Whoever said R&B died in the 90s hasn’t been paying attention. Or maybe they just need to turn off 106 & Park.
A few weeks ago, we looked at the top 10 female R&B singers of the 2000s. It was a decade filled with hits. Don’t believe me? Check this list for yourself.
And while you’re at it, revisit the ’90s too. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to come back:
The Best Female R&B Singers of the 90s
The Best Male R&B Singers of the 90s
The Best Female R&B Groups of the 90s
The Best Male R&B Groups of the 90s
You’re back? Cool.
Today, we’re looking at the top 10 brothers who kept R&B strong during the turn of the millennium. Some were traditionalists, sticking to R&B’s roots. Others were trendsetters, steering the genre into new directions.
All were successful.
As a reminder, this isn’t a list Edd’s Favorite R&B singers from 2000-2009. Poor Keith Sweat didn’t make the cut so clearly I put my biases aside this time. But before y’all start whining in my mentions because your favorites were left out, let’s go over the ranking system one more time:
Rankings were greatly influenced by sales, but that wasn’t the only factor. Impact and longevity were also heavily weighed. For example, Luther Vandross’ two albums sold more than most artists on the list, but since he passed away early in the decade he didn’t make the cut. On the other side of the coin, Trey Songz didn’t truly break out until 2009 – that wasn’t enough time to make this list. Sorry, ladies. Oh, and of course, strength of material was the last determining factor in the rankings.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s look back at 10 years of great music.
Honorable mention: Luther Vandross, Avant, Mario, Anthony Hamilton, Ginuwine
Albums: My Name Is Joe (2000, 3x platinum); Better Days (2001, gold); And Then… (2003, gold); Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me (2007); Joe Thomas, New Man (2008); Signature (2009)
No. 1 singles: “Stutter” (2000, pop and R&B)
Edd said: Call Joe Thomas “Mr. Consistency.” Joe enjoyed career highs at the beginning of the decade but continued to churn out quality material on almost a yearly basis. Few can maintain that sustained level of success.
Albums: Ghetto Love (2001, platinum); Still Ghetto (2002, platinum); Ghetto Classics (2006, gold); The Makings of a Man (2007, gold)
Edd said: Jaheim may well be this millennium’s Jodeci – bringing time-tested soulful vocals straight to the hood. His down-to-earth lyrics rang with the familiarity of Teddy Pendergrass, making him a fan favorite.
8. Jamie Foxx
Albums: Unpredictable (2005, 2x platinum); Intuition (platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Blame It” (2009)
Edd said: In the ’90s, music always seemed to be a side project for Jamie Foxx, who gained greater fame on the small and big screens. But by 2005, Jamie finally took music charts by storm, becoming one of the premier acts in R&B.
Albums: Now (2001, platinum): BLACKsummers’night (2009, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “Lifetime” (2001, urban A/C); “Pretty Wings” (2009, R&B and urban A/C); “Bad Habits” (2009, urban A/C); “Fistful of Tears” (2009, urban A/C)
Edd said: We don’t hear from Maxwell often, but when we do, it’s always worth the wait. R&B’s most elusive star bookended the decade with hits. If he had a bigger presence he’d be ranked even higher.
6. John Legend
Albums: Get Lifted (2004, 2x platinum); Once Again (2006, platinum); Evolver (2008, gold)
Edd said: R&B purists may have turned their noses up at some of the decades more hip-hop influenced hits, but they couldn’t deny John Legend’s magic, who ushered in a new era of throwback soul.
Albums: In My Own Words (2006, platinum); Because of You (2007, platinum); Year of the Gentleman (2008, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “So Sick” (2006, pop); “Sexy Love” (2006, R&B); “Miss Independent” (2009, R&B)
Edd said: Ne-Yo may have possessed the mightiest pen in the decade. Not only did build an impressive resume of songwriting credits for other artists, he became a superstar in his own right.
4. Chris Brown
Albums: Chris Brown (2005, 2x platinum); Exclusive (2007, 2x platinum); Graffiti (2009)
No. 1 singles: “Run It!” (2005, pop and R&B); “Say Goodbye” (2006, R&B); “Kiss Kiss” (2007, pop)
Edd said: Y’all know I love to give my Cousin Chis a hard time, but even I can’t hate on the success he earned in the 2000s. His catchy tracks and showmanship whipped audiences in a frenzy – briefly, his name was even whispered in the same breath as Michael Jackson. Briefly.
3. Justin Timberlake
Albums: Justified (2002, 3x platinum); FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006, 4x platinum)
No. 1 singles: “SexyBack” (2006, pop and R&B); “My Love” (2006, pop); “What Goes Around … Comes Around” (2006, pop)
Edd said: From boy-band pop star to R&B posterchild, JT grew before our eyes in the 21st century. His collaborations with both Timbaland and the Neptunes made him one of the biggest crossover stars in the industry.
2. R. Kelly
Albums: TP-2.com (2000, 4x platinum); The Best of Both Worlds (2002, platinum); Chocolate Factory (2003, 3x platinum); Unfinished Business (2004, platinum); Happy People/U Saved Me (2004, 3x platinum); TP.3: Reloaded (2005, platinum); Double Up (2007, platinum); Untitled (2009)
No. 1 singles: “I Wish” (2000, R&B); “Fiesta (Remix)” (2001, R&B); “Step in the Name of Love” (2003, R&B)
Edd said: Well, the 2000s were the best of times and the worst of times for the Pied Piper of R&B. Despite his legal woes, he was still a driving force in R&B. Kellz’s music was embraced by gospel enthusiasts, soul lovers, steppers and even the ringtone rap set. R’s ability to adapt was his greatest asset.
Albums: 8701 (2001, 4x platinum); Confessions (2004, diamond); Here I Stand (2008, platinum)
No. 1 singles: “U Remind Me” (2001, pop and R&B); “U Got It Bad” (2001, pop and R&B); “Yeah” (2004, pop and R&B); “Burn” (2004, pop and R&B); “Confessions Part II” (2004, pop and R&B); “My Boo” (2004, pop and R&B); “Love In This Club” (2008, pop and R&B); “Papers” (2009, R&B)
Edd said: No surprise here, playas. This was the decade Usher was crowned king of R&B. Ursher’s heralded Confessions was a juggernaut, pumping out crossover singles with ease, but he wasn’t a one-album wonder. Every release dominated R&B charts while infiltrating pop audiences. No one did it better in the decade.