8. Ashanti "Foolish" (2002)
Producer: Irv Gotti
Ashanti stepped onto the R&B scene as Murder Inc's first lady in a major way. Already a major brand name thanks to its star Ja Rule and industry big shot Irv Gotti, Ashanti not only added some diversity to the roster, but softened up the testosterone-heavy and rap-beef-ready image of the label. With production help from Gotti, Ashanti released "Foolish" in 2002, and a storm of success would soon follow.
The single features a recognizable sample: in the first three seconds, listeners are brought back to the smooth sounds of Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance (remix)," which in turn sampled DeBarge's "Stay With Me." Its recognizeable piano riff streams throughout the entire song, amidst a soft snare and angelic-sounding cymbals. The sample gave the track a '90s hip-hop feel, which, coupled with Ashanti's gentle vocals, helped the single land at number one on the charts. —Tannis Spencer
Inspiration: The Notorious B.I.G. f/ Faith Evans "One More Chance (Remix)" (1995)
Producer: Puff Daddy, Rashad Smith, Trackmasters