Long before he was getting caught up in festival scams, Ja Rule was a bonafide hit-maker. And one thing about them hits? They all aged well.

Most would agree that Ja’s signature hit is “Always on Time” (featuring Ashanti), the second single from Pain Is Love and his sole No. 1 as a lead act — he has two as an assist on a pair of J.Lo singles. The song is also a signature for that moment in popular music: Ja Rule was everywhere, and in the coming year, so would Ashanti. Also, the musical craftings of Irv Gotti and 7 Aurelius (the song’s co-writers) were the standard.

“Always on Time” was actually supposed to feature Brandy. And you know what? I could totally hear it. However, it was only right that Ashanti got her moment to shine — especially after singing the hooks on the aforementioned J.Lo hits (sans credit). Click play.

If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, the new version of Mariah Carey’s “Oh Santa!” might do the track. This new version — we’re not calling it a remix because Mimi isn’t — is a part of Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas, the Apple TV+ special that dropped at midnight. And this time, Mariah is joined by Jennifer Hudson and none other than Ariana Grande, the reigning queen of the charts and a woman often called “the new Mariah.”

It is well-documented that Mariah hated that, but over the years, the two artists played nice on social media. And now, here they are, singing together and even matching whistle notes.

Overall, the song isn’t made better by the additions, but seeing all three singers together is something to be excited about. And including Jennifer Hudson was definitely a smart way to distract from the Mariah vs. Ariana comparisons that will inevitably happen. Click play.

For years, Mariah shaded Ariana, but luckily, Ariana knew to never retaliate.

There are certain songs that immediately put you in a good mood, and for me, Daniel Bedingfield’s “Gotta Get Thru This” is one of them. And today happens to be his birthday, so what better day to revisit this chune?

Released in November 2001 and written by the singer himself, “Gotta Get Thru This” is peak UK garage and a prime example of how the Brits generally do it better when it comes to EDM. I’ll admit that I wasn’t in love with this song when I first heard it, but a few months later, I became obsessed and the rest is history.

“Gotta Get Thru This” is about a girl Daniel fell in love with but couldn’t pursue due to distance. He couldn’t stop thinking about her, and now we have a bop because of it. The song would go on to top the UK charts and crack the top 10 in the US.

Ooh, but can you do Shirley? Why surely.

“Attack of the Name Game” is a cute interaction with a 15-year-old Stacy Lattisaw and an alien who landed on earth ready to drop bars. No one knows how or why that happened.

Released in 1982, the song is something of an updated version of Shirley Ellis’ “The Name Game.” While Stacy is a singer, “Attack of the Name Game” is entirely rapped, which was a somewhat progressive and, dare I say, edgy move in 1982.

Perhaps that edginess was part of the theme for that era. The parent album for “Attack” is called Sneakin’ Out, and below was its album cover.



What a time.

Written by Narada Michael Walden (with Randy Jackson from American Idol on bass), “Attack” peaked at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100. While most songs that peak that low on the charts are forgotten forever, “Attack” would return as a sample in 1999, when Mariah Carey used that beat (entirely unchanged) for “Heartbreaker,” her 14th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Today in 2010, Nicki Minaj released arguably the most anticipated debut album of all time: Pink Friday.

As far as pre-debut runways go, the one leading up to Pink Friday is among the longest we’ve ever seen. Nicki began making waves independent rapper three years prior, when she was featured on Lil Wayne’s Da Drought 3 mixtape. By 2009, she had released three mixtapes of her own and was even charting on the Billboard hip-hop charts. Also, she was now signed to Weezy’s Young Money Entertainment.

Following her show-stealing verse on the  “5 Star” remix in late 2009, her profile rose significantly. Over the next year, there’d be dozens of guest verses on songs by established artist, including Ludacris and Mariah Carey.

In early 2010, she released “Massive Attack” (featuring Sean Garrett), which was supposed to be the first single from Pink Friday. However, the song was so poorly received (and rightly so) that it got abandoned and removed from the album. There’d be three more lead singles: “Your Love,” “Check It Out” (featuring will.i.am) and “Right Thru Me.” They generally underwhelmed, and had “hip-hop heads” questioning her bona fides — partially because the songs were melodious in a way that certain hip-hop fans hate, but also because she sings on all three singles.

At this point, more and more people are beginning to doubt Nicki, and then “Monster” drops.

On a track were Kanye West, Rick Ross and Jay-Z all have a verse, Nicki not only held her own, she upstaged all three of them. “Monster” wasn’t a single from Pink Friday, but it provided a perfect opportunity for her to showcase her skills one last time before her debut album dropped.

Pink Friday finally dropped — the same day as Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — and debuts at No. 2. It eventually ascends to No. 1 and proved to have staying power on the charts. The album would release four more singles, including “Moment 4 Life” (featuring Drake) and “Super Bass,” the album’s biggest hit.

Pink Friday wasn’t particularly loved by people who got to know Nicki during her mixtape years, but the casual pop fans ate it up. Much like Loud by Rihanna (who appears on Pink Friday), it was an album that tries to please everyone. It gives you gully moments on “Did It on’em” as well as hip-pop confections like “Last Chance” (featuring Natasha Bedingfield).

In addition to the big-name assists mentioned, the album includes collabos Kanye and Eminem. The latter collabo, “Roman’s Revenge,” is a standout moment on the album. Nicki delivers some of her most cutting lines on the Lil’ Kim diss track, and the Busta Rhymes reference makes the song immediately memorable.

Elsewhere on the album, there’s quite a bit of singing, particularly on “Save Me,” which Nicki sings from start to finish. The song feels like an odd creative choice at first because Nicki is not a great singer. However, it grows on you, and many years later, stands out as a shining moment — in fact, the album’s best.

Pink Friday is not the debut album many expected from Nicki, but over the course of a decade, much of the album has aged well, which is the best vindication Nicki could ask for.

“Body” is the title and theme of Megan Thee Stallion’s new video, which shows her doing what she does best in her Pamela Anderson heels.

“Body” is the first single from Good News, Meg’s new album, which dropped today. In many ways, is is standard fare for Meg: Hard beat and in-your-face lyrics, but for whatever reason, just doesn’t curl all the way over.

That being said, the video is very well done and includes cameos from Taraji P. Henson, Blac Chyna, Jordyn Woods, Bernice Burgos and Maliibu Mitch.

Today is Lil’ Mo’s 42nd birthday, so it is only right that we take a look at her greatest contribution to popular music.

“Superwoman” is her biggest hit as a lead artist, and she has had even bigger hits as a featured act, but Lil Mo’s greatest gift to us is “4ever” (featuring Fabolous). Released in April 2003, it was the lead single from her sophomore set, Meet the Girl Next Door.

Though it cracked the top 40 (peaking at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100), “4ever” isn’t the kind of song that the average person would even know. However, it holds a special place in the hearts of R&B fans of a certain age.

Production-wise, “4ever” is very ’02/’03, but it offers a melody that is good for any year. And them lyrics? Evergreen.

And of course, Lil Mo sings every word of that song like she means it. Click play.

Ariana Grande just released a music video for “34+35,” the second single from Positions. After watching the clip, I suggest she renames the song “Missed Opportunity.” Because that’s what the fuck this is.

For a song that is so easy to like, a music video should’ve been a slam dunk. Instead, Ari went with a goofy plot line that’s entirely unrelated to the song’s lyrics. I can appreciate an unpredictable video, but this one didn’t quite make it.

The video is somewhat salvaged by the shots where Ari and her squad dance in front of the polka dot LED lights, but beyond that, this was an absolute fail.