The Year In R&B: 2013

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-Some years in R&B are interesting. 2013 fits that description. Though not filled with classics, there was enough dope music to keep us satisfied through the year. From the Beyonce album that shocked the world to the two chapters of the new Justin Timberlake saga, there was a ton of music to keep every fan satisfied. There were songs and albums that captivated listeners AND the charts, along with the underground soul styling that we have grown to love of course. Today, we are here to talk 2013 in R&B and the best of the best musically from the year. Let's get into it.

Beyonce dropped her self titled surprise audio/visual album at the end of the year with a video for each track. This was done with no lead single, warning or promotion which sent the world into a frenzy causing the album to sell almost 900,000 copies in 3 days alone, and this was before "Drunk In Love" was officially a single. She helped changed the landscape of how artists would go on to release their future music proving that this approach could work. This album was more sexual, open, experimental and organic than we're used to from Beyonce. Songs that stuck out to me on here were "Mine" featuring Drake, "Jealous" and "Haunted". Kelly Rowland was back with a really nice R&B album. This time around there were no pop elements infused like she usually does. This was lead by her single "Kisses Down Low".

Jhene Aiko was back with her "Sail Out" EP. With her melodic, sweet, somber vocals over infectious production she featured rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Vince Staples and Ab-Soul. Justin Timberlake was finally back with "The 20/20 Experience" after his fans had been patiently waiting since his last album in 2006. He released it in 2 parts, the 1st in March and 2nd in September. He recruited Timbaland to give people that signature sound they're used to from the duo.

John Legend dropped "Love In the Future" and had another successful ballad in "All of Me". Robin Thicke had a world wide hit with "Blurred Lines", the song featured T.I & Pharrell. The song clearly was inspired Marvin Gayes "Got to Give it Up" which would cause the Gaye estate to sue for royalties from copyright infringement. Justin Bieber released "Journals", a digital compilation album where he compiled all of the R&B inspired songs he recorded while making other music.

Tank, Ginuwine & Tyrese got together for a collaborative effort for their project "Three Kings". August Alsina and his debut EP "Life Under The Gun" gained attention from his single "I Love It". Mack Wilds debuted with his "A New York Love Story" album with a nice throwback take on hip-hop classics with his new R&B style on it. Fantasia was back with her 4th album "Side Effects of You" after a split from her previous label.

Songs that caught my ear this year were:
Jhene Aiko- The Worst & Stay Ready feat. Kendrick Lamar
Sevyn Street & Chris Brown- It Won't Stop
Justin Timberlake- Not a Bad Thing & Mirrors
K Michelle- Can't Raise A Man
TGT- Lesson In Love
Drake- Hold On, We're Going Home
August Alsina- Downtown
Mack Wilds- Own It
John Legend- The Beginning
The Weeknd & Drake- Live For

2013 was a fun year for R&B. From Chris Brown busting out more moves to the tunes of "Fine China" to The Weeknd getting a similarly faded woman to visit "Kiss Land," you had it all. No, seriously. You had it all. Let's bust it down right quick.

You wanted blue-eyed soul? You had Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake drop songs/projects. You want gritty street soul? You had August Alsina burst onto the scene. You wanted a crooner fiending for a piece of Lisa Raye? You had Jaheim dropping "Age Ain't A Factor" from his Appreciation Day album (yeah...). Prince even dropped a track off Art Official Age ("Breakfast Can Wait," a song that was signature sexy Prince) to tide us over until that project dropped the following year.

So, all in all, you had everything you needed from the genre this year. You don't need me to tell you that. Just listen to some of the stuff we've mentioned.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-For me, there are three projects that I genuinely enjoyed the most. John Legend had the best album of the year with Love In The Future and Bilal struck gold with his album, A Love Surreal, while the biggest album of the year besides Beyonce seemed to be Justin Timberlake and his first chapter of The 20/20 Experience. The first chapter is easily the best chapter of the two and with songs like "Mirrors", "That Girl", and "Spaceship Coupe", JT did not disappoint. It helps he has the musical genius Timbaland by his side of course, but regardless, JT did his thing with some amazing songs to keep his longtime fans and even possible new listeners engaged.

As for Bilal, his A Love Surreal album came at the right time. Bilal is one of the more underrated artists of the genre and his Neo-Soul tinged sound has never disappointed. The album features lush instrumentals and smooth sounds that allow Bilal to put his vocals to the highest use. Overall, this is probably my favorite Bilal album since First Born Second, which says a lot considering his consistency. It's a huge highlight on the year.

The best album however remains the John Legend album "Love In The Future". Full of smooth ballads, soulful production and R&B at its finest, this is quite possibly my favorite album from the singer. While it's not as raw and iconic as his classic debut, it's more refined, more soulful, and features even better overall production. With songs like "Aim High", "Tomorrow", "Save The Night", "Wanna Be Loved", "Caught Up", and my favorite "So Gone", John creates an album that I think will be remembered as a classic. It gave us the all time classic ballad (and wedding song I'm sure) "All of Me", which is one of the tracks I'm not too fond of on the album. If one of the songs I'm not too fond of on the album is an all time classic ballad, that should go to tell you how strong this project was. Love In The Future was the best R&B album of 2013.

That about does it for us today on the year 2013 in R&B, but if John Legend, Bilal, or JT aren't for you, there's Beyonce, Janelle Monae, Joe, Jaheim, Raheem Devaughn, Charlie Wilson, Kelly Rowland, The-Dream, and R. Kelly... wait... wait... I have to mention the R. Kelly album before this article is done. The album was called Black Panties and it features one of the funniest songs I've ever heard in my life. No, not "Cookie" which was hilarious too, but the aptly titled "Marry The Pussy", which is.... yeah. I mean, the song has a hook that sees R. Kelly asking "pussy will you marry me", which.... ah... good times. Any year that has a song that's titled "Marry The Pussy" is a good year musically. Thank you R. Kelly for the continuing weirdness and hilarious songs. Much appreciated.



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