Over the past decade, hip hop's place in the music landscape has only gotten more secure. Track after track tops mainstream charts, and songs from all genres feature guest appearances from hip hop's top stars. Picking the best from the genre is a tough task. These are the albums, in no particular order, we consider contenders:
1. Kendrick Lamar - Humble
This track of Lamar's fourth album flew to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 while the album itself became the first hip hop album to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music. Far from a reflection of how high-flying Lamar pledges to act, it's an instruction to his competitors. With it quickly making top song of the year lists, the theme seems appropriate.
2. Kanye West & Jay-Z - No Church in the Wild
It's hard to pick just one song off "Watch the Throne," Kanye and Jay-Z's star-studded collaboration. Frank Ocean's vocal hook, paired with deep and compelling lyrics that explore the pull between spirituality and decadence make this one of the greatest album openers of all time.
3. Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus - Old Town Road
From its home-spun beats to its worldwide DIY dominance, there's a lot to love about warm, hokey and compulsively replayable "Old Town Road." Lil Nas X is a trailblazer as one of the first openly gay hip hop stars and one of the first to make in-roads on both country and hip hop charts.
4. Azealia Banks featuring Lazy Jay - 212
Before there was Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, there was Azealia Banks. 212 is raunchy, bouncy and dripping with attitude. Banks's many, many beefs unfortunately overshadow her musical talent, but she's one of the best performers and writers out there. The song expertly mixes EDM with hip hop and R&B, all topped with Banks's fast-moving vocals.
5. Tyler the Creator - Yonkers
The lead single from Tyler the Creator's debut album, Goblins, attracted controversy for its harsh and violent lyrics. This didn't prevent it from landing on scores of year-end "best of" lists and winning him MTV's Best New Artist.