The list continues with two very different albums — ecstatic R&B and disco-based dance music and folkie Christian country:
From my original review:
The lead cut/single "Romeo" is as thrilling in its own way as the London duo's great 1999 single "Red Alert." With guest vocalist Kele Le Roc providing a vocal filled with more personality than the typical diva-for-hire club vocals, the song is the catchiest romantic kiss-off in memory. After that stunner, Rooty reveals its true mission: to be the new decade's best Prince album, a feat that, sadly, it is likely to attain. "Breakaway" sounds like one of the Prince songs he recorded under altered-voice pseudonym Camille. The over-sexed "Get Me Off" is more salacious than anything Prince has done since the similarly titled "Gett Off" almost a decade ago. Anyone with a pop sensibility who wants to sample some modern club music would be well advised to start here.
Song Sample: "Romeo"
Single: "Yeah" — Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris (2004)
In theory, I don’t actually find Usher or Ludacris very attractive or interesting. (Lil Jon is, of course, hilarious.) In practice, this record is unstoppable. Ludacris comes off as a charismatic jerk, but Lil Jon wins out with springy synth riffs and vocal interjections. Official video:
Despite being on a major label, this might be the most obscure record on the list. Pinson's had success as a songwriter in Nashville, but not really as a performer. If John Prine or Steve Earle took a shot at the commercial brass ring and really wanted to grapple with the culture that mainstream country music reflects, this is an album they might have come up with. From my 2005 write-up:
I can't imagine this individualistic, gruff-voiced songwriter having much of a chance at lasting Nashville stardom. Which is too bad, because Bobby Pinson's debut album is a wonder. More than anyone else on either side of country's mainstream/alternative divide, Pinson respects the touchstones of country music — small-town life, simple Christian faith, high school sweethearts, family heritage — while investigating them fiercely. And no one else in music right now redeems red-state religiosity so convincingly.
Song Sample: "Nothin' Happens in the This Town"
Single: "Cadillacs on 22s" — David Banner (2003)
Arguably the closest hip-hop has really come to evoking great country blues. The album (Mississippi: The Album) is an honorable mention. Banner hasn't come close to it since. Official video: