This feature was originally published on August 26, 2013.

When you think about it, the 2000s were like the worst decade ever. It kicked off with the fiasco that was the 2000 presidential election, then we got 9/11, and then the war in Iraq. By the time Katrina hit, five years in, we pretty much just threw up our hands and said, "Fuck it, this sucks. Let's all start making remember-the-'90s lists to put up on our Tumblrs." And then, for good measure, the cruel decade closed with the entire global economy crashing. Because why should any of us deserve to be happy?

But when it came to hip-hop, things were a little less bleak. Hear the haters tell it, and the rappers of the 2000s didn't compare to the rappers of the '80s and '90s. But that's unfair. Every decade has its ebbs and flows. In every decade, artists rise to the occasion to put on for their culture. In this regard, the 2000s were no different.

However, different things did happen in the 2000s. With the rise of the mixtape scene, artists produced previously unheard-of amounts of music. Meanwhile, older rappers proved that it was possible to have a career in hip-hop that lasted more than five years. In fact, that this would become the norm. Perhaps most significantly, hip-hop saw its powerbase shift, with Southern rappers becoming the dominant voice of the genre while the West Coast failed to produce many new stars (Peace to the Game, though) and New York became less and less relevant.

All this stuff, of course, is better understood in hindsight. It's always hard to see the current forest for the trees. So a few years removed, we take a look back at the decade that was (from 2000 to 2009) and name The 10 Best Rappers of the 2000s.

[Ed. note—Honorable mentions to: Game, Ludacris, Nelly, Ja Rule, and Common who all had their moments along the way but didn't make the cut. Better luck next decade!]