As these words are being written, 2011 is now almost over, so it's time to look back at the best R&B and Soul music albums of the year. The list includes the usual suspects, like the highly creative Jill Scott, comeback kid Chris Brown and the maturing Beyonce, but there's also some lesser knowns, such as the underrated Anthony David and the sometimes overlooked Kelly Price. To check out the full list, just look below.
Unlike Jill Scott
's other 2011 album, The Light of the Sun
, which was released earlier in the year through Warner Bros. Records, The Vault
is a compilation of leftover, years-old material that had been held onto by her previous label, Hidden Beach Recordings. The ironic thing is that the older songs, on the whole, are actually superior to the newer, supposedly fresher material on Light
Stone Rollin', which was released in the U.S. on May 10, 2010 is another brilliant album of all-new retro-Soul songs by Mr. Saadiq. And while it might not have the element of surprise on it's side like his previous album, The Way I See It, the album's deserved all the attention it's gotten.
Late Nights, which was released in the U.S. on March 1, 2011 by the ex Floetry member, is an effort that succeeds on numerous levels: vocally, creatively and production-wise. This could mark the beginning of a very nice solo career for Marsha Ambrosius.
4. 'Love After War,' Robin Thicke
Soul man Robin Thicke
is one of those rare artists who seems to gradually improve with each album he releases. He's consistently gotten better at singing, better at songwriting, better at coming up with concepts and themes. And on his fifth album, Love After War
, released in the U.S. on Dec. 6, 2011, he solidified his status as one of the most tender and romantic crooners in modern R&B.
5. 'My Life II ... the Journey Continues (Act I),' Mary J. Blige
Although this sequel to Mary J. Blige
's 1994 sophomore album, My Life
doesn't reach the emotional and creative heights of the album it's named after, it's still far better than the vast majority of R&B albums you'll hear all year.
6. 'The Light of the Sun,' Jill Scott
Light of the Sun, released in the U.S. on June 21, 2011 is a very adventurous album musically; in addition to Jill Scott's usual R&B/Soul and spoken word styles, she also offers up a healthy dose of modern-day hip-hop attitude, old-school rap sonics and even Broadway play-style vocals.
On their fourth album, the husband-wife singing duo known as Kindred the Family Soul
reestablishes a fact that the late, great Marvin Gaye
was among the first to prove with his groundbreaking 1971 album What's Going On
-- it's possible to make an R&B/Soul album that can entertain you while tackling social issues like crime and poverty at the same time.
On his sixth studio album, Mr. Soulchild branches out a little and adds more uptempo material to his usual mix of songs. And the result is favorable; unlike most of his albums, things don't start to grow stale the closer you get to the end.
' ninth studio album, The Good, the Bad, the Sexy
, which was released in the U.S. on Oct. 18, 2011, is standard Joe; it's chock full of sexy songs about bedroom escapades. It's hard to believe that one man could still find new ways to sing about lovemaking, but Joe somehow manages to pull it off.
On her fifth studio album, Kelly Price shows why she deserves the favorable comparisons she's received over the years to such legends as Mahalia Jackson and Aretha Franklin as well as to talented newcomers who arrived on the scene after her, like Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino.