2nd Best: Chuck Brown
D.C. rapper Walé has become the music industry’s go-to guy for guest spots: He’s enlivened everything from Nickel Eye’s recent “Brandy of the Damned” remix to the Roots’ “Rising Up” single from last spring, somehow also making time to appear on tracks by Travis Barker and Lily Allen. But if you can’t get Walé (which, more and more, is the case), your best bet is Chuck Brown, who never fails to provide the requisite gravelly gravitas and nasty guitar. His star turn on Thievery Corporation’s “The Numbers Game” finally gave the downtempo duo some local street cred—plus their most memorable track in years, complete with shifty funk, a whisper of a guitar hook, and the big man preaching about respect. Indeed.