Discography Check: Anita Baker

By @TrueGodImmortal

There are women in the music world who are beyond the others. There are legends, and there are icons. Anita Baker is one of them. She has been a model of greatness in music for the better part of the last 30 years, and despite being officially retired from making albums (for now), her short but sweet catalog is one of the greatest of all time in female R&B. She has built up a legacy since her somewhat quite arrival in 1983, and with her last album being released in 2004 (2005 if you count the Christmas album), she has been mostly inactive musically for the last 13 years. Still, Anita had been rumored to release something on Blue Note Records throughout 2012 and 2013, but apparently, she decided against it. Regardless, retired or not, Anita Baker is a legend and her catalog is the reason why. Let's take a look at her discography.

*The Songstress (1983)

-The arrival of Anita is still one of the best moments in music history, even though this is one of my least favorite albums from her (probably my second least favorite). Honestly, her arrival was one of those moments in music where you can appreciate the legend beginning their journey, but the beginning isn't always as special. Don't get me wrong, this album isn't bad by any means, and I enjoy the majority of it, but the truth be told, it pales in comparison to the  classics in her arsenal. There are some strong singles and songs here, and there are one or two songs that fall short of the rest of the album, but overall, if I had to grade it in her discography, this is actually my 2nd least favorite album. The funny part about that, and a testament to her greatness is that even one of her worst albums manages to be better than most people and their best. My favorites on this album are "Angel", one of her most iconic songs, "Will You Be Mine", and "Feel The Need", which are all very good songs on this project. Overall, this is probably a 7 out of 10, which is still good, but there are better projects in her discography.

*Rapture (1986)

-Speaking of which, this is the best project in the catalog of Anita. It isn't even close. She is honestly at the top of her game on this album, and I don't think there are many woman who can compete in terms of music. This might be the greatest female R&B album ever, and while some might think I'm being a bit overzealous to label it that, I can't think of an album that could be better than this one. I mean, let's be honest. Anita was one of the premier women in music during the 80's alongside Whitney, Sade, and Janet, but honestly.... this album trumps all of their work during the decade. Every song here is amazing from the slow ballads like "You Bring Me Joy" and "Sweet Love" to the infectious rhythms of anthem like tracks such as "Mystery" and "Caught Up In The Rapture", Anita doesn't disappoint one bit with this album. I've spoken about this album a few times on this site, so many know how I feel about it, and this is the project that solidified Anita as one of the best to ever do it. This album would bring her a Grammy, more nominations, a ton of attention and fame, chart success, and over 8 million copies sold worldwide. Rapture is the best Anita Baker album and it isn't close honestly.

*Giving You The Best I Got (1988)

-A lot of people haven't given this album the credit it deserves, but it is a near classic and probably one of the better albums of the late 80's in the R&B genre. Anita returned just two years after her monumental Rapture album and she definitely would deliver. While this isn't better than Rapture, it expands on the sound that made that album so popular, with Michael J. Powell handling the majority of production like he did on that project. This album would boast great songs like the title track, the smooth "Just Because", "Good Enough", and the closing track "You Belong To Me". This album would be very successful, hitting triple platinum and gaining Anita more awards and nominations. The two album run of Anita during the late 80's is one of the most important runs for a female artist in the genre and this album is probably the 2nd or 3rd best project in her catalog. It's very close to being a classic and someone wanted to argue that it is, I can't blame them.

*Compositions (1990)

-While this album didn't have the same popularity and impact of the previous two, this was still a really good album. It would serve as the final collaboration for Anita and Michael J. Powell and they went out with a bang honestly. The production here is smooth and jazzy in its own right, while Anita coasts over the tracks as only she can with her sultry and unique voice. She has some strong tracks on this project, as the sounds of "Perfect Love Affair", "Talk To Me", "Whatever It Takes", and "More Than You Know" all round out a really good album. This would garner yet another Grammy nomination and go platinum, making this a successful release for sure and an important album in her short but sweet catalog.

*Rhythm Of Love (1994)

-I honestly have vivid recollections of this album because my mother was a huge fan of it when it released. She still enjoys the music today, and when I went back to revisit the album, there was a bit of nostalgia that set in. Released in 1994, this album from Anita would boast production from an entirely new set of musicians, but somehow, she didn't lose the quality achieved with her first four projects. This album would be very successful, garnering a high placement on the charts and going double platinum, leading to another Grammy award that would fill her mantle up even more. As far as the album itself, there are two amazing singles in "I Apologize" and "Body And Soul", both jazzy numbers that flow perfectly. There are other great songs here such as "Sometimes I Wonder Why", "It's Been You", and "Baby", and if I had to rank this in her catalog, it could very well be no. 2, as it isn't as good as Rapture, but it is on par with Giving You The Best I Got, and possibly better. This is a near classic as well.

*My Everything (2004)

-This was a comeback album and honestly, I didn't even remember this until I revisited it for this article. Anita was something special in her prime and she hadn't really lost a step judging by this album. She would take more control of this album, writing a majority of the songs on the album (co-writing as well). The production was mostly handled by Barry J. Eastmond with contributions from the legendary Babyface as well, but Anita holds her own without a doubt on this project. Being mostly in control was a great thing for her, as songs like the title track (titled "You're My Everything", which was the first single), "How Could You", and "I Can't Sleep" were amazing listens overall. Anita was in control and she delivered on this album, that is truly underrated in her discography. If you're familiar with Anita Baker and you haven't experienced this album, you have to take a listen now.

*Christmas Fantasy (2005)

-This isn't an official album from Anita in all honesty, but one thing that sticks out about this is that it is her final release and something different. She had joined Blue Note Records, and this would be the first release of the deal she signed with them. With most Christmas releases, this is a standard album full of Christmas carols with soul and more. The project didn't do too well on the charts as expected of course, but with the sound of Anita's voice on classics like "Christmas Time Is Here", "Family Of Man", and "I'll Be Home For Christmas", this is a decent listen for anyone who loves the holidays. All in all, Anita has a short but sweet catalog that has a few classics sprinkled in with really good albums for the most part.



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