63 Hip-Hop Songs That Defined the 2010s
The 2010s was a decade that seemed to be in constant transition—especially when it came to hip-hop.
The mixtape era gave way to the blog era, which was soon replaced by streaming platforms. There was Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat and now TikTok, among other social networks that helped power the culture.
Drake took the baton from his idols—guys like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West—and sprinted until the finish (and into 2020). Meanwhile, new sects made their names (Odd Future, A$AP Mob) while label empires like Maybach Music Group, Top Dawg Entertainment and Quality Control Music became the Bad Boy and Roc-a-Fella Records of the new age.
The aesthetics of hip-hop in the past 10 years have also evolved in interesting ways. Atmospheric, vibey production characterized the work of artists like Future, XXXTentacion and Young Thug and nearly every rapper releasing music during the period. Regional walls came crashing down, giving way to A$AP Rocky's mishmash of sounds from Houston to Harlem.
The decade flew by, but rappers were as prolific as ever, leaving behind a stockpile of great music to soundtrack the 2010s. Drake was the nucleus, always attached to an emerging or trendy sound, whether it was emo, dancehall-inspired, trap or afrobeat. Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar became a king in his own right, dropping the protest song of a generation with "Alright," while Nicki Minaj locked down her own crown with songs like "Super Bass" and the Beyoncé-featured "Feelin' Myself."
Travis Scott catapulted to superstardom in the decade's latter half, releasing inescapable classics like "Pick Up the Phone" and "Antidote." Meanwhile, Fetty Wap shot to superstardom with 2015's "Trap Queen," which was followed by a string of smash hits.
Migos and Rae Sremmurd each dropped No. 1 singles in 2016, with "Bad and Boujee" and "Black Beatles," respectively. Cardi B did the same the following year, with "Bodak Yellow." The close of the decade found newer stars like Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Megan Thee Stallion carrying the torch into 2020.
With the decade coming to a close, XXL highlights the 63 songs that define the 2010s.