The Most Important R&B Artists Of 2012

From The Weeknd to Rihanna, 2012 had R&B artists making a presence in Hip Hop and beyond.

It’s been an atypical year for R&B music. This year artists took a futuristic approach to their music. Others took charge of it and wrote and produced records that would become their claims to fame. Some even used the power of Social Media to announce kept secrets to the world while others slowly stepped into spotlight after starting out as mystery figures.

The following artists have not only shined brightly within their own genre but have delivered albums that have crossed genres. Above all, the following artists have/personified the inventiveness, romance, and flirtation of the genre.

The following artists have not only shined brightly within their own genre but have delivered albums that have crossed genres. Above all, the following artists have personified the inventiveness, romance, and flirtation of the genre.
1. Frank Ocean
The New Orleans native rode high in 2011 creating buzz with Nostalgia, Ultra. In 2012 he established himself as one of R&B’s key player with Channel Orange whilst still penning songs with some of today’s superstars. Channel Orange was a sonic melee with a high level in third person storytelling. The artist’s television debut on the Jimmy Fallon Show was just days after he told his own story of unrequited for another man creating a buzz that was rare for a late-night musical guest. Frank delivered with a demure performance that will be hard to forget.
2. Miguel
Miguel has come a long way since debuting a single in 2006 at 106 & Park (http://youtu.be/OMl02nqA0hg). Since this past summer he’s gone around network TV churning out performance after performance winning viewers over on Ellen, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon. Kaleidoscope Dream is a colorful and forward-thinking album, much like Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, and stands to make countless end of year lists. The real gem in Miguel’s belt is the gritty “Adorn” that has proven to be the catalyst that’s allowed the world to see the amazing ride this artist is about to take us on.
3. The Weeknd
The high-range vocalist took this past year to enjoy the wave of his notoriety after releasing three critically acclaimed mix tapes in 2011. With a heavy co-sign from fellow Canadian, Drake, people took notice of the vocalist/songwriter. This past year he embarked on a US Tour and officially released Trilogy. He proved that even with free material he could reach a Top 5 album spot in the Billboard charts. It not only proves the enduring power of his dark and seductive material, but the appeal it posses. Now that Abel has left the shadows of the mystery he arranged after his self-released mix tapes with interviews and live performances, we’re all waiting what’s to come next.
4. Elle Varner
Elle has been in training to be a musician with professional songwriters, Mikelyn Roderick and Jimmy Varner, as parents. After signing with J Records in 2009, this past summer her debut Perfectly Imperfect debuted at #4 on the Billboard chart. While some of this year’s Top R&B artists spent time honing their skills and quietly releasing new music, Elle has immediately served a label-debut that’s incredibly earnest, playful and colorful. With intense work and preparation at the NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music the husky voice songbird has proved to be the female R&B vocalist to watch in the coming years.
5. Rihanna
The Pop Princess/ Radio Darling isn’t synonymous with R&B but with her 7th album Unapologetic the Bajan singer has gone out on a limb and served some of the best R&B tracks with “Stay,” “Loveeeeeee Song,” “Nobodys Business,” and “Get It Over With.” Even with record written by an Australian songwriter, Rihanna has reached the top of the R&B charts, proving once and for all there’s a cross-genre prowess to reckon. Whether we like it or not, Ri-Ri knows how to deliver smooth.

Frank Ocean

The New Orleans native rode high in 2011 creating buzz with Nostalgia, Ultra. In 2012 Frank Ocean established himself as one of R&B’s key player with Channel Orange whilst still penning songs with some of today’s superstars. Channel Orange was a sonic melee with a high level in third person storytelling. The artist’s television debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon was just days after he told his own story of unrequited for another man creating a buzz that was rare for a late-night musical guest. Frank delivered with a demure performance that will be hard to forget.

Miguel

Miguel has come a long way since debuting a single in 2006 at 106 & Park. Since this past summer he’s gone around network TV churning out performance after performance winning viewers over on Ellen, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon. Kaleidoscope Dream is a colorful and forward-thinking album, much like Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, and stands to make countless end of year lists. The real gem in Miguel’s belt is the gritty “Adorn” that has proven to be the catalyst that’s allowed the world to see the amazing ride this artist is about to take us on.

The Weeknd

The high-range vocalist took this past year to enjoy the wave of his notoriety after releasing three critically acclaimed mix tapes in 2011. With a heavy co-sign from fellow Canadian, Drake, people took notice of the vocalist/songwriter. This past year The Weeknd embarked on a US Tour and officially released Trilogy. He proved that even with free material he could reach a Top 5 album spot in the Billboard charts. It not only proves the enduring power of his dark and seductive material, but the appeal it posses. Now that Abel has left the shadows of the mystery he arranged after his self-released mix tapes with interviews and live performances, we’re all waiting what’s to come next.

Elle Varner

Elle Varner has been in training to be a musician with professional songwriters, Mikelyn Roderick and Jimmy Varner, as parents. After signing with J Records in 2009, this past summer her debut Perfectly Imperfect debuted at #4 on the Billboard chart. While some of this year’s Top R&B artists spent time honing their skills and quietly releasing new music, Elle has immediately served a label-debut that’s incredibly earnest, playful and colorful. With intense work and preparation at the NYU’s Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music the husky voice songbird has proved to be the female R&B vocalist to watch in the coming years.

Rihanna

The Pop Princess/Radio Darling isn’t synonymous with R&B but with her 7th album Unapologetic, the Bajan singer has gone out on a limb and served some of the best R&B tracks with “Stay,” “Loveeeeeee Song,” “Nobody's Business,” and “Get It Over With.” Even with a record like "Diamonds" written by Australian songwriter Sia, Rihanna has reached the top of the R&B charts, proving once and for all there’s a cross-genre prowess to reckon. Whether we like it or not, Ri-Ri knows how to deliver smooth.

RELATED: Our Favorite Non-Rap Artists Of 2012

25 Comments

  • BradZuk

    I would include Jessie Ware. I know she aint black, but she can fucking belt it.

  • ChuckNiddy

    this site is not called rapdx it is hiphopdx, there more to hiphop than being hard, and part of that is R&B, if you don't like that kinda music, no one made you click on this.

  • raidfuljohnson

    http://www.datpiff.com/Jr-Reuche-De-Reuche-Muetel-6-Soloist-mixtape.432866.html

  • Anonymous

    Frank Ocean is not a good artist just because he came out. Gimmick didn't work on me

    • BradZuk

      Dude you can like whoever you want, but Frank ocean was straight up beloved well before he ever came out. In my and many peoples minds, Nostalgia/Ultra was a top 5 album in 2011. Channel orange was top 2 this year, whether or not he comes out. Believe what you want, but there is no Gay lobby brainwashing all the liberal critics. They love him for the same reason the people do, hes a fantastic musician, on par with stevie wonder, marvin gaye, otis, and sam.

  • Anonymous

    frank ocean ain't r&b, he is more of alternative/pop. just check his nominations at the grammys. none in the r and b category

  • Anonymous

    Rihanna isnt R&B. She makes more pop music than any music close to being considered R&B so she should be classified as pop.

  • TaZzZ

    I don't see the link between R&B and homosexuality? Some of the biggest man's men in history were R&B singers... Al Greene? Ray Charles? Marvin Gaye? Just cuz Frank topped the list? Y'all would have never known if he didn't man up and admit it to the world. That takes a hell of a lot more balls than sitting behind a keyboard talking about "faggots", "gay shit" and "gay agendas". Quit watchin Fox News and understand there is no gay agenda, the gay community are just real people so they're are gonna get attention just like the rest of us. All the artists are also non-white, does that mean it has a black agenda too. Get the fuck outta here...

  • FUCK THIS GAY SHIT

    WHY THE FUCK IS HH-DX PUSHING THIS SOFT FAGGOT ASS SHIT? FAG OCEAN? THE WEEKND? MIGUEL? REALLY NOW? GET THIS GAY SHIT OFF THIS WEB SITE.

    • rideonemjixxer

      You must not get laid alot..... play some weeknd while you get busy and she will be hitting the same high notes! smh at these tough guys...

    • TaZzZ

      You have a serious problem son, if you can respect the artists on this list why even listen to music at all. "Black music is black music, and its all good"

  • Anonymous

    Missed Jhene Aiko... Other than that pretty much right...

  • Anonymous

    cracka benedict 16 love him some frankie ocanish

  • BullShit

    The fact that HipHopDX left Jhene Aiko off of this list is stupid as hell, how can you include Rihanna and not Jhene.FUCK OUTTA HERE!!!

  • Anonymous

    gay agenda in full force.

    • Anonymous

      right, another stupid conspiracy. i wonder whether the whites were saying "black agenda" when they were finally freed, or if men were saying "woman agenda" when they were finally allowed to vote. do you know how stupid it sounds when you say this shit? as if the nigga doesnt make good music. did you also believe in the december 21st haarp, blue beam, nibiru agenda? what happened there. you niggas make all these accusations and never have to answer for your lies and mongering. go fuck yourself.

  • Frank Ferter

    What R&B artists? Most of these artists are POP acts!!!!

  • fuck

    Next chapter: The Most Important Rock Artists Of 2012? Or isn't black enuff?

  • kaylo

    Early Prediction : Jessica Sanchez makes this list next year. ;)