The Year In R&B: 2001

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-There are some years in R&B that are filled with amazing releases. 2001 is definitely a major year. The year that saw Maxwell return after a 3 year sabbatical. Michael Jackson's final studio album. 112 affirm their position as a top R&B group. The final official Aaliyah album before her unfortunate passing. Ginuwine went 3 for 3 as his 3rd album was yet another dope project. Missy bridged the gap between hip hop and R&B with her project, while Janet Jackson would also grab the attention of the world with her new album. The legends and the stars were full fledged putting on for the genre. Hell, even Sisqo put out an album and the funniest song ever this particular year. This was also the year Destiny's Child told the world that they are Survivors and that they will work harder, among other things. Joe would release another album this year as well, and if you consider J-Lo to be R&B, she also would be a major release on the year.

However, the Neo Soul general truly dominated in certain ways, as India Arie released her album, Angie Stone would release a solid project, the aforementioned Maxwell and his Now album topped charts, and the arrival of one of my favorite singers, Bilal, came in the form of my favorite R&B album of the year in First Born Second. There's a release from Jaheim, albums from Luther Vandross, Jagged Edge, Kelis, City High, The Isley Brothers, Tank, and the arrival of one of the more important female artists of this century, Alicia Keys, who had a debut classic with Songs In A Minor. Mary J. Blige returned with her No More Drama album, but the most important release for me on the year was Usher and his 8701 album. Though not as big or good as Confessions, 8701 was truly a solid project and the songs "U Remind Me", "U Don't Have To Call", and "U Got It Bad" are still favorites to this day. Regardless, the year 2001 is a major one in R&B, and one we will remember for sure. Let's get into some more detailed discussion about the year and the albums, shall we?

2001 was an interesting year for R&B. The best way I can sum it up is simply that it was a bittersweet year with releases. We got some that would prove to be vital for the genre and some that would be nothing but a momentary listen, which would soon be a faded memory. Let me take you through the short list of what stood out in this particular year.

I wasn't sure if I should start or end with this one, but I figure beginning with it is only right. 2001 was the year that gave us Michael Jackson's "Invincible" album (This is where the bittersweet part comes in). This would be the last studio album we would get from MJ. He made sure to leave us with one of the best singles this year in "You Rock My World", as the dance-y beat is amazing which comes as no surprise, the words are adorable and of course the video that came out shortly after was incredible too. That was the highlight of the album for me but some other great tracks are "Butterflies", "Speechless" and "Unbreakable". Although there were mixed feelings about it from fans, it was an instant chart topper and remained as such the entire year. Not bad for an album that would cost $35M to make!

Another "final" release would come from one of my favorite ladies of R&B, Aaliyah, with her self titled album. I don't love every track on this one but I think the highlight of course was "Rock The Boat" even though the recording of this video would be to blame for her untimely passing. Other great tracks are "More Than A Woman", "We Need A Resolution" and "I Care 4 U". Again while we were excited and enjoying the album, we would learn that Aaliyah passed away just some weeks after. Her death was so sudden and so shocking to the R&B world that it really did put a damper on the entire year.

This next release happened early in '01 and is my favorite album in the group's catalog. 112 releases their third album "Part III" and I can't say anything bad about this. 112 has always been the embodiment of R&B and you can expect that here also. The harmonization, the silky vocals, the incredibly sweet and emotional lyrics and everything else you'd want from a group of this caliber is in each one of these tracks. What set this above the others for me is their maturity as well as the variations. They gave us "Peaches & Cream" as well as "Dance With Me" but also "Smile", "Sweet Love" and "Missing You"! These guys know exactly how to captivate their audience and they did perfectly with this.

This next release happens in the form of a song only, but it's definitely worth mentioning. R.Kelly releases "World's Greatest" for the movie "Ali", which came out on 2001. Thank God he did because this was a phenomenal track "dedicated" to Muhammad Ali, the greatest of all time. For those of us who remember the year, it took over radio and the video wasn't far behind. It truly was a fan favorite and R.Kelly truly gifted us with one of the greatest tracks on his catalog!!

Another great release comes from Ginuwine. By the time 2001 rolled around, we had already heard two of his albums and we were hooked. Fans knew they could expect consistency and heartfelt emotion as well as his charming and charismatic personality infused into each song. "The Life" was exactly that and tracks like "Differences" "That's How I Get Down" and  "Just Because" were amazing and if those (for some insane reason) wouldn't have you convinced, he dedicated the song "Two Reasons I Cry" to the memory of his parents he had lost a year before the release of the album. Like I said, the entire album is rooted in heartfelt emotion and Ginuwine has the perfect voice and personality to bring those emotions to life.

Those are my favorites from the year. They were the highlights and are still albums and songs that remain in rotation in my library. Other releases were from Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Tyrese amongst others. Overall '01 was a great year albeit with some sadness. The passing of Aaliyah shocked the R&B world and left a void in the genre that could never be filled.

2001 was a busy year for R&B. The charts stayed full with artists like Tyrese, Sisqo, Kelis, Tamia, Janet, Michael Jackson, 112, Joe, Bilal, Jill Scott, Tank and many others who were hitting us with major hits.

Some of my favorite tracks were
Usher - U Got It Bad
Nivea - Complicated
Ginuwine - Differences
Alicia Keys - A Woman's Worth
Case - Missing You
City High - What Would You Do
Jaheim ft. Next - Anything
Maxwell - This Woman's Work
Faith - I Love You
N'Sync - Gone
Mary J Blige - No More Drama

My favorite album had to go to Jagged Edge with their 3rd studio album "Jagged Little Thrill". With so many relatable topics on here, I loved this album. It's their best work out of their catalog. I can play it all the way through because it flows so well vocally and the production is dope. Stand out tracks on here were "Goodbye", "Best Man", "Respect" and my anthem "Girl It's Over". JE put themselves in my top 5 groups ever with this one.

I'll talk a little about the beautiful Aaliyah and her self-titled album. It's also her 3rd studio album. It had been around 5 years since she released "One In A Million". She came back with a different look. This wasn't the pretty tomboy we'd known. She was now a grown woman. This showed clearly through her music. The sound, vocals and lyrics were more mature. This album had great songs such as "Try Again", "More Than a Woman" and "I Care 4 You". The visuals for "We Need a Resolution" were dope. Everyone gives Britney props for the snake segment, but Aaliyah did it first and better. She was angelic in "Rock The Boat". It was just beautiful, not just the women, but the sensual dancing and the imagery. This album along with the videos were a great ending to her legacy.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-My 5 favorite albums on the year? Bilal, Usher, Maxwell, Michael Jackson, and probably Alicia Keys. The year had so many good moments and great music, with one major tragedy in the loss of the lovely Aaliyah, but regardless the year was a special one in R&B. Prince, one of my favorite artists ever would end up releasing a project this year too, truly adding yet again to the greatness of his catalog. There were also one hit wonders or temporary successes so to speak on the year like Sunshine Anderson, Blu Cantrell, the eventual (and now former) G-Unit songstress Olivia, along with many more on the year. They helped make the year even more enjoyable with their hits. When I look back at 2001, the memories are certainly fond. Cheers, 2001.



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