For as long as hip-hop has existed, it's spawned arguments. For decades now, fans of rap have been staking out ground, hills to die on, each concerned with one question: Who is the best? And the debate for the GOAT has a long-running spinoff, one of the primary criteria for being the greatest of all time—has that rapper made a classic?
What a classic actually is, outside of just being a very good album, is up for debate. Which is partly why the argument is so fun to have—everyone is working from a different rubric. Some people are concerned with the quality of the rapping, others the popular response, others still need it to have shifted the culture significantly. On an episode of last week's Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska Alexis brought up the ever-present debate: What makes a classic?
Complex staffers weighed in below, with their definitions of what makes for a classic and three picks for hip-hop classics made in the last decade.