A salute to the R&B crooners and songbirds who flaunted their pen game and sang the best hooks on rap songs in 2006. Click on the links and enjoy!
Clipse -- "Nightmares" (F/ Bilal)
Where has Bilal Oliver been hiding at? Although he does an occasional show, the classical-trained crooner's disc, tentatively called Love For Sale, has been held up longer than the Clipse's four-year suspended release of Hell Hath No Fury. Which probably explains why he's on this track -- he can relate with the Clipse brothers (Those crackers aren't playing fair at Interscope, either). The song features the Virginia-based rap duo reflecting on their post-traumatic stress from years of slinging dope on the block, while Bilal provides a Curtis Mayfied-like falsetto: "I'm having nightmares . . ./ My niggaz say I'm p-noid, they say I'm just p-noid."
Jay-Z -- "Lost Ones" (F/ Chrisettee Michelle)
Chrisette Michele is a new songbird on the scene who is prepping her debut set for Def Jam in 2007. She sings the chrous on my favorite track from Jigga's lackluster Kingdom Come disc. She also plays hookie on my least favorite Nas track from Hip-Hop Is Dead. Keep an eye and ear out for this talented songbird.
Snoop Dogg -- "Imagine" (F/ Dr. Dre & D'Angelo)
J Dilla -- "So Far to Go" (F/ Common & D'Angelo)
D'Angelo is another singer who disappeared from obscurity, but resurfaced this year after news broke that he entered a rehab clinic for drug and alcohol abuse. He's drug-free now and looking like a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, much to the shock of his adoring female fans. He also reportedly left Virgin and has inked a deal with J Records. No word on when D is going to release his long-awaited disc. D'Angelo is in rare form on two of the best rap songs in 2006, "Imagine" and "So Far to Go." Welcome back, bro.
Busta Rhymes -- "Cocaina" (F/ Marsha Ambrosius)
Busta Rhymes -- "Get You Some" (F/ Q-Tip & Marsha Ambrosius)
Former Floetry songbird Marsha Ambrosius (aka "The Songstress") is undoubtedly 2006's Hooker of the Year. While the Brit-Soul chantuese is waiting to drop her debut on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, she's been putting in overtime singing hooks on banging tracks for the Game, Busta Rhymes, Nas and others in 2006. Her vocal contributions this year, should help her in getting Dr. Dre to finally release her solo CD in the '07.
*** Inspired by that nigga, err, excuse me, that Negro Jason Toney.