STAFF LIST: Top 10 Albums Of 2015 That I Missed Because I Was Listening To “Yeah!” By Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris
- 10. Jeremih, Late Nights: The Album
Hey! The guy who wrote “Birthday Sex” finally released another album! And it’s really good! SPIN praised its “stylistic diversity that lends the album a dimness and a sheen,” while Pitchfork vaguely observed that it “pays no mind to the swagless Gregorian calendar, abiding instead by the hours of Patron shots and wanton DM slides.” If it’s hard to tell that that second quote is a compliment, just know that they gave it a 8.3 and highlighted it in red, both of which are good signs.
The critics might be right, or they could be utterly wrong. I can’t say for sure, because I haven’t heard this album yet. While other music writers were relishing Jeremih’s soft hooks and breathy tenor, I was using my Tidal subscription is for one song and one song only: “Yeah!” feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris. I mean, come on. Have you heard that chorus?
- 9. Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi
Has Death Cab for Cutie released anything better than their 2003 album Transatlanticism? Many thirty-somethings and fans of The O.C. argue that the answer is no. After all, Plans sold too well to be credible, and Ben Gibbard’s marriage to Zooey Deschanel rendered the band useless by inspiring happy songs. If there were ever a chance for the Seattle Sad Saps (original band name) to reclaim their dreary park bench of a throne, surely it would be Kintsugi, a heart-wrenching exploration of Gibbard & Deschanel’s
conscious uncoupling divorce.
I don’t know if they succeeded. I stopped following Death Cab, along with all other music, on January 27, 2004 – the day Usher released his magnum opus, “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris. What was the point? Everything after that was a poor imitation. You still can’t spell Seattle without ATL.
- 8. Grimes, Art Angels
Grimes is the type of person you want to DJ a party. Not necessarily your birthday party, or the celebration of your acceptance into grad school, but the afterparty for your roommate’s improv show. The party where you drunkenly run into old friends from high school and pretend that you think smoking is cool now. You’re too tipsy to determine whether DJ Grimes is playing K-pop or Kelly Rowland, but either way you’re into it.
If I had to guess, Art Angels sounds like that party. But why listen to music that sounds like a party when you could attend an actual party? Specifically, a party that’s blasting Usher’s “Yeah!” featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris. Life is better at this party. Your future wife is here, and there’s a photo booth with those fake moustaches on a stick. Pass the Captain Morgan.
- 7. Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
What a journey this album takes. Breaking free from their southern rock roots, Brittany Howard & Co. launch from Muscle Shoals into the stratosphere, trajectory set for the Andromeda galaxy. The result is an epic that’s thrilling for both the band and the audience, its scope and ambition rivaled only by the range of Howard’s voice itself.
This sounds like a journey I might have enjoyed. I can’t be sure, though. When the U.S.S. Alabama (Shakes) departed for deep space, I was on a dive bar dance floor, locked in battle with a girl from Eastside as “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris blared from the jukebox. I heard the last boarding call, and I could have made it to the gate. But she asked for one more dance, guys. How the hell was I supposed to leave?
- 6. Jamie xx, In Colour
I have no idea whose album this is or what genre it fits in. Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby featured a song from The xx, which might be related to this person and/or band, but really who knows. Going off the album cover alone, it sounds exactly like Discovery’s 2009 LP, LP, but again – and I cannot stress this enough – I do not know who Jamie xx is.
I do know who Usher Terry Raymond IV is, though, and he has a single I am particularly fond of: “Yeah!” feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris. If you think the xx album is colorful, wait till you hear Chris Bridges’s description of his ideal partner. (Hint: think “lady in the street, but a freak in the bed.”)
- 5. Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell
On Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan threw out the inflatable Christmas Unicorn costumes, tore down the psychedelic maps of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and dusted off his guitar and four-track to reclaim his soft-strumming roots. Some songs were recorded on the Voice Memos app of his iPhone. Others were recorded in a bathtub. All were recorded from the heart.
My roommate told me this album was heartbreaking and (clunky adverb alert) “soul-crushingly beautiful,” but as near as I can tell, Sufjan sings at an average volume of 13 dB. It’s hard to hear a hum slightly louder than breathing when your apartment’s subwoofer, like mine, is constantly pounding “Yeah!” Usher feat.
Lil-Kim & Jadakiss Lil Jon & Ludacris.
- 4. Lin-Manuel Miranda et al., Hamilton
You’ve heard of this one. It’s the album that your cousin keeps telling you will change your mind about his theatre degree. A work stunningly dense in not only its historical information, but also in its references to foundational works of hip-hop. We get it, Lin. You like stuff.
Much to my frustration, for a musical that purports to give voices to the most influential people in American history, Hamilton features absolutely zero guest verses from Ludacris. I opted out on principle. Allow me to posit another work as thedefinitive American musical: Usher’s “Yeah!” feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris. You want your club anthems to provide facts about America? Usher really is from Atlanta! He tells you right at the beginning!
- 3. Taylor Swift, 1989
The oldest entry on this list, 1989 already feels nostalgic. It brings back good memories for me – flashbacks to dancing with my best friends in a kitchen as Taylor Swift swelled from the ol’ Dolby Digital 5.1. Some of the best days of my life were played out under the sounds of this album.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you what those sounds were exactly, because I was wearing my own headphones the entire time. While my friends were singing their heart out to “Flank Space” (Is that the right song name? I was reading lips), I was bobbing my head to “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris, and agreeing with his observation that “on a one-to-ten she’s a certified twenty.” That’s more fun than you can “Shake a Dove”(?) at.
- 2. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
Setting aside the nuanced objections of noted hip-hop scholar / sociology professor Geraldo Rivera, most people have declared To Pimp a Butterfly a necessary addition to the canon of American music. Between reciting poetry over free jazz and staging a posthumous interview with Tupac, Kendrick Lamar delivers a dizzyingly complex exploration of life as a black man in America, captured in a record that gets richer every time you listen to it. Unless, of course, you’re Sean Hannity.
All due respect to Mr. Lamar, I think “necessary” is a bit presumptuous. Music, as both an artistic medium and an aural tradition, peaked with the release of the 2004 single “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris – a single I was still listening to when To Pimp a Butterfly was released. How could any other song or album be “necessary”? Oh, Kendrick swept the rap categories at this year’s Grammys? Well, “Yeah!” won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, was nominated for Record of the Year, and probably played a role in Usher’s Best Male Performer People’s Choice Award.
- 1. Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Okay, I lied about #3. Recorded in 1997 and released in 1998, this album is the oldest on the list. People keep telling me it’s great and that I “won’t really understand lo-fi until you listen to it,” but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m sorry. I really, really, really thought this would be the year. Scout’s honor.
But, guys. Listen. Hear me out on this one. We live in a world where “Yeah!” by Usher feat. Lil Jon & Ludacris not only exists, but is also available to us at all times for free because of the Internet. Why listen to anything else? In fact, are you still reading this? Get thee to a Spotify!
Jake Huff is a junior at Indiana University, studying English. He is part of the sketch comedy group the University tWits, and he wants you to explain the science behind carbon copies, because that has to be magic, right? Find him on Twitter at @jakehuff41.