At a time when our conception of music is constantly expanding and mutating to accommodate new methods of consumption, the album remains a sacred marker of artistic excellence. Though the once common practice of listening to an entire album in one sitting is being phased out by Spotify’s chart-defining playlists and YouTube’s algorithm, leaning into the obsession of our favorite records offers a glimpse into the music industry’s changing standards for the listening experience and also provides historical and cultural insights. Nostalgia can be a bitter pill to swallow, but looking back on beloved releases forces one to examine the context, both within an artist’s career and the greater musical picture. Has an album retained its initial replayability? Where does it stack up against similar projects, both from a genre and content standpoint? And perhaps most importantly, has it achieved a lasting, even traceable impact, or instead fallen out of favor as the years have gone by? These are just a few of the questions that were deployed when crafting this list. It's worth noting that the following rankings don’t pretend to be comprehensive; there will inevitably be releases that are omitted, whether realized or not. Rather, the goal in crafting this list was to create an enjoyable and debate-worthy romp down memory lane that was as objective as possible. While albums, mixtapes, and long-form projects are the primary focus, singles are occasionally referenced.

In any case, the past decade of hip hop and R&B has gifted listeners with an astounding host of releases worth revisiting in full. The rules are as follows:

1.) Each album must have been released starting from January 1, 2010 up to present day
2.) Mixtapes, free downloads, and Grammy-nominated projects are all eligible
3.) Each album must be from the hip-hop and/or R&B genre(s)

The rankings proceed from worst to best.