The year 2008 is now over, so it's time to take a look back and revisit the best albums that the year gave us. The list not only includes industry veterans like Erykah Badu, Usher and Al Green, but also representing for true R&B and Soul are newcomers like Duffy and Estelle, as well as talented but under-the-radar artists like Raheem DeVaughn, Lizz Wright and Anthony David. Check below for the full list.
On his latest solo album, The Way I See It, Saadiq adds a brilliant new chapter to his already storied career. The Way I See It is basically Raphael Saadiq's love letter to the R&B and Soul music of the 1950s, '60s and early '70s, specifically the gritty Motown and Stax Records styles. The album's 13 tracks are all-new songs, but have a very vintage, throwback sound to them. The album, released in the U.S. on Sept. 16, 2008, is easily one of 2008's best releases.
On her brilliant third album, which was released Feb. 26, 2008, Lizz Wright shows and proves (again) that she can master numerous music genres. The Orchard is a beautifully serene collection of mature, personal, and sometimes spiritual, songs that serve to cement her standing as one of the more versatile and talented artists in contemporary music.
Jennifer's debut album, a self-titled release that dropped in the U.S. on Sept. 30, 2008, further cements her status as one of America's most talented singer-actresses. Although this is just her debut, she's already reached elite status as an R&B singer.
Little Jackie - a duo made up of singer-songwriter Imani Coppola and programmer Adam Pallin - is everything that good music should be: creative, innovative, daring, provocative and most of all, entertaining. On their debut album, released in the U.S. on July 8, 2008, the two turn music on its head by marrying old-school R&B sounds to splashes of doo-wop, hip-hop and hit pop, then fusing them with some of the wittiest, and sometimes quirkiest, lyrics you've ever heard.
On his third album, released in the U.S. on Sept. 30, 2008, Blue-Eyed Soul singer Robin Thicke continues his evolution as a person and an artist. The album, which is the follow-up to his 2006 breakthrough The Evolution of Robin Thicke, is a little more mature, a little more sexy and a little more polished than his first two albums. The new album's also essentially a tribute to '70s Soul music, particularly that of the late, great Marvin Gaye.
On her fourth studio album, Erykah seems to have almost completely abandoned the concept of making traditional R&B/Soul songs. The album, which was released in the U.S on Feb. 26, 2008 - Erykah's 37th birthday - is less like an album of music and more like a hour-long jam session by a band equally inspired by hip-hop and '70s Funk.
When Usher married Tameka Foster on Aug. 3, 2007, a lot of his fans were not only disappointed, but worried about how being married would affect his music. Some feared that being a family man with a wife (and now a son) would prove to be a detriment to not only his music, but his career as a whole. Well, as it turns out, Usher's life change indeed has had an affect on his creativity - a positive effect.
On his fifth album, onmyradio, Musiq gives his fans more of what they love: well sung, sensitive ballads that are forever hopelessly romantic, along with a few upbeat dance songs. Apparently, Musiq's approach on this album was 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it;' and that approach definitely worked.
I Am is a concept double album, with one disc featuring Beyoncé and the other focusing on her bolder, wilder alter ego, Sasha Fierce.
Even when Anthony Hamilton's a little off his game, he's still head and shoulders above most of the competition, and that's certainly the case with his latest Jive Records album, The Point of It All, released in the U.S. on Dec. 16, 2008. Although several of the album's songs aren't anything special by Anthony Hamilton standards, they're still far better than what most contemporary Soul and R&B singers have to offer.