The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s

Which albums will we want to keep booming in our ears for years to come? Which CDs will we keep hard copies of, even when everything has gone digital? What combination of tracks is so beautiful, so magical, that it remains relevant even as we move into a new decade? Some albums slip away, forgotten forever in a matter

black album


black album

This feature was originally published on September 9, 2009.

As Joni Mitchell once sang, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." Even now, as we approach the end of 2011, we're still trying to make sense of the first decade of the 2000s—or “The Aughts,” as we've taken to calling them around these parts. 

Sometimes you hear an album and know instantly that it'll be a classic. Track after track, it hits you, lightning striking the same place 10 to 15 times. You get that feeling of premature nostalgia, where you imagine yourself playing the album for your kids in 20 years and hoping they think that you're cool. Other times, you reluctantly listen to an album and know that you'll probably never hear it again. If you get all the way through it, you say to yourself, "That was fine," before putting on one of the albums like the former, that still makes you feel like you're hearing it for the first time. It's not the average album's fault; if everything were a classic, there would be no classics, right? 

Our opinions have evolved over the last two years, but this list—and all the lists in our Best Of The 2000s series—stands as an enduring snapshot of Complex's taste at the end of ’09. As we pulled together The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s, we kept asking ourselves: Which albums will we want to keep booming in our ears for years to come? Which CDs will we keep hard copies of, even when everything has gone digital? What combination of tracks is so beautiful, so magical, that it remains relevant even as we move into a new decade? Some albums slip away, forgotten forever in a matter of months. But some albums, whether we know it in the moment or they require years of reflection and re-listening, become timeless, permanent residents in our music libraries. 

From Kanye West to the White Stripes, find out where all your favorite artists landed on our epic countdown.

Related: The 50 Best Albums of 2016

Related: The Best Albums of 2017 

Kanye West - 808s & Heartbreak (2008)

kanye 808s and heartbreak

The Concretes - The Concretes (2003)

the concretes

The Killers - Hot Fuss (2004)

hot fuss

El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead (2007)

ill sleep when youre dead

Modest Mouse - Good News for People Who Love Bad News (2004)

good news for people who love bad news

Slim Thug - Already Platinum (2005)

already platinum

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

yoshimi battles the pink robots

Gorillaz - Demon Days (2005)

demon days

Ludacris - Back for the First Time (2000)

back for the first time

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (2005)

silent alarm

Chromeo - She's In Control (2004)

shes in control

Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block (2007)

writers block

N.E.R.D. - In Search of... (2001)

in search of

Sean Price - Jesus Price Superstar (2007)

jesus price superstar

Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours (2008)

in ghost colors

Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (2006)


Lupe Fiasco - The Cool (2007)

the cool

Young Buck - Straight Outta Ca$hville (2004)

straight outta cashville

Out Hud - S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. (2002)

street dad

Capleton - More Fire (2000)

more fire

G-Unit - Beg for Mercy (2003)

beg for mercy

The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows (2004)

bows and arrows

Justice - † (2007)


Cam'ron - Come Home With Me (2002)

come home with me

Robin Thicke - A Beautiful World (2003)

a beautiful world

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals (2007)

all hour cymbals

T.I. - Urban Legend (2004)

urban legend

R. Kelly & Jay Z - The Best of Both Worlds (2002)

the best of both worlds

The Fucking Champs - IV (2000)


Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (2006)

st elsewhere

Blu & Exile - Below the Heavens (2007)

below the heavens

TV On the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes (2004)

desperate youth bloodthirsty babes

Jay Z - The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)

the dynasty roc la familia

Common - Be (2005)


Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002)

songs for the deaf

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

for emma forever ago

The Kills - Midnight Boom (2008)

midnight boom

M.O.P. - Warriorz (2000)


Mastodon - Blood Mountain (2006)

blood mountain

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (2007)

strawberry jam

Nas - God's Son (2002)

gods son

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black (2006)

back to black

The Knux - Remind Me In 3 Days... (2008)

remind me in 3 days

Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance (2003)


The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free (2004)

a grand dont come for free

Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

kid a

Ratatat - Classics (2006)


Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon (2006)

the loon

The Game - The Documentary (2005)

the documentary

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)

lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven

Lily Allen - Alright, Still (2006)

alright still

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular (2007)

oracular spectacular

The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)

white blood cells

The Libertines - The Libertines (2004)

the libertines

Madvillain - Madvillainy (2004)


Kanye West - Late Registration (2005)

late registration 1

Three 6 Mafia - Most Known Unknown (2005)

most known unknown

The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)

give up

Clipse - Lord Willin' (2002)

lord willin

At the Drive-In - Relationship of Command (2000)

relationship of command

The-Dream - Love Vs. Money (2009)

love vs money

Devin the Dude - Just Tryin' Ta Live (2002)

just tryin ta live

Damian Marley - Halfway Tree (2001)

halfway tree

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell (2003)

fever to tell

Prodigy - H.N.I.C. (2000)


The Black Keys - Attack & Release (2008)

attack and release

M.I.A. - Kala (2007)


Cam'ron - Purple Haze (2004)

purple haze

Daft Punk - Discovery (2001)


Dungen - Ta Det Lugnt (2004)

ta det lugnt

Hot Chip - The Warning (2006)

the warning

The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)

broken boy soldiers

Gorillaz - Gorillaz (2001)


Young Jeezy - Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (2005)

lets get it thug motivation 101

Santogold - Santogold (2008)


Eminem -The Eminem Show (2002)

the eminem show

T.I. - Trap Muzik (2003)

trap muzik

The Strokes - Is This It (2001)

is this it

Scarface - The Fix (2002)

the fix

Young Jeezy - The Recession (2008)

the recession

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (2006)

hell hath no fury

D'Angelo - Voodoo (2000)


Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)


Jay Z - The Black Album (2003)

the black album

Birdman & Lil Wayne - Like Father, Like Son (2006)

like father like son

The Diplomats - Diplomatic Immunity (2003)

diplomatic immunity

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)

sound of silver

TV On the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)

return to cookie mountain

Usher - Confessions (2004)


Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)

the college dropout

The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)

de loused in the comatorium

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter II (2005)

tha carter ii

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele (2000)

supreme clientele

The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)


Justin Timberlake - FutureSex / LoveSounds (2006)

future sex love sounds

OutKast - Stankonia (2000)


Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)

the marshall mathers lp

50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003)

get rch or die tryin

Kanye West - Graduation (2007)

graduation 1

Jay Z - The Blueprint (2001)

the blueprint

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