Best Songs of 2011: Hip-Hop and R&B — Continued
It’s hard to believe, but 2011 is almost out the door. This year has been a great one for hip-hop and R&B music, with a host of talented newcomers serving up anthemic songs and taking spots usually held by lauded veterans. However, respected heavy hitters in both genres also reminded us why we shouldn’t count them out with the release of tracks that climbed to the top of the charts.
In June, The BoomBox showcased 10 tunes that grabbed a hold of listeners’ eardrums for the first half of the year. Now, here’s a list of the best songs that ruled the latter half. From Jill Scott to Drake, Chris Brown to Meek Mill, their respective tracks ruled airwaves and iPods everywhere.
11. ‘So in Love,’ Jill Scott Feat. Anthony Hamilton
‘So in Love,’ a single off Jill Scott‘s ‘The Light of the Sun’ LP, had one of the quickest rises on the charts this year, debuting at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart, and then peaking at No. 10, making it the highest debut of her career on that chart. The song finds the soul singer boasting about how she loves her man, played by the part of crooner Anthony Hamilton. After a four-year hiatus from recording, the track’s heartfelt lyrics and accompanying success reminded fans she hadn’t lost her groove.
10. ‘She Ain’t You,’ Chris Brown
Chris Brown single-handedly introduced singers SWV to a new school of fans with his ‘She Ain’t You’ single. The track, which borrows from the ’90’s R&B trio’s ‘Right Here,’ as well as Michael Jackson‘s ‘Human Nature,’ quickly climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B charts. The mid-tempo track finds Brown moving on to a new love interest only to find that she’s nothing like his last girl.
9. ‘I’ma Boss,’ Meek Mill
As a star player on Rick Ross‘ Maybach Music team, Meek Mill is in a lane all his own. ‘I’ma Boss’ not only proves that he’s running things, but it demands that you pay attention. Released on the compilation ‘MMG Presents: Self Made Vol. 1,’ the song’s video has garnered more than 1.8 million views on YouTube and was a summer 2011 staple in clubs and at neighborhood barbecues. Mills rips the Jahlil Beats-produced track, and in case you didn’t know, he “runs his city from South Philly back to Uptown.”
8. ‘Marvin & Chardonnay,’ Big Sean Feat. Kanye West and Roscoe Dash
Of the club-friendly tracks on his ‘Finally Famous’ debut, Big Sean‘s ‘Marvin & Chardonnay’ has got to be one of the best. Commissioning the help of Kanye West and Roscoe Dash, Sean speaks on two ingredients for a good night: chardonnay and Marvin Gaye. Although sonically mimicking Waka Flocka Flame‘s ‘No Hands’ — which also features Dash — the G.O.O.D. Music signee gets brownie points for tapping veteran producer Mike Dean, who is credited for pioneering the “Dirty South” sound.
7. ‘Work Out,’ J. Cole
All eyes were on J. Cole after his underground buzz earned him a record deal with Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation imprint, but he proved that he works well under pressure. ‘Work Out,’ the first single off his gold-certified debut album, ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story,’ started off with mixed reviews, but nearly six months after its release, the record has shown its staying power. Cole’s album later topped the Billboard charts, so it looks like his “workout” plan paid off.
6. ‘Headlines,’ Drake
The anticipation for Drake‘s sophomore release, ‘Take Care,’ had about bubbled over when he pacified fans by dropping the album’s first single, ‘Headlines,’ in late July. Coming at a time when hip-hop is known for exuberant lyrics, this track was different with the very first line finding the Toronto rapper admitting that all the adoration bestowed upon him had taken its toll. Although he’s publicly stated ‘Headlines’ isn’t the best song on his album, Drizzy chose the candid track because of its informative message.
5. ‘Party,’ Beyonce Feat. Andre 3000
No one amps up a party quite like Beyonce. One of the praised songs off her ‘4’ album, this one isn’t as upbeat as one would expect for a party track, but you can’t go wrong with Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick sample. The original version features Andre 3000, who was then replaced by J. Cole in the supporting video, which only gives fans a chance to love the track all over again. Though loyal supporters are split down the middle on which version is best, there’s no denying the swag factor here.
4. ‘We Found Love,’ Rihanna Feat. Calvin Harris
Finding love in a hopeless place may not be ideal, but its definitely possible. Rihanna‘s first single off her sixth album, ‘Talk That Talk,’ is a thundering dance track written by Scottish songwriter-producer Calvin Harris. Before the video even dropped, RiRi caused a stir for going topless on the set, angering a Scottish farmer whose property she used to shoot scenes. Equally eyebrow-raising was the Chris Brown look-a-like casted to play her love interest.
3. ‘Quickie,’ Miguel
After topping the charts for singing about love, with ‘All I Want Is You,’ Miguel decided to tackle that other “L” word: lust. ‘Quickie,’ the third offering from his debut LP, finds the singer swapping the foreplay and lovemaking for a speedy sexual encounter. If the steamy lyrics didn’t drive his point home, the black-and-white video — featuring a shirtless Miguel having a ménage à trois with two women — upped the sexy factor. Not surprisingly, the video has almost 4 million views on YouTube.
Lil Wayne has made a career of stepping outside of hip-hop’s boundaries, so it’s no surprise that he chose to dust off his pipes for ‘How to Love.’ Off ‘Tha Carter IV,’ Weezy mixed Auto-Tuned vocals with an uplifting message about a girl too hurt and heartbroken to recognize true love. Not only was it relatable but the music video played out like a mini-movie, complete with a happy ending.
1. ‘N—-s in Paris,’ Jay-Z and Kanye West
The title ‘N—-s in Paris’ may not be politically correct, but like the song says, “It’s provocative.” Jay and ‘Ye hit it out of the park on this Hit-Boy-produced track, the fourth single off their ‘Watch the Throne’ album, and yet another reminder as to why they’re at the top of the music game — they played the song up to seven times in a row at their WTT tour stops for receptive audiences. After his R. Kelly collaborative debacle, Hov showed that he has no problem sharing the spotlight, especially with his “little brother” Kanye.
Watch ‘Kanye and Jay-Z Gut a Maybach — For a Cause’