Devin Barge’s top 10 music albums of the 21st century, so far


Devin Barge

graphic by Devin Barge

by Devin Barge, Editor

10.) Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

Released on July 10, 2012

Frank Ocean has a habit of “disappearing” between the releases of his albums. With very little connection to social media and the public, he remains mysterious. As an artist, Frank Ocean is colorful, known for his idiosyncratic style of music. My favorite single off of his album Channel Orange is “Thinkin Bout You,” as it only peaked at number 32.

Ocean’s second studio album reached the top spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list in 2012. I like Frank Ocean because his music goes farther than his lyrics. The beats produced on his album went through extensive development as over 60 people were involved in its production. Ocean is meticulous about his music in the sense that he could release his songs, with just the instrumental versions and they would still be successful. I think the reason behind Frank Oceans “disappearances” lie with the fact that in between albums, he’s planning and producing what’s to come for his next great project.

9.) 24K Magic by Bruno Mars

Released on November 18, 2017

Bruno Mars’s eccentric stage presence has captivated his fans for years, with his upbeat songs with touches of R&B and Soul. He has captivated audiences since the release of his first studio album the Doo-Wops & Hooligans in 2010. Along with his more recent success of the release of the song Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson that he featured on, Mars’ career has only gone upwards since then.

The most popular single off of this album, “24K Magic,” debuted at the number 5 spot of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The album even stayed atop the R&B albums chart for 21 weeks. I can’t wait to hear his next illustrious album.

8.) The Blueprint 3 by Jay-Z

Released on September 8, 2009

Jay-Z is the perfect example of an artist who has built his empire with the mentality of rags to riches. He is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, as he has sold over 100 million records, and has received 21 Grammy’s for his music.

The Blueprint 3 is my favorite album from as it debuted at the number one spot on the US Billboard 200 list. My favorite single from this album is the “Empire State of Mind” feat. Alicia Keys. The song peaked to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

7.) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West

Released on November 2, 2010

Kanye West is a genius who has made a fortune off of his unhinged persona. Some may say that he is egotistic, which seems to be true. Kanye doesn’t care what people say about him because he will still go out and do what he wants, as an artist he has no boundaries just as his music. The album has been certified to go 2x platinum, as this project is one of his best to come yet.

His fifth studio album debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 along with the release of four singles, “Power,” “Runaway,” “Monster,” and “All of the Lights.” His most popular single, “Monster,” peaked at number 18. My favorite song off of this album is “Power.” It has been a highly marketable song used in commercials for Xbox and previews for movies such as Power Rangers and Fantastic Four. The song to me emphasizes that we all have the power to take control of our own lives. Kanye is the best example of this.

6.) Because the Internet by Childish Gambino

Released December 10, 2013

Donald Glover is one of my favorite artists personally, not just because of his substantial music, but because of the other things that he does. Glover is both an actor and producer when he’s not rapping as Childish Gambino. His TV series Atlanta follows two cousins as they attempt to rise up in the ranks of the rap game. The show has received several accolades including two Golden Globes for Best Television Series – Music or Comedy, and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for Glover.

Because the Internet released four singles, “3005” being my favorite. Commercially, Gambino’s second studio album did well as it peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200.

5.) Graduation by Kanye West

Released on September 11, 2007

Kanye West’s seventh studio album debuted at number one the the US Billboard 200 list and reached platinum level sales in both the US and Denmark. My favorite single “Stronger,” peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

4.) 2014 Forest Hills Drive by J. Cole

Released December 9, 2014

The phrase “double platinum with no features” most often times is used when J. Cole’s name pops up. He is a very talented, and at age 32, he has a couple studio albums that have reached platinum level sales such as Born Sinner, Cole World: The Sideline Story, 4 Your Eyez Only.

My favorite single off of this album is “Love Yourz” when I first listened to this album my freshman year. It taught me the lesson that you will never truly be happy with yourself unless you begin to appreciate what you have already. It’s important to not be extremely envious of other people’s lives because they will always be someone in the world who has more than you.

3.) Lemonade by Beyoncé

Released on April 23, 2016

Beyoncé’s sixth studio album was one to remember, as she broke her stereotypical stage presence. Lemonade debuted at number one of the US Billboard 200 and is her sixth consecutive number one album in the country. It was the best selling album of 2016.

Beyoncé is one of my all-time favorite female artists, so it was cool to see her take a new spin on her music as her music is empowering and upbeat. She was meticulous about the release of this project as she poured her emotions surrounding the speculation that Lemonade was written about the allegations of her husband Jay-Z cheating on her. In itself this album is raw in the sense of emotion, but, personally, I feel that though she denies claims about it being produced about her husband, the song titled Sorry may say otherwise. Lyrics in her song say phrases such as “Middle fingers up, put them hands high wave it in his face, tell him, boy,  bye.” Do what you want with this, but even though they are still together, Lemonade may have been her way to vent about her emotions. So as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

2.) Damn by Kendrick Lamar

Released on April 14, 2017

Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album to date, Damn, is his most successful one yet. Every song on Lamar’s album charted 14 spots on the Billboard Top 100 list earlier this year, as every song on his album was on the list from May 6 until May 20. Kendrick Lamar is one of five artists who have at at least 14 tracks on the Top 100 list, including The Beatles, Drake, The Weeknd, and Justin Beiber. The album itself reached double platinum sales in the U.S.

1.) Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

Released on May 13, 2016

At number one, Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book is ranked highest on my list for many reasons. Not only is Chancelor Bennett an exceptional artist, but he has given back a lot to his community in Chicago. Known as the city’s prodigal son, Chance has donated $1 million to the elementary school systems to help revitalize them. He has even started his own charity, SocialWorks, which works to empower youth through education, arts, and civic engagement. He has done all of this and more at the age of 24. A versatile and charitable artist deserves my top spot.

A solo artist, Chance the Rapper has never signed a deal to a record company as he has criticized the industry being one that’s dead. His third mixtape, Coloring Book helped to launch his fame even further as he won three Grammy’s for Best Rap Album (Coloring Book), Best Rap Performance (“No Problem” feat. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz), and Best New Artist. No artist in the history of the Grammy’s has won one award without being signed to a record label.

Honorable Mentions:

1. ) Under Pressure by Logic

Released on May 5, 2017

2.) To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar

Released on March 15, 2015

3.) Ctrl by SZA

Released on June 9, 2017