Who were the most successful male singers of the 90s?
Now if you know me (Keith Sweat) you probably knew (Keith Sweat) who would be my personal No. 1 pick (KEITH SWEAT).
But even I’m willing to be objective. This time.
Let’s look at the top 10 R&B singers of the 1990s, one of the most revered decades of the genre. This isn’t just a listing of “best vocalists” or “most Grammys.” The list was determined by the artists’ sales, impact, longevity, and the strength of their material from 1990 to 1999.
The ’90s produced some of the best music in R&B history. Here are the maestros.
Honorable mention: Ginuwine, Gerald Levert
10. Jon B.
Albums: Bonafide (1995, platinum); Cool Relax (1997, 2x platinum)
Edd said: Jon B’s probably the most overlooked hitmaker of the 90s. Cool Relax alone is one of the most complete albums of the decade.
9. Johnny Gill
Albums: Johnny Gill (1990, 2x platinum); Provocative (1993, gold); Let’s Get The Mood Right (1996, gold)
No. 1 singles: “Rub You The Right Way” (1990, R&B); “My My My” (1990, R&B): “Wrap My Body Tight (1990, R&B)
Edd said: New Edition’s greatest export (yeah, I said it) enjoyed tons of success in the early ’90s. He stepped away from the solo spotlight during the second half of the decade, dropping him down the list a bit.
Albums: Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996, 2x platinum); MTV Unplugged (1997, gold); Embrya (1998, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Fortunate,” (1999, R&B and Urban A/C)
Edd said: Man, forget Cool James, ladies LOVED Maxwell in the ’90s. His tender approach won over legions. Arguably, his best work resides in the ’90s.
Albums: Usher (1994); My Way (1997, 6x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “You Make Me Wanna…” (1997, R&B); “Nice & Slow” (1998, R&B)
Edd said: Before you Usher fanatics cram my inbox, chill. Ursher dominated R&B in the 2000s, but he was just getting his feet wet in the ’90s. His debut didn’t make much noise but his sophomore album put him on the map.
6. Tevin Campbell
Albums: T.E.V.I.N. (1991, platinum); I’m Ready (1993, 2x platinum); Back To The World (1996, gold); Tevin Campbell (1999)
No. 1 singles: ” Tell Me What You Want Me To Do (1991, R&B); “Alone With You” (1992, R&B); “Cane We Talk (1993, R&B)
Edd said: Tevin practically owned the first half of the decade, effortlessly cranking out hits and serving as R&B’s teen heartthrob. He lost a lot of steam as the decade closed out, though.
5. Brian McKnight
Albums: Brian McKnight (1992, platinum); I Remember You (1995, gold); Anytime (1997, 2x platinum); Bethlehem (1998); Back At One (1999, 3x platinum)
Edd said: McKnight was a hitmaking machine in the 90s, conquering R&B and pop and crafting some of the most memorable songs of the decade. The one blemish on his record is that he never had an No. 1 hit.
4. Luther Vandross
Albums: Power of Love (1991, 2x platinum), Never Let Me Go (1993, platinum), Songs (1994, 2x platinum), Your Secret Love (1996, platinum), I Know (1998, gold)
No. 1 singles: “Power of Love/Love Power” (1991 R&B)
Edd said: Don’t sleep on Lutha – his ’80s material may be his best known but he had plenty of success in the ’90s too. What he lacked in blockbuster singles he made up for with extremely successful albums.
Albums: For The Cool In You (1993, 3x platinum), The Day (1996, 2x platinum), Christmas With Babyface (1998)
No. 1 singles: “Love Makes Things Happen” (1990, R&B)
Edd said: When it came to his own material, Face was all about quality, not quantity in the 90s. But, of course, his biggest contribution came in writing dozens of hits for other artists. He racked up almost two dozen No. 1 songs in 10 years.
2. Keith Sweat
Albums: I’ll Give All My Love To You (1990, 2x platinum); Keep it Comin’ (1991, platinum); Get Up On It (1994, platinum); Keith Sweat (1996, 4x platinum); Still In The Game (1998, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Make You Sweat” (1990, R&B); “I’ll Give All My Love To You (1990, R&B); “Keep It Comin'” (1991, R&B); “Twisted” (1996, R&B); “Nobody” (1996, R&B)
Edd said: My dude! King Keith ruled the ’90s with an iron fist. Keef went on an undefeated streak of platinum albums in the 90s, releasing some of the era’s best music. He also spent the decade mentoring emerging groups like Kut Klose, Silk, Dru Hill and Ol’ Skool. This justifies my Keith Stan-dom.
1. R. Kelly
Albums: 12 Play (1993, 6x platinum); R. Kelly (1995, 5x platinum); R. (1998, 8x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Bump n’ Grind” (1994, R&B and Pop); “You Remind Me of Something” (1995, R&B); “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know)” (1996, R&B); “I Can’t Sleep Baby (If I)” (1996, R&B); “I Believe I Can Fly” (1996, R&B); “I’m Your Angel” (1998, Pop)
Edd said: It’s not up for debate, Kellz is ruler of 90s R&B. Kelly dominated both pop and R&B with beautiful love tracks, inspiration hymns and downright nasty sex songs. His diversity made him a crossover star and a ’90s R&B icon.
Who did we miss? Tell us in the comments.