This past decade has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. A lot of highs, and certainly a lot of lows. But we got through it. And while everyone is ready to leave the 2010s behind and see what 2020 is all about, we can’t throw DaBaby out with the bathwater.
We’ve already reflected on the standout books, movies, and TV shows but music is what moves us most on a day to day basis. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. It helps brighten our day, calm us down, inspire us, drive us, and bring us together. And the past decade was a banner one for modern music, giving us some of the best albums ever made.
We watched some artists wind down their careers and others take off into the stratosphere. We saw streaming kill off CDs and vinyl make the ultimate comeback. We witnessed the end of mp3s and the birth of apps like Instagram and TikTok, changing how we consume and share music forever. Record stores gave way to SoundCloud and the music blogs got written off in favor of video content on YouTube.
So, while many legendary artists made their mark on the culture in the 2010s, who was the best? It’s an impossible question to answer, truly, as everyone’s taste varies. While it’s purely subjective, we did our best to come to a common answer.
It’s hard to argue against Beyoncé or Rihanna, who both kept their feet planted firmly on the neck of the music industry for almost the entire decade, dropping legendary albums like Lemonade and ANTI, respectively. The goat Shawn Carter Jiggaman Hov Jay-Z definitely slowed his output but still gave us some of his catalog’s most honest music with 4:44, showing maturity and making him more relatable than ever.
Was it Kanye? While Yeezy definitely had the most impact on the culture as a whole, per usual, the music was hit-or-miss. At the beginning of the decade, we got Ye’s most complete work, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the consensus best album of the decade according to many music outlets. Kanye also teamed up with Hov for the seminal collaborative album, Watch the Throne, and experimented on his industrial prog rock-influenced Yeezus. While 2016’s Life of Pablo was met with mixed reviews, it has aged quite well when compared with recent releases like Ye and Jesus Is King. While Kanye couldn’t miss in the 2000s, this decade was more of a crapshoot musically.
If you look at the numbers, it’s unequivocally Drake. We just haven’t seen anyone produce smash hits at the rate Aubrey has, or at least since Michael. It’s hard to imagine the Canadian crooner didn’t have a solo #1 hit before “Hotline Bling” but he didn’t, and that one opened the floodgates, making way for monstrous smashes like “God’s Plan,” which eventually went Diamond, a Herculean feat even in the age of inflated streaming numbers. But as great as Drake is at crafting universally-adored singles, he is equally as bad at putting together complete bodies of work. His two best albums, Take Care and Nothing Was the Same, both came out in the early part of the decade, and his best project overall, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, came in 2015. But things get bleak for his discography after that. The two most teased projects, maybe ever, Views and Scorpion, were underwhelming, to say the least, and his “playlist” More Life is entirely forgettable. All in all, Drizzy is for sure in the conversation for artist of the decade but one could argue he has just as many disappointing moments as triumphant ones. The numbers say it’s Drake, though.
But it’s not all about the numbers.
Sometimes, it’s just about the feeling. And our collective feelings this decade tended to be on the sad side. It was a depressing decade, no way around it. And while some people will argue up and down that music shouldn’t promote drug use, music has always and will always reflect what’s really going on in society. And in this past decade, addiction and mental health issues were predominantly what was going on in our society. And nobody held up the mirror for us better than Future. The Atlanta hitmaker’s entire career pretty much happened in this past decade, with the artist-formerly-known-as Meathead becoming Future on his 2012 breakthrough debut Astronaut Status. And ever since, he’s been increasingly impressive, consistently dropping project after project that simply gave listeners that feeling.
Never considered the best lyricist or the most proficient musician, Future excels at creating music that digs its way into your brain and buys up all available real estate. There have been years this decade where I can’t remember listening to anything other than a Future project. And you could argue Future had the most prolific multi-project run since 06-09 Lil Wayne with his 2014-16 assault on the recording industry with Monster, Beast Mode, 56 Nights, Dirty Sprite 2, What A Time To Be Alive with Drake, and Purple Reign. Yeah, it’s Future. He had the most dominant decade in music. Even the music he made in the couple years around his album Honest, when most fans said he had fallen off, has aged very well and now seems ahead of its time.
While other outlets are arguing over which albums or songs overall were the best of the decade, we decided to focus solely on our favorite artist of the past ten years, going back and studying every release, every feature, every verse, every adlib Future put on wax and determining once and for all which ones reign supreme. This list nearly tore our office apart, as Future brings out the passion in people and everyone has different songs and projects they hold close to their hearts. But we came to our senses, banded together, made compromises, and finally determined the ultimate ranking of Future songs. And if you’re feeling like our ranking is wrong, I don’t know what to tell you except…
It's an evil world we live inpic.twitter.com/dLjkPQ9qej
— Samuel (@SamuelAular_) November 17, 2019
97. Gone to the Moon
WOW. This song introduced me to Future. I was very young and at that moment I knew he was going to be apart of my life for a very long time. – Brice
90. Group Home w/ Young Thug
82. Covered N Money
The fact that no fashion house or brand has used this song in one of their streetwear-esque runway shows is very wild. Runway show music tends to have a very easy beat to count along with on the walk from the back of the runway to the front and this is perfect beat to accompany coked-out models while they stomp down a runway. Phillip Plein was very close and Anna Wintour would surely approve. – Shmik
73. East Atlanta Love Letter w 6LACK
While many may prefer Future’s more “turnt” offerings, it’s songs like this where he truly shines, casually inflicting goosebumps on even the most innocent bystander. This song made me want to change my author bio to “words hit like a draco.” – Duke
66. Blow a Bag
58. Too Much Sauce w Lil Uzi
Juice is temporary. Anyone can obtain the juice. You can say that just because you have a nice car oh man you got the juice, it’s something that kind of comes and goes. But Sauce, sauce is forever. You buy you a Simply Lemonade, how long is that going to last in your fridge? Couple days maybe? That’s the juice. How long does barbecue sauce last in your fridge? A while. (nods) That’s the sauce man, it sticks around. It’s thick. It’s hard to move. I’m telling you. There’s a difference. – Sandy
56. Good Morning (Beyonce reference track)
“Drunk in Love” was a monumental smash for Beyonce and Jay-Z but its reference track from songwriter Future is arguably just as good, if not better. Either way, this song gave us two classics, even if most people don’t know about this leaked original version. – Duke
48. Mask Off
This song probably dropped a little ways down the list because it honestly did annoyingly well. It was so infectious that almost every other rapper on the planet co-opted the instrumental for their own remix and beat the song dead until it became a skip. But make no mistake, it’s a smash, and once a little more time has passed, may climb back up this list. – Duke
43. King’s Dead w/ Jay Rock ft. Kendrick Lamar
Maybe the shortest Future verse on this whole list, it’s also the only one to win a Grammy. Maybe more meme than music, Future’s high-pitched “La Di Da Di Da” became one of the biggest quotables of his entire career. – Duke
31. Krazy but True
An entire song where Future is simply calling it the way he sees it and he’s not wrong. “Krazy but True” is an autobiography where Future reflects on his uncredited advancement of today’s hip-hop and how people are trying to play or confuse his role. Despite the heavy load he carries on his shoulders, Future knows his God-like impact and he’s waiting on his dues. – Sandy
I remember when this project first came out, some were saying they were bummed about how much he was singing. I say he was ahead of his time, once again. “I was gonna lie to you, but I had to tell the truth. I’m just being honest.” – Heavy
I can understand how being off multiple drugs at once can raise the braggadocios attitude displayed on “Hallucinating.” This song is the epitome of the fast life, filled with drugs and outlandish spending (Bentley truck, Aston Martin, chinchillas, and so on). To feel invincible whilst also racing towards one’s own mortality. He sounds bored of all the vehicles, foreign trips, and countless hoes that “fall in love” with him everyday. The lyrics, although grandiose, are offset by the somber melody which raises the question: is Future searching for something deeper than what fame has brought into his life? – Percival
15. Throw Away
The true beauty of this song lies with the ambiguous connection between the song and the listener. There are numerous ways of dealing with a break-up but it typically ranges from the first half of Throw Away, the second half of Throw Away, or letting the whole song play. – Sandy
11. Dirty Sprite
I was on RSWD with Jay Ughh in his Audi. He put me onto Future, hearing this in his car for the fist time was crazy! The rest is history. – Heavy
9. My Collection
Just an amazing song concept. Although Future’s objectification of females and his seemingly polygamous ways may be seen as taboo to some, it’s quite redeeming that he takes top notch care of all the chicks in his “collection” by providing 80 racks on the dresser and a fully loaded Range Rover, among other amenities. We’re guessing they get full health and dental benefits, too. – Percival
5. Turn On The Lights
Like Prince Charming searching for his Cinderella, Future pleads to turn on the lights so he can continue his search for the girl he sees in his dreams. Could she be in the VIP line? Future hears rumors about this girl’s loyal nature but nevertheless, Future is left puzzled whether this dream girl even exists. – Sandy
4. Foreva Eva
3. News Or Somthn
2. March Madness
1. Codeine Crazy
Future’s tour-de-force, his magnum opus, the crown jewel of his catalog. This gem highlighted the outstanding Monster mixtape and showed that Mr. Hendrix could really rap when he wanted to, giving us three verses that bore his soul for the world to see. – Duke