The Year In R&B: 2007

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-The year 2007 isn't remembered for too much musically and it's pretty obvious why. The decline of music had begun and 2007 seemed to be a year where both quality and sales were down. However, there are always some bright spots in every year musically, and 2007 was no exception. R&B was going through a slight transition and with artists like T-Pain blurring the line of genres and songs that had more pop sense, the traditional sound of R&B slowly started to drift away.

However, drifting away doesn't mean completely gone, and when you have artists like Musiq Soulchild, Joe, Tank, R. Kelly, Hill Scott, and more all releasing albums in the same year, you're bound to have some classic R&B come out. Kelly Rowland, Angie Stone, The Dream, and many more made 2007 a good year for the genre, though some of the music may have been forgotten. Today, we look back at the year 2007 in R&B. Let's get into it.

While Omarion's 21 was, technically, released at the very ass-end of 2006, I want to talk about it a bit since it does play a bit into the rest of 2007. It was futuristic-sounding, dark, sexy, and just a project that is, aside from the Omarion jokes over the years, has held up pretty well (considering it all).

Now that we got that hidden (not really) gem out the way, let's talk 2007. For me, 2007 in R&B was special. We got J. Holiday singing about what I wanted to do with many a woman in my freshman year in college (and that summer), put them to bed. And to bed, I put many a woman, but this isn't about my sex game. "Bed" and that whole album was a product of the times, just like 21.

But, from there, we also got the guy who considers himself the Proto-Weeknd, The-Dream. That's not meant to be an insult to The-Dream or The Weeknd. It's just that both artists sing, mostly in falsetto, about strippers and P-Popping and muddying their livers with booze from time to time. The comparisons are there, especially when you hear The Weeknd's pre-House of Balloons stuff. It's just that The Weeknd does it a bit better to me (he has a bit more range and experiments more, even if The-Dream has more diverse subject matter at times).

Now, Love-Hate was a solid project and had some bangers on it that still get play from me in an unironic way. For instance, "Shawty is Da Shit." I had that as a ring tone for someone I was dating. "Falsetto" was "Bed," but a bit slinkier and less sensual. It gave us "Dirty R&B" in some ways. Prince and MJ-influenced dirty love songs. See where the Weeknd comparisons come back up?

Anywho, 2007 also saw releases from the likes of Musiq and Alicia Keys. Musiq delivered a solid project (it's Musiq, what do you expect?) and Alicia Keys' project, As I Am, was an evolution of the sound we'd come to expect from Keys. Plus, it featured "No One," one of my favorite Keys tracks. So, I'm admittedly a bit biased towards it.

Plus, we got new Prince. While Planet Earth wasn't his strongest project, it's still new Prince. Therefore, it automatically is better than a good portion of the stuff that came out that year. Yes, I know I've missed some biggies (hi T-Pain's dominance on urban radio still going strong) and some loosies, but overall? Just pull up a chair, put your ears to the stereo, and play 2007 R&B until the cows come home. Yeah, I said that.

If ’06 was the specific year when R&B started changing, 2007 would be the year that had the few remaining releases that could be described as “dope” to me. Although there were several releases, the notable ones started dwindling and we were left with just a few albums that (IMO) are worth mentioning. Here are my favorites from the year

One of my favorite ladies of R&B releases her third studio album, as this was the year Alicia Keys gave us “As I Am” and this was proof that pop was totally seeping into the genre. While she was known for true neo-soul and R&B vocals, piano instrumentals, and emotion, “As I Am” came with a bit of a twist. It stayed true to R&B but the pop infusion was impossible to ignore. The result? A good album and a needed addition to the year. I love Alicia Keys for her raspy voice, sweet and emotion filled lyrics and the piano! I really appreciate her many talents and we get that in all the tracks. My favorites are “No One” and “Like You’ll Never See Me Again”. I do also appreciate “Superwoman” for its female empowerment lyricism, but that track was a little to pop-driven for me. Where the album falls a little short, is the third released single “Teenage Love Affair”. I found the lyrics a bit juvenile and mundane. It’s predictable for an R&B album and it’s for this reason the album remains good and not "great” (she redeems herself because her next release is my favorite of her catalog and nearly perfect).

Ne-Yo’s release “Because Of You” IMO is one of the best of the year. This guy knows exactly how to grab the audience’s attention and keep it. He kicks off the album with the title track and first single. It’s a fun, engaging and just overall dope song. He doesn’t stop there, and though he features only two artists and made sure they would be incredible additions and they were. He put Jay-Z on “Crazy”, which was a perfect dose of hip hop (even though it was just one verse) and Jennifer Hudson on “Leaving Tonight”, which is a great vocal match to Ne-Yo. This album really has everything and is incredibly enjoyable.

Another release comes from Mya who always seems to stay under the radar, but after many complications and label related setbacks, 2007 gave us her album “Liberation”. This album has a short tracklist but each one is packed with incredible vocal strength, nice features, and some interesting collaborations on production. Of course the best track is also the lead single with “Lock U Down” but I also appreciated “Walka Not A Talka” feat Snoop Dogg, “All In The Name Of Love” and “I Am” feat Charli Baltimore. Many people would think this album is average at best, but personally to me, Mya did what she does best. She gives powerful vocals and emotionally driven lyrics with a soulful R&B feel and she did that well here. I appreciated this addition to the year.

Despite the heavy influence of pop beats interpolated in R&B, these artists managed to create and release some very good albums. They managed to stay true to the genre while appealing to the demands of an ever changing industry. This was just a couple from a long list, which included Chris Brown, Mary J. and Joe who also had releases amongst many others. Overall 2007 was a good year for the genre.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
Keyshia Cole. Alicia Keys. Leona Lewis. Janelle Monae. Amerie. Mary J. Blige. These are just a few of the women who had noteworthy releases on the year with some of the top albums. Legends like Chaka Khan and Prince also released albums, as did newer stars like Chris Brown and Trey Songz, along with veterans like Tank and Marques Houston. There were many albums that dropped, and a ton of songs that took over radio, but the best R&B music floated under the radar so to speak. Timbaland saw a resurgence this year after his success with JT the year prior, so he would be a big proponent of the pop R&B infusion sound. He produced one of my favorite songs on the year for Bobby Valentino with "Anonymous", which was featured on the Bobby V album "Special Occasion". My favorite release this year however would have to be the Musiq Soulchild album "Luvammusiq", as it excelled on every aspect and kept the soulful sound in tact along with more upbeat rhythms. Was 2007 a perfect year in R&B? No, far from it, but it had enough dope music to make it noteworthy and enjoyable.



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