Certainly, no one is contesting the unique brilliance of music and its ability to transport us through the years in tune with the latest and greatest. Parts of the world, the country, the city, and even the neighborhood will align with a certain genre and perhaps the most beautiful aspect is the potential for individual enjoyment. And where these days music is digitally available for the majority, there was a time when CDs were the cool thing. Specifically, in the first half of the 2000s, CDs were flying off the shelves and when the beat hit just right, that disc had found its resting place in your car or Sony Discman (or some mixture of both thanks to that magic tape with the cable attached). And today, give or take 20 years later, these albums deserve another listen.
- Morning View by Incubus (2001)
- Give Up by The Postal Service (2003)
- College Dropout by Kanye West (2004)
- MTV Unplugged by Jay-Z (2001)
- Kid A by Radiohead (2000)
- Stankonia by OutKast (2000)
- Elephant by White Stripes (2003)
- United by Phoenix (2000)
- Welcome to Jamrock by Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley (2005)
- Since I Left You by The Avalanches (2000)
The fourth album from Incubus, Morning View had a baggy-jeans-with-the-beach vibe. With tracks like “Wish You Were Here” and “Nice to Know You” as its hits, the rest of the tracklist was nevertheless littered with notables. Morning View was a playthrough from 1 to 13 allowing you to cycle back through your favorites. And almost two decades later, the album continues to be a full listen on disc with ambient sounds mixed into grooves, hard bass and guitar rips, and an overall fluidity that brings it all back home with the instrumental conclusion of “Aqueous Transmission.”
Give Up was certainly no slouch off the old block with vocals from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for a Cutie) and beats from electronic musician, Jimmy Tamborrelo. It was the second time the two had worked together and undoubtedly proved to be their best work. Give Up was released in 2003 with three must-listens: “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” “We Will Become Silhouettes,” and “Such Great Heights.” And though the album did paint a picture of some heavy love stories, it was a new-wave/coffee-shop/house-party kind of noise from start to finish.
The debut album from Kanye West, College Dropout was no rookie performance. The album was stacked with showstoppers and bred hip hop with popped collars. The album had just the right amount of big-name features as not to steal the show from the producer rapper. “Jesus Walks,” “Spaceship,” and “All Falls Down” brought a twang that had been lost in the gangsta rap of the early 2000s. College Dropout details the stories of how Kanye came to be and even how he spit “Through the Wire.”
Would you expect anything other than greatness from a live album featuring The Roots? No, you wouldn’t and Jay-Z’s MTV Unplugged is an album that may have been overlooked, but today in 2020, it continues to be a collaborative masterpiece. Not to take anything away from HOVA, but his lyrical style mixed with The Roots’ horns and percussion, never forgetting the vocals, is thirteen tracks of aural pleasure. And it doesn’t hurt that Mary J. Blige is leading the way in “Song Cry.”
Change is good and Kid A was a magical revitalization from Radiohead. Released in 2000, the fourth studio album put “Everything in the Right Place” and introduced the sounds of synthesizers, drum kits, bass, and strings drawing inspiration from an eclectic gathering of genres. It was the first album from Radiohead to go Number 1 in the U.S. and “The National Anthem” with dark and flagrant horns woke the senses. The album was a mashup from the stressful success of “OK Computer” and electronic orchestration. And as the end to any album should simply be a mic drop, the final song on Kid A is “Untitled.”
One of the best of all time, album and duo, OutKast’s Stankonia will be the next album you listen to. Released in 2000 Stankonia tackled topics from the South, politics, reflection, and parenthood. “B.O.B” and “So Fresh, So Clean” were the favorites from coast to coast, but the album’s sleeper was “Spaghetti Junction” with deep bass and lyrical introspection. And twenty years later, there is still the question of who is “Ms. Jackson?”
You know how it starts, you know the chords and kick drum that lead the way for vocals from Jack White on Elephant’s “Seven Nation Army.” The White Stripes, with the intent of bringing back the basics, relied on their inherent raw character and musical production to develop one of the greatest rock albums to date. Elephant was recorded without the assistance of computers and not one piece of recording equipment was built after 1962. The album is pure and driven, and when you have the need to throw one finger up with a guitar in the other hand, Elephant is the one to trust.
The first album from the French duo Phoenix, United proved to be an eye-opener to international indie-pop. Singles like “If I Ever Feel Better” and “Too Young” paved the way for the other eight tracks that followed in rhythmic mastery. And where this album deserves a second listen, for many it will be a first. Pick a drive on the open road or a city street’s adventure with United guiding your footsteps.
Welcome to Jamrock was the verbal introduction to the third world culture of Jamaica from the eyes of Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. It was the Best Reggae Album of the time and to date still stops listeners in their tracks when Welcome to Jamrock hits the airwaves. Jr. Gong is the youngest son of the famed Bob Marley and in each track, you can hear the heart and soul of the Marley family. Welcome to Jamrock brings the people back to the streets of Jamaica with the “Road to Zion” and Nas and an altered reggae vibe.
An electronic wonder from Australia, The Avalanches’ Since I Left You will lead you on a mythical journey from the year 2000 to 2020. The album is said to be composed of upwards of 3,500 samples and from Since I Left You, through Frontier Psychiatrist, and beyond Live at Dominoes, the album is, well, it’s a trip … pun intended. This is just one of those albums you have to give a listen because it’s unlike anything else out there.
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