1 Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly 2015

You can’t understate the influence To Pimp a Butterfly has had on hip-hop and politics. “Alright” became a Black Lives Matter rallying cry, while the album sent the genre to a new stratosphere.

2 Robyn, Body Talk 2010

The crying-in-the-club anthem is its own genre in the pop sphere now, but each entry traces its origins back to Robyn’s magnificent, mascara-streaked opus.

3 Frank Ocean, Channel Orange 2012

The most influential debut studio album of the decade, Channel Orange established Frank Ocean as a visionary new voice who helped redraw hip-hop, pop, and R&B.

4 Arcade Fire, The Suburbs 2010

The album in which singers and real-life couple Win Butler and Régine Chassagne spool their very intimate anxieties about family and growing older into arena-rock catharsis.

5 David Bowie, Blackstar 2016

After spending five spellbinding decades darting among glam rock, art pop, and all the nameless spaces in between, music’s otherworldly son left his fans with a perfect parting gift.

6 Beyoncé, Lemonade 2016

The most important chapter in Bey’s narrative, Lemonade is a brilliantly realized multimedia vision with the pulse of strength, motherhood, and black female empowerment.

7 Margo Price, All American Made 2017

With lyrics that rail against the pay gap and the patriarchy, Price cemented her status as this generation’s Young or Nelson: a stark truth-teller of the first degree.

8 St. Vincent, St. Vincent 2014

Between her virtuosic technical ability and her dazzling songwriting skills, St. Vincent is a futuristic, forward-thinking guitar god in an era of preprogrammed beats.

9 Rihanna, Anti 2016

The most dizzying DGAF album of RiRi’s career. An ode to toking up, coke-fueled trysts, and Tame Impala, Anti is Top 40’s Barbadian princess at her loosest.

10 Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 2010

His many public-persona faults aside, Kanye knows what the masses want to hear before they know they want to hear it—and this sonic vision is the supreme example of that.

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Esquire - Winter 2020


Winter 2020