Despite the despairing reality that some of us may have just stopped writing "2009" on our checks, 2010 is here and some of our favorite artists have already delivered noteworthy tracks for our listening pleasure. Check out our picks for the top song of 2010 ...so far.
Redman, 'Oh My'
Though his last album, 'Red Gone Wild,' didn't really pop off, Redman set off 2010 with a head-knocking preview of what's to come on his seventh album 'Reggie Noble 9 ½.' With its fresh interpolation of Kool & The Gang's commonly sampled 'Summer Madness,' 'Oh My' is one of the dopest tracks to come from one of Jersey's finest in a long time, with rhymes that namecheck everything from 'Family Guy''s Quagmire to the Jacksons. For a guy that's pushing 40, Redman only gets better with age.
Listen to 'Oh My' by Redman
Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Method Man, 'Our Dreams'
Three of Wu-Tang's finest ended 2009 with a few teaser clips touting the release of a collaboration album that failed to materialize by its December due date. But that didn't mean that the trio wouldn't deliver on its initial promise. The Chef, Tony Starks and Meth trade verses over a sample of Michael Jackson's 'We're Almost There,' painting lyrical pictures with whip-smart quips ("We melt like cookies and cream," growls Ghost).
Watch the 'Our Dreams' Video
David Banner & 9th Wonder, 'Slow Down'
Producer 9th Wonder has done full-length collaborations with underground emcees like Murs and Jean Grae, and 'Death of a Pop Star,' his upcoming album with David Banner, sounds just as promising. 'Slow Down,' the pair's first single off the effort, hits the listener straight out the gate with its popping snares and '80s synth sample. And just when his rapping becomes too overbearing, a chanteuse comes in and brightens the tone with some sultry vocals. If 'Pop Star' is this affecting, then 2010's going to be a problem.
Watch the 'Slow Down' Video
B.o.B featuring Asher Roth, 'F--- the Money' (prod. by Kanye West)
Kanye isn't the type of producer you'd expect to recycle beats at this point in his career, so it may have come as a surprise to hear him revamp his beat from R&B singer Aura's 'Crazy' for B.o.B's new joint 'F--- the Money.' But even so, the Atlanta-based Bobby Ray makes the track his own. As the standout track from his DJ Drama-approved mixtape 'B.o.B Gangsta Grillz,' 'Money' entertains the ever-present issue of more mullah equaling more problems. But complaints about success have never sounded this smooth.
Listen to 'F--- the Money' by B.o.B.
Erykah Badu feat. Lil Wayne and Bilal, 'Jump Up in the Air and Stay There'
Erykah is one of the few artists in R&B that continually thwarts the public's expectations, and 'Jump Up in the Air and Stay There' off her forthcoming 'New Amerykah, Part 2: Return of the Ankh' does just that. With its sparse, psychedelic confection of stabbing synthesizers and tribal drums, Erykah wails about accomplishing an inhuman feat before Weezy takes a dive into her murky audio cauldron, adding spacey couplets about the devil and angels to the bleary banger.
Watch the 'Jump Up in the Air and Stay There' Video
Red Cafe Feat. Fabolous, 'I'm Ill'
Even if the lyrics don't satisfy rap fans, 'I'm Ill' wins on its production alone. Producer Boi Wonda -- responsible for the Drake, Kanye, Weezy and Eminem mash-up, 'Forever' -- pays homage to Jay-Z, by sampling his vocals for the hook. While heavy-hitting drums and Jay's growl make this a certified street single, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's 1988 smash, 'It Takes Two,' provides some old school flavor. The song, which will most likely find its way on Red's debut, 'The Shakedown,' is everything one would expect from the Harlem rapper, pompous verses included.
Watch the 'I'm Ill' Video
Ludacris Feat. Ciara and Pitbull, 'How Low'
Who knew a track boasting a helium voice a la Alvin and the Chipmunks would command females to get as low as the neighborhood dollar dancer. But like Ciara quips on this remix, produced by Lavish Life's T-Minus, she's prepared to do so tastefully, "No I ain't a stripper but I do it like a pro." Though there's no word on whether or not this rendition is set to appear on Ludacris' much-anticipated release, 'Battle of the Sexes,' its featured guests are enough to knock the original from its current charting position.
Listen to 'How Low' by Ludacris
Fat Joe Feat. Young Jeezy, 'Slow Down (Ha Ha)'
Fat Joe is the proverbial "elephant in the room" due to his charted hits yet undoubted misses. Luckily, 'Slow Down (Ha Ha)' doesn't fall into the latter category. Nostalgic "ha ha's" are introduced on the track, which samples Soul II Soul's 'Back to Life.' Yet it's the bold drums and Jeezy verse that results in head-nodding while Joey spits: "Now what you boys got a death wish/ I be the m-----f----- uglier than Precious/ Real n---- you can find me where the X is/ Whippin' in the kitchen, both hands ambidextrous."
Watch the 'Slow Down (Ha Ha)' Video
Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek Feat. Jay Electronica, J. Cole and Mos Def, 'Just Begun'
While RE fans wait for the duo's next project, 'Just Begun' serves as an appetizer. With horn blares and keyboard taps, the jazzy tune features Electronica, Mos and J. Cole. While Kweli's conscious flow abounds ("We follow the prophets like Islamics do the Dalai Lama"), Jay's confident ("We magnetizing the ghetto"), Cole lustful ("Shorty you straight but you look better with no draws") and Mos sums it up best ("The funky four horsemen and one more, with Hi-Tek, on the score").
Listen to 'Just Begun' by Talib Kweli and Hi Tek
Rick Ross Feat. Chrisette Michele, 'Mafia Music Pt. 2'
Rick Ross turned the sequel to last year's 'Mafia Music' into a cinematic tale of dope boy living. Where the first installment was haunting on the production side, hints of synthesizers and orchestral strings turn 'Pt. 2' into a larger-than-life film score. Thank Michigan-based producers Knoxville, Flawless, Jay Fab, PC and BP-collectively known as The Olympicks-for the effort. Ross touches on hustling, cars and famed drug kingpins that came before him, all while being backed by the soulful stylings of Chrisette Michele.
Watch the 'Mafia Music Pt. 2' Video