The Year In R&B: 1993

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-The year was 1993. There was a lot going on musically in the world. The gangsta phenomenon was taking over from the West Coast, while the boom bap sound was evolving in hip hop. In R&B, we were at the end of the popular New Jack Swing Era, as there became two lanes for male singers: either raunchy or the simp route. Females in R&B had a homegirl sensibility in their music, seeming more relatable than ever. The artists who released albums this year might have been the biggest, as Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey had huge projects on the year. They were just two of the artists who contributed to the greatness of 1993. I'll return on the outro to talk some of my favorites, let me kick the floor over to the rest of the team. Welcome to our new article series, in the vein of our classic Year In Hip Hop series. Let's get into it.

Fresh on the heels of Whitney blowing everyone away with her cover of "I Will Always Love You," 1993 was in the middle of finding itself and bringing a plethora of new talent to the forefront. And, yes. Before we continue. If you didn't know "I Will Always Love You" was a cover, go educate yourself. Asides aside, let's get into 1993 a bit.

1993 had tracks like "Lose Control," "Knockin' da Boots," "Seven Whole Days," and "Hero" (as cheese as it can be considered). So, let's break that down. We have some babymaking music, some "I'm sorry, let's not fuck this thing up and let's just make love" music, Toni dropping classics from the JUMP, and Mariah Carey turning a cheesy song into a power ballad. On top of that, you had Jodeci dropping Diary of a Mad Band. If you didn't know about 1993 as a music fan, get familiar.
90s babies, you owe your lives--probably literally--to some of the tracks dropped in 1993. I could go in depth about how amazing they are. But, that's fanboyish a bit. So, I'll part with this. 1993 is the year R&B began to evolve from its new jack era into another monster entirely, mixing power ballads with rap sensibilities, and oozing a ton of sex appeal onto it all. Your Alessia Caras, your Pretty Rickys, your Drakes, you can just see the 1993 influence in their work (even if it isn't straight-up laid out for you to see).

I don’t talk much about R&B, but if I’m not listening to the rap gems of the “Golden Era”, I’m listening to the soft, melodious, buttery smooth vocals of R&B.

Over the decades, we’ve seen the evolution of what the R&B sound was, from the heavy use of windpipe instruments back in its formative years all the way to the infusion of soul and funk by the ’70’s and the incorporation of hip hop beats against a slowed tempo by the ’80’s until now. Today, DAR takes a look at R&B, and although we aren’t throwing it all the way back, we will take a look at the most memorable releases of the 90’s, today we talk 1993. This year was an impressive year to say the least. There were a couple of classic debuts, some phenomenal sophomore projects and a couple that were a bit lackluster, so let me highlight a few of my favorite releases. Without these, R&B simply wouldn’t be the same.

I have to kick this off with Jodeci. 1993 was the year we were graced with “Diary of a Mad Band”, just 2 years after their debut. 90’s R&B is nothing without Jodeci and as much criticism as this album got, personally I think they delivered a fantastic album. They stayed true to the heartfelt, love-themed ballads but also had Redman, Timbo and Missy on the album as well. Since I’m such a fan of the gushy sweet songs AND the rap aspect, this is easily my favorite release this year. How can you not love “Cry For You” and “What About Us”? From the very beginning, Jodeci epitomized R&B, they stayed true to the essence of the genre and gave us exactly what we wanted to hear track after track. Anytime Jodeci had a release, it was easily the highlight of the year.

This was also the year Janet Jackson released her self-titled album "Janet" and with this she solidified herself as a powerhouse. She had already given us two solid albums so the expectations were very high. Did she deliver? I'd say...almost. Personally this is one of my favorite albums in her catalog,  but that's only because my 2 most favorite songs of hers appear on this album. "If" and "That's The Way Love Goes" are what make the album for me, but Janet gives fans everything, as she has slow ballads, upbeat fast paced tracks and everything in between. This is one artist who has always been consistent and she has always been innovative. "Janet" came with every emotion from anger to love. It features Chuck D, so we know there's an element of sociopolitical awareness as well. Janet Jackson is truly a master of the craft and this album is a testament to that.

1993 gave us Babyface's "For The Cool In You", now we all know that Babyface is the R&B God, so nothing he puts out is less than amazing. This album is to thank for the classic "When Can I See You" and it doesn't stop there, as each and every track is exactly what we want from Babyface: love infused and delivered with vocals that sound exactly how velvet or silk feels. This album much like Jodeci's is definitely a highlight.

I only highlighted a few albums from a long list of fantastic releases. Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, Joe and a ton of other artists all gave us incredible projects that are truly perfect for chilling out and listening to soft instrumental beats coupled with some heartfelt emotional lyrics. There's always a need for this genre and in my opinion, it's because of this specific year. It truly was most significant and critical in the genre.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-1993 is the greatest year in R&B hands down. From the sounds of Janet Jackson and her most seductive yet polished album to the sweet yet a bit cheesy love ballads of Mariah Carey and her Music Box album, it had so much to offer. Now, personally, I love Jodeci and their classic sophomore album Diary of A Mad Band, which I feel is their best project. It was slightly more balanced than their debut and has more of an infectious sound to it. I couldn't help but sing along to "What About Us", "Cry For You", "Feenin", and the underrated track "My Heart Belongs To U", which is super dope. This album is one of my favorite releases, but it isn't the only great one this year.

For the ladies, the best female album of the year goes to Toni Braxton. Thank the legendary Babyface for all of her hits here, as he and L.A. Reid gifted Toni with some amazing songs for her self titled debut. Toni has the pleasure of making the absolute best female R&B album of the 90's, in my personal opinion. I mean, "Breathe Again", "Love Shoulda Brought You Home", "Seven Whole Days", "You Mean The World To Me", and the huge mega hit "Another Sad Love Song" really set the tone for her career and what she would bring us. This album is the pinnacle of R&B music and though Toni would have more success going forward, nothing stops her debut and the beautiful songs here. Her vocal delivery and the strength behind it is what really took those songs to another level. 1993 was the arrival of Toni and we are certainly grateful for that.

Of course, Babyface himself would help create many hits this year, both as an artist and of course, songwriter. His album "For The Cool In You" was a near classic, as this remains my 2nd favorite Babyface album, just behind Tender Lover and it can change depending on the day. Songs like "Never Keeping Secrets", the title track, and "When Can I See You" are some of his best work, but Babyface's best achievement to me was his work with Tevin Campbell. Tevin Campbell was truly underrated and slept on, with his absolute classic album "I'm Ready". The title track is one of my favorite 90's R&B songs and of course "Can We Talk", another Babyface penned gem reigns as one of the best songs of the decade and one of the best R&B songs of this year. Once again, we have to thank the genius of Babyface for writing these great songs.

Speaking of genius, how could we forget the epic R. Kelly album 12 Play? We've discussed this album briefly before and will likely give it a full length article in the future so I won't go too in depth. However, with songs like "Your Body's Callin", "Seems Like You're Ready", and the undeniable "Sex Me", how can we not acknowledge the classic? The same could be said for the classics from Tony, Toni, Tone and Mint Condition, where both Sons of Soul and From The Mint Factory reigned supreme on the year. Sons of Soul had "Anniversary", "Slow Wine", "Lay Your Head On My Pillow", and much more. The females were doing their thing all year and who could escape the solid sounds of Xscape and their Hummin Comin At Cha album? En Vogue released their Runway Love album to represent for the ladies, and Aaron Hall hit us with his album "The Truth". Shai dropped their Right Back At Cha album, but my favorite release of the year comes from a Houston based trio who would come out of virtually nowhere.

H-Town released Fever For Da Flavor this year and it would be something special. The sounds of their mega hit "Knockin Da Boots" truly took things to another level and cemented them as a force in the genre. The follow up single "Lick U Up" kept the group's raunchy image in tact. When I think 1993 and R&B, so many names come to mind, but H-Town represents this year for me, as they were executing perfectly what we love 90's R&B for: bedroom anthems. Sure, the love songs also were amazing and we certainly had a lot of those, but something about this particular trio's music stuck out.

1993 was a special year for music in general, but for R&B, it is the ultimate. Take a moment and reflect and enjoy the sounds of the R&B music of 1993, possibly the greatest year of the genre.



Popular Posts