Producer: The Neptunes
Album: R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece
Justin Timberlake singing, "Don't fuck with me," is the first thing you notice about this song. At the time, Timberlake had already exposed us to Janet Jackson's right breast, but for the most part, still wasn't far enough removed from the sqeaky clean teenybopper image for him to using cursing in a song to not be somewhat surprising. Perhaps it was a sign of the total adult transformation he'd go through two years later, with the arrival of FutureSex/LoveSounds.
But until then, there was "Signs." Snoop Dogg's chemistry with the Neptunes was at its zenith, as they'd just laced him with three top 10 pop singles. Timberlake had also found success with multiple singles helmed by Chad and Pharrell, so it was nothing for him to add his touch to Rhythm & Gangster's third single. Unlike everything else Snoop and Justin were doing at the time, "Signs" never broke into the Top 40, but anyone familiar with both of their discographies knows it's a hidden gem. —Ernest Baker