The countdown moves into the 30s with genre runners-up in the album slots, a Memphis single, and the best band of the ’90s greeting a new decade with aplomb.
My second favorite indie-rap album of the aughts. From my ’05 year-end piece:
This two-MCs-and-one-DJ Boston group is not your typical indie-rap outfit. Lyrically, they're neither obscure nor overtly confessional; musically, they're a return to hip-hop's head-bobbing basics. They're more a cross between late-'80s political rap (Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions) and smoother early-'90s boho hip-hop (Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest). Black Dialogue has a little less musical juice than the former but a worldview that's more grounded and more expansive. Funniest song of the year: "Career Finders," which offers job counseling for gangsta rappers.
Song Sample: "Black Dialogue"
Single: "Stay Fly" — Three Six Mafia (2005)
They didn't win an Oscar for it, but this is by far their finest moment.
My second favorite straight soul album of the aughts. From my ’07 year-end piece:
Jill Scott is the reigning poet laureate of neo-soul, a strong, precise lyricist in a genre without many. At its very best, The Real Thing is a sex album simultaneously as clinically carnal as Dirty Mind-era Prince and as warm and mature as Sign 'O the Times-era Prince. Praising her lover for doing her "as if this year's harvest depended on it," Scott's career peak is funny, weird, and erotic all at once. And she purrs, scats, sighs, and shouts the hell out of it.
Song Sample: "The Real Thing"
Single: "You're No Rock n Roll Fun" — Sleater-Kinney (2000)
Probably the only Sleater-Kinney song I really think of as a single. Official video: