As 2009 and the 2000s come to a close, your Guide to R&B has compiled a list of some of the best albums of the decade. Let it be said that this list is far from complete; there were at least another five albums or so that could have made the list. Also: artists who lean more toward pop (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, etc.) were not considered for this list. Third: despite the numbers by the albums, this list isn't in a particular order; neither the top item nor the bottom one should be considered the No. 1 pick. And now, please have a look below for the About.com list of the Best R&B/Soul albums of the 2000s.
Part singer, part poet, all good. Jilly From Philly took the Neo-Soul world by storm with her debut effort, which included instant classics like "Gettin' In the Way," "A Long Walk" and "He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)."
Alicia set the world on fire with her 2001 debut album. And on her second, she continued her slow burn via songs like "Karma" and the brilliant "You Don't Know My Name."
Mary's fifth album (which was released, then re-released the next year with a different tracklisting) signified her move away from the hip-hop beats that defined her early career, and represented her emergence as a true R&B/Soul diva. Songs like "Family Affair" and the title track displayed her newfound maturity and stability.
British Soul singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse has a voice that's very contradictory; it's strong and powerful, yet at the same time emotional and fragile; likewise, she herself comes across as tough and streetwise, yet can also appear to be a tender, lost soul. Winehouse's second album, Back to Black is the sum of all these contradictions and more. Back to Black takes the essence of old-school Motown, marries it to the modern sensibilities of the hip-hop generation and manages to come up with a sound and feel that's timeless and classic, yet at the same time fresh and contemporary.
TP-2.com is one of the weirdest album titles in R&B history. The 'TP-2' part stands for '12-Play 2000' (or '12-Play 2') and is a reference to Kelly's 1993 12 Play album. TP-2 is best known for the songs "Fiesta," "I Wish" and the beginning of Kelly's "R&B Thug" persona.
Just like India.Arie, Anthony Hamilton is supremely talented but remains underappreciated. If you're looking for stick-to-your-ribs Soul that's good from beginning to end, Comin' From Where I'm From is what you need.
If there was ever an artist who achieved major sales success and multiple Grammy nominations, but still remained underrated, India.Arie is that person. Her debut album, which features powerful and uplifting songs like "Video" and "Brown Skin," is one of the most underappreciated modern-day classics in all of R&B and Soul music.
Joy Denalane has a voice that sounds like it was honed in a church choir in the midst of inner-city America. But the amazing fact is: she's German, through and through. Joy was born in Berlin in 1973 and raised in Germany. But like Rakim said in 1986, it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at. And where Joy is at is the epicenter of a tremendous amount of R&B singing talent.
It was a long eight years between Maxwell's third studio album, Now and his fourth one, BLACKsummers'night
(released in the U.S. on July 7, 2009), but the good news for his loyal fans is that the musical drought was worth the wait. It may or may not go down in history as one of Maxwell's best albums, but BLACKsummers'night
is easily and by far one of the best albums of the year. Everything that his fans have come to love about Maxwell - his delicate vocals, his lush song arrangements, his talent for songwriting - are all still fully intact.
Raphael Saadiq has had a long and distinguished career in the world of music. From his beginnings in the 1980s as a member of the groundbreaking neo-soul trio Tony! Toni! Toné! to his work in the 1990s with the supergroup Lucy Pearl to his successes throughout this decade as a producer, singer and songwriter for himself and others, Saadiq has become something of a legend, albeit an underappreciated one. And on his 2008 solo album, The Way I See It
, Saadiq adds a brilliant new chapter to his storied career. The album, released in the U.S. on Sept. 16, 2008, is easily one of that year's best releases.