Dark Light

Coming out the transformative era that was the ’90s, hip hop flourished in the 2000s and quickly became, not only the dominant music genre of the decade, but also a cultural force.

With hip hop locking down a stronghold on the industry, ’90s artists like Jay-Z, OutKast, Nas, Dr. Dre, DMX, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem continued to assert their dominance, while making room for the up-and-coming generation of rappers that included Kanye, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and of course, the Houston and Atlanta movement.

From The Blueprint, Graduation and Stankonia to Supreme Clientele, Stillmatic and Food & Liquor, we rank the 50 best hip hop albums of the 2000s.

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Honourable mentions

Jay-Z – American Gangster

Released: November 6, 2007

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Blue Magic”, “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is)…”, “I Know”

Masta Killa – No Said Date

Released: June 1, 2004

Label: Nature Sounds, Fontana

Singles: “No Said Date”, “Digi Warfare”, “D.T.D.”, “Queen”

De La Soul – The Grind Date

Released: October 5, 2004

Label: A.O.I., Sanctuary Urban

Singles: “Shoomp/Much More”, “Shopping Bags (She Got From You)”, “Rock Co.Kane Flow”

dead prez – Let’s Get Free

Released: February 8, 2000

Label: Loud

Singles: “Hip Hop”, “They Schools”, “Police State”, “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop”

DJ Quik & Kurupt – Blaqkout

Released: June 9, 2009

Label: Mad Science, Pentagon, Fontana Distribution

Singles: “Hey Playa (Moroccan Blues)”, “Whatcha Wan Do”

MF Doom – Born Like This

Released: March 24, 2009

Label: Lex

Singles: “Gazzillion Ear”

Talib Kweli – Quality

Released: November 19, 2002

Label: Rawkus

Singles: “Good to You” / “Put It in the Air”, “Waitin’ for the DJ” / “Guerilla Monsoon Rap”, “Get By”

Eminem – The Eminem Show

Released: May 26, 2002

Label: Shady, Aftermath, Interscope

Singles: “Without Me”, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “Superman”, “Sing for the Moment”, “Business”

Aesop Rock – Labor Days

Released: September 18, 2001

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Coma”, “Boombox”

J-Live – The Best Part

Released: May 1, 2001

Label: Triple Threat Productions

Singles: N/A

Missy Elliott – Under Construction

Released: November 12, 2002

Label: Goldmind, Elektra

Singles: “Work It”, “Gossip Folks”, “Back in the Day”

Cam’ron – Purple Haze

Released: December 7, 2004

Label: Diplomat, Roc-A-Fella, Island Def Jam

Singles: “Get Em Girls”, “Lord You Know”, “Shake”, “Hey Lady”, “Girls”, “Down and Out”

T.I. – Trap Muzik

Released: August 19, 2003

Label: Atlantic, Grand Hustle

Singles: “24’s”, “Be Easy”, “Rubber Band Man”, “Let’s Get Away”

Nas – The Lost Tapes

Released: September 23, 2002

Label: Ill Will, Columbia

Singles: N/A

50. Beanie Sigel – The Reason

Released: June 26, 2001

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Beanie (Mack Bitch)”, “Think It’s a Game”

49. Nas – God’s Son

Released: December 13, 2002

Label: Ill Will, Columbia

Singles: “Made You Look”, “I Can”, “Get Down”

48. The Game – The Documentary

Released: January 18, 2005

Label: Aftermath, G-Unit, Black Wall Street, Interscope

Singles: “Westside Story”, “How We Do”, “Hate It or Love It”, “Higher”, “Dreams”, “Put You on the Game”

47. T.I. – King

Released: March 28, 2006

Label: Grand Hustle, Atlantic

Singles: “What You Know”, “Why You Wanna”, “Live in the Sky”, “Top Back (Remix)”

46. Brother Ali – Us

Released: September 22, 2009

Label: Rhymesayers, Warner Music Group

Singles: N/A

45. Q-Tip – The Renaissance

Released: November 4, 2008

Label: Universal Motown

Singles: “Gettin’ Up”, “Move”, “Life Is Better”

44. The Roots – Rising Down

Released: April 28, 2008

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Birthday Girl”, “Rising Up”

43. Nas – Stillmatic

Released: December 18, 2001

Label: Ill Will, Columbia

Singles: “Rule”, “Got Ur Self A…”, “The Flyest”, “One Mic”

42. Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030

Released: May 23, 2000

Label: 75 Ark

Singles: “Time Keeps On Slipping”, “3030”

41. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter II

Released: December 6, 2005

Label: Cash Money, Universal

Singles: “Fireman”, “Hustler Musik”, “Shooter”

40. The Roots – Phrenology

Released: November 26, 2002

Label: MCA

Singles: “Break You Off”, “The Seed (2.0)”

39. Elzhi – The Preface

Released: August 12, 2008

Label: Fat Beats

Singles: N/A

38. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon: The End of Day

Released: September 15, 2009

Label: Dream On, GOOD, Universal Motown

Singles: “Day ‘n’ Nite”, “Make Her Say”, “Pursuit of Happiness”

37. J Dilla – Donuts

Released: February 7, 2006

Label: Stones Throw

Singles: N/A

36. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale

Released: March 28, 2006

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Be Easy”, “Back Like That”

35. Clipse – Lord Willin’

Released: August 20, 2002

Label: Star Trak, Arista

Singles: “Grindin'”, “When the Last Time”, “Ma, I Don’t Love Her”, “Cot Damn”

34. Cannibal Ox – The Cold Vein

Released: May 15, 2001

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Vein”, “The F-Word”

33. Reflection Eternal – Train of Thought

Released: October 17, 2000

Label: Rawkus

Singles: “Move Somethin'”, “The Blast”, “Down for the Count”

32. MF Doom – Mm..Food

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: Rhymesayers

Singles: “One Beer”, “Hoe Cakes”

31. Little Brother – The Minstrel Show

Released: September 13, 2005

Label: Atlantic

Singles: “Lovin’ It”, “Slow It Down”

30. El-P – Fantastic Damage

Released: May 14, 2002

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Stepfather Factory”, “Deep Space 9mm”, “Truancy”, “Dead Disnee”

29. Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Released: June 9, 2009

Label: Downtown

Singles: “Life in Marvelous Times”, “Quiet Dog Bite Hard”, “Casa Bey”

28. Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

Released: November 24, 2008

Label: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella

Singles: “Love Lockdown”, “Heartless”, “Amazing”, “Paranoid”

27. Lil Wayne – Tha Carter III

Released: June 10, 2008

Label: Cash Money, Universal Motown, Young Money

Singles: “Lollipop”, “A Milli”, “Got Money”, “Mr. Carter”, “Mrs. Officer”

26. Scarface – The Fix

Released: August 6, 2002

Label: Def Jam South, Def Jam

Singles: “My Block”, “Someday”

25. Slum Village – Fantastic, Vol. 2

Released: June 13, 2000

Label: GoodVibe

Singles: N/A

24. The Roots – Game Theory

Released: August 29, 2006

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Don’t Feel Right”, “In The Music / Here I Come”

23. Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor

Released: September 19, 2006

Label: 1st & 15th, Atlantic

Singles: “Kick, Push”, “I Gotcha”, “Daydreamin'”

22. Common – Like Water for Chocolate

Released: March 28, 2000

Label: MCA

Singles: “The 6th Sense”, “The Light”, “Geto Heaven Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)”

21. Masta Ace – Disposable Arts

Released: October 16, 2001

Label: JCOR Entertainment, Interscope

Singles: N/A

20. Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Released: October 10, 2005

Label: Lex, Epitaph, Metalface Records

Singles: “Sofa King”, “Old School”

19. Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II

Released: September 8, 2009

Label: Ice H2O, EMI

Singles: “New Wu”, “House of Flying Daggers”, “Walk Wit Me”, “Have Mercy”, “Catalina”

18. Outkast – Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Released: September 23, 2003

Label: Arista

Singles: “Hey Ya!”, “The Way You Move”, “Roses”, “Ghetto Musick / Prototype”

17. Jay Z – The Black Album

Released: November 14, 2003

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Island Def Jam

Singles: “Change Clothes”, “Dirt off Your Shoulder”, “99 Problems”

16. UGK – Underground Kingz

Released: August 7, 2007

Label: Jive

Singles: “The Game Belongs to Me”, “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”

15. The Diplomats – Diplomatic Immunity

Released: March 25, 2003

Label: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella, Diplomat

Singles: “Built This City”, “Dipset Anthem”

14. Lupe Fiasco – The Cool

Released: December 18, 2007

Label: 1st & 15th, Atlantic

Singles: “Superstar”, “Hip Hop Saved My Life”, “Paris, Tokyo”, “Dumb It Down”

13. Kanye West – Late Registration

Released: August 30, 2005

Label: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella

Singles: “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”, “Gold Digger”, “Heard ‘Em Say”, “Touch the Sky”, “Drive Slow”

12. Young Jeezy – Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101

Released: July 26, 2005

Label: Corporate Thugz, Def Jam

Singles: “And Then What”, “Soul Survivor”, “Go Crazy (Remix)”, “My Hood”

11. Common – Be

Released: May 24, 2005

Label: Geffen, GOOD Music

Singles: “The Food”, “The Corner”, “Go!”, “Testify”, “Faithful”

10. Madvillain – Madvillainy

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Stones Throw

Singles: “Money Folder”, “All Caps”

9. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP

Released: May 23, 2000

Label: Shady Records, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope, Goliath

Singles: “The Real Slim Shady Records”, “The Way I Am”, “Stan”, “I’m Back”, “Bitch Please II”

8. Kanye West – The College Dropout

Released: February 10, 2004

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Through the Wire”, “Slow Jamz”, “All Falls Down”, “Jesus Walks”, “The New Workout Plan”

7. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’

Released: February 6, 2003

Label: Shady, Aftermath, Interscope

Singles: “In da Club”, “21 Questions”, “Many Men (Wish Death)”, “P.I.M.P.”, “If I Can’t”

6. Blu & Exile – Below the Heavens

Released: July 17, 2007

Label: Sound in Colour

Singles: N/A

5. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele

Released: February 8, 2000

Label: Epic, Sony, Razor Sharp

Singles: “Mighty Healthy”, “Apollo Kids”, “Cherchez La Ghost”

4. Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury

Released: November 28, 2006

Label: Star Trak, Re-Up, Jive

Singles: “Mr. Me Too”, “Wamp Wamp (What It Do)”

3. Kanye West – Graduation

Released: September 11, 2007

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, “Stronger”, “Good Life”, “Flashing Lights”, “Homecoming”

2. Outkast – Stankonia

Released: October 31, 2000

Label: LaFace, Arista

Singles: “B.O.B”, “Ms. Jackson”, “So Fresh, So Clean”

1. Jay Z – The Blueprint

Released: September 11, 2001

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Jigga That Nigga”, “Song Cry”

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