– Best Rap Albums 2022-
If you are a lover of hip hop, then you might love to go back in time and also know the best rap albums 2022 of all time.
Even though the answer might be complicated and subjective, these are the best rap albums 2022 so far, that have influenced rap’s landscape and is worth listening to.
Best Rap Albums 2022 of all Time
Here are the best rap albums 2022 of all time, from the 1900s till date:
1. It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back By Public Enemy (1988)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Public Enemy’s second album, is as influential to hip-hop as The Velvet Underground & Nico are to rock music. It’s full of political wrath and stinging social critique.
The fact that the album was recorded in six weeks, layering samples for an original and captivating sound, is an accomplishment in and of itself, but it’s made all the more astounding when you consider the lyrical prowess displayed on its tracks by the group’s lead rapper, Chuck D.
It Takes A Nation, which incorporates a punk sensibility with themes of black empowerment and social injustice, is still as energizing to listen to today as it was when it was originally released, confirming Public Enemy’s place as industry pioneers.
2. Gangster Chronicle By London Posse (1990)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Gangster Chronicle is a landmark album that marks the first time non-American performers contributed to the genre utilizing their own national accents.
It is the first and only album released by UK hip-hop group London Posse.
As a result, Gangster Chronicle set the standard for British hip-hop, combining aspects of dancehall and ragga that have since been ingrained in our country’s rap production.
Every track on this one album, from the reggae beats of the group’s biggest success, “Money Mad,” to the sinister production on “Gangster Chronicle,” shows how UK hip-hop evolved from this one album, creating a distinctly British sound that paved the road for musicians today.
3. The Low-End Theory By A Tribe Called Quest (1991)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. A Tribe Called Quest’s second album, The Low-End Theory, elevated hip-hop to new heights, enhancing its laid-back sound with jazz samples edited by Q-Tip, and inspired Dr. Dre to record his first solo album, The Chronic.
The result was a timeless record that stands out not only for its inventiveness but also for its social criticism, particularly its treatment of misogyny on songs like “Infamous Date Rape,” a pre-Me Too (although crass) homage to consent.
The Low-End Theory takes a witty, relaxed vibe even further than the group’s most famous song, “Can I Kick It?” (from People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm), with an added layer of sophistication that showcases the group’s growth as artists.
4. The Chronic by Dr. Dre (1992)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Dr. Dre’s specialty is making you bounce, and on his first album since leaving NWA, he does not disappoint.
Dre’s G-funk sound, which features swirling synths and funky bass, is instantly recognizable and is as enticing today as it was in the 1990s, setting a new standard for hip-hop production that has perhaps yet to be surpassed.
With tunes like “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” and “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” featuring the then-unknown Snoop Dogg, the duo’s silky approach to rap heralded in a new, mellow period for the genre, with laid-back, funk-infused sounds that were a departure from the prevailing sound at the time.
Listen to this album and you’ll understand why Dr. Dre has become one of the music industry’s most well-known individuals.
5. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) By Wu-Tang Clan (1993)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. When RZA and Ghostface Killah decided to start Wu-Tang Clan, they had a clear goal in mind and understood they needed to surround themselves with the best rappers in the game to make it happen.
The group utilized a democratic method to craft their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), pitting rappers against each other in battles to decide who participated in each song, bringing stars like Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Raekwon to the forefront.
The result is a decidedly underground sound, with RZA samplings martial arts films like Shaolin and Wu-Tang while passing the mic to his crew of rappers, resulting in a fusion that helped usher in East Coast rap’s revival in the 1990s.
6. Doggystyle By Snoop Doggy Dogg (1993)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Snoop Dogg’s debut album, Doggystyle, was released a year after he originally drew the notice of critics on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and it went straight to No. 1 and became the fastest-selling hip-hop album ever.
Dre’s paw prints can be found all over the album, but it’s Snoop’s wit and imaginative flows that make this song stand out.
While Snoop Dogg’s lyrics on Doggystyle have a tendency to wander towards sexism and violence, his unique delivery combined with Dre’s production is enough to enable you to turn a blind eye if you regard it as a product of its period. Anyone for a gin and tonic?
7. Illmatic by Nas (1994)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Illmatic, Nas’ debut album, is a true triumph, with jazz samples and cerebral lyrical that catapulted the then-20-year-old to a pedestal he hasn’t left since.
Nas paints a vision of inner-city living that flits from irritation to hope, providing a fresh story of what it’s like to grow up in a poverty-stricken region while harboring dreams of an escape, with the services of DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and LES on production.
Illmatic is so amazing that it has been examined by academics, and it will go down in history as not only one of the best hip-hop albums of all time, but also one of the best albums ever recorded in general.
Nas may have said, “Life is a bitch and then you die,” but Illmatic will always be a part of his legacy.
8. Ready to Die By The Notorious BIG (1994)
This is one of the best rap albums2022. Anyone who wants to criticize rap music for glorifying murder and criminal conduct can listen to The Notorious BIG’s Ready To Die.
Yes, songs like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” focus on the positive aspects of his life, such as his rags-to-riches story and getting laid, respectively.
But elsewhere on Ready To Die, Biggie is forthright about the downsides, with songs like “Everyday Struggle” and “Suicidal Thoughts” addressing despair and the stigma that comes with a life of crime.
On Ready To Die, there’s real sensitivity beneath the confidence and his booming voice, and when combined with his storytelling abilities and the album’s sleek production, it’s easy to see why he’s regarded by many as the best rapper of all time.
9. All Eyez On Me By 2Pac (1996)
2Pac’s fourth and final album, which was released during his lifetime, is a hip-hop tour de force, the first of its kind to be published for widespread consumption and a fierce return to music after serving eleven months in prison for sexual assault.
No label in their right mind would have bailed him out for his crime in today’s environment, but Death Row Records did so in 1995, forking over $1.4 million on the condition that he create three albums for them once they were released.
The rapper was killed in a drive-by shooting less than a year later, but not before releasing All Eyez On Me, a hastily produced album that took only two weeks to complete.
While there is a sense of urgency throughout the album, 2Pac’s work is far from sloppy, forsaking the more self-reflective themes explored on Me Against The World in favor of an unabashed celebration of Thug Life.
All Eyez On Me may not be 2Pac’s most thoughtful album, but it features some of Death Row Records’ most acclaimed producers, including, you guessed it, Dr. Dre.
But it’s the one on which all the pieces came together in perfect harmony, and it deserves to be recognized as the great, given its huge scope and quick turnaround.
10. The Score by Fugees (1996)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. “It’s almost like a hip-hop Tommy, like what The Who did for rock music,” Lauryn Hill said of the Fugees’ second album before it was even released.
If you talk that kind of talk, you better do the walk, and The Score did not disappoint when it was released.
The Score is intimate and insightful, weaving together sophisticated samples, live instruments, and intelligent vignettes of ghetto life. At the time, it provided a larger appeal to masses who were dubious of hip-hop music.
On this album, each member of the band had a chance to shine, but The Score is notable for introducing Hill to a wider audience, with her vocals anchoring the group’s deep sound on singles like “Ready Or Not” and “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”
Only a year after The Score’s release, the group split and began working on solo projects, but it was enough time for The Score to cement Fugees’ place in hip-hall hop’s of fame, forever altering the genre’s landscape.
11. Aquemini by OutKast (1998)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. OutKast’s Aquemini enhanced their craft with live instrumentation and inventive flows after the success of their first two albums, introducing newfound respect for Southern hip-hop in the genre.
The musicianship in Aquemini positioned André 3000 and Big Boi as artists with an ear for creativity, inviting an unusual mix of musicians to the studio and developing the album’s instrumentals through jamming sessions.
The pair achieved this by combining their distinct personalities (the album’s title is a reference to their respective star signs of Aquarius and Gemini) to produce a really unique sound.
It’s a triumphant and joyful record, with soul and funk rhythms woven into the mix and outstanding poetry to boot. What could be better than being cool? “Ice cold!” some say, but we say OutKast — and only OutKast.
12. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill By Lauryn Hill (1998)
With the Fugees’ The Score, Lauryn Hill earned the hearts of the people, but her debut solo album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, underlined that she was a force to be reckoned with, her vocals and rapping abilities shining brightly as the star of their own record.
They imbue the Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill in soul and thoughtful vulnerability, with occasional appearances from the likes of Mary J Blige and D’Angelo, as Hill smoothly slips in between rapping and singing with impressive ease.
It was written in a burst of creativity inspired by her pregnancy with Rohan Marley.
The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill won five Grammys, making it the first hip-hop album to win the prized Album Of The Year award, as well as the first woman to win five trophies in a single event.
I can still hear the music of The Miseducation in hip-hop and neo-soul releases today, thanks to their enduring influence. “Doo Wop (That Thing),” the album’s main track, can be heard at any party worth attending anywhere on the earth.
13. The Blueprint By Jay-Z (2001)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. If the Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance taught us anything, it’s that the greatest way to respond to critics is to succeed, which is exactly what Jay-Z did with his sixth album, The Blueprint.
While he fights back on “Takeover,” the rest of the album speaks for itself, revitalizing hip-sample hop’s culture with the help of a young Kanye West and Just Blaze’s production.
On “Hola’ Hovito,” Jay-Z confidently assures listeners that “If I ain’t better than BIG, I’m the closest one.” The result is a soul-influenced exercise in bravado, as he toots his own horn over carefully refined samples, confidently assuring listeners that “If I ain’t better than BIG, I’m the closest one.”
While it is arguable whether The Blueprint is Jay-best Z’s album – he has stated that his debut, Reasonable Doubt, is his best work – its effect is undeniable, practically laying out the aural blueprint for hip-hop production in the coming years. That’s how you silence those annoying naysayers.
14. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy By Kanye West (2010)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. When Kanye West declared on Jimmy Kimmel in 2013, “I’m a creative genius and there’s no other way to put it,” many people scoffed, but on the 2010s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he walked with a swagger that matches his words.
With lavish production and lyrics musing on the manic highs and sobering lows of fame and excess, West clearly set out to showcase the full breadth of his talent with this album, excelling across the board with lavish production and lyrics musing on the manic highs and sobering lows of fame and excess.
From the echoing chanting on “Power” to the ferocious percussion on “All Of The Lights,” no two tracks sound alike, but they’re all linked by a distinctly darker tone that emerges through their production.
Jay-Z, RZA, Raekwon, Rick Ross, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj, to mention a few, were enlisted for guest appearances. West created a modern masterpiece that broke the hip-hop rule book and proved that he is, after all, a creative genius.
15. To Pimp a Butterfly By Kendrick Lamar (2015)
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. The album, To Pimp A Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album, has been compared to Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation by many, giving you a sense of what to expect from this modern epic.
To Pimp A Butterfly is a creative confluence of decades of black music influences, from jazz to funk to soul, and it weaves together a politically charged tapestry documenting the black experience, with George Clinton and Thundercat lending their talents to the album.
The album is a dramatic piece of work, with Lamar playing theatrical with a host of characters within his tracks to drive his ideas home, hitting issues of racism and injustice for the Black Lives Matter generation.
It’s not just one of the best current hip-hop albums, but also one of the best albums of any genre released in the last decade.
16. Criminal Minded – Boogie Down Productions
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. The debut album from KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock is an East Coast classic that continues to knock to this day.
The smart mixture of rap/hip-jump, rock-and-roll, and reggae effects played the foundation flawlessly while KRS-One delivered a surge of hard-hitting bars.
From this epic LP, songs like “South Bronx” and “The Bridge is Over” are massive hits. Thankfully, the remainder of the tracks on this album are as bit as good as those undeniable hip-hop classics.
17. Only Built for Cuban Linx… – Raekwon
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. When Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah deliver mafioso rap, it sounds so real.
Thanks to this proven classic, both of these Wu-Tang affiliates perfected that technique and encouraged a generation of other MCs to follow in their footsteps.
The production is fantastic, the skits are entertaining, and the songs themselves are top-notch 36 Chambers fare.
Only Built for Cuban Linx… takes listeners on a harsh journey through a life full of gangland activities and unrivaled machismo from beginning to end.
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18. Liquid Swords – GZA
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. GZA is “The Genius” in every sense of the word. On his debut album, Liquid Swords, he showcased his ability to write clever raps.
RZA poured his heart and soul into this album, producing some of the best rhythms he’s ever made.
And, thankfully, GZA’s flows stayed flawlessly in the pocket for each banger as he deconstructed the challenges and tribulations of ghetto upbringing.
When the first notes of “4th Chamber” begin to play, it forced every rap fan in the vicinity to wear an ugly scowl while bumping their head in place.
19. Raising Hell – Run DMC
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Run DMC’s unrivaled synergy may be fully deconstructed by simply listening to this groundbreaking album.
Overgreat beats/cuts by Jam Master Jay, Run, and DMC goes back and forth like the fast and furious duo they are.
Run DMC’s “Peter Piper,” “It’s Tricky,” and “My Adidas” are all at the top of their game. And don’t forget about Aerosmith’s massive hip-hop/rock & roll crossover hit “Walk This Way.”
Raising Hell is mandatory reading for any modern-day MC who wants to learn a thing or two about rapping.
20. Get Rich or Die Tryin – 50 Cent
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Everyone knows what’s going to happen after that quarter. 50 Cent’s chart-topping album kicks off with a bang and doesn’t let until the end.
Because of the quality of this LP, the man known as Curtis Jackson ignited a bootlegging craze and came into the mainstream consciousness.
“In da Club” is just one of the many definitive bangers that have elevated this album to legendary status, cementing Fif’s place as one of the best to ever do it.
21. The Infamous – Mobb Deep
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. With the release of their second album, Queensbridge’s own Havoc and Prodigy (RIP, King!) elevated themselves to a greater level of hip-hop greatness.
The Infamous is a realistic portrayal of two young guys navigating their way through a life full of upheaval.
Both MCs provided ferocious youthful energy to each tune, all while throwing street wisdom over vintage sounds.
This album will always be in the rotation because of songs like “Shook One, Pt. II,” “Survival of the Fittest,” and “Give Up The Goods.”
22. Feet High and Rising – De La Soul
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Prince Paul, a well-known producer, contributed to De La Soul’s debut album’s soundscape.
It was published at a period when gangsta rap was all the rage, but thanks to a change in concept and sound, it nevertheless managed to get a lot of attention and praise.
The image’s incredibly cool atmosphere is reflected in the bright cover, as are the tunes that accompany it.
Posdnuos, Trugoy, and Maseo have always been a winning combination and rocking to songs like “The Magic Number” and “Me, Myself, and I” does a fantastic job of convincing everyone of that.
23. The Marshal Mathers LP – Eminem
With his first two albums, Detroit’s premier wordsmith amassed a formidable song repertoire. When Eminem released The Marshal Mathers LP, though, everything changed for the better.
Em’s clever wordplay and absurd disses for the public are on full display here. Songs like “Stan” demonstrate a side of Em that isn’t afraid to touch on subjects that aren’t often discussed in hip-hop.
The rest of The Marshal Mathers LP hits all the high notes that fans have come to expect from one of rap’s true legends.
24. Hard Core – Lil’ Kim
When she entered a hip-hop arena controlled by the opposite sex, the “Queen B” kept it authentic and filthy all the way through. Lil’ Kim tossed caution to the wind with Hard Core, spitting with the best of them.
While there aren’t many guests on this one, those that do appear to do a fantastic job of bolstering Kim’s already impressive list of provocative (in a good way) tracks.
Some of Kim’s best tracks include “Big Momma Thang,” “No Time,” “Crush on You,” and “Drugs.” And, by chance, they’re all featured on this CD.
25. Paid in Full – Eric B & Rakim
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. Rakim is known as the God MC for a reason: his fast flow and flair for producing bars that slam you square in the face have earned him the title.
Rakim transformed the rap game in a dramatic way with this great album, which he co-wrote with DJ Eric B.
Rakim’s kingly bars and delivery reflect that ambition for greatness, as does the cover, which invokes visions of making it big through one’s unstoppable hustle.
It’s easy to see/hear why Paid in Full encouraged an entire generation of 90s babies to take to the mic. Remember, “MC” stands for “move the audience.”
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26. It’s Dark and Hell is Hot – DMX
Millions of followers flocked to Darkman X because of his yin and yang traits. Despite being in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable, his faith and undeniable passion motivated others to persevere in the same way he did.
It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, DMX’s magnum opus chronicles the Ruff Ryder representative’s many trials and tribulations through some of the harshest rap songs ever recorded.
The headbangers “Get at Me Dog,” “Stop Being Greedy,” and “The Convo” are just a few of the tracks that make this album an incredible journey with the Darkman himself.
27. ‘Midnight Marauders – A Tribe Called Quest’
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. When A Tribe Called Quest released their third album, they had mastered the art of jazzy samples and boom-bap instrumentals.
Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White form one of the best hip-hop stables around.
Their remarkable chemistry can be heard throughout the record (a special thanks to Tribe’s lengthy list of pals who consented to feature on the cover, as well).
Songs like “Award Tour,” “Electric Relaxation,” and “Lyrics to Go” are popular with backpackers all around the world.
Midnight Marauders is an entire atmosphere that is really relaxing and worth experiencing on multiple occasions.
28. ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother – Pete Rock & CL Smooth
This is one of the best rap albums 2022. This is one of those albums that causes necks to snap all over the place due to excessive head bobbing.
Pete Rock built the aural foundation for CL Smooth to lay down some of his most famous lyrics.
CL Smooth’s descriptive lyricism captures the everyday existence of an urban NYC dweller in Mecca and the Soul Brother. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” is still regarded as one of the all-time best song tributes.
The rest of the album introduces people who are unfamiliar with Pete Rock’s outstanding production and CL Smooth’s slick lines.
Kanye West Albums of All Time
1. ‘Ye’ (2018)
It’s easy to forget that Kanye West’s eighth studio album, Ye, clocks in at little under 24 minutes, with all the drama and mystery surrounding its release.
And, despite its importance, its significance as a major turning point in Kanye’s career, and the birth tale of his Wyoming fixation, the album is eerily underwhelming.
Nas, Pusha-T, Teyana Taylor, and Kids See Ghosts were all announced to be releasing seven-song albums, each produced by West, as part of a larger announcement. There’s a case to be made that Ye is among the worst half of that quartet.
You have a strong sense of being rushed. After his infamous run-in with TMZ, West allegedly altered the entire album. As a result, Ye is more like a sketchbook doodle than a polished painting, with some of Kanye’s sloppiest sounds. However, there are a few highlights.
2. ‘Jesus is King’ (2019)
Many feared the worse when Kanye West stated he was working on a Christian album called Jesus Is King.
His Oval Office visit to see Donald Trump wearing a MAGA hat loomed in the not-so-distant past, and he was coming off the least inspired performance of his career, Ye.
A Jesus-centered album with no Kanye West profanity from the year 2019? It sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.
When Jesus Is King was ultimately released, it exceeded most of those expectations, but it didn’t quite reach the heights of the rest of his discography.
The record has a strong musical foundation. Kanye has always excelled at fusing soulful textures with forward-thinking hip-hop production, and a gospel album like Jesus Is King provides him with the perfect platform to do so.
“Follow God” is a head-nodding remix of Whole Truth’s 1976 “Can You Lose by Following God” that seems like vintage Kanye.
Over a victorious orchestral backdrop that conveys the ecstatic sensation of a true come-to-Jesus experience, “God Is” pushes into an effective raspy, heart-on-his-sleeve vocal performance from Ye. Kanye hasn’t lost his ear for music production.
3. ‘Cruel Summer’ (2012)
It is stated that the best teams are greater than the sum of their parts. Cruel Summer, on the other hand, occasionally feels less than the sum of its parts.
Many believe the G.O.O.D. Music collective album, which was released on September 14, just six days before the end of Summer 2012, to be a flop.
The fact that it has two huge hit singles in “Mercy” and “Clique,” two bonafide bangers in “Cold” and “New God Flow,” and an all-star remix of Chief Keef’s massive “I Don’t Like” helps to save it.
4. ‘Kids See Ghosts’ (2018)
The announcement that Kid Cudi and Kanye West would be working together for the first time raised some eyebrows.
Will they recapture their wonderful synergy from the late 2000s, or will the fast and erratic pace of the Wyoming sessions will hamper the reunion?
The 24-minute Kids See Ghosts album falls halfway in the middle, yet its highs are comparable to Kanye and Cudi’s creative peaks.
“Reborn” has a nearly spiritual hook from Cudi, as well as a stunningly polished and self-aware Kanye verse that, in comparison to Ye’s sloppy rhyming, feels like water in the desert.
“Cudi Montage” is another standout track, with West delivering moving lines about the cyclical cycle of violence in impoverished areas (and Cudi’s humming on the chorus playing as a soothing salve).
Kurt Cobain’s sample on the record is also a brilliant choice, providing a gritty and emotionally intense backdrop.
While West gives Cudi the most vocal duties, Kids See Ghosts is his most proficient and entertaining production of the year.
5. ‘Donda’ (2021)
Whether or not you like it, Donda will always be linked to its release because its own promotional events actually shaped the album’s creation.
We’ve all heard the story: Kanye threw a release party in Atlanta, but instead of releasing the album straight away, he relocated to the bowels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and continued to work on it.
Ye and his team continued to tweak the album for weeks, hosting three live-streamed listening parties before dropping it, paying great attention to fan comments, and even polling users of a Kanye West fan Discord community about tiny tweaks to specific songs.
As he went through various versions of each song and varied the sequencing, he let fans in on the creative process.
Whereas we will recognize The Life of Pablo for the adjustments Kanye made after releasing it on streaming services, the public rounds of revisions that took place before its release will define Donda’s legacy.
So, how did the experiment turn out? In a way, yes. It’s a comeback album for Kanye in several aspects. He raps considerably better on tracks like “Lord I Need You” and “Off the Grid” than he did on his previous two albums, Ye and Jesus Is King.
“Hurricane,” “Pure Souls,” and “Believe What I Say” seem like legitimate singles that might help Kanye get more radio play than he has in years.
He also gets the best out of his colleagues, with incredible verses from Fivio Foreign and Jay Electronica, among others. The production is excellent throughout, as it is on every Kanye album. Simply said, Donda’s highs are really high.
6. ‘The Life of Pablo’ (2016)
While the first track from The Life of Pablo’s obscure papal sessions hinted at a trap bender in the vein of Yeezus, the album is actually a gospel record.
At least for the first third of the album, when Kirk Franklin, Kelly Price, Chance the Rapper, and Kid Cudi join Kanye West to sing lofty contrasts to the maestro’s condo-weary pessimism.
Mr. West has taken up residence in TriBeCa, singing about bleached anuses and laying forth the best procedures for paparazzi.
Such intense moments define Pablo’s life; sadly, the distance between them might feel too hollow to bear.
Pablo is West’s messiest album since Late Registration, with a middle act that mismanages the record’s speed, tone, and intent like a micro-discography stuck on shuffle.
When he’s at his worst—that is, when he’s at his laziest—West gasses himself into fits of first-draft songwriting, as when he mumbles the final pieces of “30 Hours,” or when he lashes out at Taylor Swift and Ray J with illogical punchlines.
Pablo, on the other hand, is a monument to collaboration and intervention at its best; it’s truly beautiful when West delegated the eruptions to Chance, Price, Desiigner, The-Dream, The Weeknd, or, finally, Post Malone. As a result, Kanye outshines Kanye, with inconsistent success.
7. ‘808s & Heartbreak’ (2008)
It’ll be difficult to find someone who will argue that 808s & Heartbreak is Kanye’s best album. Who was the most influential in his life? Perhaps.
The one who altered the course of his career? Definitely. But which is the best? That’s a difficult case to make. However, it’s possible that it’s correct.
The fact that this is a focused thesis statement of an album is lost in the discussion of whether Drake bit the 808s sound and sensibility to start a new era in hip-hop.
And the question of what Kanye was even doing here, singing stream-of-conscious, despair-filled pop songs over spare electronic beats. Kanye has won us over for three albums.
He was hip-everyman, hop’s an artist who seemed to record every thought that crossed his mind, and we adored him for it. More importantly, it resulted in him achieving greater levels of success at every turn.
Despite all odds, he was our biggest star by graduation.
It meant his message from the top to be 808s. The message it conveyed was that none of it was worthwhile.
We all know the narrative behind this album: it’s Kanye’s bereavement record, which is really a breakup album, following the unexpected deaths of his two most important ladies.
8. ‘Late Registration’ (2005)
We generally rank graduation at the opposite end of Kanye’s discography by fans of Late Registration.
Those who believe Graduation to be peak-Kanye widely regarded as the poorest of the solo releases late Registration.
The best part about revisiting Late Registration—an album that has aged well and doesn’t date itself at every conceivable moment (hey, Graduation, with its Daft Punk and Chris Martin and its awful Weezy verse)—is being reminded of all the album’s contributions, who are sometimes overlooked.
9. ‘The College Dropout’ (2004)
The College Dropout was a fantastic record. Kanye West didn’t simply prove himself as a solo artist with the potential to become a great celebrity.
It was a watershed event in hip-hop, allowing for whole new approaches to what artists rapped about.
On The Blueprint, he’d already changed the sound of hip-hop by fusing soul music’s history with present pop inclinations; now it was time to rewrite the rules of lyrical substance, reaching the crossroads of the streets and classrooms, backpackers and ballers, the underground and the pop charts.
Many of his admirers focus on the second part, but the first—creativity—was equally important. In retrospect, it’s difficult to recognize how revolutionary his debut album was.
As a result of the number of lanes that The College Dropout opened up for artists to fill, its thematic uniqueness is harder to perceive through the tangle of history.
However, it remains a shockingly original and diversified album, as well as one of the most relatable albums ever created.
The College Dropout may not have perfectly conveyed what made Kanye who he was, but it was amusing, flawed, and certainly human. However, it provided him with the opportunity to do so.
10. ‘Yeezus’ (2013)
Yeezus is unlikely to be Kanye West’s most successful album; in fact, it appears to be designed to alienate a wide range of fans, some of whom have gravitated toward J. Cole’s more traditional hip-hop.
(Born Sinner was released the same week as Yeezus.) Since Kanye’s debut as a solo artist in 2004, rap has evolved significantly.
Back then, no famous hip-hop artist would release an album about a college dropout’s battle to break into the music industry and make it the key drama of the story.
Those everyman stories are all too frequent these days, so Kanye is taking a different approach. Where he began his career eager for acceptance, he now appears to be aiming to irritate fans.
No one with his level of success would consider releasing a record as contentious and hostile as Yeezus.
11. ‘Watch the Throne (2011)
It didn’t live up to expectations. It’ll do just well. It’s a Kanye West album with JAY-Z. These are the false tales surrounding Watch the Throne, the collaborative album between Mt. Rushmore’s twin titans of modern rap.
Kanye, revitalized by the conclusion of an unmitigated comeback tale, was, as they say now, pumped up.
He’d managed to give his supporters exactly what they wanted, especially the 808s’ opponents, while also satisfying his own drive to push hip-hop, pop—shit, music to new heights. What’s the best way to double down on that?
12. ‘Graduation’ (2007)
The release of Graduation was the day Kanye had been waiting for his entire life: it was the day he became famous.
It wasn’t a victory lap, though; it was the start of a new era for Kanye, one in which he would shine brightly on a whole new level.
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13. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ (2010)
When Kanye West performed Graduation, it felt as if we were seeing an artist at the pinnacle of his career.
His musicianship had grown dramatically, his rhyming had drastically improved, his vision had become clear and (relatively) concise, and his aesthetic had become tuned and crisp.
His goal was to create an indisputable work of art that would overshadow all of his perceived flaws and reestablish his importance in, and the essential necessity for, the culture. He was also successful.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy expresses his twisted story in a brief style, lined up and addressing every one of his critics and enemies.
“Power,” the album’s unabashedly triumphal first song, makes it clear that this is a talent that must be dealt with, a talent that we must respect and be grateful for.
He delves deeper into his feelings of abandonment and alienation from America on “Gorgeous” and “Lost in the World” (and its outro) reflecting further, and less specifically, on the social climate that cast him out, before careening back to the self; to his personal life.
Songs like “Runaway” and “Blame Game” tread a tight line between raw and refined, frank and horrific, humanizing Kanye’s most cruel tendencies as he sorts out his love for Rose.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a sloppy masterpiece that is significantly more fascinating and involved than anything Kanye had previously released. And it set the tone for the rest of the story.
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