Best Songs of Summer

Best Songs of Summer
ESSENCE.COM Jun, 03, 2009

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In celebration of Black Music Month, we’ve picked the 25 Hottest Summer Jams of All Time (in no particular order). Did your favorite cut make the list? Keep clicking to find out.

Before he was making moves in Hollywood, Will Smith was making us move on the dance floor. “Summertime” by Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff has got to be the quintessential summer anthem. Nearly 20 years after its release, the 1991 song still has us nodding our heads and singing along: “Summer, summer, summertime; let’s just sit back and unwind.”

Listen Now: D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince - Homebase - Summertime (Reprise)

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Anyone with a serious love jones could appreciate the magnitude of cupid’s arrow when it came to this ride-and-die-for-my-boo musical ode. Between Method Man’s rugged good boy looks and MJB’s around-the-way-girl charm, we were assured that love conquers all.

Listen Now: Mary J. Blige & Method Man - I'll Be There For You - EP - I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By

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Who could argue that letting your hair down by enjoying a block party or two doesn’t qualify as a good time? Even Whoopi Goldberg made this song her own in “Sister Act 2” as she bridged the gap between the church and local communities to raise funds to sponsor a road trip for her music students.

Listen Now: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - Glory Road - Dancing In the Street

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Queens-bred rapper Nas teamed with Lauryn Hill to talk about what the world would be like under his supreme reign: “No welfare supporters; more conscious of the way we raise our daughters.” Yeah, we can dig it.

Listen Now: Nas - It Was Written - If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)

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Brothers had been checking for The Notorious B.I.G. since before his 1994 debut, “Ready to Die.” But one could argue sisters didn’t join the “I Love Biggie” bandwagon until we heard the slow dance-ready remix to “One More Chance.” It was like nothing we’d ever heard. Big’s slick rhymes floated over the mellow piano-laced track: “First things first I poppa…” And remember the star-studded video? Mid-nineties hip-hop at its best.

Listen Now: The Notorious B.I.G. - The Notorious B.I.G.: Greatest Hits - One More Chance / Stay With Me (Remix)

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When the Notorious B.I.G.’s gritty, eight-bar intro dropped, the tough and chic R&B trio delivered the crazy, sexy, cool vibe that pumped in all of our jeeps.

Listen Now: Total - Bad Boy's 10th Anniversary - The Hits - Can't You See

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No brother likes to be called out about his financial instability or his failure to provide for his woman, but we didn’t mind Destiny’s Child telling them to man up and get with the program.

Listen Now: Destiny's Child - The Writing's On the Wall - Bills, Bills, Bills

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Lil Jon joined forces with Usher to bring us one of 2004’s most-played club bangers.

Listen Now: Usher - Confessions (Bonus Track Version) - Yeah! (feat. Lil' Jon & Ludacris)

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Not that we condone womanizing, but for some reason this California poet’s bravado about his conquests and player lifestyle sound like music to our ears.

Listen Now: 2Pac - 2Pac: Greatest Hits - I Get Around

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Salt-N-Pepa blessed us with the quintessential party starter that had us all screaming “Oooh baby, baby!”

Listen Now: Salt-N-Pepa - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Salt-N-Pepa - Push It

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Talk about a grand entrance. When Beyoncé broke out on her own with her solo debut, “Dangerously in Love,” the CD’s first single, “Crazy in Love,” featuring beau Jay-Z, turned the summer of 2003 into the summer of “Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.” And it’s been B season ever since.

Listen Now: Beyoncé - Dangerously In Love - Crazy In Love

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We could all stand the rain as Rihanna “ella-ella-ella-ed” us through the storm.

Listen Now: Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded - Umbrella (feat. Jay-Z)

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When the beat from Slick Rick’s “A Children’s Story” meshed with the vocals of 6-foot, 8-inch-tall Montell Jordan, the result was a jam that had us on the dance floor all night.

Listen Now: Montell Jordan - This Is How We Do It - This Is How We Do It

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Anyone who can pay a respectful nod to our Egyptian ancestors and make our body rocks will always reign as the “King of Pop.”

Listen Now: Michael Jackson - Dangerous - Remember the Time

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The Fugees’ first lady Lauryn Hill added the just the right amount of hip-hop flavor to this cult classic, making this rendition something that Robert Flack could be proud of.

Listen Now: Fugees - The Fugees: Greatest Hits - Killing Me Softly With His Song

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In 2004, a fresh-faced Ciara took no prisoners when she burst onto the scene with the crunk-infused “Goodies.” The song solidified her place among pop music’s young divas.

Listen Now: Ciara - Goodies - Goodies

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The roof, the house party and everywhere else was on fire with the summer heat and Nelly’s hit anthem “Hot in Herre” in 2002. His midwest slang became hip hop’s favorite dialect.

Listen Now: Nelly - Nellyville - Hot in Herre

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The Jiggaman and Timbaland make a mean combination. Add to that mix UGK’s Bun B and the late Pimp C and you get the 2000 monster jam “Big Pimpin.’”

Listen Now: Jay-Z & UGK - Vol. 3: Life and Times of S. Carter - Big Pimpin' (Featuring UGK)

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When the youngest Jackson commanded us to heed by her rules of engagement, we were spellbound and grooved with the diva.

Listen Now: Janet Jackson - Control - The Pleasure Principle

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No one saw Missy coming. The rapper/singer/producer came out of left field with a genre all her own. Her first single, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” a quirky start-and-stop jam, had us hooked the moment we heard the sampled hook: “I can’t stand the rain against my window.”

Listen Now: Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly - The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

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Zhane, the Temple University grads who did their thing in the early nineties, delivered the ultimate BBQ jam.

Listen Now: Zhané - Pronounced Jah-Nay - Hey Mr. D.J.

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Anything from musical genius Marvin Gaye delighted the mind, body and soul.

Listen Now: Marvin Gaye - 202 Motown Songs: The Complete No. 1s - Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1

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One-half of super rap group OutKast, Andre 3000 wowed the masses with his 2003 party anthem “Hey Ya!” Audiences of all colors couldn’t get enough of the high-energy, 60’s-tinged ditty. The song helped OutKast make music-industry history as “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” went on to become the first hip-hop album to ever win the coveted Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

Listen Now: OutKast - Speakerboxxx / The Love Below - Hey Ya!

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On this Case and Foxy Brown collaboration, the duo, igniting plenty of passion, proved foreplay never sounded better.

Listen Now: Case & Foxy Brown - Case - Touch Me Tease Me

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Frankie Beverly and Maze’s timeless classic deserves an encore at any party.

Listen Now: Maze featuring Frankie Beverly - Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly: Greatest Hits - Before I Let Go

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Ladies have always loved cool James, so to know that he’s been lounging and spreading his love of music and great beats is all the more endearing.

Listen Now: LL Cool J - Mr. Smith - Loungin'

Now that you’ve seen our picks, tell us who you think should have made the list. Plus, come back next week as we select the Best Slow Jams of All Time (send us your suggestions now!).


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