(June 28, 2021).  Many of us of a certain age find it hard to fathom that the decade known as the aughts – the ‘00s – would ever be referred to as “old school,” or that a retro look back at it would spark so many fond memories, even for those of us who were already well into our adulthoods when the songs were first popular. 

The songs featured in Sunday night’s post-BET Awards episode of DJ Cassidy’s live-from-his-living-room mix show were nothing short of classics – all fifteen of them – and the artists performing them looked damn good doing it.

DJ Cassidy on his “Pass The Mic” with guests Ashanti and Fat Joe in the insets (June 27, 2021).

It was indeed a musical journey through an era when CD sales were coming off their 2000 peak, when legal downloads became a thing, and when 9/11 changed the way we envisioned terrorism and sparked the country’s longest war fought on foreign soil.

There were both good times and bad back then, and – as always – music got us through it all!

Just check out this playlist:

One.  “Hot in Herre” – Nelly (2002).  Nelly kicked off the affair with his No. 1 pop and R&B/Hip-Hop smash from his second album in 2002.  It was the St. Louis rapper’s first of four hook-heavy pop chart toppers between 2002-05, which easily made him one of the biggest artists of the era.

Two.  “Milkshake” – Kelis (2003).  The former Mrs. Nasir Jones performed the Neptunes-produced tune that finally put her on the map as a lead artist after having been featured on songs by Busta Rhymes, Loon, Foxy Brown and Ol’ Dirty Bastard earlier in her career.  The song reached the top five on both the pop and R&B/Hip-Hop charts in early 2004.

Three. “Wait a Minute” – Ray J (2001). Hard to believe that Brandy’s little brother is 40 years old (he reached the milestone on January 17).  But then again, we are talking the early 2000s, which were essentially 20 years ago, so yeah, it makes sense.  In fact, Ray J was the youngest of the performers on this special episode of “Pass the Mic.”

Four.  “Knock Yourself Out” – Jadakiss (2001).  The former member of The Lox and Ruff Ryders performed his 2001 solo hit, co-written by Pharrell Williams.  The 46-year-old rapper tried his hand in acting during his prime in the early ‘00s, but it was songs like this Top-40 R&B/Hip-Hop single featuring former Lox group mate Styles that he’ll be most remembered for. 

Five. “Girls Dem Sugar” – Beenie Man ft. Mya (2000).  Jamaican rapper Beenie Man (born Moses Davis in 1973) teamed up with everyone from Angie Martinez, Lil Kim and Wyclef Jean to Janet Jackson and Ms. Thing in the 2000s.   But it was this cute ditty with Mya for which he might be most remembered.  The song was another of several Neptunes-produced tracks on this episode of “Pass The Mic.”

Six. “No Letting Go” – Wayne Wonder (2002).  Another Jamaican performer, Wayne Wonder, continued affairs with his slice of dancehall pop/reggae from 2002.  “No Letting Go” had everyone singing along to its infectious melody back in the day and it was the perfect lead-in to the similarly styled song that followed it on “Pass The Mic”…

Seven.  “Get Busy” – Sean Paul (2003).  …And that would be dancehall king Sean Paul’s “Get Busy,” a song that topped both the pop and R&B/Hip-Hop charts in 2003.  Sean Paul is the third consecutive Jamaican performer in this set and “Get Back”happened to be this blogger’s favorite jam of ‘03…one I’m proud to say I was able to sing along to perfectly back in the day.

Akon (with DJ Cassidy in the inset) on Sunday, June 27, 2021.

Eight. “I Wanna Love You” – Akon (2006). People will forget just how prolific Senegalese-American singer Akon was back in the 2000s.  He had two No. 1 pop singles as a lead artist, including this tune that originally featured Snoop Dogg.  Akon turned 48 earlier this year (like Beenie Man, Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder all did), but didn’t look as if he’d aged a bit. 

Nine. “Lights, Camera, Action” – Mr. Cheeks (2001). Former Lost Boyz member Mr. Cheeks turned 50 back in March, making him the second-oldest person on this song set (the oldest is coming up).  His 2001 classic that prominently featured Eddie Kendricks’ “Keep On Truckin’” didn’t disappoint.  The rapidly rapped classic was huge when it was released, topping both the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop and Hot Rap Songs charts 20 years ago.

Sunshine Anderson on “DJ Cassidy’s Pass The Mic” on June 27, 2021.

Ten. “Heard It All Before” – Sunshine Anderson (2001).  North Carolinian Sunshine Anderson turned 47 earlier this month.  Her unforgettable classic “Heard It All Before” turned 20 earlier this year.  It would be her only top-40 hit on both the pop and R&B/Hip-Hop charts, but it has aged very well and likely still pays some of the bills today.  

Eleven.  “Just Friends (Sunny)” – Musiq Soulchild (2000).  Philly’s own Taalib Johnson is better known to fans as Musiq Soulchild.  The 43-year-old singer’s first hit was the one he performed Sunday night. “Just Friends,” with its offbeat drum pattern and sparse bass notes did wonders for the burgeoning neo-soul movement 21 years ago.  And it sounded just as good Sunday night when Soulchild performed it over its instrumental track.

Twelve. “Into You” – Fabolous ft. Tamia (2003).  Canadian singer Tamia (from Windsor, Ontario) teamed up with Brooklyn rapper Fabolous for this reprise of her earlier top-10 R&B/Hip-Hop nugget, “So Into You,” that originally featured Mario Winans on backing vocals.  This version reached the top-10 on both the R&B and pop charts in 2003, becoming one of Fabolous’ biggest hits.  

Thirteen. “Foolish” – Ashanti (2002).  Ashanti capped affairs with a trio of her concurrently charting hits from 2002, beginning with this solo smash that featured the oft-sampled “Stay With Me” by DeBarge.  “Foolish” wound up being the second-biggest hit of 2002, spending ten weeks at No. 1 on both the pop and R&B/Hip-Hop charts.

Ashanti on “Pass The Mic” (Sunday, June 27, 2021)

Fourteen. “What’s Luv” – Fat Joe ft. Ashanti (2002).  After Ashanti sang the first chorus and verse of her huge No. 1 smash, former collaboration partner Fat Joe, who as this set’s oldest performer will be 51 in August, came on for his No. 2 smash (which, ironically, was held in the runner-up position by Ashanti’s other hits).  Ashanti’s hook on “What’s Luv” sounded as sweet as it did nearly 20 years ago. 

Fifteen. “Always on Time” – Ja Rule ft. Ashanti (2002).  The song that introduced all of us to Ashanti two decades ago was the one she used to cap this episode of “Pass The Mic.”  For “Always On Time,” her former Murder, Inc. collaborator Ja Rule showed up to rap/sing his parts.  He delivered just as much swag as the original called for – and maybe even more. The former No. 1 classic – again both pop and R&B/Hip-Hop charts – was a great way to end the night – maybe not on time – but a great ending nonetheless.



DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.

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By DJ Rob

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