Even though the past few months have felt like multiple years, the second half of 20 has only just begun. Amid all of the craziness in the world, some soothing R&B music is much needed. Throughout the year, listeners have been provided with just the remedy. And in July, fans received a new album from a supergroup featuring 9th Wonder, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin as well as a beautiful LP from Lianne La Havas.
New R&B albums flood streaming services every week, so HipHopDX has narrowed them down to the essentials, providing readers with a list of the must-listen projects. This article is part of DX’s monthly “Best of The Year” series. Check out some of DX’s other lists to stay up-to-date with all of the new music dropping this year.
Check out the Best New R&B Albums of Jan – July 2020
Contributing writers: Trent Clark, Kyle Eustice, Justin Ivey, Josh Svetz, Dana Scott, Brandon Caldwell, David Brake, Kenan Draughorne, Jeremy Hecht.
Dinner Party – 9th Wonder, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper & Terrace Martin
Sometimes the word “supergroup” is thrown around loosely, but the four-man group known as Dinner Party truly lives up to the description. 9th Wonder, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin combine their talents on an eponymous debut featuring seven captivating tracks and the soulful vocals of Phoelix. Dinner Party is more of an appetizer than a full course meal though, so hopefully they aren’t done cooking.
Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas’s refreshing, genre-bending self-titled album is the soundtrack to a new beginning. Her blend of songwriting intimacy, skillful guitar playing and vocal range produce a feeling of serenity and relaxation, even as she pours her heart out about a failed relationship with explicit vulnerability. It never sounds like La Havas is breaking down despite being deeply hurt; instead, there’s evidence of personal growth and self-reflection, coming out better off than she was before.
Ungodly Hour – Chloe x Halle
Atlanta duo Chloe and Halle Bailey may possess angelic voices, but they have no interest in being society’s picture of the squeaky clean childhood star facade. Nor do they aspire for a raunchy rebellious phase like many others coming from a Disney influenced adolescence. Instead, on Ungodly Hour, the sisters enter adulthood with poise and confidence as young women unafraid to reveal their experiences curving overzealous fuckboys and staying strong while dealing with their insecurities. And while their sharp wit and soaring dual harmonies highlight their prodigious talent, Chloe x Halle’s main appeal is how clearly they aren’t trying to be anything but themselves, coming into their own as songwriters wise beyond their years.
The Album – Teyana Taylor
After expressing displeasure with her Kanye West-produced seven-track Wyoming project, Teyana finally returns with her official debut album and this time it’s on her own terms. The 23-track album has features from Big Sean, Mrs. Lauren Hill, Missy Elliot and even an appearance from her husband Iman. It seems like Taylor has found her pocket as she continues to grow into one of R&B’s brightest stars.
It Was Good Until It Wasn’t – Kehlani
Kehlani stays true to her R&B roots on her sophomore effort, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. Pivoting from the pop-heavy sound on her 2016 debut album Sweet Sexy Savage, IWGUIW shows the maturation of the now 25-year-old singer and tells a story of the ups and downs of her journey through motherhood, love, her career and just life in general. With 15 tracks, features include Tory Lanez, Jhene Aiko, James Blake, Masego and Lucky Daye, as well as an outro dedicated to and featur
It Is What It Is – Thundercat
The Los Angeles-bred bass impresario returned at the top of the month with another jazz-funk-R&B-soul hybrid, full of impressive guest features from The Internet’s Steve Lacy, Slave icon Steve Arrington, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil B and more. The most touching moment comes on “Fair Chance,” his heartfelt tribute to the late Mac Miller.
A Muse In Her Feelings – dvsn
The talented Toronto duo returned with a new album to satisfy the craving of their dedicated fan base, who had been waiting since October 2017 for a new project. Throughout the first half of the album, dvsn stayed true to the sound that gained them prominence, but the second half of the album sees the OVO signees experiment with new sounds, melodies and rhythms. The experimentation paid off as dvsn provides a complete body of work with features that compliment them sonically throughout the 16-track album.
Chilombo – Jhené Aiko
Following the release of Jhené Aiko’s “Triggered (freestyle)” and “P*$$Y Fairy” singles, expectations were high for her first official project since 2017. Throughout the 20 tracks on Chilombo, Jhené explores themes heartbreak, loss and acceptance. With contributions from Big Sean, Nas, Ab-Soul, Ty Dolla $ign, Future, Miguel, Dr. Chill and John Legend, the album has no shortage of star power and each feature provides something unique to the album.
After Hours – The Weeknd
Four years after releasing his massively successful Starboy album, The Weeknd returned with a brand new look and sound for After Hours. The LP is a less pop-heavy and more introspective affair taking listeners into Abel’s world of heartbreak, loss and realization. And if the project’s 14 tracks weren’t enough, Weeknd kept fans on high alert with an ever-expanding deluxe edition of the album that added new chapters and remixes to his Billboard 200 chart-topping LP.
070 Shake – Modus Vivendi
070 Shake‘s Modus Vivendi is R&B plus more. It’s an album that certainly deserves a slot on any “Best Of The Year” list so far. The album is genre-bending, unique and includes a bevy of standout songs. Upon its release, Modus Vivendi received a DX review score of 4 out of 5 and was described as a “Mantovani-style soundscape heard in a sensory deprivation salt tank.”
Below is a list of more albums that we loved and still have on repeat. Check back so that you don’t miss the best albums of 2020!
- BARE WITH ME (The Album) – Justine Skye
- Bigger Love – John Legend
- CeeLo Green Is Thomas Callaway – CeeLo Green
- C3 – Jacob Latimore
- Good To Know – JoJo
- HIGHTIDE – Leven Kali
- 03.15.20 – Childish Gambino
- PARTYMOBILE – PARTYNEXTDOOR
- Hopeless Romantic – Tink
- Fuck The World – Brent Faiyaz
You can also check out the best albums from each specific month: