January 20, 2005

2004's worth remembering
By Canyon Cody
Published in The Heights

There were a lot of rap songs I liked in 2004 that I would prefer to never hear again. The shelf life of radio-friendly hip-hop is extremely brief, after which the initially catchy beat gets stale and goes bad.

Music shouldn't be reviewed immediately after it's released, as first impressions can be deceiving. The funky synth on J-Kwon's "Tipsy" was delicious upon its first taste, but six months later the beat sounds like a cheap, silly version of Queen's "We Will Rock You."

Now that we have some distance between us and 2004, it's time to look back at what is worth remembering from the year passed. There were plenty of pleasant songs on the radio this year, but only a few had anything more going for them than a novelty of newness. The following songs are the ones that will last:


Nas "Bridging the Gap" [ft. Olu Dara]
Nas and his pops collaborate to bridge the unnecessary gap between hip-hop and music. Jazz legend Olu Dara struts and swaggers his way through a thumping beat, telling stories about his music career and raising the young Nasir Jones.

Jay-Z "99 Problems"
Rick Rubin emerged from his hip-hop hibernation to craft the heaviest rock/rap beat since "Fight for Your Right." The wee Beastie Boys could never handle a beat this thick, but Jay-Z does justice to the bearded guru's offering. Hopefully, we won't be forced to wait another ten years for the next Rubin beat like we did for this one.

Cee-lo "I'll Be Around"
How could Cee-lo possibly be inconspicuous when his flow is so doggone ridiculous? He might be the soul machine, but Timbaland's bouncing, twittering trumpets provide Cee-lo with his fuel.


Franz Ferdinand "Take Me Out"
There's beauty in the breakdown. Somewhere between 54 and 55 seconds into the song, the whole track falls apart and reemerges anew with a different beat. The transition begs for listeners' accompaniment on the air drums, with full headbanging action.

Eminem "Rain Man"
On an otherwise mediocre album, "Rain Man" was a hilarious throwback to what made Eminem great in the first place. You might think Eminem must have been tripping on mushrooms to write such a strange, abstract song. Eminem is famous for his irreverence for authority and celebrity, but never before has he been so indifferent to the rules of song structure. After a few minutes of ambiguously gay miniature golf and accidentally killing Christopher Reeve, Eminem brags, "I ain't even gotta make any goddamn sense, I just did a whole song and didn't say shit."

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