10. The Game feat. 50 Cent: Hate It Or Love It
From The Documentary (G-Unit/Interscope, 2005)
Th Game and 50 Cent’s duet on “Hate It Or Love It” might seem rather bittersweet now that they, you know, hate each other but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great song. The musical hook (taken from The Trampps) is rich and soulful, the chorus is clever and catchy and The Game’s underdog-on-top attitude makes this a strong anthem for up-and-comers everywhere. The fact that 50 would remix the song (albeit sans The Game) shows how good it was to begin with despite potentially bad memories of having to work on it with his now-nemesis. If you listen to the soundtrack of Get Rich or Die Tryin’ you’ll notice that many of the tracks on there try to duplicate this formula but none get it down as well as “Hate It Or Love It” does.
9. Lone Catalysts: One’s We Miss
From Good Music (BUKA, 2005)
If this were just an instrumental, it’d still be one of my favorite tracks of the year; it’s one of J-Rawl’s best tracks I’ve ever heard (and he’s got a grip of great ones). The soulfulness is perfect. But what makes it such an outstanding song is the pairing between Rawls’ beat and J-Sands’ lyrics that are part eulogy, part dedication to the memory of some of music and culture’s great icons. Rock, rock on, ya’ll.
8. UPC All Stars: Don’t Get Discouraged
From 12″ (Soul Cal, 2005)
This previously unreleased early ’70s song comes from the same folks who brought you Omaha’s L.A. Carnival. As I noted back in July when I first posted it, it’s such an incredible song; it’s mind-boggling that no one released it before. The track opens with that gorgeously relaxed keyboard riff before giving way for the brass section’s power and then the song becomes this fantastic late-night jam. Plus, the song is so positive, it could be the anthem for a scrappy Little League team.
7. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: All Over Again
From Naturally (Daptone, 2005)
This album track lives up to the ideal of being timeless. Whether 1965, 75 or 2005, it manages to be beautiful, melancholy and ultimately uplifting. It’s so good I’m using it on an compilation I’ve curating – also as my closing song. No other track would have fit quite as well. Nuevo-soul? Retro-soul? Who cares – it’s just exquisite soul.
6. Common: Be
From Be (Good/MCA, 2005)
People calling the album a 5 star effort seriously need to get their ears checked; some great songs, sure…but end-to-end burner? Far too inconsistent and even a little boring to qualify for classic status. That said, the album opens perfectly with the title track. It’s as good as anything Kanye produced on his own album and while Common’s constant introspection can border on syrupy at times, this manages to strike exactly the right note of sharing a personal moment on record without sounding like he’s navel-gazing.