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DAR Music: 7 Female R&B Albums From 1997

By @TrueGodImmortal


We've been continuing the female R&B appreciation series for the 90's and we see no reason to stop now. After our looks at years like 1994 and 1995 for the ladies, we figured we would go deeper into the decade near the end and take a moment to appreciate the output of the ladies in the year 1997. 1997 was a bittersweet year all around for music, but in R&B, there were some interesting releases, debuts, follow ups, and legends continuing to do what they do best. Let's take a look at 7 albums from the ladies in the genre that year.

*Janet Jackson- The Velvet Rope


-So, Janet is definitely a legend and to many, The Velvet Rope is a classic. To me, it is not. Of her run of albums that include Control, Rhythm Nation, Janet, and this one, The Velvet Rope is my least favorite of the four. However, the album is probably the most daring of those. Janet stretches herself musically and the subject matter here ranges so much. Some of the themes are underlying, but regardless, Janet delivers an album that truly showcases where she is in life and what she believes in. Whether or not the listener agrees with these things is actually irrelevant. The music is enough to capture your attention and with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis by her side again, she succeeds to the highest power, birthing classic songs like "I Get Lonely", "You", "Got 'Til Its Gone", "My Need", "Go Deep", and "Together Again". In addition to that, The Velvet Rope would also be a successful album, moving 4 million copies in the US, which was a bit lower than her previous releases, but still a commercial success anyway. The album would finish with 11 million copies sold worldwide.

*Mary J. Blige- Share My World


-So, the Queen Of Hip Hop Soul has always managed to capture the ears with her brand of musical pain and honesty and of course, when she dropped her third album after back to back classics, the world was waiting to hear what she had in store next. This was her first album serving as executive producer, and the result is a nice blend of hip hop and R&B soul without overdoing it. She would have Nas, R. Kelly, Roy Ayers, George Benson, Lil' Kim, and The LOX featured, making for a nice mix of guest appearances. The highlights on this album are "Love Is All We Need", "Everything", "Seven Days", "Missing You", "I Can Love You", and the title track. This album would end up nearly 4x platinum, making it a major success and one of her biggest albums commercially.

*SWV- Release Some Tension


-1997 seems to be the year that legends release albums that are slightly disappointing in their catalog, but overall really good albums for the genre apparently. SWV would drop back to back classics with their first two albums IMO before going a little too far into the hip hop realm with their third album. While hip hop influence is always accepted in R&B, the trio overdoes it, featuring Redman, Foxy Brown, E-40, Snoop Dogg, Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, and Missy Elliott. Now, if this were a hip hop release, this guest list would be welcome, but the sound sometimes get shuffled too much and hearing too many rap verses on a R&B album can be a bit of an annoyance. That aside, this album does have some great music, from the hit single "Can We" to "When U Cry" to "Lose Myself" to perhaps the best song on the album "Rain", so it's not like the hip hop features take away from the overall quality, it just feels unnecessary on a number of the tracks. Regardless, SWV still drops a solid album with classic songs on it, and it is a highlight of the year for the ladies in the genre.

*Zhane- Saturday Night


-I always hated that this group broke up shortly after the release of this album, but they went 2 for 2 on their releases. While I am partial to their debut over this sophomore release, I appreciate the music and production here. This album would be well recieved by critics, some even feeling that this was a better album than their first release. The highlights on this album include their hit single "Crush", as well as "Request Line", the LOX featured "Saturday Night", "This Song Is For You", and more. This album wasn't as successful as their debut either, but it was definitely a solid listen and enjoyable album for the year.

*Mariah Carey- Butterfly


-So, Mariah was sort of descending from her perch as the squeaky clean R&B princess to a more raw and perhaps more authentic image. This would be a bit peculiar due to her change as hip hop became more and more a dominant genre, but she has that maintained that image ever since, so maybe that's just her. Regardless, this album is an interesting one for several reasons. This is probably her most hip hop tinged album up until that point in her career, with Puffy, The Ummah, Stevie J, Trackmasters, and more contributing to the production side. She features Krazyie and Wish Bone from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on the album as well as Dru Hill, and while this album is far from her best, she does give us hits like the iconic "Honey", the title track, "Breakdown", and "My All". This album would become 5X platinum, marking another win for Mariah, though a slight drop off compared to her previous releases.

*Allure- Allure


-So, when speaking of Mariah Carey, it is rarely mentioned that she herself had an actual record label. Her label was called Crave Records and while she didn't have a stacked roster of artists, nor did she seem that invested in the label, she would release an album from a group of ladies that had potential. Allure was a group of four women that originated in New York and their debut is an underrated album of the decade. While many go to their duet with 112 on "All Cried Out", they had other tracks on their self titled debut like "Head Over Heels" featuring Nas, "No Question" featuring LL Cool J, "Anything You Want", and more that showcased their talent at a high level. The album was not hugely successful, but it was a moment for the genre as it gave Mariah her first release as a label owner and introduced the world to a group that likely could have done more than they did.

*Erykah Badu- Baduizm


-To me, this is the best album on the list and one of the best albums in the genre during the decade period. Debut albums can be hit or miss, but in those rare cases when they are classics and game changers, it is a moment in time. The arrival of Badu was just that. She would delight audiences with her Neo-Soul style, her different vocal power, and just her all around style honestly. Badu would deliver her Neo-Soul hymns and honest musings over jazzy production providing the listener with timeless gems such as "On & On", "Next Lifetime", "Otherside Of The Game", "Certainly", "Appletree", and many more beautiful works of art. Baduizm is a classic and is the most successful album of her career, going triple platinum. This is the best R&B album of 1997 period, from a man or woman.

-True

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