DAR Music: The 10 Greatest R&B Debut Albums Of The 2000s

By @TrueGodImmortal

The music industry has seen peaks and valleys with some decades being held in higher regard than others. A legendary decade for music that tends to go slept on is R&B in the 2000s. There were legends continuing their streak and more legends to be made as they dropped their first project during the decade. Today, that's what we're here to discuss. The best debut albums in the genre during the decade. Which albums make the list? Read on to find out. Let's get into it.

*Bilal- First Born Second (2001)

-I started with this album because it's a pure classic that remains slept on in its own right. Bilal debuted with the Interscope machine behind him, along with full fledged support and production from Dr. Dre, The Soulquarians, and J-Dilla, which puts him ahead of the pack. Despite this, the album didn't catch on with the mainstream masses like it should, but it still garnered a gold plaque. It is remembered very fondly by many Neo-Soul aficionados, and with tracks like "Soul Sista", "Sometimes", "Sally", "Home", "You Are", and more, this album doesn't disappoint in the slightest.

*The Dream- Love Hate (2007)

-I was never a big fan of Dream. At all. His vocal style was not to my liking, but I couldn't deny the catchy hooks within his music. His debut is the pinnacle of his success and it showcases his songwriting talents without question. Aside from the songwriting abilities displayed, Dream utilized his vocal limitations as a strength with some autotune and condensed vocals that still worked well. Looking for the best tracks on this project? Tune into the singles like "I Luv Your Girl", "Shawty Is Da Shit", and my favorite "Falsetto" for evidence of why this album deserves to be on this list.

*Trey Songz- I Gotta Make It (2005)

-I'm far from a big Trey Songz fan, but his earlier albums were solid and fresher. His music wasn't the most creative, but there was humor and a smoothness to each song in his early years. His debut is still my favorite project from him, as the vocals and production combine for what I think is the most cohesive project. Lyrically, the album is a bit juvenile in spots, but Trey was around 18 or 19 at the time, so that's to be expected some. Still, even with that, he delivers through songs like the hit "Gotta Go", the interesting "Cheat On You", the title track, the smooth "Kinda Lovin", and much more. Though many look towards Ready or even Trey Day as his breakthrough moment, his debut is really when the breakthrough occurred for Trey.

*Chris Brown- Chris Brown (2005)

-Say what you will about him now, but on his debut, Chris Brown set the world on fire. He was a teenager with potential and he could sing and dance like very few of the era he entered. His first album kept a slight maturity within it while sticking to the teenage themes that made sense, and the result is an album that brought us a new star, for better or worse. His troubles aside and his personal issues aside, musically, Chris delivered with songs such as "Poppin", his debut single with Juelz Santana "Run It", the ballad "Say Goodbye", the booming "Gimme That", and of course the smooth "Yo (Excuse Me Miss)", and this album has a legacy that's certainly solidified.

*Musiq Soulchild- Aijuswanaseing (2000)

-Aside from the interesting title, this album introduced us to one of the more prominent faces in R&B and neo-soul in the decade. Musiq came in and stole the show for the genre and with soulful and smooth singles, he made the world take notice of him and with songs like "Just Friends", "Girl Next Door", "My Girl", and the iconic "Love", he let the world know he was here to stay. From the production to the songwriting, this album is amazing from top to bottom and it might be the best in his catalog.

*John Legend- Get Lifted (2004)

-Many are and have been sleep on John Legend. While he's a well known name and popular, the fact remains, he doesn't get enough credit for what he did during the mid 2000s. I would crown as a top 3 artist during this era, and there aren't many albums in general from this decade that could rival his debut. With production from Kanye West and appearances from Kanye and Snoop Dogg, John presented his first project to the world and he would see nearly triple platinum sales on the heels of his mega hit "Ordinary People", which is one of the biggest songs of the decade in general, not just in R&B. Other tracks like "So High", "Refuge", and "Live It Up" help to round out a classic album that's almost flawless. This is one of my personal favorite debuts in R&B period.

*Carl Thomas- Emotional (2000)

-Bad Boy Records excelled at hip hop to an extent, but they definitely excelled at R&B. Perhaps there is no greater evidence of that then with this album from Carl Thomas, which might be the best R&B album from the label (and yes, this includes Faith, Total, and 112). What made this album special is the vulnerability in the music and the vocals, the production, as well as the presentation. You can feel some of the pain in the music from Carl, and that makes it even more enjoyable. Whether it's the title track, "Supastar", "Come To Me", or my two favorites "I Wish" and "Summer Rain", Carl gave us music that would stand the test of time and age very well.

*Alicia Keys- Songs In A Minor (2001)

-There are some debuts that catch you by surprise, and the debut of Alicia Keys was one of them. Virtually unknown at the time of her arrival, she didn't come in with a huge co-sign, a bunch of guest appearances, or anything of the sort. She had been signed for a while prior, but without the cosigns and the attention, the first album she recorded got shelved. She would make sure that would not happen this go round. Instead, she came in with her own flavor, utilizing some popular producers, but making sure to help write or co-produce almost all of the songs. The result? An album that sold 7 million copies in the US and almost 16 million copies worldwide. With songs like the iconic "Fallin", "Girlfriend", "Jane Doe", and "A Woman's Worth", Alicia and her piano set the world ablaze and the genre was never quite the same.

*Jill Scott- Who Is Jill Scott: Words And Sounds Vol. 1 (2000)

-When we look back at landmark Neo-Soul debuts, aside from a few others, there aren't many albums that had the impact of this one. Jill Scott was different. She wasn't like the average artist, and with her uniqueness and her magnetic voice, she would captivate the listening audience with her tales of love, lust, and her penchant for referencing food in her songs. This debut gave us funk, soul, and jazzy elements throughout and with songs like "The Way", "Love Rain",  "A Long Walk", "Gettin' In The Way", and "Do You Remember", Jill gives us an album we'll always remember.

*Ne-Yo- In My Own Words (2006)

-I am not much of a Ne-Yo fan, but I will honestly admit that his music early on was enjoyable. His debut album is still his best album and it features some of his most catchy songs. From "Stay" to "When You're Mad" to "So Sick" to "Sexy Love", Ne-Yo put his name at the top of the conversation for top tier artists in the genre with this debut, just like everyone else on this list.



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