05. Rihanna – Umbrella
Originally brought in by Jay Z with the island, pop single “Pon De Replay,” who would’ve ever thought that the Bajan Princess would’ve evolved into the international pop juggernaut she is today. Prior to 2007, she experienced chart-success, but “Umbrella” changed everything for her career and became one of the most unforgettable songs of the last decade. Written by The-Dream, the pop-R&B hybrid of sounds and melodies complimented Rihanna’s distinct voice, and serves as the catalyst into building her into the superstar she is today.
04. Ashanti – Foolish
Murder Inc had by far the biggest hip hop artist in the game at the turn of the century, and in 2002 they absolutely doubled their worth with the addition of the “Princess of Hip Hop & R&B”. Ashanti’s lead single “Foolish” still remains a highlight in her career and is the most unforgettable song of her catalog. The single helped Ashanti break records, top charts, and win awards, becoming one of the top artists of the last decade.
03. Ne-Yo – So Sick
Ne-Yo has still managed to sustain success almost a decade after his debut, but the Ne-Yo that exists now may not have existed without the release of “So Sick.” While “Stay,” the original lead single from his album, didn’t hit strong enough — his second single “So Sick” changed things entirely. From the melodies to the lyrics to the production, and even the visuals, it all felt like the perfect storm in creating a smash for the soulful singer.
02. Mariah Carey – We Belong Together
After a shaky start to the decade, “We Belong Together” put Mariah Carey back on top of her throne as one of the music industry’s most accomplished acts. To say that “We Belong Together” was a hit may be an understatement, as it topped the charts for fourteen weeks, won multiple GRAMMYs, and was named Billboard’s Song of the Decade. The single reminded us to never count a good diva out.
01. Montell Jordan – This Is How We Do It
If there’s one thing Def Jam does, it’s get it right out the gate and you can determine that from how many debut singles on this list have gone on to major success. One of the most notable tracks in the latter part of the New Jack Era, a staple in ’90s R&B, and perhaps the soundtrack to your tax return (courtesy of Jackson Hewitt), Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” is synonymous with Def Jam’s R&B success. Besides topping the charts, the record has become a timeless track to associate with celebrations.
– Written by Jameel Raeburn
Def Jam has created and contributed so much to music over it’s three decades. So, let us know what you think? Are any of your favorites missing from the list? Tell us in the comments section below. If you use Spotify enjoy this playlist as well!
*If songs are missing it is because they are currently not on Spotify*