BEST R&B ALBUMS OF ALL-TIME
Written By: Jewels Alexandria
(6 Minute Read)
When you speak on the greatest of all time, this means time passed. Has it aged well? Can we still play the album from beginning to end? Does it have nostalgia? All-time must have some age on it. Can we call a good album that came out within the last 2-3 years the greatest ever? Not really. Have you ever really liked something then one day decided it’s just, okay? How much time is enough time to say an album is a classic or timeless? What classifies it as classic? Is it the popularity of it? Maybe it’s how relatable it is to what’s going on in the world at the time. Take Marvin Gayes, What’s Going On album. Would it be as big of hit without the chaos of the world during that time? Who knows, but it sure did help boost the album into what it is today.
A lot of the music you hear today, R&B has a strong influence. So, you can imagine how difficult it is to put together a top 20 albums of all time. There are some blurred lines on what is actually R&B and what isn’t. But here are The Juke Joint’s top 20 R&B albums of all time. Pure, honest R&B music.
Greatest R&B albums of all time
(10 Years or older with no order)
Donell Jones: Where I Wanna Be (1999)
If the first single alone does not grab your attention to check out the rest of the album, know what will. This album is a huge staple to 90’s R&B music
Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream (2012)
Miguel’s freshman album, All I Want Is You, was a hit but nothing like Kaleidoscope Dream. Miguel came with the energy that he was ready to prove he has what it takes to make a classic album and he nailed it.
Justin Timberlake: FutureSex/LoveSounds (2007)
If you were an Nsync fan then Justin Timberlake deciding to go solo was like music to your ears. And he decided to leave pop/boy band music alone and went R&B! This album will go down in history as one of the best “White Soul” albums of all time.
Alicia Keys: Songs In A Minor (2001)
For all you Alicia Keys fans out there, you know what this album did for the culture. This album was so Hip-Hip/R&B it’s hard to compare it to anything else you’ve ever heard. Her freshman album put her on the map for being one of the best to ever do it.
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange (2012)
The emergence of Frank Ocean, I’m sure, made other artist take a look at their pen game. Channel Orange was a game changer for R&B and set the bar high for the genre.
Erykah Badu: Baduizm (1997)
Ms. Badu. What more can truly be said about the Queen. Her uniqueness and profound voice made a sound something similar to Billie Holiday. And Baduizm truly is the study of Badu. She introduced her style, and the world ate it up.
Usher: Confessions (2004)
Where were you the day Confessions dropped? For those of you who were old enough to witness this greatness happen, congratulations. Usher turned from a young boy to a grown man with this well matured penetrating album. Usher’s Confession’s is the reference point to a classic album.
Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life (1976)
Stevie Wonder is one the most sampled artist in Hip-Hop. Most probably aren’t even aware that their favorite hip hop song is a sample from this album or the many albums he has made. This Jazzy/R&B album will have you dancing your life away.
Beyoncé: Dangerously In Love (2003)
The Queen B went solo in 2003 and released her first of many amazing albums. I mean we never really know what we will get from Beyoncé, but this is probably her most R&B album, next to 4, she has and will continue to age beautifully.
Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On (1971)
This black empowering album is more than just music, it’s a guide to awareness. It dares us to challenge the ways of the world and love the skin you are in. It is an album for the ages.
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1982)
Thriller changed the world! It is the forever Halloween theme song, and the album is almost perfect from beginning to end. This classic will go down in the music history books for a lifetime.
Lauryn Hill: Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Some may argue this is a Hip Hop album, but underneath it all, it still has the R&B feel on many tracks and so therefore it has made the list. Only artist to make an impact on music with just one album. Thank you, Ms. Hill, for your words of wisdom.
Aaliyah: One in a Million (1996)
When you think of 90’s R&B, if this R&B classic doesn’t cross your mind, I don’t know what will. Aaliyah was a huge staple to the 90’s vibe and listening to this album brings nostalgia like no other.
Sade: Love Deluxe (1992)
Sade, the sound of an angel, the music from the Gods. There is no other artist like Ms. Sade. Thank you for blessing us with your genius.
Prince: Purple Rain (1984)
This album here is hard to call R&B. I’ve always seen prince as a Rock artist, but it would be wrong to not include a Prince album on this list. The impact of this album alone puts Prince in the ranks of G.O.A.T. His passion and love for music is heard in every interview and his legacy will live on for generations to come
Jill Scott: Who Is Jill? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 (2000)
This poetic album sets the perfect tone for a glass of your favorite wine and an evening of cooking and just letting it play out.
Mary J. Blige: What’s The 411? (1992)
Picking a classic Mary album was very difficult but Mary J. Blige's emergence is one to remember. What's the 411 pushed her into the legend she is today.
R. Kelly: 12 Play (1993)
We all know R. Kelly is the King of R&B. It wouldn't be right without praising the beloved 12 Play album.
Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1973)
Stevie’s so nice, he had to be on here twice. Although, I personally find Key of Life the better album. Some may argue this to be the best. Check it out for yourself to see what you think.
Various Artist: Waiting To Exhale (1995)
I know if this a movie soundtrack, but this has got to be one of the best soundtracks to a movie ever made. If you're not hip, here your chance.