What happened to R&B they ask? Well, in 2016 rhythm and blues had a pretty solid year. It may not have been the crying-in-the-rain, I-want-my-girl-back, nay-hoo R&B, but it has been much more reflective of the culture’s Netflix & Chill generation, while also bringing important social and political issues to the forefront.

R&B nowadays doesn’t require the impeccable vocals of Auntie Aretha or Barry White and this list proves just that. A good melody, a relatable tale and airy production to vibe out to is all you need. Word to BJ The Chicago Kid, Solange, Childish Gambino, Kaytranada, Anderson .Paak and of course, Beyoncé.

Here are DX’s picks for the 25 best R&B songs of 2016 and the 2016 R&B Album of the Year.

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25. Kehlani – “Gangsta”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 41
Producer: Djemba Djemba & JMIKE

Baelani returned after her suicide attempt with this gem, looking for The Joker to her Harley Quinn. The sultry hit also scored a pivotal scene for the anti-hero box office smash, Suicide Squad.

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24. The Weeknd – “Starboy”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 1
Producer: Daft Punk, Cirkut Doc, Martin McKinney & The Weeknd

23. Bruno Mars – “24K Magic”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 4
Producer: Shampoo Press & Curl & The Stereotypes

22. Drake – “Feel No Ways”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 44
Producer: Jordan Ullman, Noah “40” Shebib & Kanye West

21. DJ Khaled f. Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, August Alsina, Jeremih, Future & Rick Ross – “Do You Mind”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 27
Producer: DJ Khaled DJ Nasty & LVM, Lee on the Beats

20. Beyoncé – “Hold Up”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 13
Producer: Diplo, Beyoncé, Ezra Koenig

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19. Solange – “F.U.B.U.”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: N/A
Producer: Solange & David Longstreth


Solange’s A Seat At The Table took the world by storm and it was her optimism toward the reality of racism and violence that propelled the eye of the hurricane. It’s “For Us, By Us,” no bias.

18. Kaytranada f. Syd – “You’re The One”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: N/A
Producer: Kaytranada

17. BJ The Chicago Kid – “Turnin’ Me Up”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: N/A
Producer:
Jarius Mozee & David Haddon

16. Usher f. Young Thug – “No Limit”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position 32
Producer: B.A.M. & Christopher “Talent” Perry

Usher pulls out all the stops, including his “Master P,” for the Young Thug-assisted pop-tinged R&B number about love, which ironically comes from his eighth studio album, Hard II Love, so it must not be that difficult after all.

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15. PARTYNEXTDOOR f. Drake – “Come And See Me”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 55
Producer: Noah “40” Shebib

Nowadays, anything featuring Drake is going to blow up. The PND collaboration is no exception and finds the pair flawlessly delivering their smooth vocals over slow, rolling bass.

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14. 6lack – “PRBLMS”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: N/A
Producer: Nova

13. Beyoncé – “Sorry”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 11
Producer: Beyoncé, Hit-Boy, Melo-X, Wynter Gordon & Stuart White

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Queen Bey gives new meaning to the word “poetic” at the beginning of the track when she imagines what her lover would say at her funeral. With its contagious hook and “take no shit” attitude, it’s female empowerment at its finest.

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12. Tory Lanez – “Luv”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 19
Producer: Cashmere Cat & Benny Blanco

The Canadian-based singer lays down an upbeat, dance-friendly number revolving around the primitivity of human nature, and reels in the listener with the catchy hook.

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11. Rihanna – “Sex With Me”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 92
Producer: Boi-1da, Frank Dukes, Vinylz & Kuk Harrell

10. Childish Gambino – “Redbone”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 48
Producer: Ludwig Göransson

Those unfamiliar with Gambino’s earlier work won’t mind the intriguing, Funkadelic-inspired direction he takes on the Awaken, My Love! single. Those who were expecting more of a “rapper,” however, might be confused.

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09. Drake f. Rihanna – “Too Good”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 14
Producer: Nineteen85, Supa Dups & Maneesh Bidaye

Drake and Rihanna’s “Work” was undeniably great, and had us all wondering if the two were the real deal. This close runner-up will have you confident in leaving the ones that deserve you.

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08. Drake – “Fake Love”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 10
Producer: Vinylz & Frank Dukes

Drake is refreshingly honest about the struggles he has in relation to his fame and gives ample amount of insight into what it’s like being unable to trust those around him as the slick, laid-back grooves move the song along.

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07. Anderson .Paak f. T.I. – “Come Down”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: N/A
Producer: Hi-Tek

Anderson .Paak released one of the best projects of the year in Malibu. Joining forces with the King of the South on an already-epic track is just more proof he can’t be stopped.

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06. Rihanna f. Drake – “Work”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 1
Producer: Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib & Kuk Harrell

The simplistic hook on this song is impossible to forget, almost to the point that it’s annoying, but that’s what a good pop song does — gets stuck on repeat. Paired with Drake’s generous vocal contributions, it’s a win-win.

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05. Solange – “Cranes In The Sky”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 74
Producer: Solange, Raphael Saadiq & Sir Dylan

This track (and music video) from Solange’s A Seat at the Table proved she was more than just Beyoncé’s sister. Showcasing her vocals over a smooth melody, this record reminds you that you are not alone in this world. The remix with Common made it even better.

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04. Beyoncé – “Formation”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 10
Producer: Mike WiLL Made-It, Beyoncé & A+

Bey’s video for LEMONADE‘s lead single caused a lot of controversy, but clearly, that was the intention. Sinking cop cars, Big Freedia, booty shaking, and hot sauce tied the speaker-rattling track together, slaying the competition.

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03. Drake f. WizKid & Kyla – “One Dance”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 1
Producer: Nineteen85, DJ Maphorisa, Noah “40” Shebib & Wizkid

Drake effortlessly brought dancehall and reggae back to the States. The record marks Spotify’s first billion-stream song, beating out Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” Only Drizzy.

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02. Drake – “Controlla”

Highest Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: 16
Producer: Boi-1da, Supa Dups, Di Genius & Allen Ritter

Anticipation takes center stage as the Canadian powerhouse purges the excitement he feels about a new, different kind of love. He hits a few high notes and keeps things simple as he sings to the stripped-down melody.

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2016 R&B Song of The Year: Rihanna – “Needed Me”

Highest Billboard 100 Chart Position: 7
Producer: DJ Mustard, Twice As Nice, Frank Dukes & Kuk Harrell

Rihanna created an anthem for the females with this one. The visuals say it all, as Rih embarks on a full-blown mission to kill. Don’t mess with Badgalriri.

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2016 R&B Album of The Year: Solange – A Seat At The Table

Solange new album

Release Date: September 30, 2016
Label: Saint Records/Columbia
Highest Billboard 200 Albums Chart Position: 1
Production Credits: Solange, Raphael Saadiq, Questlove, Troy R8dio Johnson, David Longstreth, Q-Tip, Sampha, Dave Sitek, Kwes Olugbenga Adelekan, Sean Nicholas Savage, Raymond Angry, Patrick Wimberly, Majical Cloudz, Rostam Batmanglij, Adam Bainbridge, Sir Dylan, Bryndon Cook, John Kirby

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Established artists generally don’t elevate their craft after several years of activity. Especially when they have nothing to prove. In the same year she celebrated her 30th birthday, Solange Knowles tapped into a focused synergy that balanced airtight melodies and topical consistency that mirrored much of the 2016 African American plight. Passionate music with a message will forever stand the test of time and while Big Sister Bey obviously fired on all cylinders this year, DX determined that A Seat At The Table was the R&B fixture your house speakers couldn’t go without in 2016.

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Check out more of DX’s year-end content below.

The 2016 HipHopDX Year-End Awards

The 20 Best Rap Albums Of 2016

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The Best R&B Of 2016

The Best Mixtapes Of 2016

The Most Slept-On Rap Albums Of 2016

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The 50 Best Songs Of 2016

The 50 Most Lit Songs Of 2016

The Steve Lobel “We Working” Artist Of The Year

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The Worst Rap Albums Of 2016

Remembering Those We Lost In 2016