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Hip Hop Albums of the Decade

Music, Year-End, Reader Lists | November 25, 2009

Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the Decade

Check out Peter Rosenberg's list to see how it compares with our readers' list.

Earlier this month, Peter Rosenberg, one of the hosts of Hot 97's popular morning show, counted down his Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the Decade. That day, we asked you to submit your lists, and many of you did. In the end, although our readers agreed with Rosenberg that The Blueprint was the decade's best hip hop album, there wasn't that much overlap between his list and yours. Your list is dominated by some of hip hop's heavyweights, including Jay-Z, Outkast, Kanye West, and Ghostface Killah, who each landed two albums on The Top 13.

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Jay-Z - The Blueprint

1

Jay-Z - The Blueprint

2001

Perhaps Rosenberg said it best when he ranked The Blueprint as the decade's best: "Quite simply, this is the best rapper of the era's best album - kind of hard for it not to be number 1." You overwhelmingly agreed, as more than 70 percent of voters included this album on their list. Even Pitchfork gave this album an 8.7 out of 10.

OutKast - Stankonia

2

OutKast - Stankonia

2000

Not surprisingly, the only hip hop album voted by our readers to The Top 13 Albums of the Decade finished near the top of this list. Stankonia, the fourth studio album from OutKast, cemented this Atlanta duo's place in mainstream pop culture, selling more than four million copies. This album made Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Kanye West - The College Dropout

3

Kanye West - The College Dropout

2004

The debut album from long-time Jay-Z producer, The College Dropout was an instant critical and commercial success. On the strength of singles "Jesus Walks" and "Through the Wire," the album has sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide. Entertainment Weekly recently named it the fourth best album of the past 25 years (three and eight spots ahead of the first two albums on this list, respectively).

Kanye West - Late Registration

4

Kanye West - Late Registration

2005

West's second album was another critical and commercial success, and featured perhaps his most ubiquitous song, the hyper-catchy "Gold Digger." While it's hard to imagine a rapper receiving more accolades than West did for The College Dropout, he did just that with Late Registration. Here's what Rolling Stone raved: "Late Registration is an undeniable triumph, packed front to back, so expansive it makes the debut sound like a rough draft."

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP

5

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP

2000

With over 19 million copies sold worldwide, this is by far the highest selling album on The Top 13. Although the album's ultra-violent, misogynistic, and homophobic lyrics sparked controversy, The Marshall Mathers LP was greeted warmly by critics. In naming the album one of the 100 greatest of all time, Time Magazine wrote: "Eminem delivered dizzying, blistering rhymes that laid bare his neuroses, his fury, and his confusion. He jumped from laugh-out-loud funny to chillingly menacing from one line to the next."

Nas - Stillmatic

6

Nas - Stillmatic

2001

The album Jay-Z probably wishes Nas never released, this is by far Nas' best album since his classic debut, Illmatic. Anchored by "Ether," a vicious diss track aimed at Jay-Z, Stillmatic received a rare Five Mic ranking from The Source. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "Even though Nas unleashes many of his strongest rhymes when he's attacking his adversaries, he also delivers a strong batch of selections elsewhere. . . These songs are typical of the top-tier lyricism that first made Nas a household hip-hop name."

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele

7

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele

2000

The first of two Ghostface albums on The Top 13, this album was Rosenberg's second favorite hip hop album of the decade. It was also the only hip hop album on our Top 13 Albums of the Decade. As Pitchfork recently opined in naming it the eleventh best album of the decade, "its release in the decade's first month provided an unexpected millennial rebirth, singlehandedly restoring Wu Tang's mysterious artistic vitality and positioning Tony Starks as hip-hop's most consistently astonishing and confounding lyricist."

Madvillain - Madvillainy

8

Madvillain - Madvillainy

2004

Madvillainy is the only true indie album on this list and easily has sold the fewest copies. This collaboration between MF Doom and producer Madlib features one of the decade's most memorable sounds, blending classic jazz recordings with Doom's distinctive, layered rhymes. As the Village Voice said, this album is "a glorious phantasmagoria of flow."

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

9

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

2008

You agreed with Rosenberg that this is "a rare hip hop album that matches its hype." The heavily anticipated sixth studio album from New Orleans' hip hop veteran Lil Wayne quickly spawned three top ten singles and became 2008's best-selling album. The critics also were pleased. As Now Magazine wrote, "His off-the-wall third installment in the Carter series is a subversive masterpiece. . . It's eclectic, eccentric and yes, essential."

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale

10

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale

2006

After the flawless Supreme Clientele, many Ghostface fans doubted the Staten Island rapper would ever reach those heights again. And just when it was beginning to look like they were right, Fishscale put those doubts to rest. XXL raved: "Fishscale is Ghost's most addictive dosage post Supreme Clientele. Packed with vivid street tales, comic relief and straight spittin', the album continues his standard of excellence."

Common - Be

11

Common - Be

2005

Produced by his pal Kanye West, Be was something of a comeback album for Common, whose previous release, Electric Circus, bombed both critically and commercially. Calling it "perhaps his best effort to date," Vibe opined: "Like a train ride through the 'hood, the concise, 11-track opus steamrolls through the images, stories, and emotions of urban folks getting by any way they know how. Overflowing with passion, honesty, and optimism, Be gets to the root of human experience - all the while staying beautifully soulful and funky."

OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

12

OutKast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

2003

OutKast's second entry on The Top 13, this double-album is actually a pair of solo albums - one each from André 3000 and Big Boi. The first hip hop release to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below features the number one singles "Hey Ya", by André 3000, and "The Way You Move," by Big Boi. England's The Guardian raved: "Both albums are sublime. Taken together they're hip-hop's Sign o' the Times or The White Album: a career-defining masterpiece of breathtaking ambition."

Jay-Z - The Black Album

13

Jay-Z - The Black Album

2003

Yet another classic from Jay-Z, this was initially marketed as Hova's final album. And although that turned out to be far from true, there are plenty of reasons other than nostalgia to listen to it. In giving it four out of four stars, USA Today wrote: "If The Black Album is indeed Jay-Z's last, he's not only leaving at the top of his game, but at a time when he is getting even better. He enlisted beats from an all-star cast of producers, who come through with top-shelf work. But it's Jigga's trademark lyrical dexterity and diversified deliveries that put him on a level all his own."

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Comments Leave a comment

stillathreat ★★

Good list, but do four acts really deserve 8 of 13 spots? There were lots of great rap albums from lots of different artists over the past 10 years.

7:36 AM   Nov 25, 2009

oshoney 

heh, i love that it's bookended by outkast & jay-z. i like this list a lot more than rosenberg's.

10:11 AM   Nov 25, 2009

ajay ★★

Nice outcome. College Dropout is much closer to where it should be, but I'd prefer a Nas-less list.

9:39 AM   Nov 28, 2009

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