The last decade of hip-hop history is about the destruction of consensus. The neat, precise stories we once told about rap music in the '90s have unraveled to a degree, as regional histories and commercialization broke down assumptions and rules about the genre's boundaries.
In the 2000s, that intensified. First, Atlanta made its move, becoming a new center of gravity for hip-hop; regional movements shifted media attention to Houston, then the Bay Area. The Internet opened up the genre and flooding the listeners with content became the norm, with artists like Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane having huge, sustained discographies outside the release of any album. Many of hip-hop's greatest accomplishments in the latter half of the 2000s never saw light on a label at all, never mind a major.
A list of great rap albums from the last decade doesn't tell the entire story of rap. It misses some of what makes it the most fun: the one-off mixtapes, the one-hit-wonders, the random collaborations and viral videos. But the importance of the album, a crowning achievement for any hip-hop artist, still holds weight.
While hip-hop has changed in the past 10 years, and the output of official LPs has decreased greatly in favor of mixtapes and loose MP3s, the album is still an art form capable of producing capstone recordings. Here are the ones that transcended their moment.
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