Top Ten Highlights of 2000’s – Looking Back at a Decade of Music

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Top Ten Music Highlights of the 2000’s

The first decade of the 21st century is coming to an end in a few days. We decided to reflect on some of the moments that made the decade what it was, including but not limited to songs from 2000’s.

10. King of Hip-Hop
Jay-Z's resurgence is a top ten highlights of 2000s

Somehow in the last decade, Jay-z found a way to claim the vacant throne in Hip-Hop music from early 2000’s. Such a feat is worthy of being in the top ten highlights of 2000’s. He kept his name in the minds of Hip-Hop aficionados by setting trends and stepping up as an executive. The Roc-a-fella dynasty crumpled but Jay managed to survive through it. He also remained above water through a Hip-Hop battle among heavyweights that many believe he lost, a retirement, and a marriage. Seems it doesn’t matter what he does, he is mister consistent and until further notice: King!


9. The Emergence of Eminem

Eminem Relapse album is music from early 2000s

Although his debut album was released before the turn of the millennium, Eminem still made a huge impact on music from early 2000’s with all he was able to accomplish. He actually dominated the decade with overall album sales of any genre selling 32.2 million copies despite taking 5 years off. The five-year lay-off may be the only reason he is so high on this top ten highlights of 2000’s.

Upon his return with Relapse, this year he has already sold 1.56 million copies, and

Eminem dominated music from early 2000s

that was before the re-release was issued last week. Only Jay-z has sold more Hip-Hop albums this year.

Eminem didn’t just dominate Hip-Hop songs from 2000’s, he also found a way to dominate the box office with his movie 8 mile released in 2002. The movie soundtrack single Lose Yourself won two Grammy Awards in addition to 7 other Grammy wins for Eminem and several other award nominations and wins throughout his career. It’s definitely one of the most iconic songs from 2000’s.

He was even voted by fans as being the greatest MC of all time in a poll done by MTV. Not bad for a white rapper from Detroit.


8. Reality T.V. Consumes Us

I’m not sure why anyone thought it was a good idea to do reality television shows, but in the first ten years of the millennium reality shows were a must have and it was only a matter of time before artists jumped on the trend. It started with American Idol in 2002, then Making The Band, which were both cool because their goals were to try to find new talent. When reality shows evolved and Flavor of Love happened, T.V. changed forever and artists’ promotion took a turn for the worse. Flavor Flav of Public Enemy was actually looking for “love” on national television for 2 years! And people watched it!!!

In the last ten years Missy Elliott, Ray J, MC Search, Yo Yo, Lil’ Mama, The entire Simmons Family, Nas, Kelis, Lil’ Kim, Keyshia Cole, Mario, Monica, Lil’ Wayne’s first baby mama, and 50 Cent have all been involved in reality shows in one way or another. And in years to come you can expect more including new shows from Mary J. Blige, Fantasia and more!

7. Mimi Returns

Mariah Carey returned with music from early 2000s

It’s hard to find R & B moments that are big enough to fit into the top ten highlights of 2000’s, but if there is one, it has to be what Mariah Carey was able to do with her career via the comeback album, The Emancipation of Mimi. After Glitter, the horrible movie/album critics had counted Mariah out and with a flop for her album Charmbracelet a year later it looked as if there was no saving her career and no hope for decent Mariah songs from 2000’s. But in 2005 Carey teamed with L.A. Reid signing to Def Jam and hooked up with Jermaine Dupri for her lead singles and just like that Mariah got her groove back.

Mariah Carey The Emancipation of Mimi songs from 2000

The Emancipation of Mimi sold 6 million albums in the United States alone and went 10X platinum worldwide. With three number one singles from the album, she reached 17 number one singles overall tying her with Elvis for the most number one singles ever.

Mariah has since released two more successful albums and with her critically acclaimed role in Precious, it seems her acting career is back on track as well.

Everybody loves a good comeback story and Mariah gave us one.


6. The South Takes Over Hip-Hop

Although there were always artists representing the South, their impact reached new heights in the late 90’s, specifically around ’99 with the emergence of Southern lyrical artists like Ludacris. At the turn of the millennium, the South kept the momentum they had created and increased their demand for songs from 2000’s more than ever.

The movement caught wind when Lil’ Jon seemed to link everyone from below the Mason-Dixon line together via his production and guest appearances. From there the movement was simply unstoppable. From Dj Khaled and Rick Ross in Florida to UGK and the whole Houston, Texas movement, to the stronghold on New Orleans by Cash Money back to the King of the South T.I. in Atlanta supported by the likes of Jeezy and the aforementioned Ludacris, the South is truly dominating music from early 2000’s. So much so even R & B artists are all representing the South more than ever.

Used to be a strike against you if you were from the South, who would have thought a few years later it would be the other way around? Truly a moment worthy of being in the top ten highlights of 2000s.

5. Hip-Hop Goes To JAIL!!!

Hip-hop behind bars as top ten highlights of 2000s

Maybe the saddest part of the decade was the amount of Hip-Hop artists that landed in prison. We can claim that the Hip-Hop police put an extra effort to crack down on artists, but at the same time, the artists must also take some responsibility. High-profile cases for Diddy and Jay-Z got us off to an interesting start and controversial cases for Michael Jackson and R. Kelly dragged along for years. In the end, all the biggest names dodged jail time.

Some not-so-lucky artists faced serious time, like Cassidy, Turk, Shyne, Mystical, Remy Ma, Pimp C, and C. Murder. As of late, the now popular year-and-a-day felony sentence has provided some much-needed rest for Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Beanie Sigel, T.I., and soon Lil’ Wayne.

Additionally, in the last decade, surprise cases turned up on Da Brat, Black Rob, Prodigy, and Ronald Isley. This is one trend on the top ten highlights of 2000s we hope doesn’t continue because when Hip-Hop goes to jail, no one benefits.

4. Half A Dollar
50 Cent capitalized on his songs from 2000

One of the short-lived trends in Hip-Hop this decade (thankfully!) was getting shot. Early on in its run, getting shot 9 times was enough to help 50 Cent make himself one of the richest men in the business. Not too many people would believe that Curtis Jackson would turn into the superstar and mogul that he is today after hearing How To Rob—a diss record aimed at most of the industry at the time, but somehow the inevitable happened.

Using his image, a high-profile beef with Ja Rule and the backing of Hip-Hop Heavyweights Dr. Dre and Eminem, 50 Cent dominated a large portion of music from early 2000’s. It didn’t hurt that he had a great crew behind him with G-Unit. And it didn’t hurt that he came out with a classic album in Get Rich Or Die Trying. Most important of all for 50 was his use of beefs with just about everybody! From Nas to Fat Joe to Kanye West to The Game to Rick Ross he has taken shots at just about everyone. He pulls no punches and when he attacks, he attacks for REAL!

A smart businessman, but even smarter for knowing how to keep a buzz around his name, 50 stole his way into the industry and now even though his popularity is fading, he continues to find ways to hang on to the last of it. Whether or not he remains popular in the new decade makes no difference because he has surely been one of the most dominant forces in the first decade of the new millennium.

3. A Classic Hip-Hop Battle

Nas and Jay-Z's beefs were a part of songs from 2000

There was a lot of bickering between Hip-Hop artists this decade, but not many true skillful battles on wax. When Nas and Jay went toe-to-toe with diss records it sparked something in Hip-Hop that had been unseen for years, especially in music from early 2000’s. It all started with a little slick talk on records, which most say started originally by Nas. Never afraid of competition Jay made it clear that he thought he was the best rapper in NYC at Hot 97’s Summer Jam Concert. That really set things off!

Jay officially released the track Takeover shortly afterward firing shots at Nas as well as Mobb Deep. A few short weeks later, Nas responded with the deadly Ether. The track was everything a diss record should be, even sampling both Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. Ether is easily one of the best diss records of all time.

Jay didn’t go down without a fight, returning with the vicious Supa Ugly, which went for the throat making references to Jay having sex with Nas’ baby mother. Impressively the rappers were able to keep it on wax, no one was ever physically injured from this beef in either camp.

The two have since reconciled. Jay signed Nas to Def Jam while he was President of the label and the two rappers have partnered on a number of songs from 2000’s. In the months that the beef was at its peak though, it made for great entertainment in Hip-Hop and goes down as one of the top ten highlights of 2000’s.


Half a decade ago this wouldn’t really be much of a moment. But in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis and with sales of songs from 2000’s at an all-time low, Lil’ Wayne, the New Orleans-bred MC repping Cash Money Records sold 1 million plus copies of Tha Carter III in just a week. The album sold 2.8 million copies before the year was out and has since been certified triple platinum.
Lil Wayne Tha Carter III songs from 2000

The last artist to sell a million in a week was 50 when he released The Massacre. In 2007 Kanye West sold 950,000+ copies of Graduation, but much of that was sparked by a competition with 50 Cent. Graduation had gone platinum by the end of the year and was the highest selling Hip-Hop album of the year, but it took another year before it would even go double platinum.

Lil’ Wayne accomplished what he did with no beef, no competition, and no gimmicks. He made a name for himself strictly off his buzz in a year when sales of Hip-Hop songs from 2000’s were dreadful. The album was the highest-selling album of the year for any genre and proof that sales were in trouble; this was the first time the best-selling album of the year had sold less than 3 million since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

Wayne showed all of Hip-Hop that the impossible was indeed still possible. He gave every artist something to strive for and gave hope at a time when the industry needed it most. We all needed that. Hopefully, it’s not the last time we see such a feat, and it won’t be stuck as an entry in the top ten highlights of 2000s.

1. Gone Digital

It’s quite something that the number one in the top ten highlights of 2000s wasn’t a moment or anything done by any particular artist at all. When we imagined the 2000’s we imagined lots of technology and innovation, but most of it didn’t come…except in the case of music from early 2000’s. Ipods and mp3 players changed the way we listen to music forever. CD players are on the back of milk cartons everywhere (much like talented female emcees) while cassettes and records would boggle the mind of a child.

Free mixtapes are the difference between creating a buzz for one’s self and a popular youtube video, or a myspace page might get you a record deal these days.

Ipods and MP3 players is a top ten highlights of 2000s

Digital downloads for singles and ringtones will forever have an impact on album sales and sales in general, so much so that artists are focusing more on doing shows than putting out a quality album. Explains why more artists are releasing more music than ever, increasing the number of songs from 2000’s.

The digital age did so much to change music that it even changed the sound of music from early 2000’s. Auto-tune returned to popularity stronger than ever years after it was originally used and until the Honorable Hov released D.O.A., it WAS the sound for the last year.

Worst of all the digital age ruined the Hip-Hop/Urban Entertainment magazines of the world. So many magazines have folded that it’s too much to count. Even the more popular mags like The Source, XXL & Vibe have had their share of trouble. On the other hand, online magazines dominate the internet, but unfortunately, all it takes is a domain name to make you a journalist now. Save for and a couple of other sites, urban entertainment journalism is littered with trash, another great disappointment brought about by the digital age.

It’s not all bad, and in the years to come individuals must find ways to use the technology to its utmost potential and for the betterment of the genre. Technology can be beneficial or it can have threatening circumstances. We need to pick our poison.



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