Best of 2006: The Top 85 Songs of 2006
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Update: Whoops, MY BAD. I have about 3 repeating songs in here. Much props to everyone who pointed it out. I’ll have three new songs on here real soon.
So this list started as the top 25, then the top 50, then the top 75, and now 85. And even then there is still so much music that I didn’t even get around to in 2006 (like Prince’s 3121). So yes, this year was a great year for music, no matter how many people say “hip-hop is dead,” or “album sales are down.” People have stepped up their game in 2006 and this bodes well for 2007.
FYI: These are the songs that I felt are the best in ’06. Don’t post a “you suck” comment up here just cause your favorite artist isn’t on the list or so and so is number 79. If you’re that mad about it, go to blogger.com and start your own blog. Oh, and I tried to cover many genres as I can, so if you don’t know someone on the list, Google it.
85.) “Ophidiophobia (Snakes on a Plane)” – Cee Lo – I’m putting this song here just cause of the sheer stupidty of it all. It a song so stupid that you have to laugh. I’m still trying to figure out if Cee-Lo was serious about this or was he in on the joke. Let’s hope for the latter.
84.) “Bossy” – Kelis – I didn’t like this song, but alas it grew on me.
83.) “So What” – Field Mob feat. Ciara – This track gets a nod because it reminds me of old school ATL booty music. Remember GhostTown DJs? They will be missed.
82.) “Out of Control” – Kenna – This is an excellent track from Kenna, who will hopefully get some recognition in 2007 since Chad Hugo from the Neptunes is producing his album. However, I’m ranking him low because he deleted my comments and messages from MySpace. Dude, I went to school with your sister. Ask her. I’m down with your people.
81.) “Grammy Family” – DJ Khaled feat. Kanye West, SA-RA, John Legend – Even though Kanye “brought crazy back” in ’06, the dude is still a tight producer. The beat sounds like a holdover from Late Registration, but I digress. Unfortunately, the fact that this song ends up being credited to DJ Khaled and the fact that they boast about getting Grammy’s knocks this song way down.
80.) “I Gotcha” – Lupe Fiasco – The Neptunes have officially fallen off this year, but still this song actually got a little play in the club and had the girls dancing, so maybe there is hope for Lupe yet?
79.) “Brand New” – Rhymefest – At first, I didn’t like Blue Collar, but in all actuality, Rhymefest produced a superb album that only 13,000 people had the decency to buy. Even though Kanye ripped off a 2004 Sharon Jones and the Daptones song thinking its from 1964, this song is actually a decent opening single for the Chicago MC. If he signed with G.O.O.D. he might have gotten some airplay.
78.) “Fire Island, AK” – The Long Winters – I stumbled upon this track on some random MP3 blog. I haven’t used the word “groovy” since I was 13 years old, but I think that this adequately fits my feelings on this one.
77.) “Ganja Lounge” – Camp Lo – The Couch Sessions still doesn’t condone illegal drug activities (cough, cough), but Camp Lo does. Little is known about this mixtape that just surfaced one day on the ‘Net, but hopefully its a prelude to a Camp Lo album in 2007.
76.) “Make It Rain” – The song grew on me. And damn, I’m sort of in a position in life where I can really, “make it rain.” Too bad bills, rent, car payment, grocerys, and insurance get it the way.
70.) “Right Here” – Natalie Walker – Another sleeper album that landed on my doorstep (more than a few times), Natalie Walker will probably get overshadowed by Cat Power and Regina Spektor on most people’s best of lists, but check this girl out. She’s worth it.
75.) “The Greatest” – Cat Power – I know nothing about Cat Power, so I know the two indie dudes who read this site are about to jump on me. But having that said, I have a sweet spot for female singer songwriters.The last time I went ga-ga over a track like this was probably when Fiona Apple dropped “Shadowboxer” back in the day.
74.) “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” – Lil Wayne and Baby – Ugh, something is just not right about this song. I’m still stuck on he picture of the “kiss” that was floating around the Internets and the fact that they didn’t deny it. Also, after almost 10 years of being in the game, these dudes subject matter hasn’t changed. And another thing…isn’t it an insult to flash all that money while the residents of your hometown are still living in FEMA trailers? Yeah there is a lot to hate about this track, so why am I still dancing?
73.) “L.A.” – Murs – Murs went through the ringer in 2006. From beefs with 9th Wonder to a manufacturing error that cuts off the last few seconds of his CD, the dude from LA has had a bad year. Murray’s Revenge, which dropped in March of this year isn’t as good as Murs 3:16, but “L.A.” is a definitive track that will hopefully reassure Murs as an underground hip-hop legend.
72.) “Can’t Stop This” – The Roots – Probably the best tribute to J. Dilla out of the hundreds that surfaced after his death.
71.) “Divinorum” – Ocote Soul Soundz & Adrian Quesada – File this track under the “left-field” category, but anytime I can get an afro beat track onto some type of list, I got to put it out there.
70.) “When It Hits” – Marv Ellis and Cosmos – Probably one of the more obscure hip-hop tracks to land in my inbox, however, this track is probably one of the most passionate songs to drop this year. Download it.
69.) “Get Ya Hustle On” – Juvenile – I almost forgot that this song came out in ’06, because Katrina is long gone from the news. But Juvie’s touching account of what’s happening in his home city should be in textbooks. Seriously, New Orleans is getting screwed.
68.) “Let Me Bang” – Kid Sister – Kid Sister is leading a new movement of Chicago club music that might give Baltimore Club a run for its money in 2007.
67.) “Viva La White Girl” – Gym Class Heroes – I realized that these dudes have crossed over into the mainstream when I heard them on the radio twice when I was down in Augusta, GA last weekend (RIP James B.). This means that Gym Class Heroes is about to become as popular as Meg and Dia. Still, these dudes bring it. This song might not be up to some people’s tastes, but GCH does Phrarell-style R&B better than Pharrell himself.
66.) “Blow the Whistle” – Too Short – Too Short is still making albums?
65.) “Mr. Me Too” – If any other rapper had this lukewarm Neptunes’ beat they would fail. Clipse is just good like that.
64.) “Cell Phone Dead” – Beck – Beck always manages to produce some crazy tracks.
63.) “I Wanna Love You” – Akon – I’m not really that big of a fan of Akon, but this has to rank as one of the best baby (daddy) makin’ songs of 2006. Snoop Dogg drops a verse or two to pay the rent. Anyway, this track is off the surprisingly good Konvicted album which is worth a look.
62.) “Runaway Love” Ludacris – My friend says that Luda sings about the girls that will eventually appear in his “Girls Gone Wild” video. So true.
61.) “I Don’t Trust Myself With Loving You” – John Mayer – I was never a fan of this dude until Continuum dropped. This is a solid R&B song in the vein of Van Hunt or even Prince.
60.) “Amen” – Kardinal Offishall – This Toronto MC has had a hard time breaking through to the US mainstream, but “Amen,” stands with almost any US rap release in terms of rhyme and quality.
59.) “I Wanna Love You” – Robin Thicke – Although I’m not diggin’ “wannabe Phrarell” Thicke as much as “white hippie” Thicke, “I Wanna Love You” shows you what happens when Neptunes production is done right.
58.) “Hypocrite” – Kidz In Da Hall – Chicago was on fire this year, for more reasons than Lupe. Kidz In Da Hall dropped one of the finest albums that no one is talking about. Maybe because “school was their hustle?” Who knows.
57.) “Hip-Hop is Dead” – Nas – Yes, we all know that the beat is reused, but still Nas came correct to “murder the DJ” in 2006. Nasty Nas sold 355,000 copies of his album. So its working.
56.) “Babyletshaveababybeforebushdosomethingcrazy” It’s sad that The Coup isn’t making critic’s year end lists (FYI, it will make mine), because Pick A Bigger Weapon is definitely one of the more slept on albums of 2006. This albums should win Grammy’s on the album cover alone. Anyway, a song with the chorus of “Baby let’s have a baby, before Bush do somethin’ crazy,” is just too classic to pass up.
55.) “I Got It For Cheap” – Clipse – This is one of the few tracks that made this list because of the lyrics rather than the beat. Pusha and Malik’s clever wordplay takes most rappers to school.
54.) “Being A Girl” – Van Hunt – I remember getting a master copy of On the Jungle Floor from Capitol Records with my name on it. Then I pissed them off by not writing a review of this album for a couple of months. Whoops. But seriously, Van Hunt’s new album and direction split most old skool R&B heads. His Lenny Kravitz-esque sound was too much for some people. But On The Jungle Floor is a grower, and its definitely worth a listen.
53.) “Throw Some D’s” – Rich Boy – The whole “I’m from the South and I drive a Cadillac with 28’s” was over 2 years ago, but this beat is addictive. Plus, I have to give this dude some love (no Doogie Howser) cause he’s from ‘Bama, and we’ve been shut out of the whole crunk thing since the beginning.
52.) “Bang That” – Hollywood Holt – Yet another part of the Chicago dance invasion that will hopefully be hitting the airwaves soon. We hope.
51.) “Reset” – Mute Math – Mute Math has the honorable distinction of being the only other rock album that I’ve listened to this year. I don’t even like calling these dudes “rock”, because they cross so many genres its hard to categorize. This song “Reset” is an example. It’s an instrumental trip-hop track on an album filled with guitar driven rock. The suits at Warner Brothers were nervous as hell when this album dropped and now we know why.
50.) “London Bridge” – Fergie – We all hate Fergie, and we all know that the London Bridge she talks about is the Tower Bridge (or at least some of us), but this track is so damn addicting. Polow da Don killed it on production, which is good, cause Fergie can’t sing.
49.) “Back to Black” – Amy Winehouse – When this girl dropped her album Frank, people were scared that Ms. Winehouse would never sell cause she was too black for the white audiences, and too white for the black audiences. However the girl has shown the world that she can sing, even though she’s trying to pull this ghetto fabulous shtick that just aint’ working for me. Can she conquer America? Let’s hope so.
48.) “1 Thing About a Playa” – Wale – This is DC’s version of “Country Grammar.” I’ve been pushing for DC producers to merge go-go and hip-hop into their beats and Wale succeeded. Hopefully this dude will bring hip-hop into the forefront in 2007. Hate is the new love.
47.) “In the Ghetto” – This is the first appearance of three for Bussa Bus. Yes, The Big Bang is just that good, even though it failed to even reach gold status. On this track, Bussa channels the legendary Rick James, and shows the world that the dude did more than just “Superfreak.”
46.) “Here I Come” – The Roots have figured out how to do this rap thing without radio airplay or major label backing. They did get to sell out Radio City Music hall, which most rap stars will dream of doing. Even after years in the game, they are some of the most hated dudes in the industry. For shame.
45.) “Tell It Like It Is” – Ludacris – This mixtape track actually got on Luda’s album, which is surprising, because it basically tells up-and coming MC’s how not to get jacked by the industry. If people actually take note, could this be the end of the major label conglomerate? Probably not.
44.) “Change” – Joy Denalane – I’ve already said what I needed to say about Ms. Denelane. I’m telling you, this album is a good look. Don’t sleep on it.
43.) “What You Want” – Ty – This UK rapper is the underdog rapper for all underground rappers. It seems that anyone who tries to incorporate jazz and positive lyrics in their music will always be regulated to the back of the bin. That’s why I started The Couch Sessions.
42.) “Mr. Me Too” – Clipse – Clipse’s album is one of the best CDs you can buy this year.
41.) “Get Myself Into It” – The Rapture – Hipsters had the best year ever in 2006 and the Rapture was no different. This track represented the best of the disco era and had girls dancing all over the world.
40.) “Smile” – Lily Allen – Sure, my love of Lily Allen will get my Ghetto Pass revoked (again), but this song probably has one of the best samples I’ve heard this year. And yeah, I don’t agree with the subject matter, but that’s a different story.
39.) “Keep Makin’ Beats” – Trackademicks – This track clocks in at less than 2 minutes long, but Bay Area producer has something going with this one. The 80s vibe on this track is evident, but not overwhelming. Hopefully coming to a hipster dance floor near you.
38.) “Riot Van” Arctic Monkeys – I didn’t buy into the Arctic Monkeys hysteria but this solemn rock track hits the spot for me.
37.) “Cafe Surreal” – Danny Swain – D Swain mixes drum and bass with Brazillan bossa nova to show the world that the South is more than candy paint and Lil’ John.
36.) “The Garden” Cut Chemist – Another one of those “left field” tracks that just gets to you. Not as popular as the “Audience is Listening Theme” from those iPod commercials, but still a good look.
35.) “Ghetto Story” – Lupe Fiasco – If you haven’t heard this song, then you’re one of the few people with an Internet connection that didn’t cop the Food and Liquor leak when it dropped. Unfortunately this song didn’t make the cut on the retail version, but it would’ve fit in nicely.
34.) “Tell Me When To Go” – E40 – I really wasn’t paying attention to “The Bay” or the Hyphy movement until this song dropped, but E-40 killed it with this one, even if he had to look to Atlanta for inspiration.
33.) “Last Time” – Gnarls Barkley – Yes, this song is about death but it’s a hot club track at the same time. Only Danger Mouse and Cee Lo could pull this off.
32.) “Lets Fall In Love” Trackademicks Remix – The Carps – You know that TCS has done its part to big up both Trackademicks and the Carps, so to have both of them on the same track is making the people at Couch Sessions headquarters (me) to go insane. You can’t really find this track anywhere as of the moment, but it will be all over this site once it officially drops.
31.) “That’s Life” – Killer Mike – Killer Mike is angry at life and the black intellegiencia. “That’s Life,” which begins with his son on the mike, is probably the most real rap track to come out in ’06.
30.) “Like A Star” – Corinne Bailey Rae – I wasn’t into Ms. Rae’s album as most music critics, but “Like A Star” became an instant iPod favorite.
29.) “Wolf Like Me” – TV On The Radio – Like I said before, I’m not a fan of TV On The Radio, but their single track has grown on me so much that I’m gonna cop Return to Cookie Mountain after my next paycheck.
28.) “New York Shit” – Busta Rhymes – I’m not even from New York and I had to stand up for this one. Unfortunately, even NYC didn’t really feel this track which is a shame, because it was probably one of the hottest joints to come out of the Tri-State Area in a long time.
27.) “Gravity” – John Mayer – Don’t front on John Mayer. Black people just don’t do blues rock anymore, so don’t hate on a white boy for co-opting it. (Justin Timberlake is another story though). Anyway, “Gravity” is the best song off of the blues-soaked Continuum which had some other bangers on there as well.
26.) “Do It Easy” -Junk Science – Again, another sleeper track that landed in the email inbox. I don’t know much about these dudes, but this track summarized a part of my life (right after college graduaiton) real well.
25.) “Maneater” – Nelly Furtado – This was part two in the skankification of the once eccentric Nelly Furtado, and Timbaland worked his magic to create a pretty fly track in terms of pop standards. Say what you will about Ms. Furtado (actually, I just did), but her combination with Timbo worked and worked well.
24.) “Black Swan” – Thom Yorke – My brief fixation with Radiohead is long over. (Yeah, it’s was a bad time in my life, wanna fight about it?) However Thom Yorke somehow was able to marry electronica and sappy rock together just as well on this album as on Kid A. In fact, most people are calling The Eraser, Kid B.
23.) “Just Friends” – Amy Winehouse – Yes, I rave about Ms. Winehouse, but this song in particular does it for me. “Just Friends,” is actually one of my favorite R&B tracks of the past 5 years.
22.) “Hollywood Divorce” – Outkast, feat Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg – First off, I dont’ understand all the people that claim Lil Wayne is a great MC. He got bodied on this song. Anyway, this was by far the best track on Idlewild.
21.) “Lost Ones” – Jay-Z – I’m sorry, but Kingdom Come is a mediocre album at best. This is one of the few tracks that Mr. Carter actually didn’t phone in.
20.) “Bein’ a Girl” – Van Hunt – People were miffed when Van Hunt switched up his style on On the Jungle Floor. However, after listening to this song a few times, it grew on me and has become a frequent selection on the iPod. Mr. Hunt pulls off the “rock and soul” combination better than most people can.
19.) “Cant’ Hold the Torch” – Busta Rhymes feat. Q-Tip – On this Dilla helmed track, Bussa and Q-Tip raise the bar for hip-hop lyricism and production. Then he subsequenctly lowers it on the track “I Love My Bitch.” Still, please check out this track if you’re in the Nas “Hip-Hop is Dead” camp as proof that good hip-hop does exist.
18.) “Hustlin” – Rick Ross – I almost forgot about this track, manily because in late 2006, Rick Ross has become an afterthought. Even though Ross will most likely become a one hit wonder, “Hustlin'” is
17.) “Bump” Spank Rock – Yes, sometimes listening to Spank Rock is like watching Arrested Development. You get it, but no one else around you does. Oh well, their loss.
16.) “Long Time” – The Roots feat. Peety Pablo – The hardest working rap band in showbusiness got no love when Game Theory dropped. But this song is a banger, and Peety P lends some “street cred” to the cats from Philly.
15.) “Time – Donut of the Heart” – J Dilla. Yes, we all know that Dilla is the new backpacker Tupac, but the dude death did remind us of just how damn good of a producer he was.
14.) “Backstage Girl” – DJ Shadow feat. Phonte – What makes this 6 minute song so amazing. There is no live insturmentation. Every element of this song is a sample. Thiat’s insane. This bluesy spoken word track is definately an artistic achievement. Plus it has one of the best lines of the year: “I gotta stop messin’ around with these girls off MySpace.” If I could get play from girls off MySpace, I would agree with you.
13.) “Why You Wanna” – T.I. – Anyone who can take a loop from an early 90s club track and make it gangsta while pleeding to his girl deserves a spot on this list.
12.) “One of Dem Nights” – Sleepy Brown needs more respect. The dude has been “in the game” for years now, and he finally released his album and no one cared. Sleepy has crafted an album that will not be fully appreciated until years after its left the limelight….much like Sleepy’s Theme.
11.) “Highway 7″ – K-OS – The Canadian rapper K-OS, definitely got his his Mos Def on with his third album release Atlantis, but this
10.) “Won’t Do” – J Dilla – One of Dilla’s final raps is one of this years finest tracks.
9.) “Shooter” – Lil Wayne – Again, not a big fan of Wayne, but he makes it work on this track.
8.) “Kick Push” – Lupe Fiasco – Although Lupe will unfortuantely be relegated to the “underground” hip-hop circuit, Kick Push will always be known as an anthem for Black skater kids everywhere.
7.) “Touch It” – Busta Rhymes – Who says that NYC can’t make club tracks? Bussa Bus’ injected some life into the anemic NY hip-hop scene.
6.) “Woman” – Wolfmother – This track became a staple on my Ipod whenever I needed to to rock out at the world. While assclowns like AFI and Panic at the Disco parade around in makeup and call themselves musicians, this trio from Australia tells us how to rock again.
5.) “Rick Rubin” – Spank Rock – “Im that Rebel Musician,” Spank Rock claims, and this track is a grand introduction to Spank Rock, who is by far the most interesting duo to ever grace the East Coast.
4.) “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley – What can I say about this song that hasn’t already been said. I thought this project was destined for “Grey Album” obscurity, but “Crazy” became one of the hottest pop tracks of the year. Who knew?
3.) T.I. – “What You Know” – The second greates synth note of the past 10 years belongs to T.I. I don’t think that King was a great album, but banger
2.) “My Love” – Justin Timberlake feat. T.I. – I hate Justin “D*ick in a Box” Timberlake, but damn, you are just a hater if you don’t like this beat. The greatest snyth note of any song in the past 10 years. This spawned the equally great hipster track “Atlantic Records for T.I. Clearance.”
1.) Vans – The Pack -Young L’s beat for “Vans” is just as infectious as the Neptune’s work on Clipse’s “Grindin'” “Vans,” is a simple grimy beat that you can still “go dumb” to. The ish had me nodding along from day one, and their follow up tracks are just as hot. Watch for The Pack in ’07.