The Year In R&B: 2009

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
2009 is a strange year. When speaking of the music that dropped that year, my memories of hip hop aren't that fond. When I look at R&B, it is almost the same honestly. While R&B wasn't at the highest level in the late 2000s, there were still some solid albums and songs that we enjoyed. For me, with artists such as Maxwell, Robin Thicke, The Dream, R. Kelly, Alicia Keys, Ciara, and more all releasing albums, the year had just about enough music to get you through. Now, how was the quality of those albums? That's what we are here to examine. Let me start off with talking briefly about my favorite releases of the year before passing the mic to the rest of the team.

I've never been a huge fan of Alicia Keys musically, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a few of her songs. Her 2009 album, The Element of Freedom, was released right at the end of the year and featured some quality tracks. From the "Put It In A Love Song" super collab with Beyonce all the way down to the Drake penned "Un-Thinkable (I'm Ready)", Alicia came with more than enough fire power on the album to be an enjoyable listen.

The same could also be said for Leona Lewis, who would release her album Echo in 2009. She was riding a wave of success after her previous project and Echo would only continue the success and showcasing of her vocal talents. Other ladies in the genre like the beautiful Amerie would release an album, and while In Love & War wasn't as good as her previous albums, she still had some solid songs on that project. Overall, 2009 was dope, and I have one project I really loved but I'll get to that in the outro. Let's see what the team thinks of the year.

In 2009, R&B had a slew of releases. There's so much to take away from, but I'll highlight 3 of my top ones.

"Graffiti" was Chris Brown's sort of comeback album after his fall from grace dealing with his attack on Rihanna. For musicians, when going through things, the best thing to do is work on the music and that's what he did. This album was full of dope tracks with R&B, hip hop, pop, rock & EDM infusion. You have nice songs like "Crawl", "So Cold", "What I Do" & "Falling Down". My favorite tracks were "Chase Our Love", "I Love U" & "Brown Skin Girl". With the exception of 2 tracks, I really liked this album.

"The Element of Freedom" was a different pace for Alicia Keys, as she strayed away from her sultry soul sound for both ballads and uptempo songs and a few electronic elements in the background while keeping her rawness and piano present. There was a suprising collab with Beyonce, "Put It In A Love Song", which worked for them. My favorite tracks were "Un-Thinkable(I'm Ready)", "Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart" & "Doesn't Mean Anything". There was also "Love Is Blind", "How It Feels To Fly" & "Distance And Time", which helped the album flow.

With 2 albums under his belt, Trey Songz got ready for his next project. His 3rd release "Ready" seemed to be the one that took him to the next level as a household name. Trey Songz chose the right production, writing & features this time around, which gained him a few R Kelly comparisons. The album was solid with tracks like "Successful", "Neighbors Know My Name" & "Say Ah". My favorite joints were "Invented Sex", "I Need A Girl" & "Holla If Ya Need Me".

I enjoyed a few other albums this year which were as follows:
Keri Hilson- In a Perfect World
Ginuwine- A Man's Thoughts
Pleasure P- The Introduction of Marcus Cooper

Songs I liked on the year:
Rihanna & Jeezy - So Hard 
Rihanna- Rude Boy (not really for the song but the
Keri Hilson - Energy & Knock You Down
Ginuwine - Last Chance & Even When I'm Mad
Drake & Lloyd - A Night Off
The Dream - Rockin That
Ciara- Never Ever
Pleasure P- Boyfriend #2 & Under
Jeremih- Birthday Sex
Robin Thicke- Sex Therapy

Other artists who came out with releases were Rihanna, Amerie, Jojo, Robin Thicke, Leona Lewis, The Dream, Ciara, Jeremih, Letoya Luckette, Bobby V, Day 26, Mariah Carey, Joe, Mary J Blige, Prince, Whitney Houston, R Kelly, Chrisette Michele, Ginuwine, India Arie, Boyz ll Men, and Charlie Wilson.

Typically, I'd talk a project or two, say they're great and say "I'll shut up and let the music speak for me." But, 2009 was an odd year for R&B. Sure, we got Maxwell singing about his woman's "Pretty Wings" (before Black Twitter turned on him for his BHM comments). But, for every Maxwell project, we got Jason Derulo, while singing his ass off, doing pop shit on "Whatcha Say." Sure, not everyone can embrace neo-neo-soul, and that's cool. Do you. But...artists like Jason Derulo and, to a lesser extent, Trey Songz, they helped reopen that gap between pop and R&B that'd closed up after "Yeah" wasn't used in every white guy dancing video/movie imaginable.

...was that a bad thing? Eh, yes and no. Because of this Pop&B combination, we got artists like The Weeknd doing pop on some Sean Kingston-like energy, then evolving their Pop&B sounds into something darker and hazier. Yes, I'm saying that we wouldn't have that "alternative R&B" sound that hipsters loved so much in 2010-2012 without Pop&B's re-re-re-re-reemergence in 2009.

But, not to be outdone, we had Mariah Carey come back with Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, featuring her Eminem diss "Obsessed." For years, we'd heard rumors of these two hooking up and being involved and it all came to a head when Em decided to diss Nick Cannon and target Mariah in those bars. While Nick never really responded on some "diss me and you'll never hear a reply" stuff, Mariah was all like "eff that. Lemme sing about Marshall and blow people's earminds with my range." The album itself was dope, mainly because it showed that Carey still had some edge to her (thanks to a team-up with The-Dream and Tricky Stewart).

But, R&B in 2009 belonged to a Canadian singer-rapper named Aubrey Drake Graham. Yeah, I said it. You couldn't go anywhere without hearing "Best I Ever Had" or "Successful" (Trey Songz even released his own version of the track) or something rap-sung by Drizzy. Yes, there were other greats who put out stuff in this year. I mentioned a few of them above.

But, for me, it was the year that Drake won R&B and hip-hop. The 808s and Heartbreaks-inspired So Far Gone, while not a full-on R&B album, opened the door for a lot of sing-rappers (for better or worse). Plus, these days, it's hard to go somewhere and not run into a newer artist that was inspired, in even the most minute way, by stuff like "Houstanatlantavegas" or "Brand New." Hell, yours truly dropped a remix to "Brand New" years ago (and no, you can't hear it) that got a bit of buzz around the UMD interwebs.

So, all in all, 2009 in R&B, for me, was a year that was weird but still amazing. You had legends dropping classic or near classic projects. You had Drake winning, but other full-on singers or at least stumbling (for instance, Alicia Keys' 2009 album, The Element of Freedom. It wasn't bad, I didn't even talk about artists like K'Jon and Uncle Charlie, who were killing it on the Adult Contemporary tip.

All I've got to say is this: 2009 was the shit, for the most part.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, my favorite project of 2009 was the Maxwell album. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but it was a solid listen overall and I thoroughly enjoyed the album from top to bottom minus one song. Titled BLACKsummersnight, the album was a part of a trilogy that we've only got two pieces of in the last 8 years (let's hope we get that third one). However, with songs like "Bad Habits", "Pretty Wings", and "Stop The World", Maxwell just couldn't lose. In addition, I did enjoy a few songs off Trey Songz' Ready album, though I'd say that his Anticipation mixtape was miles better than the album. If you're unfamiliar with Anticipation, take a trip to any mixtape site and enjoy. Chris Brown had a few songs, Mariah Carey put out an album (that I wasn't too fond of personally), and many other artists dropped noteworthy projects that were discussed. When I look back on 2009, it had some dope music in it, and for the Maxwell return alone, it is important.



Popular Posts