This time of year always seems to bring out a sense of nostalgia and reflection. Music is often a great measurement of time, and how much has passed us by. The end of the year, and even more so the end of a decade, leaves plenty of room for debate. We are ending not only 2019 but the 2010’s, a time full of so many musical achievements. In my own personal reflection, I wanted to elaborate on my favorite album each year, for the last 10 years. No mixtapes included! (Sorry Faces…) This list may not be critically the best, but my personal favorites.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye’s fifth studio album, his mangus opus, could quite literally be the best album of the decade. Recorded in Hawaii holed up in a studio, occupying every room available, Mr. West created something so spectacular. Just take a look at the names and faces associated project; from Jay Z to Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver, John Legend, Kid Cudi… and the list goes on. Tracks like ‘Power’ ‘All of the Lights’ and ‘Monster’ became some of the biggest hits of his career. Yet ‘Devil in a New Dress’ and ‘Runaway’ may go down as some of the best in his discography.
Drake – Take Care
It would not be a list of the 10’s without Drizzy. Personally this isn’t my favorite Drake album, (If you’re reading this you’re too late) but this one dominated the year. This was the project that took Drake from up and comer, to total superstar. This album birthed classics like ‘Take Care’ ‘Crew Love’ and ‘HYFR’. You couldn’t walk out your front door without hearing Drake. However, the track that still holds the most ground for me is ‘Underground Kings’.
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D City
Another huge leap from obscurity to stardom. Prior to this release Kendrick was on the come up, but no one could predict the level this second album would bring. As far as hits go, he had some big singles… but this was a story. A story of a young man and Sherane, a story of pressure and legacy, and a story of growth. Kendrick did it all on this album and songs like ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’ and ‘Sing about me I’m dying of thirst’ are why this man is a living legend.
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
This is one of those, “I remember where I was when I first heard it” albums. His first release, Camp, was not well acclaimed and when making BTI he made sure to go back and perfect his craft. The result was a collection of love songs, interludes, and an album that made you want more. However, as his career furthers, I don’t think we’ll ever get an album like this from him again.
Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo
There were a few other albums that could’ve won the spot for this year. If you would have asked me back in 2014, I probably would’ve told you my favorite album of the year was Oxymoron by ScHoolboy Q. But as the dust has settled and time has passed, it’s the debut from Isaiah that stands out to me. He showed so much poise and diversity, even boasting SZA features on a few tracks. But the song that speaks the most to me is ‘Heavenly Father’. Specifically the third verse on this song… if you haven’t listened, go take a peek.
Tame Impala – Currents
Finally… not a rap album! What can’t Kevin Parker do? The man is arguably the one of the greatest living artists on Earth. Capable of playing every instrument known to man, and creating sounds that didn’t seem possible. The album flows like one long song, with little breaks, and a run time of 51 minutes. You could loop this album for days and I wouldn’t get tired of it. We all love ‘The Less I know the Better’, but ‘The Moment’ is my standout track.
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Yes lawd! For a few years music had gotten stiff for me, the soul didn’t feel like it was there. Tunes were getting more basic by the day, and then this dropped. It was like a breath of fresh air, with the Free Nationals backing him .Paak gave us everything. From soul, to bounce, to songs about fake tits, we join him on the journey of living in Malibu. When those drums drop in on ‘Heart don’t Stand a Chance’ you can catch me slow dancing with my woman.
Tyler, The Creator – Flower boy
What a career arc this guy has had. If you played Bastard and then Flower boy back to back, you wouldn’t be able to convince me this was the same artist. Somehow, Tyler did that. The features are all top notch, but what really excelled was the beats. With Tyler producing every beat, you realize that he is a lot more than just a rapper. ‘Where this Flower Blooms’ with a Mr. Franklin Ocean is still on the daily play.
Mac Miller – Swimming
I’ve written a lot about this album in my time with Mic Drop Music, and it isn’t on accident. Rest in Peace to Malcom McCormick.
Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace
Toro has been around for a decade, and is still making timeless music. Some of the songs remind me of love and and emotion, but most of the music on this one just makes me happy. This is an album of grooves and moves, you’ll dance and spin and wish for a few more minutes of the track to spin. We all know ‘Freelance’ will be on in my living room in a 10 years when it’s time to clean the house.