20. Musiq Soulchild – Halfcrazy
In the genre branded as “neo-soul” from the late ’90s to early 00s, Musiq Soulchild was without a doubt it’s poster boy. From it’s acoustic opening that tugged at your heart strings, to its gripping lyrics, “Halfcrazy” was the soundtrack for friends who may have became lovers (perhaps as a result of the influx of love songs in the ’90s R&B era), but find themselves in an unfamiliar space when things get complicated. Just another one of the timeless conjoined-title gems from Musiq Soulchild.
19. Christina Milian – Dip It Low
Christina Milian may have emerged on one of Ja Rule’s inaugural hits “Between Me & You,” but history shows she’s been able to rack up the hits on her own accord. After the international smash of “AM to PM,” Milian showed off her incredible sex appeal on the 2004 Top 10 single, “Dip It Low.” The single transformed Ms. Milian from just a pretty face into a Maxim magazine mainstay.
18. Rihanna – Hate That I Love You (feat. Ne-Yo)
Both brought onto the label in the era of President JAY Z, Rihanna and Ne-Yo proved to be a breathtaking combination with their 2007 collabo, “Hate That I Love You.” While Rihanna was beginning to hint at the untamed pop star beneath it all with her Good Girl Gone Bad album, her collaboration with Ne-Yo managed to subdue the superstar in this heartfelt, sultry duet.
17. Bobby Valentino – Slow Down
Some singles are just infectious enough to immediately capture your ear, and in the spring of 2005, Bobby Valentino become DTP’s and Def Jam’s newest start with the release of “Slow Down.” The Tim & Bob-produced track would be a perfect soundtrack for the season with love in the air.
16. The-Dream – Falsetto
Who else could’ve pulled off a hook imitating a woman’s moment of ecstasy, with no words, and make it a hit? The-Dream’s LoveHate album continued to roll out the hits on it’s release and “Falsetto” was another strong cut that still remains one of the smoothest bedroom bangers almost seven years later. The record cracked the Top 40 and managed to curb listeners his way to push the LP to gold status.
15. Ne-Yo – Miss Independent
In a space where R&B may have borrowed too much from its hip hop brethren in terms of it’s demeanor and style, Ne-Yo ushered in the “year of the gentleman” with his third LP — proving that R&B could take on a much smoother, mature face and “Miss Independent” was it. A strong single praising the confident, working woman with a video featuring lovely cameos from Keri Hilson, Gabrielle Union, and Lauren London among others.
14. Jeremih – Birthday Sex
Who knew that along with creating a certified smash that Jeremih would be redefining birthdays for everyone across the world. “Birthday Sex” ruled the summer of 2009, catching on almost immediately with the allure Jeremih’s light, coy vocals and his prodigiously provocative lyrics. Jeremih’s breakout single would become another rookie win for the Def Jam label.
13. Mariah Carey – Touch My Body
A living icon if there ever was one. Mariah Carey’s light, fleeting vocals earned her her 18th Billboard chart-topper with the single “Touch My Body.” The extremely-coy single was co-written by fellow Def Jam label mate The-Dream and only added to his catalog of No. 1 hits. The single may be most notable for its playful video, as she trades out her normal hunky co-stars for the nerdish charm of Jack McBrayer.
12. Montell Jordan – Get It On Tonite
Montell Jordan gave Def Jam chart-toppers in the past, but he would recapture the public’s ears at the turn of the millennium with his Claudja Barry-sampled track, “Get It On Tonite.” In retrospect, the single is definitely an overlooked (and underrated) party starter in the scheme of ‘millennium R&B’, incorporating a modern disco/funk flavor. The record’s official remix added a hip hop layer to it all, featuring a collaboration between him and one of Def Jam’s first acts, LL Cool J.
11. Ne-Yo – Closer
If there’s anyone to blame for the introduction of electronic dance music to the world of R&B, it’s certainly Ne-Yo, but that’s perhaps because the original was so damn good. Ne-Yo was one of the first R&B artists in this modern era to experiment with a new style and while it initially perplexed audiences, the concoction created was a recipe for success. Hypnotic, powerful, groovy, soulful, it combined all elements into one of the best records of Ne-Yo’s career, by far.
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