2010s Hip-Hop Essentials
The decade when hip-hop could claim its first billionaires was marked by Kanye West’s ambitious productions, Drake’s game-changing swirls of melody, and Future’s bummed-out Auto-Tune croon. Thanks to producers like Mike Will Made-It and Metro Boomin, Atlanta became hip-hop’s home of musical research and development, musicians across genres embracing trap music’s skittering hi-hats, cavernous boom, and lyrical curlicues. Rappers started singing more and more, but the technical prowess of artists like Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, and Run the Jewels kept traditional bars alive in distinct ways. Toward the end of the decade, charts started reflecting streaming plays more than physical album sales, meaning home-brewed, home-recorded sensations like Lil Pump could compete with the majors. And a new, democratized world of social media and streaming meant artists like Chance the Rapper and Cardi B could pave untraditional paths to stardom.