It is often said that sequels don’t live up to the hype, and by and large, this has held true. Just think about it: Transformers 2, Godfather 3, Jay-Z’s Blueprint 2 and 3 and the list goes on and on.
After ranking the top 10 songs written and produced by superstar Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Bryan-Michael Cox a few months ago, my phone blew up with text messages, some agreeing and disagreeing with my rankings. To be fair, there were strong arguments for individual songs, but when a man has produced so many classic songs, inevitably someone is going to be disappointed. So considering that, I’ve decided to make a second list. Hopefully, this list of the best tracks 11-20 written and produced by Bryan-Michael Cox does not end up on the aforementioned dubious list of sequels that fell short of the greatness of the original. Once again feel free to disagree with me.
Here are the songs that didn’t make the cut.
“Just Be a Man About It,” Toni Braxton
“Winner,” Chris Brown
“Bad Habit,” Destiny’s Child
“Like You,” Bow Wow
Now, on to the list…
11. Jagged Edge, “Where the Party At”
Jagged Edge is one of R&B greatest groups of the modern era, but what sets them apart from groups like Jodeci and Boyz II Men is their versatility – sounding just as comfortable crooning as they were taking it to the club. This was evidenced on “Where the Party At,” the lead single from the quartet’s third album Jagged Little Thrill. Co-produced alongside Jermaine Dupri and topped off with a 16-bar verse from Nelly, this classic will get it cracking no matter if the occasion: a birthday party, divorce party or the Tom Joyner Cruise, this song is a must-have in any DJ’s playlist.
12. Usher, “U Got it Bad”
Fresh of the success of My Way, Ursher hit it big again with 8701 selling more than 8 million albums worldwide. This Cox and Dupri produced slow burner was a big reason why, peaking at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and nearly two decades later, remains one of Usher’s signature songs.
13. Jagged Edge, “Promise”
J.E. Heartbreak is one of the best albums made by a male R&B group of all time, cementing the Atlanta quartet as the premier male R&B group of the early 2000s, with three number singles coming from the disc. Written alongside Brandon and Brian Casey, “Promise” was the final single off Heartbreak, peaking at No. 9 on the Hot 100.
14. Usher, “Confessions Part 1”
Its ubiquitous sequel has overshadowed this entry on this list and that’s a travesty because this track is fantastic. So if you’ve never heard part one, stop reading right now and I mean RIGHT NOW and listen to part one. Crafted alongside Jermaine Dupri, the record finds Usher sorrowfully admitting to infidelities with an ex during his regular trips to the West Coast under a piano-driven sonic backdrop. It is a masterful setup to part two in which would expose the results of Mr. Raymond’s adulterous behavior.
15. Mariah Carey, “Shake it Off”
After a pair of underperforming albums and starring in arguably the worst movie of all time (no, we haven’t forgotten how bad Glitter was yet), this Cox and Johnta Austin produced track was a return to form for Mariah, peaking at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and propelling The Emancipation of Mimi to sell more than a million copies.
16. Marques Houston, “Circle”
One of the travesties of having written and produced so many hits is that some songs that aren’t huge hits slip through the cracks, and this song found on Houston’s third album Veteran surely fits that description. With piano chords and drum programming reminiscent of another track produced by Cox, Danity Kane’s “Ride for You”, the song finds Houston, the former Immature frontman lamenting the fact that he can’t get over an ex no matter how he tries.
17. Jagged Edge, “Walked Outta Heaven”
By 2003, Jagged Edge had left the watchful eyes of Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label, however the Jagged Edge train kept rolling, despite JD’s absence. The second single from the groups fourth album Hard peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100 and kept the quartet at the top of the R&B charts.
18. Ginuwine, “Stingy”
Originally included on the Barbershop soundtrack, it made such waves Ginuwine had to include it on his fourth album The Senior. Written and produced alongside Johnta Austin and Jason Perry, Stingy peaked at No. 33 on the Hot 100.
19. Bow Wow featuring Chris Brown, “Shortie Like Mine”
Mainly known for producing hits for R&B acts, Cox quietly had his hands all over Bow Wow’s discography, most notably co-producing “Bounce with Me,” “Ghetto Girls” and “Like You.” Cox reunited with the Prince of So So Def for this hit featuring the R&B golden child of the day, Chris Brown. Written alongside longtime collaborator Johnta Austin, “Shortie Like Mine” sold more than 1 million copies in the United States and peaked at No. 9 on the Hot 100.
20. Jagged Edge, “What You Tryna Do”
1999 was one of the most pivotal times in Cox’s career as he went from working in the backroom at the Noontime productions studio to one of the industry’s hottest producers. Originally written for Usher as a sequel for “Nice and Slow,” the track features guitar licks similar to “Get Gone” by Ideal also composed by Cox. “What You Tryna Do” helped anchor the JE Heartbreak album, and along with production on “Let’s Get Married” and “He Can’t Love U,” helped give Cox mainstream exposure.
Check out our playlist of Cox’s best below.