Today’s Hip-Hop and R&B History focused on two separate years with album anniversaries sprawling across the East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest.
2001: Blu Cantrell Takes Our Breath Away With So Blu
R&B songbird Blu Cantrell made an impact with her debut So Blu on this day in 2001. Developing an audience quickly with her banger “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!),” she brought the vocal chops and sex appeal worthy of a pop superstar. The single peaked No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and propelled the album to a No. 8 debut on the Billboard 200. If you take it from Cantrell (real name Tiffany Cobb), she didn’t think the song would be that popular.
In an interview with Fuse in 2016, she explained how she went to record the song as producer Dallas Austin fell asleep. “I was in a session with the engineer and I ended up recording the song… I never thought it was going to be big until Dallas [Austin] let L.A. Reid hear it. He was like ‘Oh my God. This has to be the first single’.”
The album went on to sell over 600,000 copies, earning a Gold certification and critical acclaim.
2001: The Eastsidaz Dump Duces ‘N Trayz: The Old Fashioned Way
The Boss Dogg also known as Snoop was light years ahead with his creativity and pushing forward the sound of Hip-Hop. In the midst of a run featuring stints with No Limit and rekindling with Dr. Dre, he released the follow-up to his Eastsidaz debut with Duces ‘N Trayz: The Old Fashioned Way on this day in 2001. Alongside Tray Dee and Goldie Loc, Tha Eastsidaz brought another flex of G-Funk muscle featuring production from DJ Battlecat, Hi-Tek, Rick Rock, and a growing West Coast producer named The Alchemist. It debuted No. 4 on the Billboard 200 with nine consecutive weeks on the charts and produced the lone single, I Luv It,” featuring Kokane and Sir Dogg.
2001: Rush Hour II Hits Us WIth a Soundtrack
Mere days before the release the film, Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Group laid the smackdown with a soundtrack for Rush Hour II. An instant success on the Billboard charts (No. 11 in first-week debut sales), the soundtrack had the immensely popular "Area Codes" by Ludacris and Nate Dogg as a single. Method Man, Teddy Riley, Jill Scott, Dru Hill, and Snoop Dogg were also among the names featured on the gold-certified soundtrack.
Six years after their debut Dogg Food, the duo of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger unleashed their compilation 2002 on this day. The album was primarily made of material recorded during the group’s time with Death Row Records, remixed and remastered. Daz handled much of the production along with their additional in-house producer Cold187um. Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg (“Just Doggin”), Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel (“Changed The Game Remix”), and 2Pac (“Don’t Stop”) are among the names featured on this album.
2007: Common Chases the Winning Formula with Finding Forever
Coming off the heels of the critically-acclaimed masterpiece Be, Chicago wordsmith Common gave it another go with Kanye West with the follow-up Finding Forever. Released on this day in 2007, Common and Kanye used the same chipmunk-soul loop pattern of its predecessor to mildly effective results. With the background of the album title, Common chose that album title as a way for his music to find a place to exist for eternity.
“Music can be forever if you if can make it from the heart, if you make it from the soul and it’s good,” Common explained in an interview with MTV. “I look at music like Bob Marley’s or Marvin Gaye’s or Stevie Wonder’s or A Tribe Called Quest, that’s forever music. And I’m continuing on the quest to make forever music.”
The production on the album also paid tribute to longtime collaborator, the late J Dilla, through the choppier sample production from Kanye. That style would later become a staple in West’s production in his subsequent discography.
Finding Forever would debut No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 155,000 units sold in the first week. Backed by the singles “The People,” “Drive Me Crazy,” and “I Want You,” it would be certified Gold and nominated for Best Rap Album for the 50th Grammy Awards.
2007: Sean Kingston Releases His Self-Titled Debut album
Sean Kingston had High School seniors and beyond in a frenzy with “Beautiful Girls” in 2007. An instant monster hit record, it peaked No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and cleared the lane for this eponymous album to come through. Delivered on this day nearly 11 years ago, the lead single tug at the heartstrings of teeny-boppers everywhere as well as giving something boys can relate to, controversial lyrics aside. He managed to produce two more Top 20 singles in “Me Love” (No. 14) and “Take You There” (No. 7) by the end of the year.
He continued to have moderate success in music, albeit with a few missteps. He was critically injured in a jet ski accident that nearly cost him his life in 2011. Since then he has recovered and managed to ride on jet skis once more recently.
2007: Keith Murray Drops
Def Squad alum and weed-connoisseur Keith Murray released Rap-Murr-Phobia (The Fear of Real Hip-Hop) on this day in 2007. His last major studio release before going independent, the album peaked 52 on the Billboard 200 and No. 7 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts. The album’s production is handled by Erick Sermon, who also have a feature with Redman on “U Ain’t Nobody” and the single “Nobody Do It Better” featuring Tyrese peaked No. 65 on the Billboard R&B charts.