The 50 Best Albums (or Tapes) of the Decade (So Far)

Yes, this is totally a ripoff of the list Pitchfork put out, but I figured I'll do my own because why the hell not?

Now, this won't just be studio albums. I'll throw in some mixtapes since a fair amount of the hip-hop that funnels out and hits the radio is courtesy of up-and-comers dropping tapes.

So, without further ado, here's the list of things I've liked a lot, or loved, that's come out since 2010...

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50. Odd Future - The Odd Future Mixtape Vol. 2 (2012)

There's a lot to like about this tape. For starters, everyone who is part of the OF conglomerate has at least one fingerprint on it. Tyler, the Creator and Left Brain are responsible for 95% of the production, and it works in the grand scheme of the group's sound. Plus, there's a track on it from The Jet Age of Tomorrow, which is probably the most unknown part of OF and easily the most talented division.

49. Asher Roth - Pabst & Jazz (2011)

This is Asher Roth's most polished project ever, and it's a mixtape that flew very under-the-radar because it's an effort from an artist who will probably never be more than the kid who released "I Love College," and then fell nearly completely off the face of the Earth. It's got some decent samples, and good guest verses. It's a very good background tape, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

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48. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See (2010)

A lot of people look down upon the Monkeys because they churned out a couple non-sensical pop-punk albums in 2006 and 2007. I'm still not sure why. With this record, they kinda took a step towards growing up; making an album that incorporated more bluesy sounds and heavier riffs. It worked for me, and probably has my favorite AM song ever, Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair.

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47. Blu - Her Favorite Colo(u)r (2011)

Blu was one of the rappers in the very loaded 2009 XXL Freshman Class. Oddly enough, he's probably been the one to unload more content than anyone else from the class, but barely get any attention for it. It may be because of him possibly having a screw loose, or that he doesn't really make music for anyone but himself and the niche of hip-hop listeners he really caters to. This tape is filled with static-y lo-fi samples and jazz piano loops, but it hit for me.

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46. XXYYXX - XXYYXX (2012)

"Chillwave" is still one of my least favorite ways to describe/title a genre, but that's what this album is. Bass, bass, bass and more bass, mixed with pop samples from the late 90s and 00s. It's the type of LP you're supposed to drop acid and lay on your couch and listen to, or as the man who made it describes his music as, "Doing drugs on a freeway underwater."

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45. Vic Mensa - Innanetape (2013)

This might be the most underrated thing to come out in 2013. Vic Mensa is from the new class of Chicago MCs who blends a lot of different sounds together to make something you've never heard before, and then realize that the future of rap is a bit brighter than you may have thought. Mensa will be making another appearance on this list, but in a different capacity.

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44. Toro y Moi - Anything in Return (2013)

Synth-pop is still alive and well in the 21st Century because of guys Toro. It's what I imagine people listen to at art school cocktail hour. Well, this and anything Vampire Weekend puts out. Not a bad thing, obviously, it's on the list.

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43. Chief Keef - Back From the Dead (2012)

Remember what I said about Vic Mensa lending himself to the bright future of rap music coming out of Chicago? Yeah? That still applies to Keef, no matter what you might think of him, his friends, or the sound he produces (or rather Young Chop produced). This tape is one of most influential pieces of hip-hop music to come out in the last 20 years. No seriously, IT IS. This made drill music hit on a nationwide scale, and it implanted itself into the catalogs of producers around the world. Love Sosa (I know that's from Finally Rich, fuck off).

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42. Purity Ring - Shrines (2012)

Okay, here's the thing. This entire album kinda blends together from beginning to end, but when I first heard it, I think it's all I listened to for about a week. It was intoxicating.

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41. N.E.R.D. - Nothing (2010)

This is by far my least favorite album from them, but it's entertaining from start to finish. It got awful reviews all across the board, too. I don't really care, I've Seen the Light/Inside of Clouds is playing at my funeral.

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40. MGMT - Congratulations (2010)

A much more spacey, psychedelic, do drugs and wander around your house type of record than Oracular Spectacular was (if that's possible). Siberian Breaks, the 12-minute odyssey in the middle of the album, is one of my favorite songs ever made.

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39. Kid CuDi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (2010)

This album is also known as the last musical effort from Cudi that I could tolerate for more than 10 consecutive minutes. There's still about five too many tracks on this album, but I'll be damned if I said I never rolled the windows down in my car and blasted GHOST! as I drove home from work on a nightly basis for about a month after this dropped.

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38. Heems - Nehru Jackets (2012)

When Das Racist broke up, I was pretty devastated but Heems came out with this tape not too long after the news broke and it eased the pain. It's in the same frame of mind that anything DR did, in the sense that it's the lovechild of boredom and smoking shit tons of pot in a studio on a daily basis.

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37. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (2010)

I remember when I bought this album. I was standing in line at Target waiting to purchase a pound of jelly beans, some Bagel Bites and a 12-pack, and the CD was on a display in front of the register. I had no idea, that after a five year hiatus, that the "group" was still together and that an album was even produced. I had to put back to the 12-pack to afford it.

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36. Drake - Take Care (2011)

Fuck you, I love this album. Lord Knows was the best song Just Blaze produced since Exhibit A.

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35. Earl Sweatshirt - Earl (2010)

Of course I didn't know who this kid was until I heard the title track. When your first single leads off with, "I'm a hot and bothered astronaut crashin' while jackin' off to bufferin' vids of Asher Roth eatin' applesauce," you have my full attention. Earl was between the age of 14-16 when he recorded this tape, and he has flows and metaphors that dudes who've been in the business couldn't think of in a lifetime.

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34. Big Boi - Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010)

When you start getting withdrawals from OutKast not releasing anything for years at a time, this is what you need. Despite it being a solo effort, Big Boi made a record that was worth the wait (it took four-ish years to finish) and blended every possible southern rap sound into a one-hour onslaught of perfection.

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33. Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch the Throne (2011)

This is so low on the list because there's one too many throw away tracks on it, and yes I'm counting the bonus tracks. N*ggas in Paris and Murder to Excellence can only carry an album so far. But anyway, this is where swag rap hit its $400 white t-shirt wearing apex. Every time I listen to this album, I feel like I owe Jay and Kanye a hundred dollars.

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32. My Bloody Valentine - mbv (2013)

A near quarter century layoff didn't hurt this band at all. They took was sounded amazing in the early 90s and made it sound even more amazing in 2013. Shoegaze still works now, especially with space-age polish on the production.

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31. Action Bronson - Blue Chips (2012)

How can a tape with so many mistakes be so incredible? Party Supplies and Bronsolino just have so much fun on this record. This is the project that really began to push Bronson into the limelight, but it's not my favorite EP of his from the last five years.

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30. Joey Bada$$ - 1999 (2012)

The Pro Era crew, led by Joey Bada$$, made a gigantic splash in the summer of 2012 with one of the most grown up mixtapes a bunch of kids from Bed Stuy could turn out. This is one of the best LPs of the early decade purely because it perfectly blended sounds from 1995 and 2012 without seeming too cliche.

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29. Pusha T - Fear of God II: Let Us Pray (2011)

This was Pusha's first solo record, and I liked it a lot more than My Name Is My Name for some reason. Trouble On My Mind, Body Work and I Still Wanna are some of my favorite bangers (yeah, I said bangers) from that 2011.

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28. Stalley - Lincoln Way Nights (2011)

Before Stalley signed to MMG and subsequently hasn't released anything meaningful since, this tape means a lot to me. Talented MC from Ohio who has some very good verses and great ear for beats.

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27. Curren$y - Pilot Talk (2010)

Weed rap at its finest over Ski Beatz production. There's not a bad track on the album, in my opinion. Features from Devin the Dude, Mos Def, Jay Electronica, and Big KRIT make for some very solid verses. The song Address (featuring Stalley) might be my favorite rap song ever.

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26. The Roots - How I Got Over (2010)

After disappointing with 2008's Rising Down, this album was a grand return to form for my favorite band on the planet. Jim James is featured on a track, which means it automatically became great. There's also a sample of a crying baby on the last song, Hustla, which was weird, but it worked.

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25. Father John Misty - Fear Fun (2012)

Is it weird that I don't like Fleet Foxes, but will listen to this album every week?

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24. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (2012)

Nowadays, I usually find politically/socially charged rap to be pretty annoying (Looking at you, Lupe), but this worked. Probably because Killer Mike's voice and unbelievable flows are enough to make me want to hear him rap the alphabet.

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23. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra (2011)

This mixtape actually sounded like a mixtape, which makes it semi-ironic, but it works well. It also launched Frank Ocean into the limelight and started getting him gigs with bigger names beyond the reach of Odd Future (at least at that point). Even with the legal problems with The Eagles, American Wedding is my favorite song on the EP.

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22. Black Milk & Danny Brown - Black & Brown (2011)

Short and sweet. Black Milk production and Danny Brown verses. Wake Up is one of my favorite tracks from 2011.

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21. BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG2 (2012)

This is on the list mostly because of this song.

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20. A$AP Ferg - Trap Lord (2013)

I'll be honest, I was amazed at how great this album was. Ferg is grimey and funny and pretty creative with his flows. He gave me hope that the A$AP Mob is deeper than just Rocky and the production value.

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19. Lorde - Pure Heroine (2013)

Again, fuck you, I love this album. Anti-pop synth pop from a girl who is probably a witch, or something. White Teeth Teens on replay for life.

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18. Schoolboy Q - Habits and Contradictions (2012)

When I heard Hands on the Wheel, I almost cried. Okay, I didn't, but I immediately looked up the song it sampled: Lissie's cover of Cudi's Pursuit of Happiness. When I got through H&C, I was blown away by spectrum of sound that Q and the TDE guys could channel. It's a complete album, something that most rap albums fail to achieve nowadays.

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17. Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes (2012)

I lent this album to someone I worked with, they "lost" it. Of course I have it saved on a hard drive and backed up in a few other places, too, but that's not the point. Eh, whatever. This is a better album than Cosmogramma, I don't care what you say.

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16. Waka Flocka Flame - Flockaveli (2010)

Just like Chief Keef's Back From the Dead, Flockaveli is a very influential piece of hip-hop history. It can very well be considered the catalyst for the ad-lib heavy Southern rap movement that has taken place over the last five years.

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15. A$AP Rocky - Live.Love.A$AP (2011)

Houston trill sound from a kid from Harlem? Yes, that is correct.

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14. Danny Brown - XXX (2011)

The first line in the track Radio Song from this album is, "This is anti-clean rap." That can be said for nearly everything Danny Brown puts his voice on. XXX is the perfect musical illustration for the current dilapidated state of the city of Detroit. This album is made even better due to the fact that some copies were printed on white vinyl and I have one.

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13. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (2013)

The hype for this album was so huge that I pre-ordered the vinyl copy and the CD the second I had the chance to. It was worth it. Eight years of waiting and one entire summer of hearing Get Lucky EVERYWHERE. It had a few slow moments, but this is a modern disco album that doesn't suck at all.

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12. The Internet - Purple Naked Ladies (2011)

I loved how weird this was. It was made more weird due to the fact that until about two months into listening to it and loving it, that I found out The Internet is an offshoot of Odd Future. Sidenote: one of my dream albums would be a collaboration between Frank Ocean and Syd tha Kyd.

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11. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (2013)

Yes, more Odd Future. While I still have no idea what the fuck was going on in the track Guild (with Mac Miller), this was finally what everyone wanted from Earl. In his true, unenthusiastic manner, he delivered some of the year's best verses and one very perfect Vince Carter reference.

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10. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City (2013)

Every time I go back and listen to this album, I like it more. There's not one song on it that I can say I dislike. Step is far and away my favorite track of their's and Diane Young is still something I wasn't expecting.

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9. Chance the Rapper - Acid Rap (2013)

Did anyone have a more unpredictable year than Chance did last year? He made a fan out of me before the Good Ass Intro even ended because of the line, "Cremate your teammates and freebase the ashes." This whole tape was the breath of fresh air that rap music needed last summer, and it came (again) in the form of a kid from Chicago.

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8. Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude (2010)

When I talked about Heems and his Nehru Jackets tape, I emphasized how sad I was about Das Racist breaking up, this tape is the main reason for that. Shut Up, Dude was so stupid and fun, that it was hard to hate. Their take on Ghostface's Nutmeg and the perfect sampling of a goddamn Billy Joel song is what puts the tape over the top for me.

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7. Action Bronson - Dr. Lecter (2011)

Listen to Larry Csonka and tell me you don't like Action Bronson. That's it.

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6. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork (2013)

If Josh Homme had actually died in 2011, two things would have happened: I would have died inside, and this album would never have been made. There's also two things wrong with this album: it's not long enough, and QOTSA didn't play Kalopsia when I saw them live last September (okay, fine, that's not the album's fault).

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5. Kanye West - Yeezus (2013)

I actually watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live to see Kanye perform Black Skinhead and New Slaves. By the end of the performance, I sat in total disbelief and wasn't sure exactly what I had heard, but knew that the album they were going to be on was Kanye's version of a punk record.

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There's no cohesion whatsoever on the album, and it's better that way. There's no major concept, or story to be told. It's just pure, unadulterated Kanye in his natural habitat of narcissism and self-deity (even though he features God, Himself, on the album).

The mix of industrial techno and dancehall vibes, makes this record something other than rap, it sort of transcends genres because the lack of cohesion never settles it down into any particular niche. It just is.

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4. Chet Faker - Thinking In Textures (2012)

Chet Faker is a dude from Australia who sings electronic soul music and made a 28-minute EP that blew my fucking mind into a million little pieces the first time I listened to it.

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I discovered the album through the single/Blackstreet cover, No Diggity, and the rest was mind-melting history.

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3. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (2012)

GKMC is the best debut rap album since Illmatic. Plain and simple. From start to finish, the thing is damn near perfect. The voicemails, the peek inside gang life, and just the overall mood of the record is something so well-constructed that I'm not sure it can ever be duplicated.

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Not only did Kendrick Lamar tell the entire rap industry that he was the next force to be reckoned with, he made it seem so goddamn easy. In a hip-hop landscape that is so driven by its flashiness and anti-lyricism (see: Migos - Versace), GKMC became this generation's rap version of Homer's Odyssey.

There's more than just the portrait of modern gang life hanging in the margins of this album. K.Dot turned his first single, Swimming Pools, into one of the year's premier club bangers, even though the focus of the track is anti-drink and anti-drug.

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What's more impressive is that for someone who grew up in one of the most notoriously gang-ridden cities in the country, he's crafty and intelligent beyond the canon of street violence; and he brought his friends with him. His Black Hippy brethren lend their hands to the album and came up just as quickly as Kendrick because of it.

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2. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (2012)

I am, by no means necessary, an expert on R&B, but this is without a doubt, the best R&B I have ever heard in my life.

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Before Channel Orange was released in the summer of 2012, I was immersed in all things Odd Future. Between Tyler, Earl, Domo Genesis, The Internet, and every other sub-group OF had to offer, there was an abundance of music and a different sound to be heard, but Frank Ocean was really the only stone left unturned.

With this record, there were three members of the group who had mass appeal, but Frank Ocean became different because his sound and his content was more... well... applicable to a wider audience. Channel Orange was the way for Odd Future, and its quietest member, to finally bridge the gap between obscene rap and pop flavors.

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1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

Okay, I know what you're saying, "This is exactly what Pitchfork did, too."

I don't care.

MBDTF is the pinnacle of Kanye's career, and quite possibly the pinnacle of rap music in the 21st century. I am a firm believer that people who don't like this album do so for two very distinct reasons:

1. It was made by Kanye West.

2. They haven't actually listened to it.

Nearly two years to the day after releasing 808s and Heartbreak, Kanye dropped his magnum opus. A 70-minute saga that features everyone from Nicki Minaj to Elton John, a piano and cello arrangement, and a Gil Scott Heron sample.

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It inspired the G.O.O.D. Fridays series, in which every Friday for four damn months, a new track was released by Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music conglomerate.

I'm still searching for a track on it that I hate, Monster is still the closest I get. Devil In A New Dress is still the only verse of Rick Ross' entire career I know word for word. Runaway still gives me chills every time I hear it. I'm also pretty certain it's one of the only records in music's history that references Colin Powell and Austin Powers, let alone on the same song AND the same verse.

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It may be conceited and terribly insensitive to the minds that came before him, but this album is the only reason I need to accept Kanye's self-appointed genius status. MBDTF is the best album of this decade, so far, and it will probably still be the best come December 31st, 2019.

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