R&B 2000: An Underrated Year

By Kendra Martin

R&B is one of, if not the greatest genre of music ever. R&B has given us so many classic songs and albums over the years and no other decades are more revered than the 1970s and the 1990s. Usually when you speak to someone to discuss their favorite time of music, those are the go-to decades, especially when you are talking about R&B.  You might even get the 1980s in that discussion depending on who you talk to, but with that being said, it seems the 2000s are left somewhat underrated in comparison. However, when you look at the year 2000 in R&B, it is actually a very important year in the genre. 

The year 2000 was the start of the new millennium and so many artists came to kick the door down. Joe dropped his third studio album, My Name Is Joe that featured the hit single, “I Wanna Know”, Craig David debuted with Born to Do It that featured timeless hits like “Fill Me In” and “7 Days”, Toni Braxton completed a three-peat with her third album The Heat, Mya dropped her second studio album that in turn gave us one of the greatest R&B and hip-hop collabs and remix in history, “Best of Me”, the criminally short-lived group Lucy Pearl that featured Raphael Saadiq, Ali Shaheed Muhamaad and Dawn Robinson dropped their only studio album, Carl Thomas debuted on Bad Boy with Emotional, Sade came back after a eight year hiatus with Lovers Rock and so much more.

Additionally, the year 2000 also gave us some of the most critically and commercially acclaimed neo-soul projects of all time that to this day, many are still trying to replicate. D’Angelo came back after five years and dropped his second album Voodoo that featured classics like “Devil’s Pie”, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”, “Send It On” and my personal favorite, “One Mo’ Gin”. With the help (and unfortunately in retrospect, hurt) of the “Untitled'' (How Does It Feel), D’Angelo was a powerhouse. Trailing right along beside D’Angelo was the arrival of Erykah Badu’s second studio album, Mama’s Gun that featured hits like “Bag Lady”, Didn’t Cha Know” and also my personal favorite, “Orange Moon.” At this point, Erykah Badu could do know wrong as she released a near perfect album that was a bit more on the experimental side than her debut but paid off in the long run. 

On the other hand, there were two artists that changed the game for me personally and released two of my all-time favorite R&B and neo-soul albums ever. Both hailing from Philly and releasing their debut projects, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild kicked the door down and released two of the finest R&B albums I have ever heard. Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 is one of those albums that I remember hearing a lot during my childhood. I was four when this album came out but I vividly remember my mom playing this album a lot whenever we would get in the car to drive somewhere. Songs like “A Long Walk” “Gettin’ In the Way” and “The Way” (which was my aunt’s favorite song. RIP Stevie) were childhood staples for me, but it was not until I got older into my adult years that I began to appreciate and cherish this album more. “Slowly, Surely” is one of the most well-written breakup songs and it was one of those songs that made me marvel at Jill Scott’s songwriting ability. Jill Scott then flexes on love finally being obtained with “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” which, aside from the singles, is the most notable song on this album. Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1 is a marvelous, and classic debut album that signified the official arrival of Jill Scott into the R&B space. 

Alongside Jill Scott’s debut, another singer from Philly made their introduction. Musiq Souldchild released his debut album Aijuswanaseing. In contrast to Jill Scott’s album that I heard throughout my childhood, Aijuswanaseing was an album I did not hear in full until I got to college. I remember hearing the singles, “Just Friends (Sunny)”, and “Love” of course, but I never realized it was him until I got older. My true introduction to Musiq Souldchild was “teachme” back in 2007 so I was late to the game, however, I was thankful I went back because this album really is a beautiful piece of art. This album, while I didn’t grow up on, has a way of making me feel nostalgic. “Girl Next Door” is such a smooth yet sweet song and “Settle For My Love” is a magnificent cover that I feel rivals the original. I recall listening to this album for the first time and going nuts that Musiq Souldchild sampled The Roots “The Next Movement” on the “L is Gone”. Especially with them all being from Philly, I thought that was such a cool nod to add to this album. It’s one of those albums that I just let play and it immediately brings to a place of...happiness and peace. 

While the 1990s, 1980s and the 1970s were groundbreaking decades for R&B music, the 2000s wasn’t anything to scoff at, especially if you are looking at what the start of the new millennium gave us. So many artists avoided the sophomore slump during this time with Erykah Badu and D’Angelo dropping quite possibly their best work and two of Philly’s greatest artists of their generation made their debuts with albums that stood the test of time. The year 2000 was the turn of the new era and with projects like these, definitely started off on a monstrous note.



Popular Posts