The Year In R&B: 1997

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-The year 1997 was a great one. R&B was in a great place. So was hip hop. The 90s are revered for the quality material it produced and today, we're here to discuss the best of the best in 1997. Let's get into it!

Now, one of my favorite R&B songs of all-time, Janet's "I Get Lonely," came out in 1997. It was also the year that saw one of Lady Speed's favorite artists, Usher, become a man and started making panties wet. Actually, when you think about it? 1997 had a lot of pantywetters. You had LSG dropping "My Body," had Janet's entire Velvet Rope album, Joe crooning...shit, man. If you want to get some drawers soaked and dropped, play some "Nice and Slow," cut out Usher's bars (I mean, because while decent, you don't always need to bone to rap), and switch it up to pretty much any 1997 R&B track.

1997 must have been horny AF.

But, for all the hormones around the air, you also had Erykah Badu drop "Tyrone" a/k/a a song that's still the anti-fuckboi anthem. It's a track that anyone can relate to, regardless of your plumbing downstairs. I mean, no one wants a fuckboi/fuckgirl in their life. What's crazy is that the song's never seen a studio release and it's still classic and legendary as hell. That's the power of Badu dissecting "Tyrone's" homeboy's fuckboi-ism.

I could go on for days about 1997. But, screw that. Just keep reading the team's thoughts and go check out some fire music.

The year 1997 in R&B was full of heavy releases such as Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope, Boyz II Men's Evolution and Mariah's - Butterfly. After a hiatus from the group Jodeci, K-Ci & JoJo broke off and became a duo and gave us Love Always. LSG became a supergroup. Joe came back with his sophomore breakthrough album All That I Want. It was also our introduction to artists who would go on to become household names like Jagged Edge with A Jagged Era, Next with Rated Next giving us "Butta Love" and Erykah Badu with Baduizm bringing in a funky vibe with her hit single "On and On".

Some of my favorite singles from that year were:

Jagged Edge - I Gotta Be
K-C & JoJo - All My Life 
SWV - Rain 
LSG - My Body
Joe - All The Things 
Jon B - They Dont Know

One of my favorite albums of the year had to be Mary J Blige's Share My World. This album was a little more mature from her previous release but still had that hip hop/R&B sound. A lot of great songs were on there like "I Can Love You", "Seven Days", "Not Gon Cry" and "Everything". Lil Kim, R. Kelly and Nas came with stellar features. This ended up being a no. 1 album taking her sound worldwide. I remember my mom playing this album all the time especially while cleaning the crib then I grew to love it.

Another favorite release of mine
is Usher's My Way. This was his sophomore album and he was back with a new sound thanks to JD. It ended up being hit after hit with songs like "You Make Me Wanna", "Nice and Slow" and "My Way". This album definitely made Usher the new "it" guy. I have to give an honorable mention to the Love Jones and Soul Food soundtracks. Those had some gems as well.

If '98 and '00 were the cherry on top of the cake, 1997 would be the cake. It's definitely another one of my favorite years musically. Hip hop releases were booming and of course R&B artists were creating another set of favorites and classics. Let's go through the albums that made 1997 so great.

I have to start off with Miss Erykah Badu. '97 saw the release of her debut album "Baduizm" with this she definitely introduced a sound unlike any other. She fused soul and jazz together perfectly and would be regarded as one of the best alternative R&B and neo-soul artists. Every track showcases not only her vocals but her songwriting. I don't love all the songs on this album, but the ones I do carry it for me. "On & On", "Otherside Of The Game", and "Next Lifetime" are perfect examples. Her track themes are unique and allow her jazzy vocal range to show perfectly. This album gained a ton of commercial success and was a chart topper almost immediately. It truly took the R&B nation by storm and made Erykah Badu an instant favorite.

Another debut but this time from one of my favorite female R&B groups. Allure would emerge almost out of nowhere and gift the R&B world with their soft, silky smooth vocals and absolutely adorable lyrics. I remember I saw them for the first time on BET's "Midnight Love" segment where they sang "All Cried Out" feat. 112 and they instantly became one of my favorites and they didn't disappoint. "Last Chance", "Head Over Heels" feat Nas and "Give You All I Got" feat. Raekwon kept their momentum going. Allure was a fantastic edition to an already incredible roster of artists and this album made '97 that much better.

The Queen of Hip Hop Soul and a veteran on this list, Miss Mary J Blige would release her album "Share My World" and I cannot say enough about this album. It's my favorite in her catalog and a true masterpiece. Mary often gets critiqued for putting too much of her personal life into her music, but I love that about her. She's insanely raw, incredibly relatable and sings with a confidence that is unmatched by anyone else. If you ever wondered where she got the title "Queen of Hip Hop Soul" this should be the example. With features from Lil Kim, Nas and the Lox, she truly has something for everybody. Any year that sees a release from Mary J is guaranteed to be a great year and we were not disappointed! This was a true gift to music.

Finally I can talk about Brian McKnight. I discovered him late and it took me a while to appreciate his talent, in fact it was his 1997 release of "Anytime" that catapulted him to my top favorite R&B artist list. McKnight is a true R&B god with his soft and sultry vocals and smooth, romantic lyrics. Since his debut album, he knew exactly how to appeal to audiences and he kept that momentum until this release. He comes with a fresh angle of incorporating slight hip hop cuts. It was edgy and unexpected but it worked surprisingly well. "Anytime" was a huge success and gained him a ton of visibility which he didn't always have. This was another fantastic addition to an already incredible year.

1997 would prove to be a powerful year with releases. In addition to the above, K-Ci & JoJo, Changing Faces, Mariah Carey and several others also contributed to the amazing singles that dropped. Who can forget the "All My Life" craze or "My All" or "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T" amongst others. Overall this really was phenomenal and definitely listed as a favorite year in the genre!

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-1997 was such a great year for the genre and we witnessed some of the more powerful releases of the decade. When we reflect on this year, we have to appreciate the arrival of Badu, the becoming of Mariah, the evolution of McKnight, the rebirth of K-Ci and JoJo, the return of SWV and En Vogue, the rise of Usher, the combination of LSG, and so much more. 1997, we thank you for the memories!



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