The Top 10 Artists of the Decade

The decade of music that took place between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019 will be remembered as the most fluid and fused blend of genres in musical history. Hip-Hop collided with Rock, Alternative, R&B, Pop, and even Country music at some points. There was really no telling what the next sound would be, but one thing that was relatively comprehensible was the group of ten people who were going to lead their generation from memorable to legendary.

These ten artists stood out and redefined their genre and/or subgenres in a dominant fashion. Together, they amassed well over a billion dollars and took Hip-Hop (which became the #1 genre in the world at one point in time this decade) from a respected genre to the most listened to form of music across the globe. Without further adieu, here are the ten most valuable, impactful, and best artists of the last decade...


10. Young Thug

Projects: I Came from Nothing Vol. 1 and 2 (2011), I Came from Nothing Vol. 3 (2012), 1017 Thug (2013), Young Thug Mane La Flare with Gucci Mane (2014), 1017 Thug 2 and 1017 Thug 3: The Finale (2014), Tha Tour, Pt. 1 with Birdman and Rich Homie Quan (2014), Barter 6 (2015), Slime Season (2015), Slime Season 2 (2015), I'm Up (2016), Slime Season 3 (2016), Jeffery (2016), Beautiful Thugger Girls (2017), Super Slimey with Future (2017), Young Martha with Carnage (2017), Hear No Evil (2018), On the Rvn (2018), So Much Fun (2019)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#1: Havana (Camila Cabello featuring Young Thug)

#3: Goodbyes (Post Malone featuring Young Thug)

My 10 Favorite Records: Halftime, Big Racks (featuring Lil Uzi Vert), I'll Tell You What, With Them, Tomorrow Til Infinity (featuring Gunna), For My People (featuring Duke), Gangster Sh*t, Quarterback (featuring Quavo and PeeWee Longway), Cruise Ship, No Cap (Future and Young Thug)

Overall Decade Review

There isn't a single rapper, or singer for that matter, that hit as many different notes as Young Thug in the last ten years. Whether it was the chopped not slopped remix of "Love Me Forever" which makes him sound like a codeine-intoxicated Ghetto Hagrid, or the high pitched squeal on "Stoner", Thugger excelled at experimenting with his vocals more so than anybody else in the industry. The sheer levels of uniqueness that Thugger baby has exhibited over the last several years alone will force the game to think of him as a staple moving into 2020 and beyond.

What's most exciting about the Jackson Pollack of vocalists is that he more likely than not hasn't reached his full potential. Although I consider to his 2015 run to be among the most legendary years in Hip-Hop's decade of ascension, I'm confident that there's a level of Thug that even he isn't aware of yet. Once he taps into that potential, the game's going to be in for an ever ruder awakening. Young Thug's decade of music will be remembered as redefining what is possible for Hip-Hop artists and his influence over rising stars like Lil Seed, Gunna, and Lil Baby, while also restructuring his own swagger in order to keep his style fresh along the way.

9. Mac Miller

Projects: K.I.D.S.: Kickin' Incredibly Dope Shit (2010), Best Day Ever (2011), Blue Slide Park (2011), I Love Life, Thank You (2011), Macadelic (2012), Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), Delusional Thomas (2013), Live from Space (2013), Faces (2014), GO:OD AM (2015), The Divine Feminine (2016), Swimming (2018)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#9: The Way (Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller)

My 10 Favorite Records: Here We Go, Rain (featuring Vince Staples), 2009, Avian, I’m Not Real (featuring Earl Sweatshirt), Earth (featuring Future), Inside Outside, New Faces v2 (featuring Earl Sweatshirt and Da$h), Life Ain’t Easy, ROS

Overall Decade Review

To watch Mac Miller progress as an artist over the course of 8 awfully short years was beyond a blessing. He evolved from a white rapper from Pittsburgh who made stoner anthems and frat-party bangers to one of the world's most well-rounded artists in such an unfathomably short period of time. The sheer difference in messages, themes, tones and quality between K.I.D.S. and Faces is mind boggling. However, he never lost his rarely paralleled penmanship ability which was always his strongest suit. He was one of the most gifted, fun, and unpredictable lyricists we'll ever have the privilege of listening to; and his music always kept you on your toes.

Although he may never have been a chart-topper, his level of consistency and artistic integrity superseded the need to dominate the mainstream's recognition. Mac Miller's decade of music will be remembered as one of the most unique ones in Hip-Hop history for the progression he exuded, and the incalculable, unbelievable talent that he possessed as an artist. Rest in Paradise, Mac.

For more on the Genius of Mac Miller, check out Evan Linden and I's Genius of the Month piece dedicated to Pittsburgh's finest.

8. The Weeknd

Projects: House of Balloons (2011), Echoes of Silence (2011), Thursdays (2011), Kiss Land (2013), Beauty Behind the Madness (2015), Starboy (2016), My Dear Melancholy (2018)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#2s" Blinding Lights, False Alarm

#3s" Prisoner (featuring Lana Del Rey), Price On My Head (Nav featuring The Weeknd)

#4s: Wicked Games, Party Monster, Power is Power (SZA, The Weekend & Travis Scott), Live For (featuring Drake)

#5s: Acquainted, 6 Inch (Beyonce featuring The Weeknd)

My 10 Favorite Records: The Morning, Loft Music, House of Balloons - Glass Table Girls, Reminder, Tell Your Friends, Privilege, Drunk In Love (Remix), I’m Good (Dedication 5 Intro), King of the Fall, The Party & The After Party

Overall Decade Review

The Weeknd shot out of a cannon this decade and became one of the most popular artists in the world in only four years of publishing music. House of Balloons put him in the spotlight for people with a keen awareness and a lucky eye for finding new music, and Beauty Behind the Madness solidified him as an absolute monster on the charts and in the hearts of women and men alike.

There are few voices in the industry that can be mentioned in the same breath as Abel Tesfaye, and the fact that he's well aware of that only adds to the mystique and deserved cockiness that he's mustered up over the last decade. As a guy who typically sings about drugs, fame, and women; it's refreshing to see him both rap and sing about the level of untouchability he's acquired since those themes drove him to the top of the R&B/Pop scene. He also ended the decade on a high note by making a startling cameo in the Safdie brothers's new film, Uncut Gems, in which he performs one of my ten favorite Weeknd tracks of all-time. The Weeknd's decade of music will be remembered for reinvigorating, over-sexualizing, and overall bringing back the innate coolness that was relatively absent in the R&B/Pop genre prior to his ascension.

7. Tyler the Creator

Projects: Goblin (2011), Wolf (2013), Cherry Bomb (2015), Flower Boy (2017), IGOR (2019)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits


My 10 Favorite Records: She, Yonkers, Boredom, WHAT’S GOOD, 435, Where This Flower Blooms... (featuring Frank Ocean), Oldie (featuring Taco, Hodgy, Left Brain, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, and Jasper Dolphin), I Think, 911 / Mr. Lonely, I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE

Overall Decade Review

There is no artist who came further, and made more of a drastic difference in his musical progression than Tyler the Creator. From the inclusion of polarizing lyrics and artistic suggestions that have been realized as performance art including themes like rape, murder, defamation, graffiti, destruction, and practically anything else that is evil. Tyler has come a long way from the release of his first studio album, Goblin, which was an album that I personally adored throughout my adolescence. However, Tyler's talent for classic musical instruments such as the strings, and the piano have been apparent since Bastard, it's just that he's using them now better than ever and has completely different themes, messages, and tones on Flower Boy and IGOR.

The Creator is exactly that, a creator. He oversaw every aspect of production on his Grammy nominated album IGOR and created what is one of the best albums of the decade with both that specific one and the one that preceded it, Flower Boy. He's utilized a special amount of features and has transformed their voices into hardly recognizable on the former (Lil Uzi Vert particularly), and allowed artists like Jaden and Lil Wayne to shine on the latter. All in all, Tyler the Creator's decade of music will be remembered for the sheer juxtaposition between his early decade's releases and the latter, all the while creating some of the most memorable music of the last ten years regardless of tone, theme, and genre.

For more on the musical genius of Tyler the Creator, check out Evan Linden's Genius of the Month piece dedicated to the man, the myth, the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All Legend.

6. Travis Scott

Projects: Owl Pharaoh (2013), Days Before Rodeo (2014), Rodeo (2015), Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016), Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho (2017), Astroworld (2018), Jackboys (2019)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#1s: Sicko Mode (featuring Drake), Highest in the Room

#2: Zeze (Kodak Black featuring Travis Scott and Offset)

#8s: Take What You Want (Post Malone featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott), Stargazing

#9s: Portland (Drake featuring Quavo and Travis Scott)

#10: Let It Fly (Lil Wayne featuring Travis Scott)

My 10 Favorite Records: Houstonfornication, The Ends, Astrothunder, 3500, Maria I’m Drunk, Oh My Dis Side, Hell of a night, Drugs You Should Try It, Basement Freestyle, DBR / The Prayer

Overall Decade Review

Travis Scott married, or rather collided R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, and Rock-n-Roll together this decade on projects like Owl Pharaoh, Days Before Rodeo, and Rodeo before removing Rock from that equation on his latest two projects, BITTSM and Astroworld. That isn't as much of a criticism of his artistic decisions as it is an example of his progression as an artist, because while he's removed Rock, he's also added in the Alternative genre. Songs like "Piss On Your Grave" simply don't exist anymore in his most recent discography, but songs like "Astrothunder" and "Houstonfornication" weren't as prevalent nor necessary to his earlier projects as they are now. Travis Scott's decade of music will be remembered for reigniting the most pit mentality, and reigniting the Rock-n-Roll/Punk vibe of the 80's and 90's into the mainstream. Inspiring adrenaline, a zero fucks given mentality, and the encouragement of blending genres.

For more on the rambunctious rager, check out Evan Linden's Genius of the Month piece on LA FLAME.

5. Future

Projects: 1000 (2010), Kno Mercy (2010)

Dirty Sprite (2011), True Story (2011), FDU & Freebandz (2011), Free Bricks with Gucci Mane (2011), Streets Calling (2011)

Astronaut Status (2012), Pluto (2012)

F.B.G: The Movie with Freeband Gang (2013), Black Woodstock: The Soundtrack with DJ Esco (2013), No Sleep with DJ Esco (2013)

Honest (2014), Monster (2014)

Beast Mode wtih Zaytoven (2015), 56 Nights (2015), DS2 (2015), What a Time to Be Alive with Drake (2015)

Evol (2016), Purple Reign (2016)

Future (2017), HNDRXX (2017), Super Slimey with Young Thug (2017)

Beast Mode 2 with Zaytoven (2018), Wrld on Drugs with Juice Wrld (2018)

The Wizrd (2019), Save Me (2019)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#5: Mask Off (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

#6's: Bugatti (Ace Hood featuring Future & Rick Ross), Fly S**t Only

#7's: Loveeeeeee Song (Rihanna featuring Future), 3500 (Travis Scott featuring Future & 2 Chainz), Darkside (Ty Dolla $ign & Future featuring Kiiara), Rollin (Calvin Harris featuring Future & Khalid)

#8's: Where Ya At (featuring Drake), Turn on the Lights, 100 Shooters (featuring Meek Mill & Doe Boy)

#9: Do You Mind (DJ Khaled featuring Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future & Rick Ross)

My 10 Favorite Records: The Percocet & Stripper Joint, Throw Away, Afterlife, Kno the Meaning, Solo, Monster, Rotation, I Be U, Hardly, March Madness

Overall Decade Review

The hardest worker in hip-hop has never taken a year off, let alone a day. I actually had to restructure the format for the projects list above in order to provide a better aesthetic, and that was purely influenced by Future's work ethic.

Although T.I. and Young Jeezy are widely recognized as trap music's initial pioneers, Future is considered the father of the genre. He cemented its value in hip-hop with DS2 after giving both trap music and himself a strong reputation with what is perhaps the most impressive year in hip-hop from this decade (2015: Beast Mode, 56 Nights, DS2 and WATTBA).

I for one wouldn't have given a damn about "mumble rap" (I will argue till the day I die that Future is not a mumble rapper and is a legitimately gifted lyricist) or trap music if it weren't for Super Fire Fire Marshall Future Hendrix The Wizard. Future's decade of music will be remembered for taking trap music from a subgenre to the most prominent and popular genre in Hip-Hop today, while also releasing some of the most relatable and connectable "sad boy" tracks alongside some of the most groovy and chill-inducing slappers.

4. Kanye West

Projects: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Watch the Throne (2011), Yeezus (2013), The Life of Pablo (2016), Ye (2018), Kids See Ghosts (2018), Jesus is King (2019)

Billboard Chart Peaks for Top 10 Hits

#1: E.T. (Katy Perry featuring Kanye West)

#4: FourFiveSeconds (Kanye West, Rihanna and Paul McCartney)

#5: Ni**as in Paris

#6: I Love It (Kanye West and Lil Pump)

#7: Follow God

#8: Yikes

My 10 Favorite Records: Devil in a New Dress (featuring Rick Ross), Gorgeous (featuring Kid Cudi), Father Stretch Your Hands Pt. 1 (featuring Kid Cudi), On Sight, Clique (featuring Big Sean and Jay-Z), Hell of a Life, Lost in the World (featuring Bon Iver), Hold My Liquor, Cold (featuring DJ Khaled), 30 Hours

Overall Decade Review

As a lifelong Kanye disciple, and somebody who has defended him at nearly ever turn of his career; this last couple of years has been really difficult for me. I didn't connect with Ye like I thought I would. Jesus is King left a hole in my heart. And I've filled that ever-expanding hole with other artists in that time, further distancing my relationship to a man I once considered a God. To be fair, I will always think of him in that light because of how deeply I feel about Late Registration, Graduation, 808s, MBDTF, and TLOP, but it's becoming more and more apparent that my hero will likely never capture that same energy again.

If it weren't for this last couple of years, I'd still think of Kanye as the Number One or Two artist in the game, but that's simply not the case. His bar-for-bar rapping has fallen off drastically, and it seems like he released all the gas out of his tank in that area on "No More Parties in L.A." on TLOP. Luckily for us Yeezus Apostles out there, Ye still has the pragmatic sailing producer touch which was evident on Pusha T's Daytona in which Yeezy executively produced. But his return to being a better producer than an overall singer and rapper feels like a movement backwards to his old self during The Blueprint days; and that may just be what Kanye needs to get back on track to GOAT status. Kanye West's decade of music will be remembered for what is perhaps the most beautiful and genius album of all-time in MBDTF, and the tragic fall-off from his critically acclaimed status in the last two years of the decade.

3. Frank Ocean

Projects: Nostalgia Ultra (2011), Channel Orange (2012), Endless (2016), Blonde (2016)