The Game - "Where I'm From," featuring Nate Dogg (The Documentary, 2005).
Today, we know very well that our time with Nate Dogg was precious and cut short. This song is perfect.
The Clipse - "Virginia" (Lord Willin', 2002).
Do you want to leave a real legacy behind? Start a family in Virginia.
A short list of people born in Virginia:
Allen Iverson (most important)
Pharrell Williams (second-most important)
Booker T. Washington
Michael Vick (third-most)
Lewis of Lewis & Clark
The guy who created Breaking Bad
Malice and Pusha T were actually born in the Bronx, but I already forgot about that tiny detail.
50 Cent - "Blood Hound" (Get Rich Or Die Tryin', 2003).
An underrated song from this album is truly a needle in a haystack.
Found one, though! 50 Cent and Young Buck growled and woofed their way into our hearts with "Blood Hound," and we revisit this refreshingly-aggressive gemstone from the undisputedly definitely-not-underrated Get Rich Or Die Tryin' album.
Lloyd Banks - "South Side Story" (The Hunger For More, 2004).
Lloyd Banks, however reserved, has always been one of the great G's in the Unit. I was prepared to defend this album regardless, but I didn’t actually know that it debuted #1 on the Billboard charts upon its release 29 June 2004.
Lloyd is an especially talented and vivid storyteller, and this is the evidence. The final song of his debut album is essentially a collection of short stories. He's audibly emotional and vulnerable, a marked departure from his stoic and steady reputation. He's intelligent, aware, and his signature timing and delivery really weave this song together beautifully. A good one to revisit.
The Notorious B.I.G. - "Respect" (Ready To Die, 1994).
Next time this song shuffles into your earphones in a crowded public place, scream “Nineteen-Seventy-Somethin!” and just walk straight ahead. They’ll love you for it.
Disclaimer: For the love of all things dear… please, please do not let the album version run its course if there are children within earshot. That’s a conversation-starter that not a one of us can finesse.
Dr. Dre - "Some L.A. N*****," featuring basically everyone (2001, released: 1999).
You may have lost track of this song. You may have lost track of everyone in this song.
“Like Vince Carter from the baseline, don’t waste my time."
Best line ever.
We'll be getting a big mixtape from Shady Records before the new album arrives.
What qualifies an underrated song? What defines a classic album? Who makes the rules? These are all important questions as we approach our good-natured discussion.
It's an unusual and tricky exercise placing the "underrated" tag on a keystone element of a greater artwork. We can agree that the keystones of a great artwork are inherently valuable single entities. In the case of music, one can argue that the blue collar tracks that make an album work are more valuable than the popular commercial singles in contrast. Yet, one might make the counter-argument that the popular commercial singles are the most important variables for appraising the value of an entire album. The tension created by these conflicting value scales makes it difficult to find your objective footing in supporting your own personal opinion.
If that was hard to follow, think of these songs as the Ron Harpers, the Steve Kerrs, and the Robert Horrys of championship albums. Could these role players have carried the load on a championship album? Perhaps not. Still, we recognize their contributions as the individual brush strokes of a masterpiece, and that calls for celebration.
Do you agree with these underrated picks? Let us know in the comments (we know you will either way).