D’Angelo – Voodoo
Voodoo is about much more than chicken feet and witchcraft. It is a funk-soul aurora swirling with the energy of an ever-present drum. D’Angelo is able to create an alternate world that exists in the rhythms and beats of his descent. A finely crafted soul-ride the whole way through, Voodoo’s layered compositions ooze with musically cultured delights. Adding a hip-hop feel to the record, Method Man and Redman are featured on “Left & Right.” D’Angelo also enlisted the help of Raphael Saadiq on “Untitled (How Does it Feel),” the first and maybe the most memorable single on the album.
Donell Jones – Where I Wanna Be
“When you love someone/ You just don’t treat them bad,” was part of Donell Jones’ chorus on Where I Wanna Be’s opening single. Along with one of the smoothest deliveries on a break–up song, the track wholly blends good-but-simple songwriting with Jones’ vocal precision. The album continues to travel down a plane where music is the primary focus and lyrics are vehicles that get you there. The mellow mood of Where I Wanna Be sets in and dominates the whole experience of the album; at the same time, it dictates the potency of this retro-soul R&B brew.
Ginuwine – The Bachelor
“Pony,” the first single off Ginuwine’s debut album, showed that “G” had staying power. His untapped blend of crisp tenor vocals and rich dancing altered the way people consumed R&B and showed how dancing could complement a love song. “Hello,” “Tell Me Do U Wanna” and “When Ur Lonely” also helped The Bachelor become a genuinely inventive album.
Boyz II Men – II
These Philly natives, discovered by members of Bel Biv Devoe, influenced R&B music with a unique range of vocal talent. II, the quartet’s second full-length release, is a pleasing musical showcase that includes soothing songs like “Water Runs Dry,” “On Bended Knee” and the unequivocal love song “50 Candles.” Wanya, Mike, Shawn and Nathan, with their amazing harmonizing skill, started a group that has yet to be duplicated or exceeded.
Aaliyah – One In A Million
Aaliyah must have been clairvoyant when she decided to name her sophomore release One In A Million because it was a perfect description in more ways than one. The album’s title track solidified Aaliyah’s place as a great vocalist and allowed Missy Elliott to serve up some of her ever-flowing writing talent. “Your love is one in a million/It goes on and on and on/You give me a really good feelin’/All day long,” became as recognizable as Aaliyah’s unforgettable presence and makes Million an R&B checkpoint on any musical journey.
Davina – Best of Both Worlds
Sultry, responsive and enormously cool, Best of Both Worlds takes the average R&B listener on a trip to a planet where common things like stress and ills evaporate like a sunrise’s morning dew. Davina meticulously crafts a centerpiece granting a voluptuous tone fit for wanting ears. The effervescence that Davina’s songs emit is entrancing, forming an album with a gargantuan half-life.
India Arie – Voyage To India
India Arie creatively blends the soul soaked twang of her acoustic guitar with down-to-earth lyrics throughout the whole of her second release Voyage To India. The album cruises along with a velvet-like feel while exhibiting pertinent-moral lessons worthy of ears. On the song “Talk To Her,” India sings, “Whether she’s twenty-five or ninety-nine/ Treat her the way your mama talked you to.” Fully aware of the words she sings, India is more than a singer — she’s a teacher.
Jill Scott – Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1
The multi-talented poet that most people heard gracing performances by The Roots, is a flair-filled wordsmith who creates images out of thin air with her slick voice. Jill Scott’s debut album, Who is Jill Scott? highlighted her satiable ability to create rhythm through the words she speaks and sings. As it continuously quells the body and soul with poetic verse, Jill Scott’s album stands like a monolith over the listener’s daily insignificant problems, begging them to wrap themselves up in a world full of poetic words and sounds.