Top 10 R&B Albums 2000-2005

Top 10 R&B Albums 2000-2005

R&B seems on a slight downspiral this decade. The music is less inspired, the soul seems less existent and the content seems bogged down with who cheated on whom and who did whom wrong, but there are still artists out there who deliver albums based on honesty and talent. These artists have brought us clarity in muddled times when the line between R&B and hip-hop is at its thinnest.

This top ten is based on quality, influence on the R&B movement and mainstream music and the extent of its connection with the public.

Best R&B Albums of the decade:


10) Usher – Confessions (Mar 23, 2004)
With fresh and fierce new competition vying for his spot on the charts, Usher went back into the studio and crafted his most successful album to date. Confessions perfects his formula on this album; “Burn” works better than “U got it Bad” did on his previous album 8701, and Confessions Part II, though not as catchy, is still more successful at making girls swoon over his infidelity than “You make me Wanna” was in ’97. Confessions shows maturity from the two albums prior and became a global phenomenon in 2004 with 3 consecutive #1 singles, cementing Usher’s place at the top of his genre.


9) R. Kelly – (2000)
This served as his last album before controversy took over his career, an intentional throwback to the days when R. Kelly sang about making love and not material gain. The descendent of what most believe to be his best work, the patchy 12 Play, doesn’t disappoint and in many ways surpasses its predecessor in overall quality.


8) Aaliyah – Aaliyah (July 17, 2001)
On her third album, Aaliyah stepped away from the sure success she had with Missy and Timbaland on her break-out album One In A Million and worked mostly with Static, from former R&B group Playa, who co-wrote 10 of the songs on the album. This album stands on the strength of the superb contextual tracks that could never work as singles.


7) Brandy – Full Moon (Mar 5, 2002)
Her albums aren’t selling three million copies anymore, but make no mistake, her music is better than ever. Brandy and producer Rodney Jerkins came out with an edgier, more mature sound on Full Moon that polarized her sizeable fan base.

The two collaborated in writing material for this album–something Afrodisia suffered from–and came up with a modern-day masterpiece with this album.
The beats may be overly repetitive in places, but the album has a definite flow and is high on both quality and quantity—a justifiable fan favorite since it came out in 2002.


6) Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun (Nov 21, 2000)
Her first album, Baduizm, almost single-handedly brought Neo-Soul to the mainstream in ’97. Years later, with an influx of similar sounding artists that threatened to water down or usurp the movement, it was time for Badu to follow up her debut and redefine the genre. Mama’s Gun infuses old soul with new and adds in some funk for good measure. While it didn’t do as well commercially as Baduizm, the new album showed the critics that she was here to change the game, rather than simply play it.


5) Alicia Keys – Diary Of Alicia Keys (Dec 2, 2003)
After being vaulted into the stratosphere with Songs in A Minor, the pressure was on to equal the success with her sophomore album. The Diary Of Alicia Keys more than equals her debut. Gone are the patchy album tracks and in their place we get proof that Alicia was worthy of all the hype she received.


4) John Legend – Get Lifted (Dec 28, 2004)
John Legend started out as a choir director, moved on to singing back up on Kanye West-produced tracks, then to his own recording contract and album. Get Lifted benefits from Kanye’s production but it’s Legend who truly shines, channeling such greats as Sly Stone and Curtis Mayfield. Time will tell if he lives up to his name, but for now, he’s deserving of his Grammy Awards and accolades.


3) Mary J Blige – The Breakthrough (Dec 20, 2005)
You can’t call it a comeback, but after her last album, Love & Life, faltered both commercially and critically under dated production from P. Diddy, Mary definitely put herself firmly back on top. This album not only states the long-known obvious, that Mary is a queen, but also celebrates it. The breakthrough is her jubilee in a long and royal career and boasts her best collection of songs since the urban classic My Life from ’94. Sadly, the album might not be as well remembered for lack of proper promotion and catchy singles. Time will tell.


2) Jill Scott – Beautifully Human (Aug 31, 2004)
After letting the world know who Jill Scott was on her first album, the time came to demonstrate what Jill Scott could do. Every word on Beautifully Human is delivered impeccably, down to the syllable. This album shows us different aspects of Scott’s life, from love of her man, to love of herself, to regret and from there to acceptance of her mistakes—the amalgamation of her feelings and experiences. Far better than her first and easier to listen to, this album merely lacked the album-selling single to set flying off the shelves as A Long Walk had years earlier. The name alone of Jill Scott speaks volumes on quality, but neither then, nor now, does it sell volumes in quantity.


1) India Arie – Acoustic Soul (Mar 27, 2001)
This collection not only introduced India Arie to the scene, but also boasts some of the best music Motown has ever had to offer. Taking cues and inspiration from greats such as Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, this album blends the old with the new seamlessly and served to introduce a long overdue sense of positive feminism in music.

Seven grammy nominations, including best album, Acoustic Soul showed the world that Motown still has what it takes in modern music.

Craig Palmer

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  1. A. Keys! She always delivers what we’ve been standing at the mailbox for. In my idea, her voice in unmatched. Everyone else on the list is fire, but Alicia is in her own category. If you haven’t yet, catch a concert.

  2. I agree with your top ten almost in its entirety, except I would hazard that Baduizm was more important than Mama’s Gun as you rightfully pointed out that it brought neo-soul to the forefront of the r’n’b movement in the time when (imho) it most needed a lift in a new direction. Your top 5 is spot-on, eloquently articulated for such short descriptions of what are surely milestone albums in modern r’n’b and i give you props for being brave enough to put india.arie ahead of the more commercial and less genuinely believable divas. I think she is even better live than recorded, and mos def the best lady who could have possibly opened up for Sade.

  3. no d’angelo (voodoo) but aaliyah and brandy? no voodoo but human over words and sounds? no instant vintage? and diary of alicia keys is so crap… of course, r and b seems on a downward spiral to you seeing as so much just happens to pass you by. this list is so uninformed

  4. Really agree with your top ten, esp appreciation for Usher and MJB, though she might think more of her style. Really love, long live! Always search the web for cool music bollywood music is a site where one can compile perfect playlists. A cushy spot for a music addict!

  5. I think Raydiation by Ray J was the most under-rated RnB album of the decade. Seriously so many good slow songs on one album. No one rates it cos its Ray J

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