Unless you’re new to the game, you know we’ve spent the past month revisiting the greatest R&B artists of the 1990s.
If you missed out, or if you need
to kill time at work a refresher, check these links:
Today, we wrap up with the 10 best male R&B groups of that beloved decade.
I’ll be honest – by far, this was the most difficult list to compile. Before I dug into the research, I had an idea how this list would look. The finished produced looked nothing like I imagined. The top two spots were a given, but some of the ’90s most beloved groups didn’t make the cut due to surprisingly low sales while other groups rocketed up the list because, frankly, they were much more consistent than I remembered.
Before you start thuggin’ in my inbox about the rankings, here’s how I determined the list:
Time period. We’re ONLY looking at the years 1990-1999.
Influence. Groups that went on to inspire future acts got top billing.
Consistency. Having one big year isn’t enough to land you at the top of the list. The longer the impact, the better.
Sales. Platinum and gold certifications and No.1 singles went a long way in determining placement. Low sales hurt a lot of the contenders, and, specifically, knocked Mint Condition out of the top 10. I’m as shocked as you are.
So again, this isn’t Edd’s Favorite male R&B groups. Cuz that list would be easy:
2. The rest of y’all.
So take a look at the best the 90s had to offer. If you don’t agree, that’s what the comments section is for.
But we can all agree on one thing – these guys produced a decade of classics.
Honorable mention: H-Town, Mint Condition, Guy, Jagged Edge
Albums: Levert.Sweat.Gill (1997, 2x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “My Body” (1997, R&B)
Edd said: It’s very rare that “supergroups” live up to the hype but LSG exceeded expectations. Three industry veterans added yet another critical and commercial success to their long resumes.
9. New Edition
Albums: Home Again (1996, 2x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Hit Me Off” (1996, R&B)
Edd said: The members of New Edition enjoyed most of their fame in the late ’80s and spent the majority of the ’90s on individual side projects. But their 1996 reunion proved that they still had the magic.
Albums: Lose Control (1992, 2x platinum); Silk (1995, gold); Tonight (1999, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Freak Me” (1993, pop and R&B)
Edd said: Sure, Silk enjoyed their biggest success in the early 90s but they remained consistent throughout the decade. Their ’99 album is one of the most overlooked of the era.
Albums: 112 (1996, 2x platinum): Room 112 (1998, 2x platinum)
Edd said: Bad Boy had every facet of R&B on lock in the ’90s, with 112 standing tall as one of the genre’s most recognized guy groups. They enjoyed phenomenal success in the late ’90s, with even bigger gains early in the next decade.
6. Bell Biv DeVoe
Albums: Poison (1990, 4x platinum); Hootie Mack (1993, gold)
No. 1 singles: “Poison” (1990, R&B); “B.B.D. (I Thought it was Me)”(1990, R&B); “Word to the Mutha!” (1991, R&B)
Edd said: I must admit, when compiling this list I initially wrote off BBD as one-hit wonders. I couldn’t be more wrong. They absolutely owned the early years of the decade. With a little more consistency they would have ranked even higher.
5. Dru Hill
Albums: Dru Hill (1996, platinum); Enter The Dru (1998, 2x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “In My Bed” (1997, R&B); “Never Make A Promise” (1997, R&B); “How Deep Is Your Love” (1998, R&B)
Edd said: In the latter half of the decade, the Dru became R&B’s preeminent male group. A slew of No. 1 singles cemented their spot.
Albums: Blackstreet (1994, platinum); Another Level (1996, 4x platinum); Finally (1999, gold)
No. 1 singles: “No Diggity” (1996, pop and R&B); “Don’t Leave Me” (1997, R&B)
Edd said: Blackstreet went from stars in the first half of the decade to supernovas in the second half. And it only took one album for them to reach Another Level. See what I did there? Their landmark sophomore set is what took them to the upper echelon.
3. Tony! Toni! Toné!
Albums: The Revival (1990, platinum); Sons of Soul (1993, 2x platinum); House of Music (1996, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “The Blues” (1990, R&B); “Feels Good” (1990, R&B); “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” (1990, R&B); “Whatever You Want” (1991, R&B)
Edd said: These days, we’re quick to remember the contributions of Raphael Saadiq while shortchanging the success of his entire group. Big mistake. Tony! Toni! Toné! burst into the 90s with a seemingly endless succession of hits. And while their profile was a bit lower later in the decade, they maintained their consistency.
Albums: Forever My Lady (1991, 3x platinum); Diary of a Mad Band (1993, 2x platinum); The Show, The After Party, The Hotel (1995, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Forever My Lady” (1991, R&B) “Stay” (1991, R&B); “Come And Talk To Me” (1992, R&B); “Cry For You” (1993, R&B); “Lately” (1993, R&B)
Edd said: Trendsetters. Jodeci trampled over the New Jack Swing era to usher in a rugged fusion of R&B and hip-hop, one that revolutionized the game. They became the blueprint for the male R&B that dominates airwaves today.
1. Boyz II Men
Albums: Cooleyhighharmony (1991, 9x platinum); Christmas Interpretations (1993, 2x platinum); II (1994, diamond); Evolution (1997, 2x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday,” (1991, R&B); “Uhh Ahh” (1991, R&B); “End of the Road” (1992, pop and R&B): “I’ll Make Love To You” (1994, pop and R&B); “On Bended Knee” (1994, pop and R&B); “4 Seasons of Loneliness” (1997, pop); “A Song For Mama” (1997, R&B)
Edd said: Was there any question? Boyz II Men wasn’t just the biggest R&B group of the ’90s, they became one of the biggest groups worldwide in any genre. Their timeless contributions raised R&B’s visibility and birthed the golden age of 1990s R&B that we all fondly remember. Give it up for Motown Philly.