20. Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl: Kelis got “Milkshake” and issues with P. Gwen, you lucky, lucky girl.
19. Purple Ribbon All-Stars – Kryptonite: Study the syncopation on lengthy choppy hook leading into club shout of ‘A!’ and tell me how do the Outkast-affiliated reinvent ‘the catchiest hook you ever heard’ every damn time?
18. K-Otix - George Bush Doesn't Like Black People: Ye made it a hot line. Ye made it a hot song. The KO made it more than that. One of the earliest and best musical responses to the Katrina disaster.
17. Lil’ Jon, Usher, Ludacris, Eastside Boyz - Lovers and Friends: This time dead-on high-school grind throwback. Its straight-up jacked but the original doesn’t mention Rudy and Bud.
16. Amerie - One Thing: Crazy in love with the kit (and caboodle, too). Not the year of Rich Harrison but his season had this highlight.
15. Kano – Reload / Lady Sovereign – Ch-Ching: That rhythm gear-shift and odd extra beat is perfect on both. I want grime to sound like this all of the time. I pair ‘em as a 1, 2 punch although I’ve only seen Kano rock a stage.
14. Terrence Howard / Al Kapone - Whoop That Trick: Inseperable from the flick. Menace of the bass and highs and the relative subtlety of the hook shows the ‘mythic’ creative process behind ‘gangsta.’ Haters of the genre opened their mind a little bit more.
13. Ying Yang Twinz – Wait: Nastiness but won't wake the neighbors. Collipark caught ‘Drop it likes it Hot’ and sneaked away with the keys to… um, quiet crunk? I’ll coin it: Quunk! Sounds cute? Yes.
12. Joi, Bun B, Pastor Troy - Say Say Lil Fine Ass Nigga: Slim flirts in the dirt with purple dranks but no 'green eggs and ham.' It never surfaced up north but didn’t stop the heavy ipod play. “Slide down my rainbow” and “Like a whore” are juxtaposed with Prince-like deftness but typically unfazed Bun B steals the show with the raised-eyebrow delivery of “That shit is soundin' like a plan, shorty.”
11. Don Omar - Reggaeton Latino: The car jam for the hood drowning out bhangra and G-Unit. Reggaeton surged as close to mainstream as it ever has and you know that always calls for an anthem. Luckily Don had this one on “Chosen Few” ready to go.
10. BellX1 – Like I love You/Slow (from copy, right): Perfect pop from Justin and Kylie gets flipped into something beautiful. A snarky chuckle nearly undoes the haunting twangy plucks but the harmony just won’t let it fall apart.
9. Juelz Santana, Young Jeezy, Lil’ Wayne – Make It Work: Ignorance is bliss.
8. Ciara, Ludacris - Oh: Do I slow-dance to this? ATL crunk affiliation channels TX slowed-down sound for her best song. (Sidenote: Luda wins most underrated rapper again this year.)
7. Common, Kanye West, The Last Poets - The Corner: Classic cadence: Hasaan reigns. Flipping triples: Com regains. Hubris, hooks: Kon game remains.
6. Cassidy - I’m a Hustler (Ask about me): Swizz Hova-hook-focus continues cracking and (with ‘Bring Em Out’) finally makes me a fan.
5. Mariah Carey – We Belong Together: Uh, maybe you heard this one… Nudged out of best ‘break up song’ of the year by Keyshia only because MC’s sounds happy.
4. Keyshia Cole – I Should Have Cheated: The extended orchestration on the intro and outro could have done it… Any R&B girl might have done it… But what did it was Keyshia letting the pain catch her throat on a few notes but standing strong on all the others.
3. 3-6 Mafia, Young Buck, 8Ball & MJG – Stay Fly: Far from a novelty track Tenn MCs ride the double time… or the half time… with such a variety of flow and memorable moments… one of the classic posse cuts? Yeeeaaahhhh.
2. Damien ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley -Welcome to Jamrock: We recognize JR streets (images, beat, sample) and they recognize murder (violence, righteous delivery, bass/sample combo).
1. Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Mike Jones - Still Tippin’: 2005 was the year this brilliant sound led the charge for all things Houston representing great/good/not-so-good MCs over the Salih sound conveying Screw at regular speed, no less.
R Kelly – TITC: Not good. Genius.
Dizzee Rascal, Grit Boyz - Damage Control Freestyle (from Houstonsoreal): World music exchange made brilliant by Dizzee’s attention to rhythm. Raskit haters listen up!