The best first rap albums of the 2010s
It is well known that hip-hop is one of the most popular genres of music. Much of this success is the result of the emergence of new generations of talented rappers who set the standard for what rapping could be with their early albums. If you’re a fan of rap music, you’re expected to have heard of some of the best debut albums released over the past decade.
The 2010s may not have been the golden age of hip hop, but that’s not to say there haven’t been some iconic albums released during that ten-year span. The 2000s in general were a great time for rap music and the early albums were some of the best projects that came out during that time. The 2010s were a decade that saw rap music reach new heights and produce some truly unforgettable albums.
Some of these albums introduced the world to some of the most successful artists of all time and are now considered one of the best rap albums of all time. Several of these albums changed the landscape of hip-hop and cemented their respective creators as legendary artists. These albums helped define a generation of hip-hop and are now essential listens for almost any rap fan. They pushed the genre in new and exciting directions.
When it comes to the best first rap albums, there are a few that stand out from the crowd. In the 2010s, there were a number of early fire rap albums. Here are some of the best early rap albums of the 2010s.
Drake – “Thank Me Later” (2010)
Image credit: Republic Records
Simple: “Done”, “Find Your Love” and “Fancy”
Drake’s first album thank me later was highly anticipated by fans and critics. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. Drizzy proved to be a master of both rap-singing and bar-delivering on this album. He showcased his unique vocal style with tracks like “Over” and “Find Your Love.” He’s also proven himself to be quite the storyteller, with songs like “Fireworks” and “The Resistance” giving listeners insight into his life and experiences. thank me later was a defining moment in Drake’s career and solidified him as one of the biggest names in rap music.
Waka Flocka Flame – ‘Flockaveli’ (2010)
Image credit: Warner Records
Simple: “O Let’s Do It”, “No Hands” featuring Roscoe Dash and Wale & “Hard in da Paint”
Flockaveli was understated a game-changer. It helped cement a new wave of trap music and lay the sonic foundation for drill music, which has become synonymous with Chicago artists like Chief Keef. Driven by the hard-hitting production of current producer Lex Luger’s debut Waka Flocka Flame is full of tracks that are sure to make you nod. The 17-track project, which has been praised by the likes of Complex, Billboard, Rolling Stone and Fork features many of Waka’s best-known songs, including the top 10 Drumma Boy produced “No Hands”.
Nicki Minaj – “Pink Friday” (2010)
Image credit: Republic Records
Simple: “Your Love”, “Moment 4 Life” with Drake and “Super Bass”
Nicki Minaj pink friday was an instant hit. This allowed him to become one of the most popular and influential rappers in the world. Nicki’s lyrical skills, distinctive flow and knack for crafting catchy tunes were on display throughout the album. The 13-track project featuring production from Swizz Beatz, T-Minus, JR Rotem and Bangladesh also showcased their more introspective side, which came through on songs like “Dear Old Nicki” and “Here I Am.” .
J Cole – ‘Cole World: The Side Story’ (2011)
Image credit: Roc Nation/Columbia Records
Simple: “Work Out”, “Can’t Get Enough” with Trey Songz and “Nobody’s Perfect” with Missy Elliott
Before the release of his first album, who would have thought that J. Cole would become one of the greatest rappers of all time? Cole did it! With Cole World: The Sub Story, Cole has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with. The Fayetteville, NC native’s debut to critical acclaim helped solidify him as one of the greatest rappers of all time. The album highlights the story of Cole’s life and childhood in North Carolina. Songs like “Work Out” and “Can’t Get Enough” showed that not only did he have bars for days, but he could also hit hits. Cole World debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and featured Jay-Z, Drake and Missy Elliott.
Meek Mill – ‘Dreams and Nightmares’ (2012)
Image credit: Atlantic Records
Simple: “Amen” and “Burn”
Meek Mill’s Dreams and nightmares was one of the most anticipated rap albums of the early 2010s. Meek’s first official project included collaborations with Drake, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Rick Ross, John Legend and others. It also featured one of the greatest hip-hop intros of all time, “Dreams and Nightmares”. Whether you’re a Meek fan or not, his debut is worth a listen or two.
Kendrick Lamar – good kid, mAAd City (2012)
Image credit: Aftermath/Interscope Records
Simple: “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Poetic Justice” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”. In the early 2010s, several excellent debut albums set the tone for the decade to come. Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut good kid, maAd city is a perfect example. The album which tells the story of Kendrick’s upbringing in Compton immediately established him as one of the most important voices in hip-hop. good kid, maAd city is widely considered one of the best rap albums of all time, let alone one of the best debut albums. Throughout the project, he demonstrates his expert use of puns and metaphors. It also shows that it can cross over with addictive singles such as “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Poetic Justice”, and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”.
Chief Keef – ‘Rich at Last’ (2012)
Image credit: Interscope Records
Simple: “I Don’t Like”, “Love Sosa”, and “Hate Bein’ Sober”
Even before releasing an album, Chief Keef was a local legend. Months after receiving a co-sign and remix from Kanye West, the up-and-coming teen star released his debut album, Finally rich. The progenitor of Chicago boring music collaborated with stars like Lil Reese, as well as legends like 50 Cent, Rick Ross and Young Jeezy on the album which featured cult classics like “I Don’t Like and “Love Sosa”.
A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP (2013)
Image credit: Polo Grounds/RCA Records
Simple: “Goldie”, “Fuckin’ Problems”, “Wild for the Night” and “Fashion Killa”
A$AP Rocky took the hip-hop world by storm after releasing his debut single “Peso.” More than a decade later, he continues to have an influence on the culture. His first album, LONG.LIFE.A$AP is part of what helped him make his mark in the rap world. The album that would eventually go platinum was home to an eclectic collection of songs and spawned the hit “Fuckin’ Problems,” which featured 2 Chainz, Drake and Kendrick Lamar. Other guests on the album included Santigold, Florence Welch, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Joey Badass and others.
Pusha T – ‘My name is my name’ (2013)
Image credit: GOOD Music/Def Jam
Simple: “Bread”, “Numbers on the Boards” & “Sweet Serenade”
Pusha T was a seasoned veteran at the time of his debut album my name is my name took to the streets, and it showed. Released in 2013, the album was one of the best projects by a rapper that year. With production by Kanye West and The Neptunes, my name is my name showcases Pusha T’s lyrical prowess and talent for storytelling. It received critical acclaim and was praised for its lyrical content and production value.
YG – ‘My Krazy Life’ (2014)
Image credit: Def Jam Recordings
Simple: “My nigga” and “Who do you love?”
After creating buzz with a series of mixtapes, YG broke through with their debut album, my crazy life. According to rap star Def Jam, the album featuring hit singles like “My N***a” and “Who Do You Love?” was like “a day in the life of YG from morning till night”. Superproducer DJ Mustard handled much of the production for the well-reviewed album, incorporating his signature West Coast sound. Rich Homie Quan, Drake, Ty Dolla Sign, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar are just a few of the artists who have appeared on My Krazy Life.
Rae Sremmurd – ‘Sremmlife’ (2015)
Image credit: eardrums/Interscope
Simple: “No Flex Zone”, “No Type” and “Throw Sum Mo” featuring Nicki Minaj and Young Thug
Rae Sremmurd seemingly came out of nowhere when they released their debut single, “No Flex Zone” in 2014. By the time their debut album was released, months later, the dynamic Mississippi-born duo known individually as de Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi were household names. . Executive produced by hit-maker Mike Will Made It, Sremmlife featured several top 40 hits, including “No Flex Zone,” “No Type,” and “Throw Sum Mo,” assisted by Nicki Minaj and Young Thug. The band’s debut album lands on several best of 2015 lists and even made for rolling stone’s List of the 200 greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Sremmlife was so successful that it spawned a few sequels.
Travis Scott – ‘Rodeo’ (2015)
Image credit: Grand Hustle Records/Epic Records
Simple: “3500” & “Antidote”
Following the release of two mixtapes (2013’s Pharaoh Owl and 2014 A few days before the rodeo), Travis Scott has let it be known that he’s here to stay with his debut album, Rodeo. The 14-track project was a sign of things to come from one of popular music’s most sought-after artists. Rodeo The lead single, “Antidote,” peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not only did the album feature a smash hit, but it also featured a fiery rap verse from Justin Bieber.
Nipsey Hussle – ‘Victory Lap’ (2018)
Image credit: Atlantic Records
Simple: “Rap N*ggas”, “Last Time I Checked”, and “Dedication”
It’s no secret that some of the best early rap albums are created by artists with something to prove. After grinding for much of his life, delivering great mixtapes and captivating guest appearances, Nipsey Hussle finally released his debut album in 2018. Titled victory tower, the Grammy-nominated album featured everything from soulful vibes to uplifting anthems. Delivering a more polished sound on this album than on previous releases, the late rapper delivered a project that was both fresh and familiar.
Cardi B – “Invasion of Privacy” (2018)
Image credit: Atlantic Records
Simple: “Bodak Yellow”, “Bartier Cardi”, “Be Careful” and “I Like It”
Cardi B’s debut album Privacy breach was released in 2018 to critical acclaim and commercial success. The album introduced Cardi’s in-your-face style to the masses. She drew on her own personal experiences and observations and crafted a personal and universally relatable project. It was also an album to discover! The well-crafted songs and clever lyrics resonated with listeners, helping her debut not only achieve mainstream success, but also make history.
Playboi Carti – ‘Die Lit’ (2018)
Image credit: AWGE/Interscope
Simple: “Poke It Out” featuring Nicki Minaj
Golden-age-loving hip-hop heads might not understand, but Playboi Carti is a hugely influential artist. A few years before his All Lotta Red album was coined one of the best rap albums in modern history, Carti again established himself as an innovator with die lit.