TLDR: The Best Rappers of the Decade

Abe Beame provides an extensive recap (complete with corresponding bibliography) for his recently wrapped series.
By    October 31, 2019

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Is Abe Beame too complex for ComplexCon?

In 2019, if you’re an older person who isn’t part of the mediaclass and therefore not on Twitter, writing about music, culture, or really anything on the internet can be a lonely enterprise. When I first started nearly 15 years ago, what drew me to this strange sub-culture was the sense of community. There were the initial pieces of often brilliant, or brilliantly irreverent writing we were discussing, but we’d have the most fun in the comment threads, back when the very idea of a comment thread wasn’t quite as loaded or toxic, or at least it didn’t feel that way. The threads of sites like Nah Right or Oh Word were definitively not salons, but I doubt Picasso and Gertrude Stein ever had as much fun debating Cubism as we did arguing over the brilliance of Young Jeezy’s ad libs — and they certainly couldn’t do it in the comfort of an attic in Midwood, in Ecko sweats and an old beat up Wu-Tang Forever Tour t shirt they bought in the parking lot of the Continental Airlines Arena after their first concert they dragged their dad to in the late 90s.

I bring this up because after an invigorating year working on this series, it’s difficult to know if many, or even any people enjoyed it besides me and the handful of dudes who also write for the site who had the time, patience and energy to wade through it. At times it felt like I was sending missives out from a stranded ship floating through the black recesses of space, uncertain if they would ever make it back to Earth. 

The project was simple, antiquated in its style and structure. Twelve long form essays, each featuring an individual (with one significant exception) who I felt had not just shaped the decade in rap music but in some way explained it. I’m a really bad hot take writer who barely writes about music anymore so in some ways I felt like the perfect messenger. These would be sober, deeply considered essays that attempt to take an entire decade of work from an artist as a whole and contextualize it in the inscrutably dense landscape of modern rap music. Because I’m not caught up in the Twitter maelstrom, I think when the pieces worked, if they worked, it’s because they approached their subjects with a sense of wonder, a historical context it would be difficult for a younger, more attuned writer to capture simply because he or she is still right in the middle of the issues or debates surrounding the artists in question, with their takes and corners to defend and justify, and I, as an older person on the outside of the culture, had none. And of course because it’s me writing it I imagine it could also come off as occasionally arch and unnecessarily referential and poetic. 

The most common feedback I got on the project when (gracious) people decided to comment had to do with the accompanying mixtapes the pieces came with, and they often critiqued the selection, which was fair. I perhaps didn’t do the best job setting this up, but these mixtapes were never intended to highlight the best, or even my favorite elements of the work of these artists. Instead they would be Cliff Notes, audio essays that focus on the particular elements of an artist’s oeuvre that I felt is what made this decade in the artist’s body of work noteworthy. 

So, that means specifically it was about the ceiling shattering ecstatic intensity of Nicki Minaj, the sacred mysticism of Young Thug, Soundcloud and the de-location of rap, A$AP Ferg and his resilient post modern New Yorkism, the idiosyncrasies of late Kanye West, the at times inaccessible cerebralism of Kendrick Lamar, Future’s heartbroken hedonism, Killer Mike and the state of the modern underground on the internet, Migos and their persnickety perfectionist wordplay and timing, Drake and the triumph of tabloid rap, Rick Ross’ magical realism and the loss of personhood and biography in our rappers, and the late emergence and eventual dominance of Travis Scott’s pop trap. 

So now, to squeeze every last drop of content out of this cold, hard stone, here is a compilation of a series written by a fairly out of touch not music critic that inspected these artists from a certain, specific lens that will take each of these ideas and curate a song or two that best explains these ideas. An encapsulation of an encapsulation that also aspires to work as a cohesive entertainment. I doubt you’ll find much of this on a Now That’s What I Call Music! mix, but where would the fun be in that? (I’ve also re-upped all the links that will be posted at the bottom because I love you, so if you choose you can delve into all the full length mixtapes in their original forms) 

I would also like to thank anyone who actually followed the series, if you’re out there. When I think back on the last year some of my favorite evenings were spent sitting in my blessedly quiet apartment on the couch late night, after my wife and kids had gone to sleep, in a pair of Ecko sweats and a Wu Tang Forever Tour t-shirt (I really need to upgrade my loungewear game) with a glass of wine trying to unknot another tortured metaphor or unsuccessfully attempting to trim the fat off another indulgent paragraph. So thanks for being the audience to that effort. But before we get to the tape let’s fuck around with some fun superlatives and bullshit.

Most Prevalent Cliche: Politics was the shroud that hung over the entire series. I think this is appropriate as it now pervades every aspect of our lives, but the way I often checked it was lazy and predictable. Nearly every essay had some mention of this decade being: dark, dystopian, bleak, sad, frightening, depressing, etc. These are all shorthand for: Barack Obama was the president and now Donald Trump is the president. It defined much, probably too much of how our art explained our lives to us. 

Best Comment:

“I firmly believe that when art is great, audiences (mainstream and underground alike) are capable of coming together and recognizing it together. Tupac and Biggie were both commercial successes in their lifetimes. Eminem was (and still is) a superstar. Andre 3000 (with Big Boi) still has the highest-selling hip hop record of all time (adjusted for inflation). These guys are widely considered by critics to be the best rappers of all time, and all four of them have received (in my mind) the same kind of deification that Kendrick has.

There are definitely people who throw out Kendrick’s name in conversation without understanding the full scope of his music, just as there are people who use Einstein’s name to mean smart, or Picasso’s name to mean artistic, without fully understanding what made their work so subversive. This, however, is (a) unavoidable and (b) not really a bad thing. I think the liberal thing is throwing you off, because there probably is a “woke Twitter” crowd, as you put it, that embraces Kendrick in a way that is pandering. Once again though, this is unavoidable, and not that detrimental to his music or the landscape of modern music in general. The right people are still getting credit. Sure, Kendrick gets a pass for some of his un-catchy, poorly-produced music (Loyalty), but that speaks to his artistry even more, because his lyrical content is winning out against some of his sonic shortcomings.

I’m not baffled by Kendrick’s success. In fact, I’m validated by it. It gives me hope that art which is truly great can transcend underground/mainstream partisanship and be embraced by all, even if it means people don’t necessarily arrive at that opinion on their own, and I count it as a personal triumph that we managed to elect Kendrick to this position. I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.” – Jackson Diianni

Now see, this is what the fuck I’m talking about. Jackson is the ghost of Christmas past here with a great, thoughtful clapback that would’ve done an excellent job stirring the pot in yesteryears. Jackson is referring to March’s No Country For Good Kids, probably the most difficult piece to put together, the one Jeff and I went the most rounds over, that argued, in retrospect I think pretty fairly, that Kendrick’s greatness is unimpeachable, but his stratospheric success in this era of numbing entertainment is kind of impossible.

Jackson’s eloquent response is a somewhat naive and beautiful sentiment that great art is self evident and will thrive, prosper and break out no matter the circumstances because brilliance and beauty are universal qualities that all human beings can recognize and agree on. And my only real response is that I’ve spent decades watching brilliance being ignored or willfully misunderstood, mediocrity triumphing over said brilliance, and once again, at the moment our president is Donald Trump. But Jackson, if you’re out there, jump in the thread at the end of this piece and let’s keep it going.

Mixtape You Return to and Listen to the Most: Young Thug- The Rest is Noise. I got better at editing these things as the project progressed. I’d probably trim about six songs off Thug’s mixtape in retrospect but the beginning and end are unimpeachable. 

The Piece You Return to and Think About the Most: Rick Ross- Print the Legend. I firmly believe this is either the best or worst thing I’ve ever written. It uses the meteoric rise of a fat ridiculous coke rapper from Miami to explain the 2016 election and our broken society as a whole. How ridiculous/great or awful is that? 

Worst Piece?: Killer Mike. I struggled the most with whether or not he was deserving of inclusion. It was hard to write and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. 

Best Technical Rapper: Nicki Minaj

Most Important Rapper: Kendrick Lamar

Gun To Your Head- Song of the Decade?: “Bad and Boujee”

Gun To Your Head- Rapper of the Decade?: Young Thu-, er Futu- *BANG*

An Exhaustively Unabridged Index of All the Absurd References in this Entire Series:

2 Chainz- Unfairly maligned rapper and truly great artist (I AINT FORGET YOU DEEN). 

Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

50 Cent- Arguably the most influential rapper of the aughts, not necessarily a complement. The last New York rapper to be truly relevant and command the national conversation besides Jay-Z. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

808s & Heartbreaks- Strange and surprising 2008 Kanye West album that winds up being one of the most influential albums of this decade Drake- Wild Life (July), Young Thug- The Rest Is Noise (December) 

2001: A Space Odyssey- Dir. Stanley Kubrick (1968) Future- Burn This (September)

A Star is Born- Dir. Bradley Cooper (2018) Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

A$AP Rocky- Political prisoner, pretty motherfucker. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

A$AP Yams- Visionary promotional genius. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October) 

Activis- Promethazine syrup. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Ali G- Sacha Baron Cohen’s subversive piece of performance art designed to shine light on institutional stupidity. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Andre 3000- Played Tcherny in Claire Denis’ “High Life”. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December), Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Antetokounmpo, Giannis- The Greek Freak. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Ashtrobot- See Munroe, Colin Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Atta, Mohammad- 9-11 conspirator/lizard person crisis actor? (KIDDING! STEP AWAY FROM THE YOUTUBE DOC) Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Atlanta- The capital of rap music this decade. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Atlanta- Donald Glover’s loosely structured dream logic tone poem about race and class on FX. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Bargani, Andrea- Infamous first pick Italian bust the Knicks traded a fucking first round pick and two second round picks for in 2013 Drake- Wild Life (July)

Beautiful Thugger Girls- Thug’s inspired, twangy pivot to R&B. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Beethoven, Ludwig Van- Influential composer, direct spiritual ancestor of Young Thug. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

BET- Black Entertainment Television Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Big Kuntry King- Shmuck who happened to be in a group with T.I. 15 years ago. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Biggie- The greatest rapper of all time. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Black Panther- Dir. Ryan Coogler (2018) Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Black Swan- Dir. Darren Aronofsky (2010) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Bohemian Rhapsody- Written by Freddie Mercury (1975) Kanye West- The Descent (February)

The Bomb Squad- Noisy, layered, groundbreaking production team primarily known for their work with Public Enemy. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Brexit- Still not entirely clear on this. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Bukowski, Charles- The poet laureate of the underworld. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Burn This- Written by Lanford Wilson (1987) Future- Burn This (September)

Bun B- The Trillest OG. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Busta Rhymes- WOO HAH! Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique

Cage, John- Avant-garde 20th century composer. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Canada- Country where Drake is from. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Cannes- Epic film festival. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Carhartt- Michigan based work clothes company appropriated as streetwear by New Yorkers in the 90s. Future- Burn This (September) 

The Carter III- Lil Wayne (2008) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Catch Me If You Can- Dir. Steven Spielberg (2002) Drake- Wild Life (July)

Chappelle, Dave- GOAT comedian, yes even now. Feel free to prepare the “ABE BEAME SAYS COMEDY IS DEAD BECAUSE OF CANCEL CULTURE” hot takes now. Kanye West- The Descent (February) 

The Cheesecake Factory- Apparently Drake’s favorite restaurant? Drake- Wild Life (July)

Children of Men- Dir. Alfonso Cuaron (2006) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Ciara- Future’s baby mother, ex, and muse. Future- Burn This (September)

Clinton Correctional Facility- Max state prison upstate where 2pac had his brain broken after allegedly being sexually assaulted. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Clinton, Hillary- The living, breathing avatar of bloodless, ineffectual late liberal despair (FUCK OFF I VOTED FOR HER) Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August), Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Clueless- Dir. Amy Heckerling (1995) Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Cobain, Kurt- Nirvana frontman. (2/20/1967-4/5/1994) Future- Burn This (September)

Cole, J.- Thoroughly shitty rapper Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Coltrane, John- If you don’t already know you need to #listentomorejazz Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

The Commission- Rumored supergroup with Biggie, Jay-Z, Diddy, Lil Cease and……… Charli Baltimore?? Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Common- Not sure about this one, I think he’s a mediocre actor who fought John Wick once and somehow convinced Serena Williams to go to the beach with him Kendrick Lamar- No Country for Good Kids (March)

Community- Dan Harmon’s cult deconstruction of the sitcom on NBC. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Computers- By Rowdy Rebel ft. Bobby Shmurda (2015) A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Confessions- Usher (2004) Drake- Wild Life (July)

D4L- Atlanta Snap Rap Icons. Future- Burn This (September)

Dadaism- Early 20th century art movement that rejected rationality. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June) 

DAMN.- Kendrick’s throwback clapback, a mixtape album on steroids. Oh, also won a Pulitzer Prize. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

De La Pava, Sergio- A Naked Singularity (2008) Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Def Jam South- Southern focused label imprint once headed by Scarface. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Def Jux- The most important indie label of the modern era? Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Dench, Judy- The great dame of the English stage and screen. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January) 

Degrassi- Never watched but as far as I can tell a poor man’s Saved By The Bell. Notable or infamous for launching Drake’s career depending on how you feel about Drake. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Demarco, Jason- Adult Swim’s vice president of strategic marketing and promotion. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August) 

Depalma, Brian- Influential indie genre master. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

DePodesta, Paul- Influential baseball front office executive who helped pioneer “Moneyball”. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

The Descent- Dir. Neil Marshall (2006) Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Digital Underground- Influential Oakland rap collective starring Shock G. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

The Diplomats- Wordplay obsessed weirdo Harlem rap collective. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

DJ Pooh- The God. Produced for DJ Tee, Del the Funky Homosapien, Ultramagnetic MCs, Tha Doggpound, 2pac, Snoop and Cube. Co-Wrote Friday, got knocked the fuck out by Deebo. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

DMX- Talk is cheap, motherfucker. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Don Diva- True crime magazine popular in jail. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

The Dungeon Family- The most important production collective of all time. Future- Burn This (September)

Dutchies- The perfect vessel for 90s weed when it wasn’t so potent that a blunt’s worth of weed would kill you. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October) 

Dylan, Bob- The GOAT. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Edmond, Rayful- DMV 80s drug kingpin. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May) 

Easton Ellis, Brett- Voice of a generation of liberal art school failsons. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

El-P- Underground Godfather. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Elliot, Missy- She’s a bitch. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

The Fader- Hipster music publication. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

The Feminine Mystique- By Betty Friedan (1963) Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

The First Step Act- Trump era Bill granting an incredible reprieve to people unfairly punished by overly harsh sentencing in our modern prison industrial complex. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Fitzcarraldo- Dir. Werner Herzog (1982) Kanye West- The Descent (February)

The Flat- Now closed utopian paradise of drunk and drugged hipsters in South Williamsburg. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Frankenstein- A monster created by Mary Shelley in the 19th century Kendrick Lamar- No Country for Good Kids (March)

The Fu-Schnickens- Old school Brooklyn fast rappers. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Future- He just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip flops. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity, Future- Burn This (September)

G.O.O.D. Friday- Kanye’s groundbreaking MBDTF roll out in which he released a classic song a week for months leading up to his album. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

G-Unit- A rap collective initially featuring Queens natives 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo. A last gasp of New York’s national dominance that in retrospect was a nadir/death knell. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

The Gambler’s Fallacy- The belief that randomness has some sort of pattern or design. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Gasol, Marc- Wine chugging, sweet passing, persnickety Spaniard via Germantown Tennessee genius legend. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Ghetto Quran- 1999 50 Cent song in which he dry snitched on Supreme Team, leading to him getting shot nine times. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Gilliam, Terry- Frustrating visionary wacko director who got his start in Monty Python. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Giulianni, Rudy- Former NYC mayor it took the rest of the country 15 years to see for who he really is. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Glover, Donald- The most influential Migos fan. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Goines, Donald- Legendary crime fiction author Drake Wild Life (July)

Good Kid M.A.A.D. City- Kendrick’s debut and still his best album Kendrick Lamar- No Country for Good Kids (March)

Ghostface Killah- Wizard of Poetry. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Grand Hustle Records- T.I.’s vanity imprint. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

The Great Gatsby- Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925) Kanye West- The Descent (February), Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

The Great Man Theory- The idea that history can be related through biography of significant figures. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Hallelujah- Leonard Cohen (1984) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Harden, James- Meticulous chess master. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Harrell, Montrezl- Clippers junkyard dog. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Henry IV, Part 1 & 2- Written by William Shakespeare (1597?) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Here, My Dear- Marvin Gaye (1978) Drake- Wild Life (July)

I Can’t Feel My Face- Groundbreaking collaborative mixtape series made by in his prime Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Ice Age 4: Continental Drift- Dir. Mike Thurmeier, Steve Martino. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January) 

Ice Cube- Still probably my favorite political rapper ever. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Iron Triangle- Willets Point in Corona Queens. Known for auto shops and junkyards. Future- Burn This (September) 

Irving, Kyrie- Flat Earth truther with incredible handle. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back- Public Enemy (1988) Drake- Wild Life (July) 

Illmatic- In retrospect, probably the most important rap album ever made. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Infinity War- Dir. The Russo Brothers (2018) Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)  

The Island of Dr. Moreau- Written by H.G. Wells (1896) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Ja Rule- Fyre Festival mastermind. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Jackson, Michael- The intensely problematic King of Pop. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November), Drake- Wild Life (July)

James, Lebron- Greatest basketball player of all time. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Jay-Z- Used to rap. Beyonce’s husband. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

JEFFREY- Young Thug (2016) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

The Jews- Drake is kind of one. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Jordan, Michael- Overrated basketball player who ruined my childhood and may have gotten his father killed by being a sociopathic psychotic competitive shithead who refused to pay off his gambling debts. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Juan Epstein- Classic hip hop podcast. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Kamara, Alvin- The best RB in football. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Kelly, Robert-  😬 Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Korine, Harmony- Oddball scumbag screenwriter and filmmaker. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Kraftwerk- 70s German synth Gods. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

The Kubler-Ross Model- Psychological mapping of the five stages of grief. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Kushner, Jared- America’s First failson. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Kweli, Talib- My “Hip Hop & the Blues” professor’s favorite rapper of all time. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

The Late Shift- Dir. Betty Thomas (1996) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Leach, Robin- Host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Lee, Kevin- Also known as Coach K, one of the most influential behind the scenes figures in Atlanta rap. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Lee, Spike- Great director and terrible writer of 50 plus movies. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Lemonade- Beyonce (2016) Drake- Wild Life (July)

Leonard, Kawhi- Human Cipher and player empowerment death star, the NBA equivalent of Marlowe from “The Wire”. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Lewis, Aaron- He’s on the outside, he’s looking in, he can see through you, see your true colors, cause inside you’re ugly, ugly like him, but he can see through you, see through the real you. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Lewis, Lennox- English jab throwing boxing champ. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Life After Death- Kaleidoscopic Biggie Smalls masterpiece. (1997) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May) 

Lil Keke- He’s got 25 lighters on his dresser, yessir. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Lil Kim- Artist who ushered in the modern era of “Female Rap”, along with Biggie, with her debut “Harcore”. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Lil Wayne- One of the greatest rappers of the last decade and one of the most influential label heads of this one. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Lil Xan- Face tatted internet rapper who has been betrayed. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Lord Infamous- Ricky T. Dunigan (11/17/1973-12/20/2013) Horror core rapping co-founder of Three 6 Mafia, DJ Paul’s nephew, stunningly influential artist who may or may not have invented the triplet flow. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Louis XIII- Remy Martin cognac that retails for $3,000 a bottle. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Ludacris- Greatest R&B feature rapper of all time. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Lynch, Marshawn- Beast Mode. Taste the rainbow. Future- Burn This (September)

Lyricist Lounge- Old School NYC “venue”/symbol for an antiquated style of East Coast oriented underground hip hop Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

M.O.P.- Mash Out Posse, Billy Danze and Lil Fame. Brownsville Duo of spiked baseball bats with arms and legs. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Madonna- Relatively popular at BAM. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Magnolia- Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson (1999) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Stephen Malkmus- Pavement front man. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Mallarme, Stephane- 19th century symbolist poet. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Marcy Projects- Where Jay-Z is from. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Marshall, Kerry JamesA multi platform all time master artist of the 20th and 21st centuries Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance- Dir. John Ford (1962) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

The Manhattan Project- Military research project that lead to the atom bomb. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Martinez, Alpo- Ayo A, n***** get shot everyday b. You be aight n*****. You tough, right? A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Marvel’s What If- Awesome Twilight Zone hypothetical comic book series. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Max Fish- Foundational LES scumbag dive bar. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April), A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Mister Brainwash- Possible Banksy deep fake. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Moonlight- Dir. Barry Jenkins (2016) Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Morrison, Toni- (2/18/1931-8/5/2019) Kendrick’s fellow Pulitzer Prize winner. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Mos Def- Played Left Ear in the 2003 classic, “The Italian Job”. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Moses, Robert- Super villain city planner who shaped the last 100 years of development in NYC. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

MTV- Music Television Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Munroe, Colin- No clue, was in vogue for that week Eminem and B.O.B. ruined music with that stupid Haley Williams hook. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

My Own Private Idaho- Dir. Gus Van Sant (1991) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

MySpace- Tom’s social media website. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Napster- Original P2P music sharing site that destroyed the major label system forever. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Nard & B- Also-ran Southern producers with a shockingly impressive list of production credits. 

Nixon, Richard- 37th President of the United States of America. Future- Burn This (September)

Outkast- Bruh. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

New York City- The greatest city in the world. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

The New Yorker- The best and most important magazine in the history of journalism loathed by every writer on this site besides me. Drake- Wild Life (July)

No Country for Old Men- Dir. The Coen Brothers (2007) Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March) 

Noah- Dir. Darren Aronofsky (2014) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Nurse, Nick- Toronto Raptors head coach (2018-2019) Drake- Wild Life (July)

On the Rvn EP- Young Thug (2018) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Papaya Dog- Purveyor of the world’s best hot dogs. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Portishead- English trip hop band beloved by Travis Scott. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Prince Paul- The infamous Chest Rockwell. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Project Pat- Mista don’t play. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Public Enemy- 80s profits of fire and righteous rage Drake- Wild Life (July)

Puff Daddy- Uptown king of R&B and dancing all in the videos. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Purple Ribbon Records- Big Boi’s vanity imprint. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Pynchon, Thomas- The absurd and at times unreadable post modern master novelist. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March) 

The Q Train- The most convenient train line in the city when it’s running properly. A$AP Ferg (October) 

R.A.P. Music- A top 10 album of the last decade. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Raekwon- Famous Chef. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Rain Man- Dir. Barry Levinson (1988) Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June) 

Ready To Die- 1994 Debut masterpiece by Biggie Smalls, the greatest rapper who ever lived. Kendrick Lamar- No Country for Good Kids (March), Drake- Wild Life (July)

Reagan, Ronald- The Yellow King on a hill Drake- Wild Life (July)

Reaganomics- The gutting of the welfare state and destruction of the graduated income tax ushered in by the Yellow King on a hill. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Rebels of the Neon God- Dir. Tsai Ming-liang Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Rihanna- The living female Bajan Christ returned to Earth. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Rollins, Henry- Incendiary punk icon, former Black Flag lead singer. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Rorschach Test- Hermann Rorshach’s psychology test intended to reveal a reluctant patients inner thoughts through their perceptions of ink blots. Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Ross, Alex- The Rest is Noise (2007) Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

Ross, Rick- “Freeway”, actual drug kingpin and muse for William Leonard Roberts II. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Rothko, Mark- Abstract Expressionist God. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Rubin, Rick- OG producer/Buddhist genre promiscuous Godhead. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Safaree- Who? Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Sanders, Bernie- Look at God. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Schizopolis- Dir. Steven Soderberg (1996) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Screwed Up Click- DJ Screw’s collection of drank soaked misfits. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Sega Genesis- Video game console wildly inferior to Nintendo (fight me). Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August) 

Seinfeld- Show about nothing. No hugging, no lessons. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

Siakam, Pascal- The now deservedly maxxed out infamous SPICY P. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Slim Thug- Still Tippin. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

The Smoking Gun- A kind of proto Wikileaks where documents can be posted to shine light on underreported stories. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Snap Music- Unfairly maligned shockingly influential sub genre of aughts Atlanta rap. Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

The Social Network- Dir. David Fincher (2010) Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Special Field Orders, No. 15- Issued by Union General William T. Sherman in 1865, an early case of eminent domain in which the Army confiscated nearly the entire South Eastern seaboard, then redistributed nearly 400,000 acres of land to newly freed black families. The impetus for “40 acres and a mule”. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

The Squad Up Mixtapes- A 13 part mixtape series released by a Louisiana collective starring Lil Wayne between 2002-2006 that unlocked Lil Wayne’s post modern weirdness and transformed him into one of the most influential rappers of this decade.

Starks, John- Tragic hero. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Super Slimey- Powerhouse Young Thug collab with Future. An album I’ve smuggled into the series multiple times in an attempt to subconsciously sell Jeff on its myriad charms. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

T.I.P.- The King of the South. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August) 

Thank Me Later- Drake’s genre shattering debut LP. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December)

The Statue of Liberty- Frederic August Bartholdi, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel and Richard Morris’ masterwork. A giant sculpture gifted to America on the occasion of its centennial. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Tekashi 6ix9ine- I assume he’s just a snitching meme? Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Thug Motivation 101- Young Jeezy (2005) Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Tunnel- Hugely influential hip hop club in Chelsea for 25 years. Came to define an entire era of late 90s east coast rap. Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

To Pimp a Butterfly- Kendrick’s bloated, overwrought, deified second effort Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)  

Toronto Raptors- Ridiculous basketball team that actually won the championship last season Drake- Wild Life (July)

Trump, Donald- The American President we deserve (2016-?) Literally Every Piece in the series

Twain, Mark- (11/30/1835-4/21/1910) Writer of some distinction, canceled due to use of the N word. Young Thug- The Rest is Noise (December) 

Uniqlo- Japanese clothing brand with a knack for trendy collaborations. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Ulysses- James Joyce’s 1922 post modern classic. It’s been on my “to read” shelf for twenty years despite the fact that I have never and will never read it. Kendick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Vangelis- Greek ambient God. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

VanVleet, Fred- Sweet shooting wildly unlikely NBA Finals hero. Drake- Wild Life (July)

Versace, Gianni- Italian Designer. (12/2/1946-7/15/1997) Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Views- Drake (2016) Drake- Wild Life (July)

Virtuosity- Dir. Leonard, Brad (1995) Drake- Wild Life (July)

Voltron- 80s television series about weird kids who pilot these robotic lions things that can all come together to form a giant robot warrior Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Wagner, Richard- Great 19th Century German composer. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Warhol, Andy- Pop Art God Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

Westbrook, Russell- NBA firebrand, the rightful winner of the 2017 MVP award. Kanye West- The Descent (February)

The White Album- By the Beatles (1968) Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

Wild Life- Novel by Richard Ford, recently adapted into a motion picture by Paul Dano (2018) Drake- Wild Life (July)

Williamson, Marianne- Fighting the dark forces of psychic hatred with love. A$AP Ferg- Blood & Soil (October)

Williams Street Records- Adult Swim label imprint responsible for a stunning amount of late aughts collabs and experimental hip hop. Killer Mike- Digital Underground (August)

Wilson, Russell- AKA Mr. Steal your girl. Future- Burn This (September)

The Wolf of Wall Street- Dir. Martin Scorsese (2013) Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

XXL- Influential rap magazine. Travis Scott- The Late Shift (April)

XXXtentacion- He was SAD! (1/23/98-6/18/2018) Soundcloud- A Naked Singularity (November)

Yesterday- Dir. Danny Boyle (2019) Future- Burn This (September)

Young Jeezy- Bloodhound for the bread, he just smell money. Rick Ross- Print the Legend (May)

Young Money Entertainment- Lil Wayne’s vanity imprint. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January)

Z-100- The world’s worst radio station. Nicki Minaj- The Feminine Mystique (January) 

Zelig- Dir. Woody Allen (1983) Migos- Rebels of the Neon God (June)

Zinn, Howard- Bomb throwing alt-historian Kendrick Lamar- No Country For Good Kids (March)

 

TLDR: The Best of Rappers of the Decade

https://www37.zippyshare.com/v/w3vTnSt9/file.html

“Lil Uzi Vert Freestyle” – Soundcloud: A Naked Singularity (November)
“Alright” – Kendrick Lamar: No Country for Good Kids (March)
“Too Hotty” – Migos: Rebels of the Neon God (June)
“Work (Remix)” – A$AP Ferg: Blood & Soil (October)
“Chun-Li” – Nicki Minaj: The Feminine Mystique (January)
“Passionfruit” – Drake: Wild Life (July)
“200” – Young Thug: The Rest Is Noise (December)
“A Man” – Travis Scott: The Late Shift (April)
“Rick Ross Grunts for 2 Minutes” – Rick Ross: Print the Legend (May)
“Bad and Boujee” – Migos: Rebels of the Neon God (June)
“Reagan” – Killer Mike: Digital Underground (August)
“Perkys Calling” – Future: Burn This (September)
“Work (Lost Kings Remix)” – Drake: Wild Life (July)
“SAD!” – Soundcloud: A Naked Singularity (November)
“Killed Before” – Young Thug: The Rest is Noise (December)
“Runaway” – Kanye West: The Descent (February)
“Who Will Survive in America?” – Kanye West: The Descent (February)

 

Soundcloud: https://www83.zippyshare.com/v/f4zHOO6Z/file.html

Young Thug: https://www7.zippyshare.com/v/3JHbf6NH/file.html

Nicki Minaj: https://www45.zippyshare.com/v/i4Whb4hv/file.html

Kanye West: https://www69.zippyshare.com/v/Py2mwqNJ/file.html

Kendrick Lamar: https://www72.zippyshare.com/v/I3A5cvzw/file.html

Travis Scott: https://www92.zippyshare.com/v/jbk6XCj6/file.html

Rick Ross: https://www54.zippyshare.com/v/0OTgYTRB/file.html

Migos: https://www76.zippyshare.com/v/o7LFeLrD/file.html

Drake: https://www85.zippyshare.com/v/2EZ9kE2L/file.html

Killer Mike: https://www6.zippyshare.com/v/kbgXfx8M/file.html

Future: https://www114.zippyshare.com/v/9HRm5CvX/file.html

A$AP Ferg: https://www113.zippyshare.com/v/S6Nujdtb/file.html

 

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