Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of the 2000s

The decade of the 2000s was an incredibly important one for rap music. In these 10 years, hip-hop legends either launched their careers with iconic debuts, or continued their already-dominant runs that began in the 1990s.

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Most notably, 50 Cent, Kanye West, and Kid Cudi all released their debut studio albums in the 2000s. Additionally, even though each of their major label debuts came in 1999, MF DOOM, Lil Wayne, and Eminem all started out in the 2000s as up-and-coming acts and ended it as rap superstars.

As for artists like Jay-Z or OutKast, classic albums from them like Reasonable Doubt (1996) and Aquemini (1998) made way for even more success after the turn of the century. So, with all this in mind, we decided to compile all of our favorite LPs from the decade.

Here are the top 10 best hip-hop albums from the 2000s, in the order in which they were released.

The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) — Eminem

Eminem’s third official studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP contains career-defining hits like “Stan,” “The Real Slim Shady,” and “The Way I Am,” which have all been certified multi-platinum by RIAA. In 2011, the album reached diamond status.

The Blueprint (2001) — Jay-Z

As Jay-Z’s sixth studio album, sadly released on the same day as the 9/11 tragedy in his hometown of New York City, The Blueprint helped him set the tone for the rest of the decade. Less than a year removed from his fifth album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000), The Blueprint contained all-time Hov hits like “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Renegade.”

The album would be followed up by a sequel the following year and a third rendition in 2009.

Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003) — 50 Cent

Certified 9x platinum by RIAA in 2020, 50 Cent’s debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is well on its way to a diamond plaque. With “In Da Club” as the fifth song on its track list, regarded as his most beloved song ever, 50 Cent could not have asked for a better introduction to the hip-hop world.

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) — OutKast

Their final album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below could arguably be considered the absolute peak of OutKast’s illustrious career. Going diamond in 2004, and their only album to do so, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below‘s songs like “The Way You Move” and “Hey Ya!” both spent time atop the Billboard Hot 100.

The Black Album (2003) — Jay-Z

Full of fan-favorites like “Dirt off Your Shoulder,” “99 Problems,” “Lucifer,” and “Public Service Announcement,” Jay-Z’s 2003 LP The Black Album continued a run for the ages. Containing production and writing credits from Kanye West, Eminem, Pharrell Williams, and Lenny Kravitz, Hov flexed his celebrity status in a major way on this project.

The College Dropout (2004) — Kanye West

Introducing the chip-on-his-shoulder Chicagoan to the world, Kanye West’s The College Dropout is a textbook example of a perfectly executed rap debut. Thanks to masterful soul production and features from rap royalty like Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def, and more, the LP won the Grammy for Rap Album of the Year in 2005.

Madvillainy (2004) — MF DOOM and Madlib

With the enigmatic British emcee and California-bred producer joining forces, Madvillainy will forever be considered one of the best collaborative albums ever. Passing away in late 2000, MF DOOM’s legacy surely touts this LP as one of its greatest highlights.

Currently, Madlib is hard at work crafting the posthumous sequel to Madvillainy.

Late Registration (2005) — Kanye West

If The College Dropout is the perfect example of a rap debut, then Late Registration is an equally incredible demonstration of a follow-up. Piggybacking on the bear theme TCD established with its album cover, Late Registration contained just as much star power and charisma as West’s debut.

In 2006, it also brought home the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Tha Carter III (2008) — Lil Wayne

The third offering of an impeccable five-part series, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III was a masterclass of capitalizing on an opportunity. Three years removed from a stellar Carter II display in 2005, Wayne’s 2008 LP wowed fans with smash hits like “A Milli,” “Lollipop,” and “Mrs. Officer.”

Man on the Moon: The End of Day (2009) — Kid Cudi

After assisting and inspiring Kanye West with his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak, Kid Cudi’s first full-length release is probably still his most impressive output to this day. Headlined by radio hits like “Day ‘N’ Nite” (5x platinum) and “Pursuit of Happiness” (diamond certified), Man on the Moon: The End of Day prepped Cudi for a fruitful 2010s decade.

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