R &B in 2019 is where the line of what the world considers to be a rapper or a singer was officially blurred. The genre has transformed into melodic trap, leaving some artists who revel in the traditional sounds of rhythm and blues hustling to keep it alive without getting lost in the sauce.
There were plenty of R&B acts that managed this feat while also keeping the attention of a musical landscape dominated by Pop Rap, however. This list is based on sound first, prominence of each record second and lastly (if at all), numbers and accolades.
Here are HipHopDX’s picks for the best R&B albums of 2019.
10. Solange — When I Get Home
From the interludes being titled after the streets in the H such as “S McGregor” and “Exit Scott,” and songs like “Almeda,” “Binz” and “Beltway,” also named after known roads in Space City, the album is 19 songs of Solo’s infamous musical experimentation.
Over a jazzy tint, we get Gucci Mane delivering mellow rhymes on “My Skin My Logo” with a chopped and screwed touch. “Sound of the Rain” is another bombastic track on When I Get Home with major R&B vibes intertwined with jazz elements, something that is rarely heard today.
When I Get Home hit No. 7 on the Billboard 200 charts with 43,000 album-equivalent units sold, making it her third Top 10 album.
9. Nicole Bus — KAIROS
Roc Nation-signed Nicole Bus hails from the Netherlands with a singing voice lovely enough to melt hearts, and it’s all on full display on her debut studio album KAIROS.
Her song “You” samples Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” and one of its respective remixes features Ghostface Killah, bringing in an immense amount of nostalgia.
“Mr. Big Shot,” another single off the album, is a great R&B record that shows off Bus’ incredible vocal capabilities.
Both songs were hits on the Adult R&B Billboard charts.
8. Snoh Aalegra — Ugh, Those Feels Again
Snoh Aalegra, formerly known as Sheri, transmutes emotions into what love looks like in this generation for her sophomore effort Ugh, Those Feels Again.
Though Snoh’s voice sounds mature, the songs on Ugh, Those Feels Again are certainly of this day and age as well as everything she sings about. This is more than an R&B album, it’s a therapeutic musical love session.
Nothing hits more close to home than “I Want You Around” and “Situationship.” The neo-soul project is barren of features and she absolutely doesn’t need them.
In 2020, Snoh will embark on her Ugh, A Tour Again.
7. H.E.R. — I Used To Know H.E.R.
R&B star H.E.R. is coming off a Grammy Award win for Best R&B Album for I Used to Know Her: The Prelude last year.
Though it only landed at No. 86 on the Billboard charts, for the 62nd Annual Grammy Award ceremony, I Used To Know H.E.R. is nominated for Album of the Year and Record of the Year while her song “Hard Place” has a nomination for Song of the Year. Additionally, her collaborative track “Could’ve Been” with Bryson Tiller is nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song.
H.E.R. maintains a chill mood throughout this album. Her song “Racks” featuring YBN Cordae is vibe and so is the self-reflective “21.”
The talent H.E.R. holds is unmatched.
6. Tinashe — Songs For You
Tinashe is finally free from the claws of RCA and spent no time delivering album she’s clearly proud of with Songs For You this year.
Though 2018’s Joyride was good, it mostly went under the radar. Songs For You is another chance for those sleep to get in tune with the great talent of ‘Nashe.
From the songwriting to production, the 26-year-old Emmy Award-nominated singer expressed her emotions all throughout the project. In fact, Songs For You opening number is titled “Feelings” and then on the standout track “Hopscotch” she hops back out of those same feelings and embraces being lonely. “Touch & Go” featuring 6LACK is another standout and the Ms. Banks-featured house-inspired track “Die A Little Bit” is just as marvelous.
Songs For You hit the Billboard 200 charts and landed at No. 20 on the Top R&B Albums charts upon release.
5. SiR — Chasing Summer
Chasing Summer is Top Dawg Entertainment artist SiR’s third album release with guest features from fellow labelmates Kendrick Lamar and Zacari as well as appearances from the legendary Lil Wayne and R&B queen Jill Scott. Upon release, it hit No. 64 on the Billboard charts.
Chasing Summer‘s opening track “Hair Down” featuring K. Dot sets the tone for a project that has the likes of Michael Uzowuru, Boi-1da and Sounwav curating the vibe. The songs are as robust as a sunny Sunday morning in the summertime and address a variety of topics varying from love, family and life.
“Lucy’s Love” is a marijuana tribute featuring Lil Wayne, meanwhile “Still Blue” is a serene track blessed by the vocals of Ms. Jill Scott pondering about trying to maintain a love that may be washing away — and it sounds like it.
SiR’s execution of packaging the season into 14 heartfelt R&B tracks was the audio equivalent to the sun beaming on your face.
4. Chris Brown — Indigo
Chris Brown is a hitmaking machine and his album Indigo proves he still has the capability of appealing to the mainstream as evidenced by his No. 1 hit record “No Guidance” featuring Drake and “Heat” with YSL artist Gunna.
Breezy is probably one of the only R&B artists who has the star power to pull off a project as long as Indigo, which was a whopping 32 songs. The maneuver went the distance in finding a song suitable for everyone’s taste.
“Lurkin'” featuring Tory Lanez is a cute dance record, “Don’t Check On Me” with Justin Bieber is an acoustic dream and “Need A Stack” with Lil Wayne and Joyner Lucas goes to New Orleans for a dope bounce record.
Indigo is Chris’ third Billboard 200 No. 1 album and is certified Platinum for selling over a million records.
3. Jacquees — King of R&B
Jacquees claims he’s the King of R&B for his generation, making it the title of his sophomore album. It’s an understandable declaration because he’s the only visible R&B artist staying true to the art form as if BET’s late-night block Midnight Love was still on-air.
The Atlanta natives King of R&B album is clearly influenced by the likes Donell Jones and Tank without all the samples, which is a rarity in this current R&B climate.
Jacquees is doing it on his own and if he continues to refine his sound, his claim may not be too farfetched.
King of R&B hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums list and No. 2 on the 200 charts.
2. Ari Lennox — Shea Butter Baby
Shea Butter Baby is Dreamville artist Ari Lennox’s debut release as an authentic R&B album made of 12 soulful cuts as they relate to being a woman in this intrusive digital age. It’s a liberating project that lives in deep candor, landing on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts and earning a 4.3 rating by HipHopDX.
Ari Lennox‘s voice is the ultimate highlight of every song right next to its neo-soul type production. The tracks “BMO,” “Up Late,” “New Apartment” and “Broke” featuring J.I.D. are designs of spiritual intimacy in song form.
“Shea Butter Baby” featuring J. Cole, which also appeared on the Creed II soundtrack, has been certified Gold by selling over 500,000 records.
1. Summer Walker — Over It
Over It isn’t the album to skip over. London draws in with his multi-platinum production and Summer enchants with her sultry intonations of sincerity, earning her a HipHopDX review score of 4.4 out of 5.
The harmonies Summer flexes on “Playing Games” with Bryson Tiller are pleasing to the ear, in fact, all of her harmonies on Over It are fun and worth learning right along with all the words and unique enunciations.
Usher’s unexpected appearance on the nostalgic “Come Thru,” sampling his 1997 hit single “You Make Me Wanna,” exists next to an unexpected guest feature from PARTYNEXTDOOR, who came out of hiding to assist Summer on “Just Might.”
Expressive songs like “Stretch You Out” and “I’ll Kill You” (featuring Jhené Aiko) are the real crowd-pleasers and prevail as proof that certain emotions relating to women in love are universal.
“Girls Need Love” will never get old and, with or without Drake on the remix as the album’s closer, it’s a poignant ode for women who know what they want.
The love rollercoaster never really ends and there’s never really any kind of closure. By the first run of all 18 songs, being drunk in love becomes the mood with Over It on repeat and why Summer Walker’s Over It is the Best R&B album of 2019.