The Year In R&B: 2008

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
As the years went by, music became much different from what we loved about it previously. The sounds had evolved and whether hip hop or R&B, the music just wasn't the same. The year 2008 would be different as the releases and singles weren't as plentiful, but still featured a good amount of music to keep listeners engaged. The wave of autotune began taking over the studios and you could hear the shift in hip hop as well. T-Pain was the biggest proponent of that shift, but the shift would come full circle when Kanye West released his first non hip hop album, 808s and Heartbreak. Full of moody production and autotune vocals, it is seen as a game changer. However, my favorite releases came from other artists on the year. John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Musiq Soulchild, Solange, Erykah Badu, and Raphael Saadiq all created top tier albums on the year that remain memorable for me. 2008 isn't the best year for the R&B genre, but it had a lot of notable releases. Let's get the rest of the team's opinions.

When I first thought about R&B in 08, I immediately associated it with what's been going on with the genre for the last few years. I was like "it can't be that much to think about", but as I started going back to listen, song by song I was reminded of how many dope projects and singles were out at that time. There was so much to draw from.

We had albums from
Ashanti, Brandy, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Mariah, Janet Jackson, Lloyd, Keyshia Cole, John Legend, Jamie Foxx, Erykah Badu, Brandy, Jazmine Sullivan and many more in a rather stacked year that might go slept on.

After the success of 2004's Confessions, Usher took a 4 year hiatus to enjoy going 10 times platinum (diamond), which is understandable. He also did a lot of living. A lot had also changed. He parted ways with his mom as management, his father passed, he'd gotten married and had his first son. His return was kind of a comeback album. We didn't know what producers he'd work with nor what kind of sound he'd bring. He dropped "Love In This Club" as the single, which was a hit. He would then release his album "Here I Stand". My personal favorites from the tracklist were "Love In This Club Part 2" feat Beyonce, "Moving Mountains" and "Trading Places".This album ended up being a successful change in direction.

Beyonce took the world by storm releasing "Single Ladies", which became a media frenzy. I Am...Sasha Fierce was contrived as a split album showcasing Beyonce's different sides. The 1st half is her milder and softer side with songs like "If I Were A Boy", "Halo" & "Disappear". The 2nd half is her feistier, bolder boasting side with songs like "Diva", "Video Phone" and "Ego". I'd say my favorite joints here were "Sweet Dreams", "Hello" and "Scared of Lonely".

Some highlighted tracks from 2008:
Ne-Yo - Mad & Miss Independent
Musiq & Mary J. Blige- IfULeave & Someone
Keyshia Cole & Monica- Trust & You Complete Me
Jazmine Sullivan- After The Hurricane
Kanye West - Heartless & Welcome To Heartbreak
T-Pain - I Can't Believe It
Raheem DeVaughn - Customer
Brandy - Right Here & Camouflage
Jamie Foxx & T-Pain - Blame It

A few R&B/Hip-Hop collabs I liked:
Rhea & Jadakiss- Choreographer
Cassie & Lil Wayne- Official Girl
2 Pistols & T-Pain- She's Got It
Keyshia Cole & Nas- Oh Yea
Sterling Simms & Jadakiss- All I Need
Plies & Ne-Yo- Bust It Baby
Akon, Wayne & Jeezy- I'm So Paid
Nas & Keri Hilson- Hero

I'm pretty sure there's a lot that I missed, but this is some of what caught my ear and one of the better years of the 00s.

2008 saw returns from some of my favorite artists. This was a great year for comebacks, even if folks have been here for years. Beyonce dropped I Am...Sasha Fierce. That was an album that was great--classic even. However, for me, it still lacked a sort of edge to make it really hit home for years and years on end. That's unlike Beyonce and Lemonade (more on those, maybe, at a later date). We had Usher talking about making love in the club. Here I Stand showed a lot of maturity, but still let us know that Usher was willing to have fun. On top of that, Erykah Badu was dropping sexy knowledge all over the place.

2008 had it all. Seriously, guys. Any sort of R&B you'd want, you could get from 2008. You even had Al Green dropping an LP.

Now, usually, when I do these sorts of things, I tend to focus on one album/song and speak on whether it was "that bad"/"that good" or whatever. The thing with 2008 is this: it was a great year all around. I never really saw any flaws in 2008's output. Maybe it was because my kids' mom and I had first started dating in late '07/early '08 and my nose was wide the fuck open. Or, and probably more likely, it could've been that 2008 was a rare year in which everyone was coming with solid-to-classic albums.

I mean, shit, y'all. Rihanna dropped a re-issue of GGGB in 2008 that still managed to get a couple award nods. Prince dropped a live album (and y'all know how I feel about Prince material, new or otherwise). Jazmine Sullivan, after years of being a writer, glowed up on some Ne-Yo stuff and dropped her debut album, Fearless (still a dope album). Speaking of Ne-Yo, we got Year of the Gentleman, the project that featured the independent woman anthem, aptly titled "Miss Independent." As I said before, 2008 had it all. So, if you're looking for some strong R&B, check out some of the albums I've mentioned.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-I'm going to end this article talking about a slept on project from a legend, Al Green. His album Lay It Down is one of those albums that has a smooth nostalgic sound, but also features new age appearances from Corinne Bailey Rae, Anthony Hamilton, and John Legend to keep the sound fresh. With a short tracklist, the soul legend came with an album that felt like a comeback, but served as his last known project. Overall, 2008 was a solid year in the genre, with some highs and lows, but all around enjoyable.



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