R&B Albums You Must Listen To

Brendan Hindle

1. Ctrl- SZA

Solána Imani Rowe also known as SZA released her debut album Ctrl on June 9th, 2017, under Top Dawg Entertainment and RCA Records. Being her first studio album she has some A-list artists on some of her tracks including Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, and Isiah Rashad. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and is known for its 2 mainstream songs “Love Galore” ft. Travis Scott & “The Weekend”The album also gained 5 Grammy nominations at the 2017 Grammys for Best R&B Performance, Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, and more.

In an interview with Power 106, she explains the theme of her album. She says “I think control is more of a concept than a title. I think I wanted to control the way people saw me, thought of me, I wanted to control life was going, controlling the pitfalls and trying to control the pain…It’s just not possible you cant commit the way other people feel you can’t control the way they react and once you lose enough it’s just like you allow yourself the space to relinquish control in some areas. Control is a life theme for me and I feel like I’m always gonna be chasing that feeling of like I care I have control accept it and give it what it is.” With the album also focusing on growth, insecurity, and self-love I think is something that young people can really relate to.

Still being one of the most popular R&B Albums 4 years later and having several hits and no skips it’s a must listen to.

2. Ungodly Hour- Chloe x Halle

R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle released their sophomore studio album Ungodly Hour on June 12th, 2020, under Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records. Their most popular and well-known song off the album “Do It” peaked at #63 on the Billboard 100 and #4 on the R&B Song Chart. Along with other hits off the album such as “Forgive Me” which peaked at #10 and “Ungodly Hour” which peaked at #20. With the album overall peaking at #2 and being one of the best R&B albums of the year earning the girls 2 Grammy nomination that year for Best Traditional R&B Performance and Best R&B Album.

With “Do It” being the most popular song off the album with the music video having 62 million views the girls explained in an interview with MTV News how the song represents their change into womanhood and how much the video represents such a big part of their album. They say “We got to articulate our vision in wanting to show who we are growing into as young women, and I feel like it shows our sisterhood, and our bond, and how much fun we have together. And then also like the sexy side. The sexy but the grown woman that’s growing, and I think that’s really cool because we wanted to reflect that, you know, as we’re getting older like we’re falling in love and having experiences. We are turning into new versions of ourselves. So, we wanted to show that in the video.” As the album deals with the concept of being completely unapologetic to one’s true self, which the sisters do perfectly in such a soulful way which is why the album is a trophy.

3. Dirty Computer- Janelle Monáe

Singer Janelle Monáe released her third studio album  Dirty Computer on April 27th, 2018, under Wonderland Arts Society, Bad Boy Records, and Atlantic Records. With the album having featured artists such as Pharrel Williams, Grimes, and Zoë Kravitz the album is a soulful funky R&B masterpiece. With the two lead singles “Make Me Feel” peaking at #9 and “I Like That” peaking at #14 on the Hot R&B Song Chart, “Make Me Feel” was also featured in the Netflix Original Movie Tall Girl. With other songs such as “Dirty Computer” peaking at #6 on the Billboard 200, the album was an overall success peaking at #3 earning her 2 nominations for Album of the Year and Best Video for her song “Pynk” at the 2018 Grammys.

Dirty Computer is also a visual album with a motion picture with a runtime of 48 minutes. The short film follows an android, Jane 57821, who attempts to break free from the constraints of a totalitarian society that forcibly tries to erase her memories as she fights to hold on to them. Each song from the film represents a memory of Janes. Monae’s album was inspired by Friz Langs’ 1927 film Metropolis. In an interview with Complex News Monáe explains how the inspiration of the film has helped shape not only the album but her work as a whole. She says “It inspired me to want to be the heart. To be the mediator between the mind and the hands, the high class and low class, the half not and the halves, and use music to bridge that gap to bring us together.” Monáes album is not only pleasing to listen to but visually stunning as well, as a woman who takes her art seriously, the talent and symbolism in this album makes it all more the rage to listen to.

*Other R&B Albums You Should Listen To*

Over It- Summer Walker

Lemonade- Beyoncé

When It’s All Said And Done…Take Time- Giveon

F**k The World- Brent Faiyaz

T R A P S O U L- Bryson Tiller

Chilombo- Jhené Aiko

H.E.R- H.E.R

Positions- Ariana Grande

Homegrown- VanJess