publisher Todd A. Smith interviews actress/singer Tatyana Ali at the 2014 SWAC basketball tournament at the Toyota Center in Houston (Photo Credit: Regal Media Group).

People often speak of the 1990s as the holy grail of Black music.

But that might not be hyperbole.

The decade produced so many classic songs that often sounded unlike anything else on the radio.

No matter the genre, artists seemed to take so much pride in originality and not following trends that it is no surprise that so much of that music has stood the test of time.

While artists like R. Kelly, Jodeci, Mary J. Blige, TLC and Boyz II Men will understandably come to mind, some of the best bops of the 1990s came from artists who could not, for some reason, maintain the momentum of their first hit song.

To honor them, Regal Mag profiles some of the best one-hit R&B wonders of the 1990s.

  1. “Anything” by 3T—When you are the nephews of Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, hit records are in your blood. And when your uncle owns a record company, why wouldn’t he make sure the second generation of the family continued the legacy? The sons of Tito Jackson scored a hit in 1995 with “Anything,” written and produced by the brothers (Taryll, T.J. and Taj Jackson).

  1. “Old Time’s Sake” by Sweet Sable—Soundtracks for Black-led movies produced some of the best albums of the 1990s and the Death Row Records backed “Above the Rim” soundtrack” is an all-time classic. Sweet Sable produced one of the best R&B tracks from that soundtrack. Sure, SWV got more attention for their contribution to the soundtrack. But did SWV’s song “Anything” get played at the 2023 Academy Awards? Sweet Sable’s did though.

  1. “Hopeless” by Dionne Farris—Did we mention how dope 1990s R&B and hip-hop soundtracks were in the 1990s? Well, the soundtrack to “Love Jones” was just as smooth as the characters in the movie like Darius (Larenz Tate) and Nina (Nia Long). While the album contained classics from artists like Lauryn Hill, Maxwell and Kenny Latimore, the smash hit came from Dionne Farris with “Hopeless.” The former member of Arrested Development gave such a great performance of a melancholy song that people probably forgot it was supposed to be a sad song.

  1. “Daydreamin’” by Tatyana Ali—Ashley Banks’ music career did not last more than one episode on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Thankfully, Tatyana Ali’s fans made up their minds early on that “Daydreamin’” would have more longevity on the radio and on the charts. Rodney Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels, Fred Jerkins, Peter Pankey wrote the track. The song landed at number six in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1998 and featured a sample of “Black Cow” by Steely Dan.

  1. “He’s Mine” by MoKenStef—That hook “he’s mine, you may have had him once, but I have him all the time,” was one of those hooks you could not get out of your head back in the day. What made the group dope is that Jodeci inspired their name, we assume. MoKenStef was a combination of the group members’ names just like the bad boys of R&B. The song reached number seven on the pop charts and went on to sell over 600,000 copies.

  1. “I Belong to You (Every Time I See Your Face)” by Rome—Many songwriters say they begin writing a song by creating the hook. If a songwriter has a catchy hook up, they might have a hit song. Just like “He’s Mine” by Mokenstef, “I Belong to You” by Rome contained one of the catchiest choruses of the decade. Rome sang, “Every time I see your face, it makes me want to sing. And every time I think about your love it drives me crazy.” Well, Rome’s one big hit went crazy on the R&B charts back in 1997.

  1. “Nobody Knows” by The Tony Rich Project—First and foremost, shoutout to singer/songwriter Tony Rich for having one of the dopest artist names ever, The Tony Rich Project. And while the entire project might not have totally shaken up the world, the single “Nobody Knows” definitely did. Nevertheless, the album “Words” went platinum thanks to the lead single, which hit number two on the Billboard 100.

  1. “I Don’t Ever Want to See You Again” by Uncle Sam—In the 1990s, seemingly everything Boyz II Men touched turned to gold, or multiplatinum to be exact. Therefore, when they started producing their own artists, success was all but guaranteed. With the supergroup from Philadelphia singing background, Uncle Sam had an instant classic with “I Don’t Ever Want to See You Again.”

  1. “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJ’s—Sure, Usher and Alicia Keys have the penultimate “My Boo.” But people would have to lie to say they were not jamming “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJs in 1996. The song came from a So So Def Records compilation. Unfortunately, Ghost Town DJs did not have sustained success like some of Jermaine Dupri’s other artists like Xscape, Jagged Edge and Da Brat. But the one hit they gave the public still bangs today.

  1. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison—Before British artists invaded Black American music in the 21st century, Mark Morrison led the charge for Black British artists from the 1990s. “Return of the Mack” was an instant classic like “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan. But unlike Jordan, Morrison could not follow up the enormous success of “Return of the Mack.” The song stayed on the Billboard charts for a ridiculous 41 weeks. The album achieved Gold status, representing 500,000 units sold.
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