The 2010’s was an eclectic decade of good music. As a hip-hop DJ, I’ll assert that mainstream rap took a turn for the worst, a la Post Malone and Lil’ Uzi, but the best of the best, a la Kendrick and J. Cole, still put out sterling projects. Overall, music production evolved beautifully, while some went new age, like KAYTRANADA, and others kept it more acoustic, like D’Angelo, in his classic fashion, others went back to the future like Calvin Harris and A Tribe Called Quest. Drug rap is a dying art, but Pusha T kept it pumping in vintage fashion. Beyonce was Beyonce and SZA burst onto the scene with freshness. Chris Brown opened up his broken heart and Jay-Z and Kanye made sure we kept our eyes on the throne. Anderson .Paak grooved us and Kanye took us to a fantastical world, musically and in the press, as we all know, unless deprived of the internet.
We lost two of hip-hop’s greatest artists of all time in Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller. I’m friends with one of Mac’s DJ’s, DJ Money, and I met Mac several times. It’s not hype. It’s true. Mac was a pure and kindhearted soul. May he Rest In Peace. And Nipsey is in the real nigga hall of fame. His music still gives me inspiration and motivation. He’s the only artist I can put on shuffle in Apple Music and just let play. May their music and souls vibrate from the Heavens forever. And, surely, all of these albums will vibrate to the cosmos for decades to come.
I just can’t wait until my artist Born I and I drop our mixtape. No hype. Just wait. He was actually the inspiration for this list because he posted on Facebook that he co-signed Billboard’s selection of Kanye’s MBDTF as the best album of the decade. Clearly, I disagree. But, that’s what lists are for. Here’s mine. Enjoy. I challenge you to make your own.
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
2. Calvin Harris – Funk Wav Bounces vol. 1 (2017)
3. KAYTRANADA – 99.9% (2016)
4. Anderson .Paak – Malibu (2016)
5. Pusha T – Daytona (2018)
6. SZA – Ctrl (2017)
7. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)
8. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)
9. Chris Brown – Heartbreak on a Full Moon (2017)
10. Beyonce – Beyonce (2013)
11. Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne (2011)
12. J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only (2016)
13. Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap (2018)
14. Mac Miller – Swimming (2018)
15. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)