This week’s release of French Montana’s major-label debut, Excuse My French, would be an event for New York hip-hop no matter what. But French raised the stakes in January, when he declared it “the best album to come out in a decade.”

Between the lines, it was clear why he picked that span of time. 50 Cent’s landmark Get Rich Or Die Tryin' rocked the rap world in early 2003, and few albums have had remotely the same impact since—and certainly none from the Empire State. Once upon a time, New York rappers fretted about going soft after Snoop came through and crushed the buildings, but the city’s real identity crisis came about post-9/11, after Osama knocked over the towers. 

So does French actually have the best album in a decade? Here the 10 Best New York City Rap Albums of the Past 10 Years he’ll have to top to back up that claim.

Written by Al Shipley (@alshipley)

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