I'm a feminist
I'm also a misogynist
spit like an arsonist
think like a novelist
and I promise if you ever hear me contradict myself
it's not a sign of the apocalypse
in my view hip hop had two great phases: early-to-mid '90s and early-to-mid 2000s. the genre reached its maximum commercial potency - at least in one sense - in the former period, and also its mature production styles. so, you know, dre, snoop, tupac on the west coast, the wu and rza and biggie on the east. (the reason i say 'in one sense' is that though you hear less pure hip hop now, you hear it as an element in virtually all pop music all over the world, from nashville to the cote d'ivoire.)
but when i talk about 2000-2010 as a golden age as well, you may be puzzled. i don't mean commercial hip hop, though there were also some relatively interesting artists there, like eminem or lil wayne: i mean 'underground' hip hop. that people understood hip hop to have 'sold out' and (for one thing) become totally apolitical in that period, actually helped create a whole world of non- or anti-commercial artists. they were often extremely radical politically, but also many of them had amazing flow and good-to-great production (production got a lot cheaper in that period).
so, i might mention dead prez, jedi mind tricks, 7l and esoteric, brother ali, j-live, aceyalone, anti-pop consortium, bahamadia, aesop rock, demigodz. but there were many others, and there still are. i do rate immortal technique as the best mc, ever. (eminem is his only rival to my way of thinking.) one of the great artists of the period was atmosphere (minneapolis; mc = slug; dj = ant). "scapegoat" and "god loves ugly" are two of the best songs in hip hop history, i believe.
no wonder you're in love with your therapist. go to sleep my little time bomb.
and look that was not that long ago, and a lot of these people were quite young, and many are still recording, along with a couple of cohorts that they influenced. i want to point out that atmosphere sounds as good or better than ever on fishing blues. slug was never a verbal gymnast like wayne or tech; he was always a killer writer with a cool and accessible voice. he's writing great right now.
i think a number of these artists should have the status of american masters at this point, and atmosphere is just as good and relevant now as they were a decade ago. i also think the beats have steadily improved, and the underlying tracks are actually pretty various; i'm crediting ant with a lot of the excellence of fishing blues. "won't look back" actually sounds like a pop hit, but there are many cool elements and styles throughout.
one good thing you have to live with: hip hop was a completely inter or multi-racial genre by 00s, like jazz in the 30s and 40s, or blues in the 60s and 70s. call it cultural appropriation if you like; i call it music.