The word ‘classic’ means something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. In the last 20 years, there have been several R&B artists who have created outstanding R&B albums with timeless music. From Donell Jones to Brandy and Mary J. Blige to R.Kelly, these artists have albums that stand in a class of their own and as music lovers, we should have at least one if not all of them in our collection.
Here are 20 R&B albums of the last 20 years music admirers should have near their sound system.
Joe – “All That I Am” (1997)
While his debut album received a lukewarm response, Joe’s follow-up album “All That I Am” proved how talented he is as an artist. He took the term “grown folks music” to another level, satisfying the lonely hearts of women with “All The Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” while schooling men on putting aside their bachelor ways on “Don’t Wanna Be A Player.” His storytelling made this album a relationship self-help for making a true love last.
If you loved television psychic Miss Cleo and Nancy Meyers’ 2000 film, What Women Want, you’re going to enjoy Erykah Badu’s upcoming movie role. The eccentric singer has been tapped to portray a crystal gazer in the gender-swapped reboot What Men Want.
In the Adam Shankman-directed comedy, Badu has Taraji P. Henson (Ali) seeking her auguring assistance after being turned down for a promotion in a male-dominated workplace. Badu wipes up a special tea blend — with jasmine, weed, peyote, and crack — that gives Henson the ability to read the minds of men.
In other Badu news, she visited the NPR headquarters for its Tiny Desk series. Joined by a seven-piece band, Fat Belly Bella performed underrated gems from her albums Badizum (“Rimshot”) and Mama’s Gun (“Green Eyes”).
What Men Want hits theaters on January 11, 2019. Check out the film’s trailer and Badu’s Tiny Desk performance below.
Kimberly Michelle Pate, better known as K. Michelle, has come a long way since she graced our television screens in 2012 as a cast member on VH1’s Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. Three No. 1 albums, four tours, and a few social media beefs and public relationships later, she is really beginning to zone in on her artistic vision and hone her own sound. On this bumpy road of her musical journey, she has faced many hardships, but also enjoyed many milestones. Her first major success (post-Jive Records) is her debut album, Rebellious Soul.
In celebration of Rebellious Soul’s fifth anniversary, we’ve decided to compose a short list of some of the best non-single tracks from K. Michelle’s first No. 1 R&B album.
Here is our list of the top 4 deep cuts from the star’s breakout album:
“Hate on Her”
Infidelity is a common cause for failed relationships, and it’s no different when K. Michelle discovers her longterm relationship is crumbling in the wake of her lover’s infidelity. However, instead of hating or attacking the other woman, she feels sorry for her. “But I can’t even hate on her / Cause I know you got no heart / I can’t even hate on her / Cause I know how low you go,” she sings. This song makes the countdown for its lyrical genius and storytelling. Lines like “In this house we made are own / You have torn it down to nothing / And for the moment of a stroke / You let it all go” perfectly illustrate the combination of frustration, betrayal, and numbness that significant others feel after being cheated on. This would’ve been a great third single for the album, as its smooth production leans toward an R&B radio direction.
“When I Get a Man”/”Repair This Heart”
K. Michelle is speaking a loving relationship into existence on the album’s penultimate track. “I’m gon’ cater serve ya/ Give you what you deserve / He’s gon’ love me / When I get a man / I’mma treat him like a king / He gon’ be my everything / He gon’ love the hell outta’ me,” she sings. Although this is a perfectly fine R&B record with impressive production (courtesy of Hit Drew and Eric Hudson), the song is lifted by its hidden track “Repair This Heart.” The piano-driven cut serves as a sort of backstory for “When I Get a Man,” and flexes K’s pen game beautifully, as well as her voice’s capability of approaching a song with tenderness and emotion.
Although this was her first album, there were definitely some brilliant moments and “Sometimes” may be the brightest of them all. On this post break-up record, K is simply torn between her wants and her needs when it comes to a healthy relationship. “Oh, Lord have your mercy / For loving him religiously / I should be praying for better things / Instead of praying for a man / Who don’t give a fuck about me,” she sings. Not only is this is one of her finest vocal performances to date, but this song embodies everything about her: brutal honesty, unbridled passion, raw emotions, high energy, and of course rebellion with soul. What makes this even greater is the second hidden track on the album, about…well…her genitalia (sung operatically!) If there was a song that represented K. Michelle’s artistry, this would hands down be the song of choice.
Tank’s writing skills come to life once again thanks to K. Michelle. The Memphis-born and bred singer is literally holding nothing back on her no-good ex on this killer kiss-off. “F*ck you and all that / Blast on Twitter then I’mma blast back / You want a ratchet then I’mma be that / Don’t make me call my boys and have yo sh*t peeled back,” she sings. What makes this deluxe edition record shine is her commitment to the sentiments and emotions penned by her, Tank, and Jerren “J-kits” Spruill. This would’ve been a more than appropriate addition to the standard LP, but we are thankful for the song’s video treatment, which has over 22 million views on YouTube. And in song’s final phrase, so eloquently stated by K, she declares “and that’s the end; leave it there.”
What about you? What’s your favorite song from Rebellious Soul? Let us know in the comment section below.