20 Unforgettable Rap Songs Turning 10 This Year

2004 was a year of white tees, overnight celebrities and brushing one’s shoulders off. It was also ten years ago, which, whoa. Really? It’s been that long? So in remembrance of what we all listened to exactly one decade ago, we combed through the Billboard Hot 100 charts from 2004 and highlighted some of our favorite tracks that year. Not all of them reached the vaunted no. 1 spot, but all were important to us one way or another, even if some have stood the test of time better than others.

So, click, reminisce and, uh, lean back for more.

/Shows self out.

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Artist: Ludacris
Song: “Splash Waterfalls”
Released: Jan. 17, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 6

Ludacris was always at his best making raunchy raps about boinking, and 2004’s “Splash Waterfalls” off Chicken-n-Beer remains one of his most memorable. Complete with a Sandy Coffee sample of “f*ck me,” it’s kind of hard to miss the point of the song while the lush beat explodes with each Luda boast.

Artist: J-Kwon
Song: “Tipsy”
Released: Jan. 26, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 2

“Tipsy”‘s probably best remembered for its chorus “now err-body in the club’s getting tipsy!” and the fact that So So Def Records were actually a thing at one point. The former’s probably the best (and only) way to think about J-Kwon’s smash single in hindsight because, hey, who hasn’t been getting tipsy in the club recently? Kanye West also mentioned in a 2013 interview with The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica that the song inspired him in creating Yeezus, so take that however you want.

Artist: Juvenile ft. Soulja Slim
Song: Slow Motion
Released: March 1, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 1

“Slow Motion” was Juvenile’s first and only no. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts; however, it was bittersweat as the track’s writer and guest rhymer, Soulja Slim, passed away in November 2003. But “Slow Motion” was still a slow-burning banger that dropped the uptempo rhythm of Juve’s other smash hit, “Back That Azz Up,” and allowed the New Orleans rappers’ words to stick out more prominently.

Artist: Jay Z
Song: “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
Released: March 2, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 5

Technically, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” released in 2003 when Jay Z dropped his critically acclaimed Black Album. But since we’re going off when a song released as a single, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” is as 2004 as the rest of the songs on this list, giving Hip-Hop fans a credo to live by: you’ve got to get that dirt off your shoulder. It also presented Barack Obama a nifty little rebuttal to attacks from Hillary Clinton he sustained in 2008 presidential primary debates, which seems to have worked out well for the former Illinois state senator.

Artist: Twista
Song: “Overnight Celebrity”
Released: March 9, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 6

Those strings. And the rapid-fire delivery. Oh, and the chorus and how it punctuates the chipmunk-soul background vocals. It’s fantastic! Chicago legend Twista received arguably one of The College Dropout-era Kanye West’s best beats, and Hip-Hop fans noticed: the song reached no. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 2004 and helped make Kamikazee Twista’s first platinum-selling album.

Artist: 8Ball and MJG
Song: “You Don’t Want No Drama”
Released: May 2004
Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Peak: No. 13

The critical reception to 8Ball and MJG’s 2004 album Living Legends was tepid at best, and, sigh, Diddy’s fingerprints were all over the album since the Memphis duo released the album through Bad Boy. However, “You Don’t Want No Drama” was heat from the second the Bangladesh beat dropped, and reminded listeners that even a so-so Ball and G album could deliver the goods ten-plus years into a storied career.

Artist: Kanye West
Song: “Jesus Walks”
Released: May 25, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 11

At this point you’ve certainly been reminded that Kanye West’s debut album, The College Dropout, turned ten years old this year. But without its fiery single, “Jesus Walks,” the album wouldn’t have had the same sort of genre-changing effect. The militant beat would totally be enough, but ripping rap radio for allowing artists to rhyme about everything except for Jesus? Man, no wonder so many peoples’ lives changed after hearing the album.

Artist: Outkast
Song: “Roses”
Released: May 25, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 9

Who knew that roses stink? Apparently, anyone who listened to Andre 3000’s “Roses” off Outkast’s 2004 double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. This infectiously catchy single aired out the dirty laundry of all those “Carolines” in the world who think their past didn’t reek. Also, award bonus nerd points for featuring The Kids In The Hall’s Kevin McDonald in the music video.

Correction: Kevin McDonald appears in the video, not Mark McKinney.

Artist: Crime Mob
Song: “Knuck If You Buck”
Released: May 29, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 79

“Knuck If You Buck” is another great example of not judging the merits of a track based off its relatively low Billboard placement. The track was a certified Southern knocker, complete with a sparse, thumping beat and verses from all the Crime Mob members that ripped at the throats of listeners. It was hot, and so was the term “knuck if you buck,” which definitely played right into the crunk music phenomenon that was catapulting out the South at the time.

Artist: Terror Squad
Song: “Lean Back”
Released: July 6, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 1

“Lean Back” was how you made a club smash in 2004. Pair a simplistic, thumping Scott Storch beat with gruff bars from Fat Joe and Remy Ma and a hard-to-shake hook (“do the rock away, now lean back”), and voila: a banger is born. We’re more than certain there are clubs in the boroughs that still play this joint every Friday and Saturday night at 11:30 to get the dance floor bumping.

Artist: Jadakiss
Song: “Why?”
Released: July 13, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 11

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Jadakiss’ “Why?” shares a Billboard Hot 100 peak with Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.” Both songs were hot–from the beat to the rhymes–but dipped their toes into previously taboo waters for rappers looking to tear up the charts. Instead focusing on a specific topic, Jada goes social critic on a number of topics, from fronting rappers and incarcerated African-Americans to George Bush and 9/11. And all he did was ask, “why?”

Artist: Dem Franchize Boys
Song: “White Tee”
Released: Aug. 10, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 79

Forget a top-ten charting on Billboard. Atlanta’s Dem Franchize Boys’ homage-paying “White Tee” only reached no. 79 on the Hot 100 chart, but made the white tee, fresh-pressed jeans and (typically) white Nike Air Force Ones look ubiquitous that summer. Sure, blasting it now comes coated in a phlegmy layer of irony since ringtone rap–and Dem Franchize Boys’ career–is dead, but if anyone wanted to know what 2004 sounded like, this is it.

Artist: Fabolous
Song: “Breathe”
Released: Aug. 31, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 10

Just Blaze laced Fabolous with the “Breathe” beat for his 2004 album Real Talk, and the five boroughs ate it up. The beat’s huge and so is Fab’s presence, taking out the dramatic Supertramp sample of “Crime of the Century” and setting up Real Talk‘s eventual No. 6 showing in the Billboard charts when it released that November.

Artist: UTP
Song: “Nolia Clap” ft. Juvenile (Remix features Z-Ro, Slim Thug, Bun B, Juvenile and Hot Wright)
Released: Aug. 31, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 31

The original “Nolia Clap” featured only Juvenile, but with a beat this hot it required some additional assistance for the remix. Houston natives Z-Ro, Bun B, Slim Thug and Hot Wright jumped on the track to make a regional New Orleans hit into a southern anthem.

Artist: Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell
Song: “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
Released: Sept. 12, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 1

When Snoop Dogg released “Drop It Like It’s Hot” off his R&G: Rhythm and Gangsta album, he’d already been in the game for over ten years. However, the most surprising bit about the song is that it marked Snoop’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts, topping the list for three weeks in December of that year. And why not: the song was the perfect mix between the Long Beach emcee and Pharrell, all slow-moving, braggadocio bars and some of the meanest production a Neptunes member crafted during both artists’ mid-2000s run.

Artist: Lil Wayne
Song: “Go DJ”
Released: Oct. 5, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 7

Tha Carter was hot, according the legions everywhere who swear by Lil Wayne’s music before he fell off into post-codeine blunt morass somewhere at the turn of this decade. We’ll remain objective and say his current skills remain debatable, but what isn’t arguable was that this first single from Weezy attests to that hotness from the former Hot Boy. It was also his highest-ranking single until “Lollipop” lead the charts in 2008.

Artist: T.I.
Song: “Bring ‘Em Out”
Released: Oct. 19, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 9

Jay Z flipped Nas’ hook from “The World Is Yours” into something even greater on his debut, Reasonable Doubt. T.I. wore a Reasonable Doubt t-shirt in his video for “Bring ‘Em Out,” a song which, through producer Swizz Beatz, flips a line from Jay’s “What More Can I Say” into Tip’s first Billboard top-ten single. Chances are Swizz and Tip didn’t need to go through Searchlight Publishing to do so.

Artist: Ja Rule
Song: “New York” ft. Fat Joe & Jadakiss
Released: Oct. 27, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 27

This track didn’t chart too high, but, hey, it was a Ja Rule diss track aimed at 50 Cent. That whole beef was interesting, right? Fat Joe and Jadakiss jumped on the track, which apparently pissed off 50, and then Game didn’t back labelmate 50 in his response, which also pissed 50 off, and Ja had that one line about 50 being whack and yadda yadda yadda. Really this whole song reminds us of the things we cared about in 2005 and, wow, how we don’t care now.

Artist: Game
Song: “How We Do” ft. 50 Cent
Released: Nov. 23, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 4

“How We Do” came out the week before 50 dropped his lead-off single from The Massacre, “Disco Inferno” (more on that in a second), and acted as the perfect set up for both the G-Unit head honcho and his new Los Angeles-bred teammate, Game. The song reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped launch Jayceon’s career, as well as aided 50’s in 2005. Unfortunately, as we all know, Game’s G-Unit affiliation barely lasted longer than that, as he was kicked out of the group in early 2005 after feuding with 50.

Artist: 50 Cent
Song: “Disco Inferno”
Released: Nov. 28, 2004
Billboard Hot 100 Peak: No. 3

Oh man, Fiddy! Dropped in late-2004 as the lead single off his sophomore album, The Massacre, 50’s track lit up clubs’ dance floors like white trash firecrackers on the Fourth of July. “Disco Inferno” proved that hit-making 50 wasn’t just a one-album wonder, and the sleazy video made us all pine to be sipping Dom Perignon with a little bit of Hennessy with the guy every time we hit the bar.