Atlanta’s greatest music albums of the decade

Photo courtesy of Quality Control

Over the past decade, Atlanta has been called home by many talented artists. This city offers a sound like no other whether it is hip-hop or metal. Even though it is nearly impossible to narrow down the top albums that came out of Atlanta, there are ten that truly defined this past decade. 

Deerhunter’s enigmatic 2010 album, “Halcyon Digest,” helped shape the start of the decade with its atmospheric instrumentation and hypnotic vocals. This album created a melting pot of all previous decades and plucked the best part of various eras. Single “Earthquake” is reminiscent of the slowcore movement while another song off the album, “Revival,” is the polar opposite and offers a doo-wop and surfer rock sound. 

With an incomparable tone and infectiously catchy lyrics, CeeLo Green more than impressed with his third solo album from 2010, “The Lady Killer.” “Forget You,” initially more explicitly titled, became an instant hit with its repetitive hook that could not help but get stuck in listeners’ heads after one listen. Although that song alone makes this album deserve   to be on this list, the other tracks off the album are definitely worth a listen. 

Atlanta-based metal band Mastodon had long since made a name for themselves, but 2011 album, “Hunter,” bolstered their rise even more-so in the city’s grindcore and progressive metal community. This band has been established as one of the biggest influences for the rise of progressive rock in and outside of Atlanta. Standout tracks “Black Tongue” and “Blasteroid” feature complex rhythms and corroding vocals that lingers long after listening. 

In his 2012 album, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” rapper 2 Chainz helps carry the torch of those before him with his southern hip-hop drawl and marries it with his signature “trap music” sound. This album is doused in heavy synths and lewd lyrics. 2 Chainz’s flow is in a league of its own, and he proves it with tracks “Birthday Song” and “I’m Different.” This album finds the perfect balance between its sampling and vocals without neglecting either components. 

Although Atlanta royalty Outkast did not release any albums during this decade, half of the acclaimed hip-hop duo, Big Boi has released quite a few solo albums since leaving the group. On his 2012 album, “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors,” Big Boi pays homage to the city that made him with song “In the a” and features other notable Atlanta rappers, Ludacris and T.I. This album reminds listeners how influential Big Boi was to country-fried hip-hop. 

Compton-bred rapper YG brought his West coast sound to Atlanta in 2014 when he recorded his album “My Krazy Life” in Home Park, a neighborhood that is a stone’s throw away from Georgia Tech. YG fuses his hometown pride and gangster rap with an Atlanta-produced sound. Tracks “Left,Right” and “BPT” adopt heavy basslines and percussion sampling along with raunchy lyrics. 

Atlanta’s golden boys of trap music, Migos, released “Culture” in 2017 and greatly left their mark on the city’s rap scene. Track “Bad and Boujee” featured tight percussion and a rap flow that mimics the backing instrumentation on the track. This song was also responsible for popularizing the term “Bad and Boujee” worldwide. Another standout track that became an overnight anthem is “T-Shirt.” The rap trio is most well-known for their triplet-flow and funky trap sound.  

This alternative-rock, Atlanta-based band, Manchester Orchestra, did more than impress when they released their fifth studio album, “A Black Mile to the Surface,” in 2017. The album is chock-full of anecdotal lyrics and gut-wrenching vocals. For an album that only took a matter of months to complete, it sounds like it was years in the making. Standout tracks “The Grocery” and “The Alien” are centered around complex and philosophical themes. Each song offers great depth and intricate storytelling making it feel like a complete book.  

Misnomer is a collective of musicians that defy the jazz genre. Their 2018 album, “Neighborhood,” finds the sweet spot between funk and a big band sound. Standout tracks “Rippin” and “Breakdown” both have a groove that cannot be ignored by listeners, even those who are not jazz fans. They will be performing at Vinyl near the end of this month for anyone wanting to check
them out live.

Up-and-coming alternative-folk artist Faye Webster gained nationwide attention in 2019 after the release of her third studio album, “Atlanta Millionaires Club.” It could be listened to cover-to-cover without ever wanting to skip a track. Webster’s crooning is a step above whispering, but her mild manner works beautifully as she tells a new story on each song. Standout tracks “Jonny,” “Room Temperature” and “Kingston” exemplify her unique vocals and a tone that commands attention.