshipping all the way to the fun personality that he is known for today rapping about his uncovered sexuality which is still rumoured about to this day, his previous life experiences and just bragging for getting to be on the top because he really deserves it and this serves as a victory lap for Tyler getting to close out the wonderful decade that he’s had. Tyler the Creator shows his soft side on his album singing on some tracks, some of these being my favourites such as “911 / Mr. Lonely” as well as “Boredom” and then the trap bangers on this project like “Who Dat Boy” with ASAP Rocky. Nonetheless one of my favourite records of the decade and an instant classic.
11. Bottomless Pit – Death Grips
I remember listening to this album for the first time a couple months ago. Casually putting in my headphones, getting ready for bed and putting on some music to help fall asleep too. But nope I got greeted by a hard electronic bass line with MC Ride shouting in a highly distorted voice about murder and hate crime in America and an ominous voice repeating the same sentence. This track being “Giving Good People Bad Ideas”, which introduces a very interesting concept very early into the album. The production on this album is slick and dark and spacey full strange 808 patterns and lots of electronic synths that cut off Rides vocals in some verses but maintain themselves to be placed for a purpose. This record is actually phenomenal and this is actually what got me into the realm of Death Grips as well as underground experimental music. One of the hardest records in all of experimental hip hop and definitely an underground classic already being a landmark for the incorporation of electronic bass leads in hip hop.
10. Self-Titled – Kids See Ghosts
Kanye West and Kid Cudi have had a bumpy past together. With the ten year anniversary of 808s and Heartbreak just recently passing, the twos relationship has fallen apart and rekindled multiple times since the original release which brought Cudi to the spotlight. The two of these artists are very open with their struggles with addiction and mental health and use this album as a platform to state what they believe in and how they felt in the moment of creating this record. “Reborn” is my favourite song of 2018 with Cudi humming and singing an emotionally pushed chorus and Kanye coming in with one of his best verses in years. “Fire” feels almost as if it belongs on a pirate ship in the eighteen hundreds with a tambourine sample which is literally unheard of in hip hop. “4th Dimension” is a very interesting song that proclaims God status from both Kanye and Kid Cudi, both booming and hollering over the glittering production insanely well. Very rock inspired and very psychedelic sitting at a very short seven tracks and twenty three minutes Kids See Ghosts lands at my number ten spot of my favourite albums of the decade.
9. Currents – Tame Impala
Tame Impala is a name that is hard to put into one genre of music because it’s quite hard to exactly explain what kind of music they are. When I first heard “Let It Happen” I thought it was a song from the nineteen seventies or eighties with its incredible lead guitars taking control of the riffs of the song until I heard the splashing synthesizers and echoey effects done on the vocals and I remember sitting at my desk shocked at how well these unlikely partnerships sounded. It was amazing and felt like I was listening to music for the first time being taken down interesting psychedelic passages such as “Nangs” which were shorter songs that gave off a certain vibe or a feeling and almost feel as if you are transmitting the energy from the song into yourself. The production on this album is very Post-disco sounding or funk inspired and driven sounding similar to the 2016 release of “Awaken my Love”. Forever a creative project and Currents lands on the upper end of my favourite albums.
8. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
The most recent release from my favourite alternative rock band ever and the only album they’ve released (that I’ll acknowledge) this decade, A Moon Shaped Pool is one of the most gorgeous bodies of work I’ve ever had the honour to listen to. Thom Yorke is at his strongest vocally on this album and sounds emotionally damaged or unstable as he blissfully acknowledges his mishaps and mistakes over some of the most wonderful production the band has put out to date. “Burn the Witch” the most energetic song on the album still has a dark and moody vibe to it, getting incredibly in depth to the thoughts of self actualization and experiences of epiphany making it seem as if you’re in the shoes of the frontman. “True Love Awaits” is probably my favourite Radiohead song of all time, a six minute ballad depicting a love interest never directly referenced but the reminiscing is just absolutely beautiful and astonishingly well done making it my favourite alternative record of the decade and landing fairly high in the bands discography rankings.
7. The Money Store – Death Grips
If crystal meth, cocaine and heroine were an album they would be The Money Store by Death Grips. Released in 2012 following the release of their critically acclaimed mixtape “Exmilitary” which dove into uncharted territory of hip hop. The Money Store proceeded to be just an expansion on that mixtape using the most dark and distorted production they could possibly produce while incorporating as much blank noise into their music as possible to the point where it’s hard not to notice. MC Ride absolutely tears these instrumentals apart and somehow finds a way to spit bars over them. Songs like “I’ve Seen Footage” are so powerful because of how strong the artistic statement behind the song gives is, it’s an incredible song layered multiple times over to create an atmospheric world in which the listener can reside. This album is weird and uncomfortable and I love it as it pioneered a unique sound in hip hop making it a timeless project that still sounds as if it’s doing something new if you listened to it today.
6. Good Kid Maad City – Kendrick Lamar
The third Kendrick Lamar to make my list and showing up as the sophomore studio album from the Compton rapper is an epic album full of autobiographical songs and skits that are so vivid it almost feels as if you’re right beside Kendrick as all of this is happening around him. Kendrick Lamar was a straight A student in high school who lived in the toughest city in America, gang Life was on every corner and he got involved as an affiliate at a young age and brings a mature view on gang related activities in his county. Kendrick Lamar spits relentlessly over every single song on this album in multiple flows and shaky voices over in my opinion his weakest produced album but still managing to keep you entertained for the entire run time of this album. This album would be higher if the song “Real” with Anna Wise wasn’t included on the album as I feel like it is filler at its core. Songs like “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” and “The Art of Peer Pressure” are two examples of why Kendrick Lamar can be considered the be the greatest storyteller in all of hip hop. This album is absolutely incredible and makes you feel like you’re watching a movie creating a picture that no other album has done for me making it land at number six on my list.
5. Some Rap Songs – Earl Sweatshirt
Some Rap Songs is the Madvillainy of our decade. The weird distorted jazz samples with Earls sleepy delivery and depressing lyrics make for a very intricate listening experience. Sitting at a very brief 25 minutes and 15 tracks, the sounds on his album pop up as quick as they go away creating a high shock value when listening to the very unorthodox sampling use that is commonly recurred throughout this album. Some Rap Songs is my most recent “10” and is for a good reason, Earl is lyrically overpowered by the loud disgruntled beats that he is rapping over. Almost as if he feels that the world is drowning out his voice and he feels like he has a lot to say but cannot manage to because the world isn’t allowing him to. Earl gets lyrically deep discussing his fathers death as well as citing his Odd Future days being one of the youngest members of the collective. The production is also mainly handled by Earl, drawing parallels to that of the underground sound MF Doom used in the early 2000s. This is a phenomenal listen and an incredible cohesive experience and is highly recommended to anyone into an alternative sound of current underground rap.
4. Blonde / Endless – Frank Ocean
I’ve given Endless a lot of praise on my Instagram account and I have a very in depth review on there for my thoughts on Endless as a whole on my page, but for this I’m going to go more in depth into Blonde. I feel as if these projects are equal and deserve to share the number four spot together as they are kind of projects that go hand in hand with one another and serve as a B-side to the other. Blonde is the 2016 R&B masterpiece from my favourite R&B singer ever Frank Ocean. “Nikes” is a beautiful intro over a very low key beat with sparkling cymbal patterns, Frank uses a voice altering reverb effect on his voice for the first half of the song before transitioning into his normal voice. A truly wonderful introduction back to his music after a four year hiatus of releasing any music. “Solo” and “Self Control” are love songs that show a human side to Frank, singing about a very recent past of a love interest gone wrong as well as hitting an all time low with drug use and realization of addiction. This album is beautifully written and has so many uncredited features that contributed to production and songwriting to create one of the most perfect albums of all time. This album is the closest thing to what heaven sounds like, beautifully produced with every instrumental taking you into a trance like state making you feel something different every time you come out of it. Blonde by Frank Ocean is a two part album, switching gears in the middle of Nights (hence the misspelling of Blonde on the cover) the front side of the album containing the feminine side of Franks music and the ending side containing his masculine side. This album is perfect and one of my favourite albums of all time still holding tons of replay value after listening to it close to a hundred times since its initial release.
3. Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown
The 2016 release from Danny Brown is one of the most ambitious records of all time diving into ideas and thoughts that no mentally sane person could ever think of. Atrocity Exhibition is a chaotic world in which Danny is trapped in his own head space trying to figure out his own issues while letting others know how he is struggling. The amount of tracks on this record talking about substance abuse and addiction is perfect and very highly executed having some of these songs feel as if you’re experiencing the high Danny was going through while recording the song. “Ain’t it Funny” is one of the most psychotic tracks I think I’ve ever listened to making jokes about his own addiction over a very obnoxiously loud disco beat, “Lost” is one of the best uses of sampling I’ve ever heard of in rap music. Danny raps effortlessly over these unorthodox instrumentals as if it were no big deal. This album is an absolutely terrifying experience and one of the most real and scary things I’ve ever listened to putting it in my top 3 albums of the decade.
2. To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar
Every couple months I need to revisit this album and remember just why I praise it so often. It’s fairly easy to forget this project as Kendrick has come close to surpassing it multiple times. And then I listen to it and I remember how monstrous and overwhelming this project is. Kendrick Lamar has a Godlike presence on this record speaking in the way of a prophet. Critiquing the justice system on songs like “Hood Politics” and “Alright” both in which have very strange and funk inspired instrumentals which hit hard as Kendrick destroys them with every passionate bone in his body. “The Blacker the Berry” is one of my favourite Kendrick Lamar songs of all time, the aggression and vocal tone he has in the song directed towards an entire race of people is absolutely so sickening that it’s brilliant. Songs like “I” and “U” are mirrored images of each other picturing Kendrick in his lowest state of being indirectly referencing his encounter with alcohol addiction as well as his most positive bringing people together and sharing commonalities between each other. This album is so unique and one of a kind it blows my mind how real and wisely written the whole concept of the album was. Not offending anyone except for right wing Americans and bringing together the whole music community to praise an absolute gem of music that will live for an eternity.
1. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
At the top of my 50 favourite albums of the decade sits the undisputed greatest album of the decade and the greatest album of all time. Grabbing the most solid feature list ever put together in modern music, Kanye West creates an album full of greatest hits with new original songs grabbing inspiration from all four of his previous albums. This monstrous masterpiece depicting modern popular culture is an escape for Kanye West during a time in his life where he was the centre of controversy and came out on top releasing one of the most well received albums of all time. “Runaway” is a nine minute track describing how Kanye realizes he hasn’t always made the best decisions in his life but wants to be able to come to terms with himself by escaping all of his problems or “running away.” Other songs like “Devil in a New Dress” and “Blame Game” are examples of how creative Kanye was getting with his production and artistry as a whole and what he had planned for his future. This album is a creation like none other and will stand at the top of his discography and the top of this list forever and ever. This is the only one hundred percent perfect album I’ve ever listened to and is a must listen for everybody who’s into hip hop. Thank you for sticking through this whole list and listening to my opinion. Follow me on Instagram @albumreviewsbyawhitekid for more content like this!