Ten years in hip-hop is like a quarter century. It’s enough time for rappers to become a supernova or fade into the universal abyss of obscurity. It’s also enough time for eras to come and go, rappers to be crowned kings and albums to be stamped as classics. With that in mind, 2011 seems like a lifetime ago.

The hip-hop landscape was vastly different back when Barack Obama was still serving his first term as president of the U.S. Jay-Z and Kanye West were still bosom buddies and released the joint quintuple platinum album Watch The Throne, resulting in four Grammy Awards spanning two ceremonies. Lil Wayne and Birdman’s business relationship had yet to sour and Weezy released his ninth solo studio album, Tha Carter IV, in August of 2011, selling nearly 1 million copies in its first week.

Drake was still somewhat a newbie to the major label rap game. He released what some consider his magnum opus in Take Care. The sophomore LP earned Drizzy his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2013.

Some new guys named Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole hopped on the scene and released their debut albums, Section.80 and Cole World: A Sideline Story, respectively, officially launching the careers of these two MCs, who are considered by most to be locks on the Mt. Rushmore of rappers in the 2010s. It was also Tyler, The Creator’s breakout year as a solo artist, as he debuted his maniacal musical entrée, Goblin, to the delight of degenerate youth everywhere.

With 10 years in the rearview, take a trip down memory lane and check out the 125 albums that served as the soundtrack for 2011.

See Hip-Hop Albums Turning 10 in 2021

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