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Jair Hilburn’s Albums of the Decade

Jair Hilburn, Editor-In-Chief

Without a doubt this decade has been an interesting decade for music. From iconic albums such as: Anti and Blonde that have still are a breath of fresh air to this day. For me, there were some that stood out above the rest. Here are my Top 10 Albums of the Decade:

 

10.) SweetSexySavage by Kehlani (2017)

To this day, I will advocate that Kehlani deserved the same energy J. Cole is given because for an album – and a debut one at that – without any features it deserved platinum plaques. Throughout the course of this album Kehlani made an album that not only showed her growth as an artist, but what we could expect from her in the future.

On songs like “Personal”, “Piece of Mind” and “Advice”, I fell in love with her writing abilities because she was writing songs that were relatable or made you feel confident when you sang them. The way she would sing on the tracks is what made me fall in love from the first listen because she gave a well-rounded R&B sound. While she’s released more music post this project, SweetSexySavage still holds its replay value to this day.

 

9.) Light of Mine (Deluxe) by KYLE (2019)

If you know the song “iSpy (feat. Lil Yachty)”, you’ve heard of KYLE. Chances are you didn’t hear his name come up again in 2018, and that’s a shame. Without a doubt KYLE’s Light of Mine was one of the most underrated albums this decade – and by far one of the best. He offered a breath of fresh air with his new album. 

Off first listen, I was caught from the first listen. Starting off the album with “Ups & Downs” let me know that this album was going to be more than an average album about the journey of falling in love. It was a coming of age album that was unlike any other with its own sound. Featuring Teyana Taylor, Alessia Cara, Take 6, Kehlani, and many more, it made an eclectic sounding album that didn’t sound like mess; it sounded like art.

 

8.) thank u, next by Ariana Grande (2019)

As much as I want to put Sweetener on this list, it would be wrong because thank u, next was one of the best constructed pop albums of the decade because it was an album that only Grande could make. The album was a story of love and the highs and lows that come with it; heartbreak; personal downfalls and moving on. Tracks like “needy”, “ghostin” and “fake smile” are personal, but even though they are personal, you can’t help but resonate with each track on the album to some degree.

 

7.) DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar (2017)

Kendrick Lamar released a lot of great content this decade without a doubt. I’d be remiss to not put this album on my list because from beginning to end – and even from the end to the beginning – it was a well put together piece of art.

This album made a lot of points. Two of them being: whatever track Kendrick is on, he brings his own sound to it and he is a masterful storyteller which shows on songs like “DUCKWORTH.”, “FEAR.” and “FEEL.”

 

6.) Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (2018)

Janelle Monáe is by far one of the most slept on artist, and her latest project, Dirty Computer, proved that to be true. This albums made several points in a political sense, but it also proved that Monáe is a tastemaker in music. Fusing a futuristic sound with a sound similar to Prince’s, she made an album that unlike any others on this list. 

Songs like “I Got the Juice (feat. Pharrell Williams)”, “I Like That” and a few others expressed this confidence that infectious when it hits the ears. There are also tracks such as: “Don’t Judge Me” and “So Afraid” that are so unique. It shows that she is a one of a kind artists.

Throughout the course of the album, she doesn’t stray from being blatantly political in a way that you can’t turn away. Plus it’s hard to turn away with the intro being the title track.

 

5.) WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE ALL GO? by Billie Eilish (2019)

It’s hard to pick an album from this year to be on the list for top albums of the decade, but Billie Eilish definitely takes the cake. Her debut album was better most albums to come out this decade. When you look at the material, it shows.

Diving into the alternative pop sound, she made an album that was unlike any others. From the writing to the production it was an experience unlike any others on this list. 

Was it sad and a little depressing? Yes, but you can’t help but listen to it over and over again.

Taking unique avenues for writing and producing that I haven’t heard before, and every bit of it was infectious. There are songs with a dark tone such as “bury a friend” and “all the good girls go to hell” that keep you coming back for more, but the melancholy songs like “listen before i go”, “xanny”, “wish you were gay” and “goodbye” allow the crooning of her voice to send chills down your spine.

 

4.) Lemonade by Beyoncé (2016)

While the albums speaks for itself, I still want to talk about it. Very rarely do artists divulge in multiple genres throughout their career – let alone one album. And I don’t think any of them could do it as flawlessly as Beyoncé could. Talking about the stages of dealing with her husband Jay-Z’s infidelity, she gets personal in a way that we rarely see of her. 

From songwriting to production, she proves how she’s “[t]op two… and not number two.” I would say listening to this album because each track makes you feel different emotions. Whether it be the anger from “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, the unapologetic “Sorry” or the vulnerable “Love Drought”, Beyoncé made songs that pretty much were the soundtrack to my 2016.

 

3.) Ctrl by SZA (2017)

When we talk about debut albums in this decade, it would be wrong to leave SZA’s Ctrl out of the discussion because it was one of the best albums of the decade. Telling a story of control and the different facets of it, SZA made an album that only she could make. It was – and still is – an album where if I hear one track in rotation, I end up playing the whole album from front to back. 

There may be a song you like the least off this album, but it can’t be denied that this album is one without skips. She wrote an album that is a nonstop vibe from front to back.

 

2.) Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey (2019)

Lana Del Rey’s latest album was by far one of the best albums of this year by a longshot. Throughout the course of the project, I was transported to a serene place. While the album runs over an hour long, I can’t help but stay strapped in for the ride when it comes on. Lana is known for alternative flair, and with this album, she takes a vintage sound and ushers it into a new age in a way that only she can. The songwriting is exquisite and compliments the production of each track to the near perfection if not complete perfection. Whether your on the beach, in your car, or in your room, this album is a consistent vibe that can make you sad but also give you hope.

 

1.) BEYONCÉ by Beyoncé (2013)

They day Beyoncé dropped this album was the day music changed. Out of the blue, she dropped her self-titled project, and without a doubt it was better than I could’ve ever imagined. From front to back, this album flowed in a way that most don’t and has an endless replay value. There is never a moment where this album can’t be played at max volume. Without a doubt tracks like “Superpower (feat. Frank Ocean)”, “No Angel” and “Haunted” were continuously playing in my ear as we hear wide her range whilst she experimented with sounds new for her I personally never from her. 

Rest assure, they worked.

Never had I heard an album within this decade be that cohesive whilst also making a statement at the same time. From talking about the love she has for her daughter on “Blue (feat. Blue Ivy)” to claiming a new sense of sexual power on “Partition”, Beyoncé did everything and then some with this album.

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