DAR Music: 25 of The Most Underrated R&B/Soul Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal

I love R&B music. I always have.
There's been some classic albums, songs, and artists in the genre of course, but something I've always championed was the slept on artists. Some of the most underrated artists have created some of the most slept on R&B albums in history. Some of the legends also have albums that are slept on in the R&B/Soul genre. When talking underrated albums in the genre itself, it's hard to really name them all, because there's so many. I took on the task of sitting down and making a list of some of my personal favorites that are slept on or somehow forgotten. It was tough to narrow it down, but that's a part of what also makes it fun. Today, we look back at 25 of the most underrated R&B/Soul albums ever.

*Mint Condition- Definition of a Band (1996)

-This album was something special to me. When I first heard it, I thought instantly that it solidified Mint Condition as one of the greatest R&B groups in music history. The album featured some amazing tracks and some amazing hits, such as "You Don't Have to Hurt No More" and of course their mega hit "What Kind of Man Would I Be", both classic songs. However, the album didn't just stop there. It had much more depth and while some felt it missed the mark unlike their first few releases, I think this album was truly one of their most mature and honest releases. This album represents the maturation of Mint Condition to me.

*Maxwell- Embrya (1998)

-The discography of Maxwell is generally considered a flawless one. The man doesn't necessarily miss on albums and he doesn't miss on this one either. It's just that the experimental nature of the album from the atmospheric sounds to the cluttered song titles, people didn't know how to take this album. However, songs like "Matrimony: Maybe You" drove home the essence of Maxwell and each track represents a different mood for him. At least it felt like that while listening to it. Great album that deserves much more credit than given.

*Ginuwine- The Senior (2003)

-I used to think this album was great and it is. It's slept on in the catalog of Ginuwine as most of get swept up in The Bachelor and 100% Ginuwine, both of which are classics. However, as Ginuwine branched out and away from Timbaland, he struggled some in 2001 on The Life, but I feel like he found his footing here with the right balance of comedy, seduction, and smooth ballads. Of course, this is the album that featured the hilarious collaboration with R. Kelly (he wrote it) and Birdman "Hell Yeah", but also featured the mega hits "Stingy" and "In Those Jeans". There's a playful nature on this album as well, but on songs like "On My Way", "Love You More", and "Bedda Man", Ginuwine holds it down with the smooth sounds and when he's on point with the ballads or slow jams, he's one of the top tier R&B artists. This album gives us the glimpse into the unfiltered and uncontrolled mind of Ginuwine, with little to no Timbaland influence. This is what makes the album even more special to me.

*Tyrese- I Wanna Go There (2002)

-Tyrese might be one of the most underrated R&B singers of all time. This particular album was successful and spawned some great hits, but doesn't get mentioned enough sadly. "How You Gonna Act Like That" is still a great song and the smooth bedroom anthem "Signs of Love Makin" is yet another great track that doesn't get enough credit in the genre. Every track is arranged very well, and I think that Tyrese created something great for all of us to enjoy with this album. It's probably his 2nd best album, right next to his debut, which is honestly right on the edge of being on this list. His self titled debut gets a lot of credit, but it almost made the list as well. That's just a testament to how dope his music is and how slept on he is.

*Bilal- First Born Second (2001)

-This is one of my favorite R&B albums ever. I love Bilal and I think he's legit one of the best artists of our time. What really captivated me about this album was the versatile lyricism and the smooth yet rugged vocals from the Philadelphia native. Every song on this album is dope, but the ones that stick out to me are "For You", "Soul Sista", "You Are", and the best Bilal song ever (besides White Turns To Gray) "Sometimes". We did a full length review of this album a while back, and it still remains one of the most slept on R&B albums of the 2000s for sure and in general.

*Musiq Soulchild- Luvanmusiq (2007)

-Another Philly native with a solid discography makes this list with the album that I feel is his absolute best. His earlier albums were pretty good, but as Musiq arrived at Atlantic Records, he seemingly had to prove his worth and he definitely showed and proved with this near flawless project. The first single on this project wasn't necessarily my favorite ("B.U.D.D.Y"), but I loved "Teach Me", "Greatest Love", and "Lullaby". There's not much here that you don't enjoy, as Musiq gave us a solid effort.

*Chico Debarge- Long Time No See (1997)

-Chico Debarge doesn't get enough credit for his late 90's run. This is his most noteworthy album and one of the better releases in 1997 for R&B. The classic "No Guarantee" remix with Joe is what makes me remember it instantly, but this album had gems throughout. Chico was never the best singer or the best artist, but he struck gold with this album.

*H-Town- Beggin' After Dark (1994)

-I think this album is actually neck and neck with their debut. It might actually be better. Yet it's slept on extremely. Dino showcases his vocal strengths here once again, but this album is a true lesson in what H-Town did best: sex anthems. However, nothing stands out as better than their hit single "Emotions", one of their bigger singles in their career. The song is arranged beautifully, but there are many more gems on this album, including "Full Time", the hilarious "Sex Bowl", and my favorite song on the album personally "One Night Gigolo". That particular song is equal parts funny and smooth, but with the synths carrying the production on the majority of this album, it shines all the way throughout. When speaking of H-Town, I know we think "Knockin Da Boots" or even their "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" cover, but this album is my go to, as I think it's their best. Truly a slept on gem.

*Zhane- Saturday Night (1997)

-I loved the whole vibe and sound of Zhane. They were truly a breath of fresh air musically and the duo managed to captivate the world with their debut, which went platinum. However, their second album was severely slept on and didn't garner the same love and respect that the first one did. Still, this album featured classic tracks like "Request Line", "Crush" (one of the most slept on songs of the 90's), "This Song Is For You" and more. A truly great project from an underrated duo.

*Intro- Intro (1993)

-This is a great album and to many, including myself, it fits into the classic boat. I remember when this album first dropped, a young True kept playing "Let Me Be The One" because it was too smooth. Other tracks on the album are solid and dope, with standout tracks like "Don't Leave Me", "Come Inside", and many more, this is one of the more underrated albums of all time.

*Silk- Silk (1995)

-When most people think Silk, they think Lose Control or Tonight when speaking about their albums. Both of those albums are honestly classics in my opinion, but I have to crown their best album as this one. Their self titled sophomore effort is truly something amazing and the group balances the harmony with enough ballads to please the listener. My favorite Silk song is on this album, as "Don't Rush" is absolutely perfection, "Hooked On You" is harmony heaven, and of course, Silk gives us a late night bedroom anthem with "I Can Go Deep". This is a classic album, not only for the 90's, but for the genre period. It's a shame the sales didn't reflect that.

*Anita Baker- Giving You The Best I Got (1988)

-While most people remember the classic and hugely successful Rapture, as they should, I personally love this album as well. The title track was one of her best songs and Anita managed to carve her lane musically with that one. When I look back at her discography, this is neck and neck with Rapture, but doesn't get the credit it deserves, despite being a very successful album.

*Ideal- Ideal (1999)

-We've always seen some one hit wonders in music. That's just the norm. Ideal fits that description, in terms of commercial performance, but their self titled album is probably a top 10 slept on R&B album of the 90's. Many people don't speak of them often, but they should. With some solid songs on the album like "Creep Inn" and a moderate hit in "Whatever", the group made a solid debut effort, but nothing could top their big top 5 R&B single "Get Gone", which is a classic in itself alone. The smooth production, the angst in their voices, and the harmonies are rich in this song. This album has so many gems, I suggest you to go revisit it and enjoy some good late 90's R&B.

*Babyface- For the Cool In You (1993)

-Some might say this is not slept on. I'd beg to differ. Honestly? This is really the best album from Babyface, though many like to crown The Day or Tender Lover as that. Babyface was in his highest prime during this period both as a songwriter and an artist, and while he had a string of hits on this album, when people talk 90's R&B, sometimes this album is missing from the lists and the conversation. That's a huge slight to one of the best 90's R&B albums period. With the title track giving Babyface a more smooth yet cool vibe, "When Can I See You" wooing women, and the ballad "Never Keeping Secrets" melting the ladies' hearts, Babyface couldn't miss at all on this album.

*Jon B.- Cool Relax (1997)

-When I first heard Jon B, I thought he was Babyface possibly with a background singer or something. I hadn't seen him, so it seemed possible at the time. However, on his 2nd album, Klay Thompson's doppelganger came with some great music. The biggest hit of his career "They Don't Know" comes from this album and the rest of the project is a great listen throughout. I think his smooth voice helps makes the songs more enjoyable and his delivery is impeccable. Revisit this dope album if you haven't in a while.

*Soul For Real- Candy Rain (1995)

-Now, two of their singles were big hits, but the actual album was also pretty damn good. The group who all looked like descendants of Craig Mack came with some amazing R&B music and the title track is literally one of the best 90's R&B songs ever. Their follow up single "Every Little Thing I Do" is another one of my favorite 90's R&B tracks and album tracks like "Spend The Night" and "If You Want It" only add to the dopeness of the project.

*Eric Benet- A Day In the Life (1999)

-You'll see Eric on this list twice. Why? Mainly because he's one of the most slept on artists in the entire genre and because he has two classic albums that never seem to be in the conversation. This was the breakthrough album for Benet and it was brilliantly executed. It was a soulful journey mixed with some minimal upbeat funk, and I'd like to think it was a perfect introduction for him to the mainstream, though he had been around before on a smaller level. With the Tamia collaboration "Spend My Life With You" becoming a hit, the Faith Evans assisted "Georgy Porgy" being a solid track with some funky bounce to it, and the first single, the jazzy "When You Think Of Me" being a perfect breakup song, Benet created something timeless here and this wouldn't be his last time doing so.

*Donell Jones- My Heart (1996)

-With his undeniable classic Where I Wanna Be already seen as one of the best albums of the 90's, his debut album should get much more attention and respect. He came with some great music and his cover of "Knocks Me Off My Feet" is flawless, almost on the same level as Stevie's. Other songs like the title track and "You Should Know" also make this album an official R&B classic, but a slept on classic. There's many of those on this list.

*Solange Knowles- Sol-Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams (2008)

-Now, the sister of the biggest female artist today managed to hold her own musically on this and surprised me honestly. I wasn't looking forward to listening to her album, but there was a woman I knew who purchased this album and in so many words, forced me to listen to this album. I'm glad she did because every track is dope on here, and the Bilal feature is classic. My favorite song on this album is "God Given Name", as the production is beautiful. Solange stepped out of her sister's shadow and created an album that I dare say is BETTER than a majority of her sister's catalog. Comparisons aside, this is just a solid listen throughout.

*The Whispers- Just Gets Better With Time (1987)

-One of my all time favorite groups ever created a classic during the end of their big run. This album had everything you would want from the group, and they put forth a classic that capped off a magnificent run In the 80's that led them to bigger stardom. The title track is the smooth styling that we came to know from them their whole career. The classic dance track like "Rock Steady" and the late night anthem "In The Mood", both written by Babyface are amazing and help round out the great but short album.

*Jamie Foxx- Unpredictable (2005)

-I sometimes think this album could very well be a classic. Jamie came through and delivered a near flawless effort that surprised most of us I'd say. After winning the Oscar, Jamie went to work on some hits and came back strong with the title track featuring Ludacris. From the dope "VIP" to the sounds of "Can I Take You Home", Jamie created his best work musically and one of the best R&B albums of the 2000s that doesn't necessarily get enough credit either despite a platinum plaque.

*Eric Benet- Lost In Time (2010)

-This is one of my all time favorite R&B albums ever. No lie. It is really one of the greatest albums I've had the pleasure of listening to. Benet created something amazing for the fans, and every song has a soul sensibility that truly invokes emotions like "Sometimes I Cry", which is one of the best songs that I've ever heard sung about the process of getting over a breakup. "Never Want To Live Without You" is another classic, the smooth "Summer Love" is a great song to coast to, and his Faith Evans collaboration "Feel Good" is really smooth. This album has nothing but great music and I can't find one song that I don't enjoy. The marks of a classic and an album that deserves more attention. Lost In Time is the best R&B album of the 2010s.

*Lianne La Havas- Blood (2015)

-Now, perhaps this is a bit of a stretch as an inclusion. She teeters the line between soul, funk, contemporary, and R&B. However, this most recent album is as R&B as she's been in her short career. It's a modern day classic and it's truthfully one of the best albums I've heard this decade so far. Lianne has such a flawless voice and her output as an artist is timeless. Songs like "Unstoppable", "Green and Gold", "Tokyo", and my favorite track on the entire album "Wonderful" truly rounds out what I feel is one of the best albums of 2015 and one of the best albums I've had the pleasure of listening to in quite some time. Thank God for great artists like Lianne in this day and time.

*Midnight Star- No Parking On The Dance Floor (1983)

-Now, if we talk some of the most underrated 80's albums, how do we neglect to mention this one? It's impossible. While it was very successful, it's an underrated album. Songs like "Freak-A-Zoid", "Electricity", the title track, and "Slow Jam" make this a truly special album and one of the most slept on from the decade and in general. Revisit this and appreciate the greatness.

*Groove Theory- Groove Theory (1995)

-The sounds of "Tell Me" are always welcome in my headphones and it's an iconic song of the 90's. However, the self titled album that it came from was also iconic and classic. The sweet sounds of this duo was something that captivated my ears from jump and the lovely voice of the beautiful Amel Larrieux is what truly led me to appreciate their music. Songs like "Keep Tryin", "Time Flies", and many others make this a classic album that should be recognized as such. The entire tracklist here is quite flawless and it's an album that belongs on the best albums of the 90's list, not just here. Another one to revisit and enjoy.

Making a list like this is never easy, but these are just 25 of the most underrated albums in the genre. I'd suggest you all go back and enjoy these albums.



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