15. Ciara - "Goodies" (2004)
Here's where I become a stereotypical Atlantan (or de-facto Atlanta, as is more accurate). Ciara is just about the most exciting female R&B artist to emerge from the 2000s. Her voice is good enough, but her music is just so melodic and perfectly produced. Jazze Pha's work on this album is stuff legends are made of. Her subsequent efforts, particularly "Ciara: The Evolution," which was just shy of making this list are also worth a listen. But her debut album is her most impressive to date, in a very impressive catalogue.
Best Track: "Oh" featuring Ludacris
14. Erykah Badu - "Mama's Gun" (2000)
I was but a lowly ninth grader when this album came out. I recently and randomly revisited it. It's great to rediscover just how amazing this album is (and I liked Badu already). Badu truly takes her place as the heir to Nina Simone in her follow up to 1997's "Baduizm" (if this countdown included the 90s, surely that album would also be on it). I don't love every song on "Mama's Gun," but when it's good, it's really really good and it's an album I love to revisit every so often.
Best Track: "Didn't Cha Know"
13. John Legend - "Get Lifted" (2004)
So much bad R&B came out of the 2000s (and continues to come out in the aught tens). It's definitely becoming more and more faceless, without true identity or distinction, which makes me sad because R&B is such a huge part of my musical narrative. But I'm at least encouraged by artists like John Legend, who infuses the genre with the old school flair of great vocals and instrumentation. His debut album is a thing of beauty and he continues to be one of the best R&B artists working today (check out his cover of U2's "Pride," not featured on this album, but definitely a great track).
Best Track: "So High"
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Fever to Tell" (2003)
Like the Scissor Sisters, I have not really kept up with Yeah Yeah Yeahs beyond their debut album, save Karen O's fabulous work on the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack. The best music is evocative and takes you back to a time and place. For me, I turn on "Fever to Tell," almost entirely listenable, if a little repetitive, and I'm transported back to my senior year of high school. Karen O's voice is...an acquired taste. I've heard from many a people who liken it to a duet of Fran Drescher and nails on a chalkboard, but I was swept up in it right away. I love the wild, undisciplined feel of these songs and how they all feel as if they were performed in a dive bar.
Best Track: "Maps" (Here's where I get cliche...)
11. Iron & Wine - "Our Endless Numbered Days" (2004)
I love pretty much everything Iron & Wine came out with this past decade. I played around with the idea of placing "Woman King" on this list (mostly because of "Jezebel," which is unequivocally his best song), but with only six tracks it didn't really seem fair. Speaking of evocative music, I feel pulled back to the beautiful south whenever I turn on Iron & Wine, particularly this album. Like Ray LaMontagne, he's as artist who you've probably heard before, even if you don't know it. Featured in many a film and television shows, but used most effectively in Jonathan Caouette's 2003 personal documentary Tarnation.
Best Track: "Naked As We Came"
Top Ten Begins in the Next Post with (10-6)