The Roots f/ Patrick Stump "Birthday Girl"
Label: Def Jam/IDJMG/Universal
Producer: Questlove, Richard Nichols, Shane Clark
Hip-hop's greatest live band has always prided itself on putting art over sales; even their more melodic, accessible singles were usually with kindred spirits like Erykah Badu and Cody ChesnuTT. However, their career's second wind—a run of especially dark, uncommercial albums released after signing with Def Jam—was nearly undone by this heinous promotional single released in advance of 2008's Rising Down. ?uestlove and the crew had a shrewd enough sensibility for collaborators from outside hip-hop, drafting Fall Out Boy's soulful singer Patrick Stump for a hook, and the, ahem, widely admired porn star Sasha Grey for a video to give the tune a subversive edge. Fans weren't happy about the insipid song, though, and it was mercifully left off the album.