With absolute madness occurring in the world on what seems like a daily basis, fans are most likely needing some comfort music. No genre is more comforting to listen to than R&B, and 2023 already received some heat from SZA, PartyNextDoor, and more. These are some of the best R&B songs of the year so far in 2023 and get the year started off with a bang.
Struggling to find a list of the Hip Hop Albums that have been shifting the culture? Take a look at our lists for Hip Hop, Rap and R&B to get a complete survey of the projects that are dictating the conversation within Hip Hop.
- The Best Hip Hop Albums of 2023 …(so far)
- The Best Rap Albums of 2023 …(so far)
- The Best R&B Albums of 2023 …(so far)
Need some new songs to throw in the rotation but Spotify and user-created playlists are way too long? We kept it simple and added only the best of the best songs from each month to make sure you get the songs you need without a hassle. Peep the lists below.
Looking for some up and coming rappers and underground gems? We’ve done the work for you and highlighted the short EPs, mixtapes and projects to check out if you’re tired of the mainstream album cycle.
Editor’s note: Songs from this list were released between February 2, 2022 – February 28, 2023.
“Kill Bill” – SZA
The fourth single from December’s stunning and ambitious SOS, “Kill Bill,” is a tribute to being pulled under the riptide of a breakup one can’t accept. If the album cover of SZA sitting in the middle of the ocean is the visual motif of the album, “Kill Bill” is the aural one. The R&B maintstay’s singsong delivery contrasts delightfully with the violent lyrical content inspired by the Quentin Tarantino epic. Who among us has not, at one point, felt they’d rather be in hell than alone? – Nina Hernandez
“I Won’t Tell” – Baby Rose & Smino
“Nightmares” – Dende
“3 Boys” – Omar Apollo
Negotiating relationship boundaries in the polyamory age isn’t easy. That’s where we find 25-year-old freshly minted pop star Omar Apollo in searing new single “3Boys.” The recent Grammy nominee conveys in his typical combination of soulful vocals and blunt lyrical content the agony of wanting just one person — who in addition to our protagonist wants a couple other parties in the mix. It’s apparent from “3Boys” that as Apollo grows in human experience, his formula of agonized direct appeals to wayward lovers will continue to shine. – Nina Hernandez
“Tell Me Why” – Enchanting f. Layton Greene
“Let Me Go” – Daniel Caesar
“Still Work” – OG Parker f. Ty Dolla $ign, Muni Long
“Find Out” – Liv.E
“Forever” – Vedo
“Her Old Friends” – PartyNextDoor
It’s been two years since the nostalgia-filled PARTYPACK EP had fans wondering where PartyNextDoor has been and how much [if at all] he’s evolved. His latest single “Her Old Friends” is an honest ballad that places the blame on a lover’s best friends for her deviance. The ‘no fluff, no frill’ track sports a mellow-paced kick and snare while PND croons “I was supposed to take her out the game”– a familiar cadence both original PND fans and newcomers may enjoy.
“Do You Like Me” – Daniel Caesar
“Pray It Away” – Chloe
“Love Shit” – Enchanting
On her second single of the year, “Love Shit,” Enchanting lays the bars aside to deliver a contemplative R&B number. It’s not her first try at a melodic track given her past works like “Summer Night” and “Luv.” The newly signed 1017 rapper begins “Love Shit” with a confession which falls into an infectious bass and drum Enchanting walks on with charm.
“Toxic” – Realest K
Realest K’s song has made its way from TikTok trend into a mainstream hit. There’s no denying the catchiness of the hook or the relatability of the lyrics for anyone who has been in a toxic situation before.
“Wonder Woman” – John Legend
“FOREVER” – Jessie Reyez F. 6LACK
“Queen Space” – Ari Lennox F. Summer Walker
Now more than ever, the R&B girlies are all about collaboration rather than competition. With Ari Lennox and Summer walker previously combining their mastery for delectable heart-break ballads on “Unloyal” from Walker’s 2021 album Still Over It, the two reunite for a similar, otherworldly collab. And fortunately, Ari knew it was time for another. This week, the two collide on “Queen Space,” the debut single from Ari’s long-awaited sophomore debut, age/sex/location, released this month. Ari and Summer’s use of unrestrained storytelling mixed with real-life chemistry they’ve developed over the years strings together a sensual ballad. With reflection, they touch on the hardships of self-love and finding it when dealing with the “wrong” beaus. The new single reflects on being the only thing you need while on the road to self-love; being in that queen space is the only and certain priority. Hence the spicy lyricism Ari sprinkles on the bridge, “Come correct, or disappear.” With age/sex/location just around the corner for the release, Ari serves a delicious bite for what’s to come.
“Nothing Else Matters” – SIR
“Energy” – Beyoncé
Renaissance is officially here. And as Beyoncé gifts the most anticipated record of the year, she draws fans to the dance floor, paying tribute to legends and legacies left behind at the ball. And, of course, it would be nothing without the admiration Bey’s given to the Black L.G.B.T.Q.+ community for manifesting the project entirely. So it’s only fitting that the three-act project wavers from eclectic sounds: to disco, soul, trap, hip-hop, and dancehall—to even a Donna Summer sample—across 16 tracks aimed to foster a deeper understanding of ballroom culture and house altogether, vowing liberation and dignity. In the first chapter of Queen Bey’s album, she delivers a punchy transitional track, “Energy.” While being equal parts an interlude and lyrical powerhouse piece, the Skrillex-produced two-minute track is an old-school-like club banger. With Jamaican rapper Beam coming in the mix, it ties it in seamlessly with afrobeat fusion, making way for the perfect transition into the summer’s hottest anthem, “Break My Soul” without even realizing it’s changed the rhythmic tempo. So whether you’re starting or ending your Renaissance journey, it’s a ball no one can escape from, bringing Black culture back to where it rightfully belongs in house culture, and truthfully, it’s one many will be dancing to for years. – Holly Alvarado
“Best Of Me” – Alicia Keys
“Proven” – Nia Sultana F. Rick Ross
“Pain” – Muni Long
“Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy
“If I Get Caught” – dvsn
“If I Get Caught” is without a doubt THE most toxic song of 2022 so far and it’s not even close. Even Jay Z, who cleared a sample for the song said he was shocked by the lyrics. There are people like Giveon and Brent Faiyaz who have some extremely toxic lyrics within the R&B space but with this song DVSN decided to be as blunt as possible with their gaslighting. That being said, the song has one of the most catchy hooks in recent memory so don’t be surprised if you hear some women singing this one. And for the guys out there who are thinking of apologizing to their girls for infidelity, this seems like it could be the new anthem. – Jeremy Hecht
“Best Friends (Remix)” – The Weeknd F. Summer Walker
“FYTB” – Brent Faiyaz F. JOONY
“PRICE OF FAME” – Brent Faiyaz
The wait for a new Brent Faiyaz project has finally neared its end. Ahead of WASTELAND, Faiyaz’s third studio album which is set to release on July eighth, the Maryland-born artist has released “PRICE OF FAME,” a sweeping six minute song which traverses through three distinct sonic palettes. It begins with the spare sounds of alternative percussion backed by Faiyaz’s delicate, distorted voice before transitioning into a 808s & Heartbreak-influenced symphony. By the time the track closes out with chaotic strings and airy vocals it seems like you’ve traveled a long distance. Faiyaz could so easily ascend the Billboard charts with accessible pop ballads, so it’s continually impressive that he pushes himself into new, experimental lanes with each release. – David Brake
“Toni-Ann Singh” – Burna Boy F. Popcaan
“Hate To See It” – DaniLeigh
“BREAK MY SOUL” – Beyoncé
“TREAD CAREFULLY” – SZA
Contributing writers: David Brake, Trent Clark, Kyle Eustice, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Dana Scott, Armon Sadler, Ben Brutocao, Michael Saponara, Anthony Malone, Matthew Ritchie & Josh Svetz.