Tag Archives: Static Major

Tigger’s 25 Best Albums of the Aughts (00s), Part 1

The thing that is interesting to me about all the lists I’ve read about music in the Aughts is how little the lists reflect the impact of the internet.  Reading most lists, you wouldn’t think that the industry changed as much as it did.  You’d also think that, reading other lists, that the industry figured out the internet immediately and it became just another promotional tool for them to give you whatever it is they’ve decided is hot music.

Napster started in June 1999, just six months before the new millennium and the music industry has never been the same.  Illegal downloading meant that people could hear an artist’s work before it was done.  They could hear songs that artists never intended for them to hear.  And they could hear multiple versions of a song that ultimately went to another artist (how many people downloaded Posh Spice’s version of Beyonce’s Resentment?).

What this meant is that the single had even less meaning than it did in the past, though the industry and your favorite artist will never tell you that.  Indeed, the minute that iTunes and other online music services offered you the ability to pick which song you want to own, singles just became different animals.  Oh sure, we still had huge singles in the decade that everyone bought and then couldn’t escape for years – Yeah!, Crazy In Love, and Hey Ya come to mind – but the point is, how the consumer interacts with an artist shifted completely.  Many artists began to release as singles album tracks that were buzzworthy on the internet in hopes of increasing sales (Mariah Carey seems to live and die by her message boards, which explains the yo-yoing of her career of late).

It also meant that the industry’s devaluation of the album was complete.  Oh sure, people still buy albums, but with the ability to pick and choose what you want, there was even less incentive for the biggest artists to make albums a complete experience.  More then ever, what we got from corporate artists were three or four “radio singles” and a bunch of lamentable album tracks (you know, the ones that artists like Britney, Rihanna and nem point to as evidence of their “growth” because the songs might have an actual bridge or something).

For me, as a music lover, it was a wonderful time to discover music online I might not otherwise have heard.  I was able to follow the rise of homo hop, get copies of shelved albums by artists like Joi Gilliam and Nicole Wray, get obscure albums by Ricky Bell, LaTocha Scott, and Mark Middleton, and find artists who had been discarded by the industry but were making music on their own terms (Shanice, Smoke E. Digglera and Digital Black from Playa).  And let’s not forget how R&B artists have embraced the “mixtape” concept as a way to put out music that perhaps the label didn’t want you to hear or just to keep their names in your mind (Teedra Moses, Trey Songz, Amerie).

What this meant was that I had something else to compare to whatever it was the industry was throwing at me.  It meant that I didn’t have to fall for the othering of British “phenoms” who were ripping off American Black music unconvincingly.  It meant that I didn’t have to be mired in the industry’s mistaken belief that artists were only as good as the song Rich Harrison, Timbaland, Pharrell, Rodney Jerkins, or whoever gave them.  It meant that what I listened to was more driven by me than the industry.  Great as the 90s were, I was largely at the mercy of the industry.  That is simply not the case anymore – even for consumers (and artists) who live and die by the Billboard charts.

I say all this to say that my list reflects very much my experience with black music in the Aughts.  It is not a list that is designed to rank the biggest commercial albums of the decade and then find creative ways of equating art and commerce.  Which is not to say that there aren’t some obvious choices on here.  But this is my list, not a list that necessarily reflects the perspective of the average music consumer.

You been warned.

NOTE – The list is long, so its broken into two parts.  This post has the first 13 albums.

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Best of the Rest: Tank’s So Many Times

Tank One Man album cover Any number of songs from Tank’s three studio albums could have made this list. That’s how deep – and dope – Tank’s catalog is. It’s a crime that he’s not a bigger star. I chose So Many Times because I still think it’s one of the finest songs he’s ever sung and it’s totally a song that could have been a huge hit had it been released as a single.  Brilliant as Tank is, he hasn’t always made the best choices in singles.

The song was written by Static/Major, the greatest songwriter no one knew they knew.  This is his best song and Tank owns it.  The song is basically about sex, but the melody is so tight, so smooth that you almost don’t listen to the words.  That is until the hook comes in: “I’m horny like I’m fresh out of jail.”  Tank makes it sound like the sexy, sly come on it is, without sounding cheap or silly.  Few male singers can do that well.

More:
Best of the Rest – Full List
Best of the Rest – Explained

Fun on Youtube: Static Major’s 4 A Long Time

I wish I had words to capture how beautiful this song is:

I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for over a week. I just discovered it a few weeks ago.  If I had heard it last year I would have put it on my list of best songs of the year, somewhere near the top.

It’s been almost a year exactly since Static passed away and Blackground still hasn’t released his album Suppertime.

Get on that, Blackground.  Damn.

Best of the Rest: Shai’s Mr. Turn U Out

B000002OUO.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_ Shai were too smooth, their harmonies too perfect, for the early 90s in which they tried to stake out their place. But interesting, that quality is what keeps their music from sounding dated or trite, especially Blackface, their sophomore album.  It's probably the best male vocal group recording of the 90s behind Playa's Cheers 2 U.

Mr. Turn U Out isn't the best song on that album (that is reserved for The Place Where You Belong), but it's damn close.  It should have been a single because it had all the elements that would have made it a quiet storm masterpiece.  Most notably – Garfield Bright and his flawless, thick baritone on lead.  Garfield on lead will always make the panties wet, and while he was all sly come on here, he is such a good vocalist that the song sounds romantic instead of corny.  Also – listen out for Garfield and Darnell trading vocals at the end of the song.  Tight!

More:
Best of the Rest – Full List
Best of the Rest – Explained