Hip-Hop Changed My Life:

Kevin Anglade
10 min readDec 31, 2019

Top Ten Rap/R&B Album of 2010s

Growing up I’ve always loved hip-hop. There’s always been something about the art form that has done wonders for my mind as well as my spirit as a Black man in the United States. Although my parents are immigrants from Haiti, that has not stopped me from identifying with the art form that originated in South Bronx in 1973. During my time spent in grade school, I would hear Rap and R&B blasting all throughout the car stereos of my neighborhood, whether it was Eminem, Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Nas, DMX, Usher and Aaliyah. I’ll never forget my first owned rap album that my older sister bought for me which was Beware of Dog by Bow Wow. That was the first time I ever knew a rap song by heart. The next time hip-hop would change me for the better was in 2007 when Lupe Fiasco released his sophomore LP, Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. The kind of rhyming prowess Lupe displayed on that record was phenomenal as he told stories that were stark, funny and cinematic. After that album I was sold on storytelling, and rap as an art form. I no longer viewed music as something that was easy and fun for a moment but as statements that could last a lifetime. I cared about records and what they represented. Therefore, it was only natural that in the decade of 2010, I craved excellent songwriting, great lyrics, sound production, overarching themes. Simply put: a body of work. The albums I have listed below are records that stood out to me over the last ten years as I matured into adulthood and became a man. These albums all have a special place in my heart and will forever be remembered for teaching me something and making me feel certain ways that I will probably never experience again as I will soon enter my thirties. Here are my top ten albums for the 2010’s decade.

Side Note: It was hard to choose only 1 for my #10 pick so I chose two albums that tied for the 10th entry slot.


Doris by Earl Sweatshirt (Tan Cressida/Odd Future/Columbia) 2013

The first time I remember hearing Earl was in 2012 on Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids” from his album Channel Orange. From the moment his verse cut on with a woozy drawl, I was hooked. His voice was deep for a 19-year-old but captivating as he dragged every syllable mid-verse. I remember thinking that if his own album could impress me the way he did on that song then he would have a good record. And so, he must have heard my thoughts because on his 2013 album Doris, he certainly delivered. The record was critically acclaimed as Earl would go on to write dense lyrics showcasing a dexterity that was unmatched by his peers either in Odd Future or the rap game. Some records from that album that stand out to this day are “Burgundy”, “Hive”, with its creepy production and “Centurion” with a beat that sounds as if it came from a 1970’s horror flick. With this album Earl Sweatshirt cemented himself as a legit MC and a prodigy at the time as a teenager far beyond his years.


Ego Death by The Internet (Columbia/Odd Future) 2015

After Frank told us that he had “TWOOO VERSIONSSSS!” of his album, fans like myself waited patiently for an album that never came. As frustrated as I was, I craved for some good R&B tunes to replace the void he had left me with. Enter: The Internet. I came across the band of misfits one day as I was working on the computer and I instantly connected with them. From the opening track of “Get Away” the group’s lead singer, Syd Bennett hooked me with her swooning vocals. Other tracks on the album that standout are “Just Sayin/I Tried”, “Girl”, and “Something’s Missing”. This is an album that will go down as an underrated gem and I’m so thankful for the internet which allowed me to discover The Internet.


Apologies in Advance by Sylvan LaCue (Wise Up) 2018

After hearing LaCue’s mixtape Searching Sylvan in 2014, I wasn’t sure if he’d put out another record that I could truly bond with. Don’t get me wrong, his debut album Far From Familiar was good but there was something missing from it that would allow me to replay the album on a level as his prior mixtape. Fast forward to January 2018 and enter: Apologies in Advance, a concept album influenced by the actuality of Alcohol Anonymous meetings centered on emotions, feelings and one’s own experiences. To this day, the album resonates with me so much due to the soul searching Sylvan and his cohort of friends at the meeting bring to the album in the form of their own stories. When I listen to songs like “Best Me”, it reminds me that there are many millennials that are figuring out how to be the best versions of themselves. “Selfish” is interesting because it talks about Sylvan coming from a place of wanting to help his family and friends while on the opposing end I gravitated towards that song due to my past tendencies of putting my dreams and desires ahead of my own. The album itself is very soothing and can be played front to back on any given day. I highly recommend it for any young adult wanting to hear something honest while not being afraid to express their feelings during the process.


Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts (GOOD/Def Jam Recordings) 2018

Kids See Ghosts is an outstanding body of work! Seriously, I really don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve heard this album while driving and jogging in Africa and the listening experience is refreshing every single time. Songs like “Reborn” and “Freeee” (Ghost Town Pt. 2) put you at peace while songs like “Feel The Love” start the album off in cacophonic tribal yells and drums that explode! For two artists that have struggled with mental health issues in their own respective ways, this album is essentially in itself an ode to mental health and the importance of being aware to your own struggles. Even though this is not said verbally as much as it should, the music speaks the language and successfully transcribes that feeling for the listener. This album was released at the right time as I was going through a very challenging situation in my personal life and whenever I needed to, I relied on this album heavily to feel better about what I was experiencing. I highly recommend this record for those struggling with mental health or for anyone simply wanting to hear GOOD quality music.


The Documentary 2.5 by The Game (Blood Money Entertainment/eOne) 2015

Whooooo!!! This album right here!!! Let me just say that I barely listened to The Game since his first Documentary project and might I say that I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this. Now this record is the second of two records The Game released for the project. One being The Documentary 2 and the other being 2.5. Although I enjoyed Doc 2, 2.5 was extravagant in every sense. From the musicality of tracks like “Up On The Wall” to the fiery punch of “From Adam” and the back and forth trading of bars between God’s Son, Nas and Game himself on “The Ghetto”, this album has everything that a true lyricist or fan of hip-hop wants. I’ll never forget listening to this religiously while I was in grad school and saying to myself: This album is super creative in a Game kind of way!! To sum this all up: Do not sleep on The Game or this album. It will surely hit if you like lyrics, flows and banging beats.


Channel Orange by Frank Ocean (Def Jam Recordings) 2012

The year of 2012 was supposedly the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar but what it turned out to be instead was the official debut of Frank Ocean, the musician. That year we saw the release of his seminal debut Channel Orange to critical acclaim. With the album came the news that Ocean’s first love was a man, which turned out to be the entire premise/inspiration for the record. But what also came with the news was a collection of well crafted, savvy songwriting, and storytelling that showcased Ocean’s innate musicianship in multitudes. Songs like “Pyramids” tinkered with various song structures and changing narratives, “Crack Rock”, “Sweet Life” and “Lost” displayed Ocean’s ear for instruments that would move a song along and tell a beautiful story within their allotted timeframe. Lastly, this album showcased a man whose talents as an artist were unquestioned and was here to stay whether the masses of the hip-hop community wanted him to be present or not.


Blank Face LP by ScHoolboy Q (TDE/Interscope) 2016

I remember a friend of mine reached out to me via text in July of 2016 and told me to listen to ScHoolboy’s second major label album. At the time he told me that ScHoolboy had the album of the year. When he said that, I thought: Can this be? Previously, I had heard, Q’s first major release, Oxymoron and I wasn’t impressed. The album itself wasn’t bad but it just seemed pretty ordinary with ordinary beats and ordinary rapping. So I was a little reluctant to press play on Blank Face but when I did I was very happy that the album was anything but ordinary. In fact, the album was extraordinary! From it’s beat selection to Q’s menacing flow. Everything about that album was on point. Personally, I think it’s Q’s greatest artistic achievement. It is so layered and rich sonically with bombastic bass, 808’s and percussion that it made me reconsider ScHoolboy as an artist overall. This is easily a top five record of the 2010s.


Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar (TDE/Aftermath/Interscope) 2012

There is no other album that has been lauded with praise more than K. Dot’s major label debut in the 2010’s and for good reason. GKMC was responsible for making skits on albums cool again and introduced a new generation to the day in the life of a west coast California kid that hadn’t been seen since the early 90’s. I’ll admit that when I first heard of Kendrick, I thought him to be a shallow ignorant rapper. My reason for this is because I heard him on ASAP Rocky’s F**kin Problems as Kendrick spit a verse that was nonsensical and very misogynistic. But after getting a chance to download the album and hear it for myself I quickly realized that Lamar had crafted an album that was so personal and raw, I was listening to a master MC at work. Songs like “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst” or “The Art of Peer Pressure” painted vivid pictures of life in Compton as it always had me ready to press play for another adventure down Rosecrans. To this day, the album might be Lamar’s most provocative as it is still refreshing with every listen.


Summertime 06’ by Vince Staples (ARTium/Blacksmith/Def Jam Recordings) 2015

The first time I heard Summertime 06’, I couldn’t believe what I was listening to. Was this the same Vince from his mixtape Stolen Youth? No! Not at all!! That Vince was rapping in a monotonous tone that was drowned out on pretty much every track, but on Summertime, Vince’s voice was close to a shrill, full of life and boisterous in every way imaginable. I was quite floored to hear songs that encompassed life, love and violence in Long Beach, California all in one sitting. Somehow, someway, Vince made a lush record that was meant to provoke those that grew up in his surroundings or inform those that existed outside of his community. Songs like “Surf”, “Senorita”, “Dopeman”, and “Like It Is” still resonate with me to this day and I surely won’t be forgetting them anytime soon.


Section.80 by Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment) 2011

Another Kendrick Lamar entry but with good reason. Section.80 is perhaps the most honest I’ve ever heard the artist on wax as he talks about the lives of two women (Keisha and Tammy) and what they deal with daily within society. More than that, Kendrick also touches upon mass incarceration, religion, and morals of young people growing up in a gang riddled neighborhood. In addition, the sonics that Kendrick uses as a back drop to his storytelling is entrancing for listeners all around. This album is a complete body of work and for those that only know his work from GKMC and onward, definitely need to take time to listen to this and appreciate the artist for where he once was as he has grown and evolved into who he has become today.


Because The Internet by Childish Gambino (Glassnote/Island) 2013

This is the best album I’ve ever heard in my life and I am not exaggerating by any means! It is so lush and rich with its sonics that sometimes I listen to it and in amazement still find things to take from it. Because The Internet was Donald Glover’s coming out party. It was the album that put him on the map and made him accessible and respected by his peers and the general public alike. Songs such as “No Exit”, “Zealots of Stockholm”, “Telegragh Ave” and “3005” still have the same jubilant feel that they had in 2013 and because of that the album itself never gets old. An album with such a title should have a dated sound but play BTI in 2019 and to those that have never heard it, the record still sounds brand spanking new. For as long as I live, I hope that I will never get tired of this album because this album in its overall makeup is total bliss for me. Until dethroned, this album reigns supreme for me in this decade and any decade to come.

Kevin Anglade is a writer, poet, scholar, educator and publisher from Queens, New York. He started taking writing seriously at the age of 21 and since then uses his many talents as a way to educate and promote self-expression. In the summer of 2018, Anglade took residency in Takoradi, Ghana as he was selected to take part in Limited Resources Teacher Training, a fellowship that takes teachers to various countries to provide instructional training and resources as a form of equitable exchange. Anglade holds a Bachelors and Masters from the City University of New York in English literature (Brooklyn & Queens College). He is a professor in the General Ed Studies Department at Goodwin College in East Hartford and teaches English at the 7–12 grade level in Connecticut. He enjoys reading, writing, jogging and is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, “A Flower That Rose” (2021).

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Twitter/IG: @kevinanglade11



Kevin Anglade

writer, musician, poet, scholar, and educator from Queens, NY. www.kevinanglade.com socials: @kevinanglade11