YEAR-END TOP 10: Butta’s Picks Of 2009

This year in urban music has been filled with some of the highest highs (Maxwell's return, new Erro, Sade!) and the lowest lows (Michael's death, Whitney's return, Nicki Minaj). Through it all, I've been blessed to hear music by so many artists who continue to raise the bar and confirm to me that our work here at SoulBounce is not in vain. This is but a small sample of the music that I've personally been jamming to all year. It was hard to pick a Top 10, but these are the songs that moved me the most.


10. Maxwell: "Stop The World"
And here I bet you all thought that Maxwell's "Bad Habits" or "Pretty Wings" would make my year-end top 10 list. Sike! Don't get me wrong, I love both of those songs, but it was the album cut, "Stop The World," that really got me going. Maxwell sings about not having a care in the world once that bedroom door closes and he's with his lady. This track is infinitely sexy, with Max's voice alternating between his comfortable mid-range and falsetto. If my world were to stop, this is the song I'd like to hear playing at the end of it all.


9. Melanie Fiona: "It Kills Me"
Oh, Melanie Fiona, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways--starting with this song. For a song about a low-down cheating scallywag, "It Kills Me" is epic in execution. The instrumentation is lovely, but it's Melanie's voice that makes this song what it is. You can feel her pain in every note that she so effortlessly sings.  

8. Jose James: "Lay You Down"
This was the year that I truly paid attention to and appreciated the goodness coming from Jose James. Late pass aside, I was on it when "Lay You Down," a cut from his upcoming BLACKMAGIC album, leaked toward the end of summer. This song is as sultry as that season. James takes an intimate moment between two lovers and makes it that much more sexier on this song. 


7. Jaspects: "Unifunk
Speaking of late passes, 2009 was also the year that many of us--myself included--got hip to the Jaspects with the release of their breakout album The Polkadotted Stripe. It was really hard for me to narrow down just one song to call a favorite from this jazzy-funky sextet, but I chose to go with "Unifunk." I cannot play this song without getting hyped up. This has been on my "getting ready to go out on the town and break some hearts" soundtrack since hearing it.

6. Adrian Younge feat. Toni Scruggs: "Gloria (Zodiac Lovers)"
This song by Adrian Younge and featuring Toni Scruggs snuck up on me like dark liquor. I had listened to the Black Dynamite score a few times before zeroing in on the chocolate-coated richness of "Gloria (Zodiac Lovers)." Sounding straight outta 1975, this track is perfect for cooling out or getting hot and heavy. Scruggs' voice--haunting yet sexy--lingers long after the song is over.

5. Ledisi: "Goin' Thru Changes"
Ledisi. Just saying her name makes me happy. But what really made me happy in 2009 was her new album, Turn Me Loose, which featured the lead single "Goin' Thru Changes." I was going through some relationship changes of my own when this song came out and it spoke to me on so many levels. Not only was the lyrical content timely, but Ledisi sang the heck outta this song proving once again that her voice is a beautiful instrument.

4. Eric Roberson feat. Lalah Hathaway: "Dealing"
The combination of Eric Roberson and Lalah Hathaway on one song was like winning the lottery on Valentine's Day. "Dealing," from Erro's stellar Music Fan First, is about two lovers who belong to others but can't stop dealing with one another. They know better, but they're helpless from doing better. Eric and Lalah's voices complement each other like analogous colors. Infidelity never sounded so good.

3. Saunders Sermons: "Don't You Understand"
I hate when I get caught sleeping, and that's precisely what happened in the case of Saunders Sermons. His EP Classic Delight was released this spring, but I wasn't introduced to its greatness until this fall--and I fell hard. In particular, "Don't You Understand" is the song that I've kept on repeat. Saunders' voice wraps itself around lyrics that speak of not being able to love someone who's hurt him so bad, which is something we can all understand.

2. Eric Roberson feat. Wayna: "Wanna Believe It Again"
Thank you, Erro, for indulging us house heads with this one. "Wanna Believe It Again," also from his recent effort Music Fan First, is the latest in a long line of dance floor grooves from the talented Mr. Roberson. This time around he enlisted some female energy from Wayna, whose voice is angelic against the driving rhythm. The music and vocal play between these two, as they tell the story of old flames who might reunite, gives me life. I'm looking forward to 2010 and hearing some remixes of this joint. Don't be surprised if one turns up on my fave list next year!

1. N'dambi: "Can't Hardly Wait"
From the first moment I pressed play on N'dambi's "Can't Hardly Wait" it was a wrap. The song immediately became my obsession--and it still is. It was unlike anything N'dambi had released previously but it worked. With its provocative lyrics and anthemic quality, "Can't Hardly Wait" was the kick in the ass that Soul music needed this year.

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14 Responses

  1. Nice Picks Butta. I wasn't up on the Black Dynamite score, but now i will be.

  2. Today I had the sudden urge to hear "Stop the World" on the ride home from work. Nice.

  3. Great list, I'm familiar with at least 3/4 of the list, will check out what I haven't heard.
    Again and Again I thank you for the opportunity to get to see Ledisi this summer!! 🙂

  4. whitney? lowest of lows. i thought the album was great even though her performances have been somewhat lackluster. the testimony, is so powerful, though, so you lumping her in with nicki minaj (really?) has me feeling some kind of way. that's all.

  5. Although I'm a Bay native I still can't get into Ledisi (or Goapele for that matter), but that "Trippin" joint was hot!
    "Stop The World" was a nice joint, but it's never been one of my favs from the album. "Fistful of Tears" hits a soft spot for me and "Playing Possum" is my shit.
    Ditto to that N'Dambi joint, hot hot hot.
    While I have tried to get into Eric Roberson, I don't have enough of an interest to follow his new stuff unless someone points something out. He's got a knack for his duets though, Marsha, Jill and this Lalah joint...all hot.
    Never heard that Saunders joint, but it's got a croon and tempo that is working for me.

  6. I agree STOP THE WORLD is one of my fav songs I travelled to 3 MAX's concerts (BHX,MAN & ZURICH) just 2 hear stop the world he only did it in BHX but Fistful of tears, Playing Possium & love u are the shit too
    The Whole album is the shit

  7. now i feel like i've been sleeping on 'stop the world', i'll have to take another listen, i'm still stuck on bad habits..i'm really diggin jaspects the way i was diggin foreign exchange last year, thanks to SB of course =)..@ usoul, maybe you should check out the Erro playlist posted on SB earlier this year in anticipation of musicfanfirst, i know it had me hooked and still does. i listen to it at least twice a week.

  8. The inclusion of that sexy mutha N'dambi just proves my point Butta...You have easily got the best trained musical ear over at SB.......This Sermon kid is mad talented, I too slept on this cat but you can bet i'm about to get familiar with his music. Nice List Butta-baby:)

  9. That Melanie Fiona joint goes hard! I crank that every morning on the way to work.

  10. Lovin almost every pick on your list! I LOVE Stop the World... I can play that and Possum Playin over and over all day. Dealing and Wanna Believe it again are two of my favs from MFF. And Saunders Sermons... I slept on him until the fall too. Again, great list!

  11. As with most things in life,for those who truly love music,we are fotunate to have been blessed with people like Jackie,Sam,Otis,Marvin,Tupac,Luther and Michael,and though they are gone,they have left us many great songs and wonderful memories. Now,after eight years Maxwell returns to help fill that musical void,to give us more great songs and even more wonderful memories. While we cannot and should not forget the past,Maxwell and his soothing voice and incredible talent gives us all reason to look ahead. I can't wait for the future.

  12. Butta you have a wonderful ear for music.
    The instrumentation on "It Kills Me" is epic but it's Melanie Fiona classic R&B voice that seals the deal.
    I bought Saunders Sermons "Classic Delight " when it was released. Maxwell pimped his musicians individual projects pretty hard during his tour. The album is NICE, smooth and laid back.
    Eric Roberson, for some reason I still can't get into the brotha, maybe I should try harder.
    Ledisi is the bomb. PERIOD. "I Need love", "Everything Changes" and "Goin' Thru Changes" are my favorite cuts. Just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE "Turn Me Loose".
    Jaspects, loved the "Double Consciousness" album. "...A Night in Tunisia", "Goodbye Love" "One Last Cry Before I Say..." and "Please Step Up Your Game" are my favorite cuts. "The Polkadotted Stripe" is very good, favorite cuts "Play On" and "Fallin". "Broadcasting the Definition" probably their least cohesive album, but I still loved "Next Stop MLK" and "Walking Bayou".
    And Maxwell, well what can you say, it's Max. Class will tell! "Stop the World" is a great song, my favorite cut off the album next to "Playing Possum". He vamps the hell out of "we about to stop the world tonight". The entire album is classic, from instrumentation, to vocals, right down to the engineering. I can't wait for the next two installments. Young folk take note, if the music is good, if you can bring it live, and if you remain true to your craft, the audience will ALWAYS be there.
    Your other choices are good, they are not game changing but they are good.

  13. Wow...I found this blog while looking for information on the meaning of Maxwell's Fistful of Tears. Through this post I have been introduced to some TRULY talented artists...Eric Roberson, Jaspects, Jose James, Saunders Sermon to name a few. Wow...where have I been???? Thanks so much. Now I have to figure out how to afford to buy all this great music. Amazing. Thanks again!!!!