There was a reason we all survived Y2K and that was so hip hop could finally get the recognition it deserved. The new millennium didn’t just bring us the internet, Razor scooters, and Shrek, but it also brought the likes of Nelly, 50 Cent, and Ashanti. Back when CDs and iPod Nanos could only hold a certain number of songs you downloaded from Limewire, you really had to be selective. And jams such as Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’, Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya!’, and Riri’s ‘Umbrella’ were likely all top tier.
But what about the songs that didn’t quite make the cut? You know them, and you love them, but like Jacob Black they’ll always be second choice. With the streaming age upon us, there’s no excuses now! Brush off that decade’s worth of dust and get them into your playlists and at your pre-drinks asap. These are the 2000s hip hop throwbacks that deserve a little bit more TLC…
Akon feat. P Money – Keep On Calling (2004)
Haters – ignore the bootleg YouTube version below but the song is so lowkey that there isn’t even an official lyric video, let alone any info on it when you hit that Google search. But that just makes the song even more underrated. And the fact that it’s by our very own P Money makes it even more special. Keep on calling (😉) ya local radio stations and requesting this OG jam.
Will Smith – Switch (2005)
The lead single from Will Smith’s last full studio album deserves more spots on people’s playlists. Whether you’re busting out a 180 degrees move on the d-floor or simply just singing the “ooo la, la, la” as you’re doing some mid-week mahi, it’s a tune that almost defines the word “throwback”.
Ashanti – Foolish (2002)
We would be foolish (lol) to not include Ashanti’s debut single on this list. This bop just casually hung out at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for ten consecutive weeks. Truly ahead of its time, if you’re not vibing to this in 2020, naming your first-born “Ashanti” or trying to find those old mixtapes from back in the day then this must be the first time you’ve heard the song and… you’re welcome.
The Game feat. 50 Cent – Hate It Or Love It (2005)
Anyone else start singing the chorus to this just by reading out the song title? This song was such a commercial hit that only Fiddy’s own ‘Candy Shop’ could block it from hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video recalls the rough childhoods of both 50 Cent and The Game, showing their upbringing, and the struggles they overcame as kids to become international rap stars.
Soulja Boy Tell’em feat. Sammie – Kiss Me Thru The Phone (2008)
Can’t remember your partner’s mobile number off by heart but can remember 678-888-212 like it was yesterday? You’re not alone. This song peaked at No. 2 in New Zealand, proving that Kiwis music taste is 🔥🔥🔥 and that Soulja Boy was more than just a one-hit-wonder after ‘Crank That’.
Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell – Beautiful (2003)
After dropping it like it’s hot together, Snoop and Pharrell teamed up again for this bop. If visiting the famous green and yellow steps in Rio de Janeiro from the music video isn’t on your bucket list then you should probably re-evaluate your priorities.
Nelly – My Place (2004)
You’ve probably already got ‘Ride With Me’, ‘Hot In Herre’, or ‘Just A Dream’ on regular rotation but ‘My Place’ also needs some lovin’. The 2000s wouldn’t have been quite the same without Nelly (and his face bandaids). From St. Louis to the top of the charts he was truly the reigning king of the decade. Tbh he deserved the Oscar just for his performance alone in this video.
Baby Bash feat. Frankie J – Suga Suga (2003)
There’s no denying that when this tune came on the radio, you turned that dial up to 💯. Bought for 20cents as a ringtone on people’s Nokia 2280s, ‘Suga Suga’ was a cultural reset, charting at No. 1 right here in New Zealand.
Kanye West feat. Adam Levine – Heard ‘Em Say (2005)
All old school Kanye songs need to be put up on a pedestal because he is the G.O.A.T., but the cross-over collab with Adam Levine sealed the deal for this listing, due to its sociopolitical commentary. Encouraging listeners to remain optimistic is the energy we need right now in 2020 so get it in ya taringas asap.
Mariah Carey – Touch My Body (2008)
These days she’s the meme queen, but that title didn’t just happen overnight. She’s always been a comedian, just take the ‘Touch My Body’ music video featuring 30 Rock’s Jay McBrayer for example. And 192 million other people seem to think it’s pretty iconic too. Not quite the jam people needed during lockdown 😂 but now we’re pretty much back to business as usual, there’s no denying how delicious that pop hook is.
Afroman – Because I Got High (2000)
Not to make you feel old or anything but we just had to chuck this one in because this week marks its 19th anniversary. The cult (or should we say kush) classic ‘Because I Got High’ was written in only a few minutes and that’s all the time it needed to go from obscurity to popularity after making its way around dial-up internet.
Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Eminem – Forever (2009)
Just reading those four names together gives us chills. Originally recorded for the soundtrack to LeBron James’ More Than A Game documentary, the song also featured on the re-release of Eminem’s Relapse, titled Relapse: Refill. The music video is so long that it almost borderlines as a feature-length film, and we wish there was a sequel.
Ludacris feat. Mary J. Blige – Runaway Love (2006)
Nobody asked for Ludacris to make a tear-jerker, but thank gawd he did. ‘Runaway Love’ introduced a new side to his storytelling, detailing the trauma experienced by three (fictional) preadolescent girls, depicting situations unimaginable to some but an everyday reality for others. The music video ends with females of all ages gathered around Mary J. Blige, visualising a better reality together.
Sean Kingston – Take You There (2009)
Sean Kingston’s name drop ad-lib “SEAN KINGSTON! JR!” walked so Jason Derulo’s could run. After rising to success after releasing ‘Beautiful Girls’ the then-17-year-old sang sweet nothings about sipping pina coladas, and immediately followed it up with the juxtaposition of hanging in the slums.
Fun fact: NZ’s original Flava now plays old school hip hop and RnB 24/7, tune into 95.8FM (Auckland) to smash all of the above into your ear holes. The DREAM!