Superstar singer Bruno Mars performs during his pre-Silk Sonic days.
Someone told a lie once.
That bald-faced liar said that the music known as rhythm and blues had met an untimely death.
That liar said since Luther Vandross died, Gerald Levert died and Maurice White from Earth, Wind & Fire died, so did soul music.
That person went on to say that since urban radio had trended more towards hip-hop and away from R&B, then no chance existed for the genre to rise from the dead like Lazarus.
Well, guess what?
Someone told the public wrong because 2021 produced some of the best R&B albums from veterans of the game like Anthony Hamilton and Prince to relative newcomers like Snoh Aalegra and H.E.R.
As a result, the RegalMag.com staff voted on our 10 favorite R&B albums of the year 2021.
Check out our list.
Also, check out some of these dope albums that might not have gotten the mainstream love that they so richly deserve.
- “Moon Boy” by Young Bleu—Say what you want about Drake’s hybrid style of rapping and singing, but he sure produced some musical offspring like Yung Bleu who have taken his blueprint and ran with it. Furthermore, say what you want about rapper Boosie and his controversial comments, but via his brother/former manager T.Q., Boosie found a budding superstar from Mobile, Ala. in Bleu. His debut album has guest features from John Legend, H.E.R., Chris Brown and the aforementioned Drake.
- “Love is the New Black” by Anthony Hamilton—Not too many male R&B singers can hold a candle to Anthony Hamilton when it comes to vocal ability. When the industry lost Vandross and Levert, many R&B heads contemplated who would take the throne. Names like Ruben Studdard came and went. But except for Johnny Gill, no other male R&B singer can compete with Hamilton in the vocal booth.
- “Cheers to the Best Memories” by dvsn and Ty Dolla $ign—The 1990s produced some of the best R&B music of all time with groups like Jodeci, Boyz II Men, Silk, SWV and Shai. With “Cheers to the Best Memories,” Ty Dolla $ign teamed with Drake proteges dvsn (pronounced division) to pay homage to the greatness known as 1990s R&B. The trio also included verses from rappers YG and the late Mac Miller on the album.
- “Welcome 2 America” by Prince—Non-Prince fanatics might wonder why the man in purple appears on this list because the Prince Estate had up until this year only released unheard music via compilations and deluxe album boxsets. But with the release of “Welcome 2 America,” fans finally got to hear this entire album that Prince shelved in 2010 in favor of the album “20Ten.” Throughout this album, Prince tackles social and political issues that still plague this country over a decade after its recording.
- “On Earth, and in Heaven” by Robin Thicke—After a debacle of an album in “Paula” in which he weirdly tried to get back his ex-wife Paula Patton, Robin Thicke needed to return to his true sound and message. And that’s exactly what he did with “On Earth, and in “Heaven.” The R&B crooner released classic love songs like “That’s What Love Can Do” and “Look Easy” this year and all but erased the bad memory of his last LP.
- “Heaux Tales” by Jazmine Sullivan—“Heaux Tales” by Jazmine Sullivan is obviously a dope album. But it is also a concept record that tells the story of women struggling to deal with bad men that give good loving. Throughout the album, songs lead into stories or “Heaux Tales” in which women share their experiences with love and lust. Hits songs like “Pick Up Your Feelings,” “On It” with Ari Lennox and “Girl Like Me” with H.E.R. standout. The album also includes a feature from Anderson .Paak.
- “Back of My Mind” by H.E.R.—One of the most anticipated debut albums by an R&B artist in years was H.E.R.’s first true album, “Back of My Mind.” The talented musician, who has received comparisons to Prince for her prowess on the guitar and piano, had released E.P.’s and compilations. However, she released her first full length album in 2021 with hit songs like “Damage,” “Come Through” with Chris Brown and “Find a Way” featuring Lil Baby. The artist has made a name for herself with her slow songs. But many fans still wait for the up-tempo banger that will stand out from her previous singles.
- “Jam & Lewis, Vol. 1” by Jam & Lewis—Super producers seems like an understatement when describing Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The former members of the band The Time have written and produced for artists like Janet Jackson, New Edition, Michael Jackson and George Michael. But until 2021, the duo had never released an album of songs that they wrote and produced. With their track record and connections, it is no wonder that their first album contained instant classics like “He Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout It” with Babyface and “Somewhat Loved” with Mariah Carey and “Baby Love” with Morris Day and Lewis’ brother Jerome Benton of The Time.
- “Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies” by Snoh Aalegra—When critics said that R&B had died, they must just have thought of R&B by male artists because the ladies kept the genre tight for years by themselves. One of the most unlikely R&B stars of recent years is Snoh Aalegra, a singer of Swedish and Iranian descent. Many have compared her to Sade. While reaching Sade’s status remains a way off, she definitely has the style and talent to reach that level in the coming years. Check out the songs “Tangerine Dream,” “On My Mind” and pretty much the whole darn album.
- “An Evening with Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic—The undisputed most anticipated R&B album of 2021 came from the duo Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars, who received their name Silk Sonic from funk music legend, Bootsy Collins. “An Evening with Silk Sonic” gave true R&B fans feelings of nostalgia for a time in which R&B had bands with real musicians playing on the records. Twenty years from now people will still jam songs like “Leave the Door Open,” “Skate” and “Blast Off.” But one question remains. When is the tour?