The 2000s were legendary for hip hop, not only because it was waving goodbye to the bloodshed and horror of the 1990s east coast vs west coast calamity, but because it was about to advance. The violence that plagued the genre of hip hop towards the latter end of the 1990s prevented artists from working with each other. Regional divisions stunted hip hop’s growth as they prevented synergies from developing. However, at the turn of the millennium, this all changed.
In a documentary surrounding the east coast vs west coast beef, Snoop Dogg is quoted as saying that 2pac and The Notorious BIG had to die for hip hop to evolve, and it did. The 2000s saw the fusion of R’n’B and hip hop take off, while simultaneously, an electronification took place. People from all different regions came together to create amazing music, resulting in progress. With so many amazing artists and sounds developing in the noughties, hip hop took a step forward.
During the 2000s, some artists adopted the sound while others created the sound, and it’s the artists that created sounds that impacted the genre profoundly. The 2000s most definitely had a distinct sound. However, it was created by a very small handful of artists and adopted by the rest. In this list, we’re going to explore the five best albums of the 2000s and the impact they had.
The Top five albums of the 2000s:
5. In My Mind – Pharrell, (2006)
Pharrell, along with Chad Hugo, was instrumental in crafting the sound of hip hop and R’n’B in the 2000s. Their beats were smooth and catchy. Furthermore, with their amazing bridges and knowledge of musical theory, they really were unparalleled as a producer duo.
However, when Pharrell went on to pursue a solo career, Hugo helped him, and with the signature Neptunes sound, In My Mind really does epitomise the 2000s. The short guitar chords, the luxurious strings, and the incorporation of live instruments into the beats really putsPharrell’s 2006 album on that next level.
4. Respect M.E – Missy Elliot, (2006)
This album from Missy Elliot was her first greatest hits album. Like, In My Mind, it epitomises the 2000s because it was executively produced by Timbaland, with almost every single song from the album produced by him.
Timbaland, like Pharrell, was a production powerhouse and was ruling the charts in the 2000s. Both Timbaland and Pharrell arose from the Virginia coast around the late 1990s, and with a similar sound, they almost created a hip hop subgenre, ‘Virginia Rap’. Stylistically their productions contained a lot of bongos, sidesticks, triangles and West African percussion. Another pioneer, along with Missy Elliot, together they truly made magic.
3. Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – 50 Cent (2003)
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ is really just one of those hip hop classics that everybody has heard. With hits such as ‘In Da Club’ and ‘P.I.M.P’, the 2003 album is a classic to this day, with DJs still playing its singles.
The album, upon its release, went straight to number one on the Billboard 200 and is currently certified nine times platinum. It was the best-selling album of 2003 and won the award for Best Rap Album at the 2003 Billboard awards. It was also nominated for a Grammy. Despite the fact that the rapper (real name Curtis Jackson) was signed to Aftermath at the time of its release, the rapper recorded the entire album his producer’s Long Island basement.
2. The College Dropout – Kanye West, (2004)
The College Dropout is inarguably an iconic album that defined so much of rap and hip hop in the 2000s. With its ‘chipmunk-soul’ sound and amazing collaborations, it was the world’s introduction to Kanye West, the rapper, not just the producer.
Released by Roc-A-Fella records, the album won a Grammy for ‘Best Rap Album’ and has gone on to become Kanye’s most streamed album. West challenged the status quo of rap with The College Dropout as he rapped in an introspective and spiritual manner. This combated artists such as 50 Cent and DMX, who were more violent and aggressive in their music.
1. Graduation – Kanye West, (2007)
Kanye’s best-selling album. Graduation, was Ye’s third full studio album. Released in 2007, Graduation was groundbreaking, and it shifted the sonics of hip hop.
Songs such as ‘Stronger’ and ‘Good Life’ performed extremely well commercially, and the project sold 957,000 copies in its first week, going on to be certified five times platinum by the RIAA. The album won a Grammy at the 2008 awards for ‘Best Rap Album’.
Graduation incorporated more digital and electronic sounds than a usual rap album. From here, hip hop, began to embrace synthesis and sequencing, two things typically associated with electronic dance music. Graduation is often considered the reason “Gangsta Rap” died and is considered the album that digitalized the sound of hip hop.