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The Best Albums of the 2010s

A gallery of the most consequential albums of the decade

It’s hard to boil the entire decade down to just a handful of albums — too many incredible projects would be left out. It’s also too tedious to talk about EVERY consequential album that came out during this decade — compiling that would take forever. So I’ve decided to compile the list of the top 5 albums, from each year of the 2010s, that defined my music-listening experience during the decade. All of these are projects that I returned to at various times after their release, many of which are tied to vivid memories and helped shape the way I related to artists, regions, and genres.

I should emphasize the personal nature of this specific list. These are the albums that stuck with me throughout the decade, more so than many of the other albums. This list is not meant to be a regurgitation of your favorite blog / website / YouTuber’s decade list, even if we share many of the same albums.

Without further ado, I present: the best albums of the 2010s:

2010

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday
Drake – Thank Me Later
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

5 More Significant Albums from 2010:

Rihanna – Loud
Rick Ross – Teflon Don
The Roots – How I Got Over
Danny Brown – The Hybrid
Big K.R.I.T. – K.R.I.T. Wuz Here


2011

The Roots – Undun
Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
Adele – 21
Danny Brown – XXX
Drake – Take Care

5 More Significant Albums from 2011:

Kendrick Lamar – Section.80
BeyoncĂ© – 4
Frank Ocean – Nostalgia, Ultra
Action Bronson – Dr. Lecter
Big K.R.I.T. – Return of 4eva


2012

Joey Bada$$ – 1999
Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
The Weeknd – Trilogy
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

5 More Significant Albums from 2012:

Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
Captain Murphy – Duality
Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa
Ab-Soul – Control System


2013

Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
James Blake – Overgrown
Drake – Nothing Was The Same
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
BeyoncĂ© – BeyoncĂ©

5 More Significant Albums from 2013:

Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
Danny Brown – Old
A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels


2014

Mick Jenkins – The Water[s]
Run the Jewels – RTJ2
Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

5 More Significant Albums from 2014:

D’Angelo and The Vanguard – Black Messiah
ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron
FKA twigs – LP1
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Tinashe – Aquarius


2015

The Internet – Ego Death
Bryson Tiller – Trapsoul
Freddie Gibbs – Shadow of a Doubt
Lianne La Havas – Blood
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

5 More Significant Albums from 2015:

Joey Bada$$ – B4.DA.$$
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Miguel – Wildheart
Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness


2016

BeyoncĂ© – Lemonade
Noname – Telefone
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
Solange – A Seat at the Table

5 More Significant Albums from 2016:

Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
Rihanna – ANTI
NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
YG – Still Brazy
Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”


2017

Daniel Caesar – Freudian
Smino – Blkswn
Sevdaliza – Ison
Moses Sumney – Aromanticism
Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy

5 More Significant Albums from 2017:

Wiki – No Mountains in Manhattan
Kelela – Take Me Apart
Migos – Culture
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
SZA – Ctrl


2018

Rico Nasty – Nasty
Blood Orange – Negro Swan

VanJess – Silk Canvas
Kali Uchis – Isolation
Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

5 More Significant Albums from 2018

Noname – Room 25
Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – Fetti
Nao – Saturn
JPEGMAFIA – Veteran
Denzel Curry – TA13OO


2019

FKA twigs – Magdalene
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana

Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby
Jamila Woods – Legacy! Legacy!

5 More Significant Albums from 2019

Baby Rose – To Myself
Burna Boy – African Giant
Charli XCX – Charli
Anderson .Paak – Ventura
James Blake – Assume Form


What were your favorite albums of the 2010s?

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