Label: Rawkus/Priority

Thirteen tracks into Mos Def's spectacular solo debut Black On Both Sides was this track, a Brooklyn anthem that does something only some of the songs on this list do, and really, maybe, does it better than the rest of 'em. From people drinking on stoops to neighborhood crack dealers to getting his hair cut on Fulton and Jay to the subway and the mom and pop businesses that make Brooklyn so great, Mos Def's Brooklyn might not always be pretty, or simple, but it is full of all stripes of real people engaging in a very real, very kinectic, and very colorful life. As time goes on, this song develops a sad golden sheen to it, though: These days, it sounds less like the Brooklyn we know and love, and more like the one we're sadly sentimental for. —Foster Kamer