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Hip Hop Albums of the Decade

Music, Year-End, Guest Lists | November 9, 2009

Featured Guest List by Peter Rosenberg

Since joining New York's Hot 97 a few years ago, Peter Rosenberg has become a fixture on the hip hop scene, both in New York and nationally. His voice can be heard every weekday morning on Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg, Hot 97's popular morning drive show, and every Sunday night on Real Late with Peter Rosenberg. Peter also hosts the groundbreaking Noisemakers, a live interview series at 92YTribeca in New York. Q-Tip, Raekwon and Talib Kweli are among the hip hop luminaries who Peter has hosted for the series thus far.

Rosenberg Radio

As the decade comes to a close, Peter Rosenberg counts down his Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the Decade. While his Top 13 includes a few of the decade's most critically acclaimed and best-selling hip hop albums, it also includes some underground albums that you might not have expected or even have heard of.

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Jay-Z - The Blueprint


Jay-Z - The Blueprint


Quite simply, this is the best rapper of the era's best album - kind of hard for it not to be number 1. It had hits, battle records (against Nas no less), lots of Kanye West, unlisted bonus tracks, and, we know now, guest vocals by Michael Jackson!?! What an album. From the intro to the bonus cuts, it's almost flawless. Its two follow-ups never got close to the original.

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele


Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele


Supreme Clientele may not be Ghostface's best album, but it probably is and it is often referred to as such. For me personally, it helped me survive two hour solo drives between DC and my first on air gig in Ocean City, Maryland. Good times. Imagine if I had smoked weed back then!

Jaylib - Champion Sound


Jaylib - Champion Sound


With only 13 spots some great albums are bound to get left off the list. That's why I need to mention two projects from the best producer of the 21st century. Champion Sound paired Jay Dee with Madlib and made for an album that was all over the place and simultaneously cohesive. Ruff Draft was Dilla's EP i recorded straight to tape - and you can hear it. Dirty!

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP


Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP


Say what you want about the first Eminem album, but this was the one for me. The production, rhymes, and overall concept of this album is what finally showed me that Eminem was no gimmick. "Y'all don't wanna fuck with Shady!"

Reflection Eternal - Train of Thought


Reflection Eternal - Train of Thought


Even though Reflection Eternal's "Fortified Live" single was one of the first Rawkus releases I ever heard, we didn't get an album from Talib Kweli & DJ Hi Tek until 2000. It was worth the wait. I still play "The Blast" at pretty much every party I do.

Scarface - The Fix


Scarface - The Fix


For many East Coast hip hop snobs, it took Scarface's Def Jam debut to really earn their respect. That was about a decade late for those who knew the deal with Face from the Rap-a-Lot days, but this album was still a bona fide classic featuring production from Kanye, The Neptunes, and more.

50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin'


50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin'


50 took the world by storm and had lots of Dre beats to boot. Some people consider Get Rich a top 10 all-time album. I don't, but for 2003 it was some hot shit! And 50 has yet to get back there again.

Little Brother - The Listening


Little Brother - The Listening


I remember the first time I heard about this North Carolina trio. All I heard was that they made you remember the glory days of the Native Tongues. This was basically the first album of the age of blog rap, and unlike most blog rap today which can barely be relevant for six weeks, this album has held up for six years. Plus, LB’s style and outlook is the foundation for a lot of what’s happening in rap going into the next decade.

Prodigy - H.N.I.C.


Prodigy - H.N.I.C.


You know I've still never given H.N.I.C. the time it deserves, but based on the Alchemist-produced "Keep It Thoro" alone, this album turns up at number 9.

Kanye West - College Dropout


Kanye West - College Dropout


Ah, young Kanye. This is when he was just crazy with the beats - not completely crazy all together. I must have played "Through the Wire" for about a year nonstop before the first album dropped. At the time half the world thought his name was KaYNE West. We know his name now and this classic, along with Late Registration, may be the main reason. These albums felt fresh and authentic, and they filled a space that really never had been filled before - smart soulful college rap.

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III


Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III


Everyone told me how awesome The Carter II was and I did enjoy it, but this was the first time I ever ran to the store to buy a Lil Wayne album. Say what you want about Wayne and he definitely became over-exposed in the period around the release of Tha Carter III, but this album was chock full of party hits and dope production. A rare hip hop album that matches its hype.

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2


Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2


Speaking of rare hip hop albums that match the hype. This future classic was over a decade in the making. What eventually came was a great conclusion to the 1995 classic. This one features production from the GOATs - Pete Rock, Rza, J Dilla, and many more.

Kev Brown - I Do What I Do


Kev Brown - I Do What I Do


This one slid under the radar for many people, but man, was it a keeper. Crazy production through and through, and the under-appreciated Low Budget founder had himself a classic producer-driven album.

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Comments Leave a comment


Great list.
I would find room for Stillmatic and The Black Album, but not much to complain about overall.

11:03 AM   Nov 09, 2009


For the most part a good list, but not sure how there can be any type of top list for the decade that doesn't have Stankonia on it.

12:21 PM   Nov 09, 2009

stillathreat ★★

What about Madvillainy? El-P? Pretty predictable list but I admit I don't know Kev Brown. Guess I can't complain about the mainstream picks since he's on Hot 97.

12:40 PM   Nov 09, 2009


There's no accounting for taste.

1:11 PM   Nov 09, 2009


Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens should be on there...

4:42 PM   Nov 09, 2009


word to bside, Below the Heavens is one of my fav albums of all time. I love that you got Kev Brown here, I do what I do is one of the best albums ever made. But what about Roddy Rod - Blunt park sessions and Blue Scholars - Bayani?
You also gotta add J Dilla - Jay love Japan. Lil Wayne -Carter III on top 13 in this decade? That is just wrong man. And most of ALL, why aint Common - Be there? That album is perfection.

peace from Norway

5:21 PM   Nov 09, 2009


I think this is a very good, balanced list - it's just impossible for any two people to agree. When I submit my list, I'm going to include Nas' Stillmatic, Clipse's Lord Willin', Game's The Documentary, and Pharoahe Monch's Desire.

5:35 PM   Nov 09, 2009


1. Dead Prez: Let's Get Free (2000) So should be on there!
2. Eminem is overrated.
3. I am submitting my own list.

7:00 PM   Nov 09, 2009


Ya, I dont understand how Stankonia and Madvillainy dont get on there. Or Stillmatic for that matter. Plus, i thought Late Registration was 10x better than college dropout. The Game is terrible - that guy should have stuck to being an And 1 basketball player

9:35 AM   Nov 10, 2009


i don't agree with this list. only shares two albums with my own. needs moar outkast.

11:47 PM   Nov 10, 2009


OK, first off, has anyone noticed that not a single new rapper emerged in the 2000s with the possibility of making a 10 or probably even 20 greatest MCs of all time list (the closest thing is probably Kanye or TI). That’s a bad sign—all the best rappers are in their 30s or older.

OK, here are my favorites that Rosenberg missed (* next to the top five)

*Binary Star—Masters of the Universe (greatest Detroit hip hop album of all time—Rosenburg, you love the D so much, you got to listen to this)
*Cannibal Ox-Cold Vein
*Cannibus-Rip the Jacker
*The Coup—Party Music
Dead Prez—Let’s Get Free
Eminem-The Eminem Show
The Game—The Documentary
Immortal Technique—The Third World
Jay Live—All of the Above
*Lupe Fiasco—Food and Liquor
The Perceptionists—Black Dialogue

7:00 PM   Nov 14, 2009


Haven't listened to a single album on this list.

10:24 AM   Nov 16, 2009


Here's mine.
13.T.I.- Paper Trail
12.Young Jezzy- Snowman
11.Killa Priest- The Offering
10.GhostFace Killa- Supreme Clientle'
9.The Roots- Game Theory
8.Outkast- Speakerboxxxxx The Love Below
7.Kanye West- The College Dropout
6.50 Cent- Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
5.Eminem- The Eminem Show
4.Jay-Z- The Blueprint
3.Nicki Minaj- Pink Friday
2.Lil' Wayne- The Carter III
1.Eminem- Recovery
Honorable mention: Bone Thugs- Strength & Loyalty that album could go anywhere on this list. so put it inbetween 1 n 2 or 9-10 wherever it's a sick album!

3:07 PM   Jan 02, 2012

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