School Daze: Reliving The Best Semesters Of School With The Biggest Hits

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High school and college are unique periods in many people's lives. From prom to welcome week at your dream college or university, these periods of time mark many coming-of-age moments in a person's life. These moments can be marked by old groups of friends, hangouts that breed nothing but nostalgia or eventful road trips. These periods of time can also be marked by key events in history and pop culture. From the movies that were released to the elections that happened, our high school and college experiences are very much shaped by our own communities, but they are also shaped by the world around us. In celebration of National African-American Music Appreciation Month, let's take a look back at the music that played throughout your favorite high school party or your most memorable kickback in college. More specifically, we're going to rank the best semesters in college by the music that was released at different points in time.


NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 15: Rapper Nicki Minaj performs onstage during TIDAL X: 1015 on October 15, 2016 in New York City.Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TIDAL

Time Period: It is impossible to go through every year in music history, so it is important to narrow down the time period. Much like the ranking of recent movie soundtracks, this list will hone in on the last decade. Therefore, we're going to be looking at music released between 2010-2019. This list is for your Gen-Z and Millenial students.

Artists: June is National African-American Music Appreciation Month. As a result, these rankings will be primarily determined by music released by Black artists over the last decade. However, chart-topping hits released by other artists will be considered to a degree.

Semesters: Different schools break down their academic calendars in different ways. For the purpose of this list, rankings will be broken down into spring and fall semesters. Songs released between August 1 and December 31 will be considered for the fall semester and songs released between January 1 and June 30 will be considered for spring semesters. Music released in July will be considered if it continued to have success into August.

Honorable Mentions

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: Lil Uzi Vert performs during the TIDAL's 5th Annual TIDAL X Benefit Concert TIDAL X Rock The Vote At Barclays Center - Show at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on October 21, 2019 in New York City.Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIDAL

Every list has its limits. It's impossible to rank every moment, song, album or mixtape. Therefore, some artists, names and moments will be left off. However, that doesn't mean those time periods weren't memorable. In fact, many of them were. There's just a limit to how much can be included.

Honorable Mention: Fall 2019

Lil Baby performs onstage during LivexLive's Social Gloves: Battle Of The Platforms PPV Livestream @ Hard Rock Stadium on June 12, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images for LivexLive

It was a simpler time. Just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged much of society, people were free to move about without a care in the world. Roddy Ricch was gearing up for his major coming-out party, Lil' Baby was preparing the release of his breakthrough album and Summer Walker was busy delivering hits. The world's biggest acts like Rihanna, Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, etc. didn't release music during this time period, but it was a solid run.

Moments: Lizzo earns her first #1 hit with "Truth Hurts"

Songs: "The Box" by Roddy Ricch, "Come Thru" by Summer Walker, "On Chill" by Wale, "Woah" by Lil' Baby

Albums: Over It by Summer Walker, Wow...That's Crazy by Wale, Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial by Roddy Ricch

Honorable Mention: Fall 2012

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MARCH 31: Kendrick Lamar performs during the third day of Lollapalooza Buenos Aires 2019 at Hipodromo de San Isidro on March 31, 2019 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Photo: Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images

Some artists have the ability to make time stand still. Kendrick Lamar is certainly one of those artists. When his debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, arrived, it marked a shift in music. He was officially one of "those guys" that would land himself on the Mount Rushmore of his generation right alongside Drake and J. Cole. This period of time also marked the celebration of Frank Ocean's debut album, Channel Orange, and Miguel's classic project, Kaleidoscope Dream. Not to mention, Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience was well developed at this point. Arguably, three classic R&B albums were all released in the span of about nine months. Lurking in the background, G.O.O.D Music was busy giving us hit after hit from the Cruel Summer compilation.

Moments: Kendrick Lamar arrives

Songs: "m.A.A.d City" by Kendrick Lamar, F***** Problems by A$AP Rocky,

Albums: good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar, Kaleidoscope Dream by Miguel, Long. Live. A$AP. by A$AP Rocky, Cruel Summer by G.O.O.D Music

5. Spring 2019

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - APRIL 17: DaBaby performs during DaBaby + Friends Concert at Orlando Amphitheater on April 17, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Interscope

Moments: A new generation arrives

Songs: "Suge" by DaBaby, "Old Town Road" by Lil' Nas X, "Big Ole Freak" by Megan The Stallion

Albums: Baby On Baby by DaBaby, Cuz I Love You by Lizzo, Fever by Megan Thee Stallion, Bandana by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Death Race For Love by Juice WRLD

4. Fall 2010

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 28: J. Cole performs during a private party for CEMA presented by VEVO at Cuvee on October 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for VEVO

Moments: J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar first tease a joint album

Songs: "What's My Name" by Rihanna, "Moment For Life" by Nicki Minaj, "Runaway" by Kanye West

Albums: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, Friday Night Lights by J. Cole, Hunger For More II by Lloyd Banks, Loud by Rihanna, Pink Friday by Nicki Minaj

3. Fall 2015

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 22: Drake and Future perform on stage at Gucci and Friends Homecoming Concert at Fox Theatre on July 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Moments: Meek Mill-Drake beef, Fetty Wap arrives

Songs: "679" by Fetty Wap, "Hotline Bling" by Drake, "Jumpman" by Drake & Future

Albums: Trapsoul by Bryson Tiller, What A Time To Be Alive by Drake & Future, Free TC by Ty Dolla $ign, Fetty Wap by Fetty Wap

2. Fall 2016

EL PASO, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 01: Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd performs onstage during ‘A Night For Suncity' benefit concert with Khalid & Friends at the Don Haskins Center on September 01, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images for Live Nation

The world was in a strange place in fall 2016. Coming off of a summer when Chance The Rapper dominated the charts with Coloring Book, the nation was in a bit of discord. Colin Kaepernick's national anthem dominated headlines while Donald Trump ascended to the presidency. Not to mention, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals and the Cubs were to poised to win their first World Series title in more than a century.

In the world of music, things were changing as well. Frank Ocean made his long-awaited return by releasing not one, but two albums. The Weeknd stepped into a new level of stardom bu delivering his sophomore album and a new artist by the name of 6LACK broke on to the scene with his project, Free 6LACK. Most importantly, rap was breaking through as the number one genre in the world. Things had been steadily trending in that direction for a few years prior, but Rae Sreummurd and Migos earning number one hits cemented that rap was the world's leading music genre.

Moments: Frank Ocean returns

Songs: "Bad & Boujee" by Migos, "Black Beatles" by Rae Sremmurd

Albums: A Seat At The Table by Solange, Blonde by Frank Ocean, Starboy by The Weeknd, Beibs In The Trap by Travis Scott, PND3 by PartyNextDoor, Free 6LACK by 6LACK, Awaken! My Love by Childish Gambino

1. Spring 2016

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 04: Recording artist Beyonce performs during a Get Out The Vote concert Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Wolstein Center on November 4, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. With less than a week to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Moments: Beyoncé returns

Songs: "Controlla" by Drake, "One Dance" by Drake, "Work" by Rihanna, "No Problems" by Chance The Rapper

Albums: Views by Drake, Lemonade by Beyoncé, Anti by Rihanna, Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper, The Life Of Pablo by Kanye West

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