The Top 30 Mixtapes of the Decade

There are an infinite amount of ways to go about approaching a ranking-specific-things list. Whether you’re determining what’s the most valuable, influential, most meaningful, or just the best in general; it doesn’t really make too much of a difference.

We at Burbs recognize that, and decided that we would go about creating our Top 30 Mixtapes of the Decade list in a completely subjective manner by discussing it as a group (Carter Ferryman, Evan Linden, Howie Butler, Marty Gross, and Ralphy Compiano) in order to provide a variety of opinions from people who have had different experiences over the last 10 years.

Trigger Warning: Don't be upset if your favorite mixtape or artist didn't make our list. It's okay. You are more than welcome to make your own list, but this is ours, and it is the only one that matters. We hope that we can provide you with some music that is both enlightening and inspiring if you haven't heard it before, while also reminding you of how overwhelmingly amazing this decade of music was.

Last, but certainly not least: Thank you for reading, and enjoy.

30. Jeffery by Young Thug

Release Date: August 26, 2016

Just minutes in Jeffery, you quickly realize that not a whole lot has changed - and that's alright.

In fact, it's pretty amazing how Young Thug maintains a relatively consistent, successful sound across his entire discography, and yet, Jeffery feels as polished and carefree as anything Thugger has released. "Wycleaf Jean" and "Floyd Mayweather" are shining examples of Thug's unavoidably addictive cadence, among other tracks whose names pay homage to legends in their respective fields.

Thug sticks to his strongest producers here as well, enlisting Wheezy, TM88 and Supah Mario (among others) for a collection of fluid records. Don't think I forgot about "Pick Up the Phone" either - while it's a bonus track, it's undoubtedly one of Thug's greatest songs; a culmination of everything that makes him special on one track with his best partner in crime, Travis Scott.

- Written by Carter Ferryman

29. 56 Nights by Future

Release Date: March 21, 2015

56 Nights was a meaningful piece of Future’s tear through 2015/2016 that included tapes such as Monster, DS2, Beast Mode, and Purple Reign. The origin of the title follows the story of Future’s DJ, Esco, getting imprisoned in Dubai when going to see the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Production on this is handled almost entirely by Southside of 808 Mafia, aside from one track produced by Tarentino. He deserves a special shoutout for producing the song “March Madness” that is just as much one of the coolest Future moments as Esco is “the coolest DJ in the world.” Not much is really different here for Future; his trap beats are still banging, his lyrics are still drugged out, and his flexes are still priceless. 56 Nights discusses the problems that come with women, excessive drugs, and how to prioritize them with fame. Much like other DJ Esco and Future collaborations, this tape in particular is sensational!

- Written by Howie Butler

28. 28 Grams by Wiz Khalifa

Release Date: May 25, 2014

Dubbed as “Trap Wiz” and hosted by DJ Drama, 28 Grams marked Wiz’s first full-length deviation from his usual brand of stoner rap.

Of course the tape was still mostly about weed, but the approach was far different than usual. Linking up with producers such as Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital, Zaytoven, Southside, and DJ Mustard, Wiz fully embraced the trap sonics that he had never fully indulged in. He showed glimpses of trap on hits like “On My Level”, but 28 Grams was the first time he fully dedicated himself to it. He also remixed a handful of hits from the time - “Man of the Year” by ScHoolboy Q, “Cut Her Off” by K Camp, and “OG Bobby Johnson” by Que.

- Written by Evan Linden

27. Wrath of Caine by Pusha T

Release Date: January 28, 2013

More excellent Coke Raps from the Robb Report of the snort, the Kim Jong of the crack song, the Hines Ward of the crime lords, the Gil Scott Heron of the Black Poem, and lastly the Jack Frost of selling that blast off.

Wrath of Caine was released in the promotion building up to Pusha T's debut album My Name Is My Name. It's raw and hard-hitting like most of King Push's discography. It's not necessarily comparable to Daytona or My Name Is My Name, it's a mixtape, but it's a damn good mixtape. “Blocka” featuring Travis Scott and Popcaan is the banger that will take you back to the good old Cruel Summer days when La Flame was still heavily affiliated with G.O.O.D Music. “Millions“ with Rick Ross is pure energy, as it talks about dope boys and stash spots and the production on it goes crazy too; with Kanye West, Southside, TM88, and Mike Dean all working on it. Troy Ave has an amazing hook on the track “Road Runner”. My personal favorite track, “Only You Can Tell It”, has Push trading verses with Wale, another rap veteran from the DMV.

"Best n**** to make hits and run base since A-Rod "

- Pusha T, “Only You Can Tell It”

- Written by Howie Butler

26. Lil Boat by Lil Yachty

Release Date: March 9, 2016

This is easily Lil Yachty’s best project and it's not all that close. It’s thematic, unique, and delightful. Boat’s duality of man is expressed in an astonishing way going back and forth between the alter ego’s of “Lil Boat” and “Lil Yachty”.  Lil Yachty is a hard, intense rapper who uses no autotune and just spits bar after bar. Lil Boat is a joyful rapper who uses heavy auto tuned but sings his heart out while having fun in the process. These themes are displayed heavily throughout the album. This album is poppy, synth heavy, and annoyingly happy (listen to the mixtape and you know exactly what I’m talking about). As “Minnesota” and “One Night” are the most popular, this album is filled with underrated classics like “Interlude”, “Fucked Over” and “Wanna Be Us”. This project is slapper after slapper and never fails to put you in a great mood.

- Written by Marty Gross

25. The Waters by Mick Jenkins

Release Date: August 12, 2014

As a wise man once said, “Drink more water.”

I’m sure many people have said that, but Mick Jenkins is the wise guy I’m referring to. In summer 2014, Mick Jenkins released his game-changing concept mixtape and hydrated the rap game, figuratively and literally.

As you probably could’ve guessed, Mick Jenkins loves water. The Water[s], at 15 tracks, is a poetic journey that explores the symbolism of “water” in our world. The mixtape is laden with inventive, spoken word-like bars and carried by otherworldly production from contributors such as Statik Selektah and Kirk Knight. Standout tracks “Jazz” and “Martyrs” became some of 2014’s biggest underground hits, while nearly every other track on the tape was embraced by his local cult following. Next to landmarks like Acid Rap and Innanetape, The Water[s] will go down as one of the most phenomenal Chicago hip-hop projects of the decade.

For a track-by-track walkthrough and review of The Water[s], check out the Hidden Gem piece I wrote for it.

- Written by Evan Linden

24. Owl Pharaoh by Travis Scott

Release Date: May 21, 2013

Before the music world was introduced to the earth-shattering Rodeo series, there was the cryptically named Owl Pharoah - Travis Scott's first commercial release.

Owl Pharoah is raw and bold, each and every track takes production risks that reflect many of the sharp, industrial sounds of Yeezus - an album that young Travis played a large part in, specifically the drums on many of the project's cuts. This assistance to Kanye West gave Travis a foot in the door, culminating the resources and skills he had at his fingertips to bring to life his debut project.

Is Owl Pharoah Travis Scott's best project? Most everyone would agree that, no, it isn't, but Scott's debut project did something far more valuable than the music: it introduced the world to a budding chart-topper, one of the game’s most brilliant artists.

- Written by Carter Ferryman

23. 10 Day by Chance the Rapper

Release Date: April 3, 2012


If it weren’t for that ten-day suspension Chancellor Bennett’s senior year of high school, we would’ve never received 10 Day.

If it weren’t for 10 Day, Chicago hip-hop would have never evolved to its next level. Chance’s first commercial mixtape was one of the pioneering projects behind the city’s rap renaissance that boomed throughout the 2010s.

10 Day is a display of natural talent and charisma in action, showcasing a young and poetic Chano at his hungriest. From the opening track “14,400 Minutes” (the equivalent of 10 days), Chance proves his knack for lyricism as well as his ability to flow uniquely yet cohesively. Nearly every track tells a story, reeling the listener into Chance’s personal life. Tracks such as “Prom Night” and “Nostalgia” are examples of near flawless storytelling, while tracks such as “22 Offs” and “Brain Cells” are examples of impeccable wordplay.

From start to finish, 10 Day is a true Chicago vanguard.

- Written by Evan Linden

22. Stolen Youth LP by Vince Staples & Larry Fisherman

Release Date: June 20, 2013

Stolen Youth LP is my personal favorite Vince project, and here’s why. Two words.

Larry. Fisherman.

If you are unaware of Mr. Fisherman, that's a shame. Larry is the producer alter-ego of Mac Miller and boy HE IS TALENTED! The chemistry that these two share is striking from the start. Mac is wonderful with dark, subdued production; and Vince Staples compliments it perfectly with his nightmare-ish rapping. He tells tales of hardships faced in the hoods.

Mac Miller also provides two verses alongside other features from Joey Fatts, Hardo, ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Da$H. "Intro" captures attention perfectly and previews the eerie sounds of Stolen Youth. Vince talks about the difficulty of leaving the streets on tracks like "Stuck In My Ways" and the Groovy Q assisted gem "Back Sellin' Crack." Other standout songs are "Thought About You," "Guns & Roses," and "Heaven." The best song however is the Outro, which opens up with the bar:

"I'm here to tell the world I'm from Ramona park

Diving in the deep water like I know the sharks

Climbing in the king's daughter I deserved the crown

They weren't fucking with ya boy, but they heard me now."

It's confident, brief, and feels like a great switch up to a more upbeat sound.

Stolen Youth LP. Vince Staples and Mac Miller. Do you need more reason to listen? I didn't think so.

- Written by Howie Butler

21. EARL by Earl Sweatshirt

Release Date: March 31, 2010

Out of all the mixtapes, Earl was the youngest to have an entry on this list. Earl Sweatshirt was 16 years of age when he dropped this project and Tyler the Creator even gave this album so much praise claiming that it was better than Nas’s critically acclaimed project Illmatic. I can’t fully say that it is better than that, but it is raw. This is the first ever project that Earl Sweatshirt ever created and you can see the organic potential that Earl has. It is nasty and crude yet beautiful. The instrumentals are mixed quite perfectly but they don’t need to be. I think it makes it more grimy and accomplishes the goal that this album is going towards. Bastard and Earl are, in my opinion, easily the best Odd Future projects and express the upbringing of these crazy teenagers in sick fashion.

- Written by Marty Gross

20. Lil Uzi Vert vs. The World by Lil Uzi Vert

Release Date: April 15, 2016

9 songs. 9 classics.  This album is the epitome of summer '16 and was played all across America during that beautiful, youthful summer. At 22 years old, he dropped the mixtape that is associated with the most heat season. Literally every song is well produced, executed extremely well, and has banger after banger. As Luv is Rage is also a beautiful mixtape, this mixtape made Uzi who he is today. There are few mixtapes that can energize a fanbase more than this album did. Everyone who listened to this tape fell in luv (ha see what I did there) and wanted more. And if you don’t like the mixtape itself, look at the beauty of the cover art alone! At least you can find something in that.

- Written by Marty Gross

19. Macadelic by Mac Miller

Release Date: March 23, 2012

At the time of release, Macadelic wasn’t truly appreciated commercially or critically. Like many of Mac’s early mixtapes and albums, Macadelic is viewed as a stepping stone in the artistic evolution of Mac Miller. The tape provided its highs and lows, we got upbeat, party tracks like “Lucky Ass Bitch” with Juicy J, and “Loud,” the latter surpassing Donald Trump for his best one at the time. He also spins misadventurous tales of drug usage in “Vitamins” and “The Mourning After” giving off an unfortunate or uncomfortable mood.

Another polarizing aspect of Macadelic was Mac’s attempt to level up his lyrics. Though he’s nowhere near the lyricist we celebrate him as now, he shifted his sound attempting to give listeners more thought-provoking and introspective rhymes, especially on tracks like “1 Threw 8,” “Clarity” and “Thoughts From A Balcony.” With his great success on later projects, we have seen what he is truly capable and have come to appreciate Macadelic’s lyricism as a landmark in the maturation of one of the decade’s biggest rappers.

This project also had a pretty impressive list of features. Mac was able to flex co-signs from Lil Wayne (“The Question”), Joey Badass (“America”), and Kendrick Lamar (“Fight The Feeling”); proving that many of the rap game’s finest saw something special in him early. The track “Diablo” from Mac’s future mixtape, Faces (keep reading, it’s outstanding) came second to what I believe as the spiritual successor “Desperado.” Overall, Macadelic was the meeting of the party Mac, psychedelic Mac, and profound Mac. It might not be his overall best work, but it is an extremely valuable step in the progression of the most dope, Mac Miller.

- Written by Howie Butler

18. Kush & OJ by Wiz Khalifa

Release Date: April 14, 2010

God damn. It's 8 AM. I’m hungover. How can I end my suffering? Advil? Water? Sunglasses? Nah, I know the recipe. Kush and orange juice. Literally and musically. I can not think of a better musical expression that symbolizes a better wake and bake session than this project. There are a few skits sprinkled in that feel like you are just listening to the morning radio while blasted off your ass. This mixtape just makes you feel relaxed and really is the groundwork of Wiz Khalifa’s style. The utilization of the carribean cowbell, sharp bass boosts, and stoner samples are just the start of stoner culture and at the time, it really gave us a new outlook on rap music.

- Written by Marty Gross

17. Purple Reign by Future

Release Date: January 17, 2016

On one of his most slept-on projects, Future etched himself as a trap maestro who can make you tear up just as easily as he can make you turn up.

The artful juxtaposition of the tracks across Purple Reign is impressive, showcasing the versatility of Hendrix. Tear-jerkers such as “Perkys Calling” and “Purple Reign” are thrown into the mix with bright bangers such as “Inside the Mattress” and “Drippin (How U Love That)”, trap stalwarts such as “Never Forget” and “All Right”, and radio-ready cuts such as “Wicked” and “Salute”. The production of Purple Reign was handled mostly by common suspects Metro Boomin and Southside, and we all know they can do no wrong.

While not as frequently regarded as his mixtapes Monster, Beast Mode, or 56 Nights, well-rounded Purple Reign proves exactly why Future is such a beloved figure in contemporary music.

- Written by Evan Linden

16. STN MTN/Kauai by Childish Gambino

Release Date: October 2, 2014

STN MTN (Stone Mountain) is the mixtape Childish Gambino dropped to accompany his second album, Kauai. Based off the sounds of modern southern hip-hop, STN MTN takes place in the mind of a sleeping Donald Glover. Over the 40 minute runtime, Gambino dreams of how Atlanta would be if he was in charge.

"I had a dream I ran Atlanta, and I was on every radio station

And 107.9 was 97.5 again

And they played me at Golden Glide on Friday

And they played me real loud on the street

We drive up Memorial Drive, up Wesley Chapel

I reopen 112, and Jazzy T's

I'd bring back Turner Field. I fire all the cops in Cobb county

Chick-Fil-A will be open on Sundays

I bring back LaFace Records, Freaknik, Kilo Ali, Lou

I get J.R. Crickets some Spelman girls with big booties

I reopen SciTrek, strippers will get Mother's Day off

And I'd have my own Gangsta Grillz mixtape"

- Dream/Southern Hospitality/Partna Dem

Through it's entirety, Glover gives us his classic punchline-filled verses over famous instrumentals like T.I.'s "Southern Hospitality," Future's "Move That Dope," K. Camp's "Money Baby," and Lil Wayne's "Go DJ." He handles his own and bodies production from the likes of The Neptunes, Nick Banga, Mike Will, Timbaland, and Mannie Fresh. Along with the rapping, the track "U Don’t Have To Call" has Childish covering Usher's song of the same name. The singing is beautiful, per usual, and is followed with a prose verse ending the song. If you're a fan of his Kauai project, this is a must-listen.

The concept backing both STN MTN and Kauai shines because of it's duality. The former is full of bangers and gives off a Lil Wayne Dedication-type feel. Musically, Donald Glover brings us down south and shows us around his childhood stomping grounds. The Gambino stans we are here at Burbs Entertainment highly recommend you check it out.

- Written by Howie Butler

15. Live. Love. ASAP by A$AP Rocky

Release Date: October 31, 2011

Iconic is one word to describe this mixtape. The cover art is featured in apartments all across the nation of collegiate students. A$AP Rocky doing a french inhale!! How could you not just love it from that?? "Peso", "Purple Swag", and "Trilla"! This album has so many classics and really created the mold for who A$AP Rocky is today. The crafty wordplay, flexes, drugs, sex, and violence are all what is Rocky’s persona today and the flame is igniting during this project. So many unforgettable bars like “Raf Simons, Rick Owens usually what I'm dressed in, Blowing blunts rolling doobies up, smoking sections” or “But no, I ain't trick, it's no passin' dough, Then I hop up in this slab and I mash it, bro” really solidify Rocky of being the head of A$AP. This mixtape is part of the process of Rocky being one the greatest today.

- Written by Marty Gross

14. Cilvia Demo by Isaiah Rashad

Release Date: January 28, 2014

Isaiah Rashad is secretly the best member in Top Dawg Entertainment. I will stand by this claim. Yes I am a massive fan of the main four (especially Q), but if Zay was at the same stage in his career he could be at that level. Isaiah is too early into his career for that kind of attention.

His mixtape (which is now recognized as an album, but we appreciate things for what they once were), Cilvia Demo, is criminally under-appreciated. The talented Chattanooga, Tennessee rapper nails the sound of nostalgia with his woozily delivered vocals. It makes for great tracks using jazz and blues influenced instrumentals like “R.I.P Kevin Miller,” “Tranquility,” and “Heavenly Father.” Rashad also comes through with the more aggressive rapping on exciting standouts like “Modest,” “Soliloquy,” and the “Shot You Down” remix with ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock. All of Isaiah Rashad’s discography has been solid; but the first half, Cilvia Demo, is a special tape that introduces us to the unique sound of Isaiah Rashad. This is a mixtape that delivers equal parts evocation and quiet excellence.

- Written by Howie Butler

13. Slime Season 2 by Young Thug

Release Date: October 31, 2015

Slime Season 2 is one of Thug's two best projects (spoiler: the other is also featured on this list), and both of them were released within less than eight months of one another. To try to describe Thug's style, rhythm, and velocity is like attempting to define an asteroid cascading towards the Earth. There's no really way to define it without having someone experience it, and that's exactly how I feel about writing about Slime Season 2. It was the first project that really made me feel like Thugger would be somebody that I would cherish and look forward to listening to for the rest of my life. His music is unlike that of anybody else's and some of his lines are so unbelievably bizarre that you have to rewind the track to make sure you heard him right. A couple of examples from one verse on "Thief in the Night":

"I look good as your dad on a Friday / So many cars I gotta buy a driveway"

"Bickin' back bein' bool like an uncle / I'm so geeked up I might fuck a condom"

Yeah, look it up, he actually says those things. It's following moments like these when I experience an existential crisis and ask myself: What would we do and where would we be without the indescribably unique Young Thug?

- Written by Ralph James

12. Nostalgia, Ultra. by Frank Ocean

Release Date: February 16, 2011

Frank Ocean released Nostalgia, Ultra following Hurricane Katrina and his subsequent move to Los Angeles to join Odd Future. It's origins are relatively unclear, and before it's release, had little to no promotion.

This choice highlighted a trait that has defined much of Frank's music - its mysterious, almost cryptic nature. 2011's Nostalgia, Ultra is a jigsaw puzzle, piecing together dazzling orginal cuts like "Novacane" and "Swim Good" with covers (that aren't really covers because they're perfect) like "Strawberry Swing" and "Nature Feels." Frank Ocean's personality and objectives are highly reminiscent of the BMW E30 M3 that graces the mixtapes beautiful cover art: you don't know why you like it, but you can't stop listening.

This, for lack of a better term, is Frank Ocean in a nutshell - and his 2011 release is a musical manifestation of this persona.

- Written by Carter Ferryman

11. Innanetape by Vic Mensa

Release Date: September 30, 2013

A product of Chicago’s rap renaissance, Innanetape will go down as one of the Windy City’s most important hip-hop projects.

Released in 2013 amongst Chicago classics such as Acid Rap and Almighty So, Vic knew that he had to create something special to stand out. As his first full-length solo project following the break-up of his band Kids These Days, he was especially motivated to prove himself.

Vic created something beautiful with Innanetape. He implemented the jazz and soul influence that has long been a staple of Chicago hip-hop with tracks such as “Lovely Day”, “Orange Soda”, and “Hollywood LA” (ft. Lili K). He recruited producers such as Boi-1da, Michael Uzowuru, Hit-Boy, DJ Dahi, and Om’Mas Keith to add their unique touches. Tracks such as “Yap Yap” and “YNSP” (ft. Eliza) are bright and bouncy with stellar wordplay; tracks such as “Time is Money” (ft. Rockie Fresh), “Holy Holy” (ft. Ab-Soul & BJ the Chicago Kid), and “That N****” are wavy and introspective with strategic hints of social commentary and poetic storytelling.

Six years later, Innanetape is still Vic Mensa’s best body of work as well as one of the best works to arise from Chicago’s rap renaissance.

- Written by Evan Linden

10. Playboi Carti by Playboi Carti

Release Date: April 14, 2017

Playboi Carti had bursted onto the SoundCloud scene sporadically and effectively prior to the release of his self-titled mixtape, but it wasn't until this project's release that Playboi was recognized and regarded as a household name. A mainstream enterprise. A festival headliner. You get it. Carti blew up with tracks like "Magnolia," "Lookin," and "Wokeuplikethis*" but it was the under recognized songs that made day one fans and newly blessed disciples stick around with this mixtape for the long haul ("Location," "Let It Go," "Half & Half," "Yah Mean," and "Kelly K").

He was never celebrated for his brilliant lyricism, or his otherworldly instrumentals, but instead was appreciated for his inherent coolness that wasn't applicable to a lot of other artists who felt like they were forcing the issue. Playboi never did that. He spit what came to him when it came to him. His music never felt forced, and because of that he's gained a very loyal cult following that itches for leaks of his as much as they do official releases from their other favorite contemporary artists. Playboi has evolved into one of the most popular and sought after hip-hop artists in the world, and the process began to erupt immediately following the release of his self-titled debut mixtape.

- Written by Ralph James

9. Barter 6 by Young Thug

Release Date: April 16, 2015

The story goes a little something like this: while creating his upoming mixtape, Young Thug asked Lil Wayne if he could title his tape Carter 6, essentially paying homage to his fellow Rich Gang associate. This, of course, wasn't manifested into reality, so the rapidly growing Atlanta star opted for a letter change, birthing what many consider his best musical composition in Barter 6 - a short, air-tight project that stays as true to form as humanly possible.

The beats are grimy and trap-heavy; tracks like "Halftime," "With That," and "Check" use Thug's shape-shifting voice as a catalyst to push the trap genre in the right direction.

Production from Wheezy and London on da Track allow for sonic consistency throughout, as both beat masters work alongside Thugger, rounding out a project that felt too good for its time - despite it's wonderful simplicity.

- Written by Carter Ferryman

8. What a Time to Be Alive by Drake & Future

Release Date: September 20, 2015

After a red hot 2015 for both artists, Drake and Future delivered the trap Watch the Throne. Seriously. Behind WTT, WATTBA is frequently considered to be one of the decade’s best collab projects. The cream of the crop. The gold standard.

Executively produced Metro Boomin with assistance from Southside, 40, Boi-1da, and Frank Dukes, WATTBA is a diverse collection of trap anthems. Some tracks are bold and upbeat, such as “Digital Dash”, “Jumpman”, “Big Rings”, and “I’m the Plug”. Some tracks are dreamy and laidback, such as “Scholarships”, “Plastic Bag”, and “Change Locations”. Drake’s own “30 for 30 Freestyle”, an elegant piano-led track with ice cold bars, is one of WATTBA’s brightest moments.

What a Time to Be Alive it was in 2015.

- Written by Evan Linden

7. Monster by Future

Release Date: October 28, 2014

Future is known for being the prime example of a lot of different adjectives: regretful, guilty, honest, addicted, hype, etc. But if there's one adjective that defines this critically acclaimed mixtape, Monster, it would be "vicious." From the jump, Future boasts confidently about how he is a one-of-one artist that, according to Sway from Sway in the Morning on Shade45, "a lot of other artists are trying to sound like."

It's on this project that we hear Future become fully formed. He combines his unique and raspy voice with a ghetto-inspired vernacular that includes some of the best lyricism (which is worthy of decoding for all of my lyric connoisseurs out there) of his career. Trap rappers are often considered "mumble rappers" but Monster refutes that claim and demonstrates how trap artists can serve just as impactful of lyrics as some of the more polished MCs in the game.

This mixtape is also the first example that I include when I'm preaching for Future's versatility with those who haven't had the privilege to be blessed by the Future/DJ Esco duo because it includes three of the peak sad, depressing, and honest Future tracks ("Throw Away," "Hardly," and "Codeine Crazy"), along with a collection of unforgettable bangers ("Radical," "Monster," "F*ck Up Some Commas," "After That," and "Wesley Presley"). Overall, Monster is Future's most memorable mixtape because it was the inception of his pinnacle as trap music's most valuable and influential player.

- Written by Ralph James

6. 1999 by Joey Badass

Release Date: June 12, 2012

If you want a mixtape that symbolizes New York, 1999 is the perfect example. The 17-year-old Joey Bada$$ dropped this excellent tape in 2012 with heat and intellect. I feel this mixtape is where people actually realized that Joey is the real deal. Raw horns, no synths, amd grimy instrumentals make this album very old school with a new school lyrical presence. There are great piano samples and simplistic 808’s to add to the old school feel.  Deceased rapper Capital Steez (Rest In Peace) has a huge influence on this mixtape with three different features and really compliments Joey fantastically. This mixtape is beautiful New York excellence at its finest.

- Written by Marty Gross

5. House of Balloons by The Weeknd

Release Date: March 21, 2011

A couple of fun facts:

1. The Weeknd's very first musical project remains his best. Talk about starting off with a splash, this man has had several chart-topping projects since then, but House of Balloons (otherwise known by mainstream audience's as the first third of Trilogy) is still the most cohesive and innovative piece of work to date on the behalf of Abel.

2. When House of Balloons dropped on Datpiff, I listened to it thinking that it was a band. I thought that the person singing was different from the person rapping. And like everybody else who was listening to The Weeknd in 2011, I had absolutely no idea what he looked like. What I did know was that they, or rather he was a breath of fresh air in a genre that had grown tiresome, predictable and less in demand than it once was.

Those are fun, aren't they? You know what else is fun? House of Balloons. The best project to come out of the XO Label, and the defining project for a decade's worth of drug-heavy, sexy, poisonous, and seductive impressions. HOB has been the benchmark for artists like Bryson Tiller, PartyNextDoor, Miguel and 6lack. Despite several valiant efforts, nobody has been able to achieve the brilliance and innovation exhibited on this project.

- Written by Ralph James

4. If You're Reading This It's Too Late by Drake

Release Date: February 13, 2015

If you're reading this, you probably agree that the 6 God's one-of-a-kind tape deserves to be Top 5 as well.

Drake's surprise mixtape is a lot of things: It's practically a studio album. It's also unicorn in Drizzy's discography. It crosses the line between speaker-knocking anthems (see "No Tellin," "Energy," "6 God") and storytelling odes to love and family (see "Jungle," "You and the 6"). It dabbles in sample-heavy instrumentals (see "4PM in New York," "Legend") and sees one of music's most polarizing figures gliding across his many musical shapes with such ease that it feels like a cocky victory lap. Oh, and it followed Take Care and Nothing Was The Same, rounding out one of the best unintentional trilogies in modern music.

This project has everything, and feels more like a playlist of Drake's best early styles and his newer, banging flows. IYRTITL is diverse, arrogant and self-aware, with very little missteps. Like Drake says himself: When you get to where I'm at, you gotta remind them where the fuck you at - that's precisely what he does, and it couldn't be more enjoyable for that very reason; IYRTITL is a mid-career victory lap of epic proportions.

- Written by Carter Ferryman

3. Faces by Mac Miller

Release Date: May 11, 2014

Mac Miller's most horrifying, yet simultaneously brilliant project wasn't categorized as "Hip-Hop" when it was initially released to, it was actually categorized under the genre "Trip-Hop" which is a much more fitting term for the project that identifies and defines the highs, lows, and unexplainable aspects of life. Therefore, it is quite literally the pinnacle of trippy music, a project that would make Pink Floyd and The Beatles proud.

Faces has become a rather surreal listening experience since Miller's death, but one that has made me appreciate both his music and my life more and more with every listen. It's the one mixtape that I would identify as a religious experience, and the one project that I would take with me if I were to be stranded on a desert island.

There isn't much to say about Faces that I haven't already said other than the fact that I'm thankful for its existence and personally would've ranked it at number one on this list had I been the Dictator of this operation. Anyways, I'd just like to end this with one of my 6,315 favorite Mac lines from this project:


- Written by Ralph James

2. Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper

Release Date: April 30, 2013

Even better than I was the last time, baby doesn't quite have the same ring to it in The Big Day era of Chance the Rapper.

On "Good Ass Intro" Chancelor Bennett's pre-cursor thesis to one of rap's greatest mixtapes, he makes this statement abundantly clear - and it couldn't be more true. The raw, gritty, wordsmith tactics that Chance employed so graciously on 10 Day were upgraded in almost every imaginable facet on Acid Rap, a mixtape that made tsunami-caliber waves on SoundCloud for its honest, catchy sound and beautifully structured rhymes. Songs like "Acid Rain," "Juice," and "Paranoia" are three sonically different records, but Chance's unmistakable voice tethers the sounds together like super glue, creating a product that will most definitely go down in history as one of Chicago's (and rap music's) greatest musical triumphs.

Here's perhaps my favorite stanza of the decade - indulge:

Sometimes the truth don't rhyme

Sometimes the lies get millions of views

Funerals for little girls, is that appealing to you?

From your cubicle desktop, what a beautiful view

I think love is beautiful too

Building forts from broken dams, what a hoover could do

For future hoopers dead from Rugers

Shooting through the empty alley

Could've threw him an alley-oop

Helping him do good in school

(there's literally no conceivable way Days Before Rodeo tops this beauty, but I digress)

- Written by Carter Ferryman

1. Days Before Rodeo by Travis Scott

Release Date: August 18, 2014

Travis Scott is perhaps the most important hip-hop artist of the decade (or is at least the one who defines it the best by making art that is both unbelievably crazy and hysterically beautiful), and his best overall project is indisputably Days Before Rodeo. An anthem-filled mixtape that defines the artistry and is a prime example of the magnetism of Travis's adrenaline inducing music.

There isn't a single song on the project that won't stand the test of time, and the pure versatility that showcases both the highest of highs ("Days Before Rodeo / The Prayer," "Mamacita," "Quintana Pt. 2," "Don't Play," "Zombies," "Sloppy Toppy," "Basement Freestyle," and "Bacc") the lowest of lows ("Drugs You Should Try," and "Grey") and the medium between the two ("Skyfall" and "Backyard") that a person experiences is what makes the mixtape so relatable and grants the listener with a sense of a reciprocated connection.

Even though we as listeners may never experience the rush of performing on a stage in front of thousands, we can feel and relate with Travis's unfiltered excitement, rage, and joy all at once on DBR. The thing that makes this mixtape stand out above all the rest is that if you ask ten different people what their favorite song on the project is, you'll very likely get ten different answers.

- Written by Ralph James