The Top 10 Best R&B Albums of 2014

 

 

This was another great year for R&B/Soul music. Whoever said, that real R&B music doesn’t exist anymore have not been looking for it hard enough. When you have the industry force feeding you what they call “Modern R&B” and all these other genres they love to throw in a pot and associate with R&B, you would think real music doesn’t exist. Real soul music still exists, and this top 10 list is proof R&B is coming back strongly. Out of reviewing almost over 25 plus albums this year associated with R&B, this top 10 is the cream of the crop.

 

 

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10. Dave Hollister – Chicago Winds… The Saga Continues

Mr. Hollister brought out the heavy hitters for this album. The producers, Eric Dawkins and Warryn Campbell outdid themselves with this one. He was not afraid to step back into his R&B roots, and get back to some good old fashioned singing. He manages to produce meaningful lyrics and refreshing production for a pretty good album. He is so underrated as a singer, it’s ridiculous. This album definitely deserves this spot.


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9. Avery Sunshine – The SunRoom

There are not enough words to describe how marvelously talented Miss Sunshine is, this was her sophomore studio album and she does not disappoint at all. A different mixture of so many influential artists and genres in these songs, you can’t really name them all. A talented musician none the less, and her appreciation for her spirituality through music is inspiring as well.


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8. Kelly Price – Sing Pray Love Vol. 1: Sing

This was the powerhouse vocalist’s 5th studio album. She is the top artist to count on when you want to experience just flat out quality vocals. Even on the uptempo tracks, she still delivers with her voice. It’s indescribable the range she has, and she continues to get better with every album. The album features singers Algebra Blessett and Ruben Studdard, and is produced by the amazing Shep Crawford and Phillip Scott III.


 

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7. Ledisi – The Truth

After a couple of revisions, this was the album to take the 7th spot. This was a completely different album that you would expect from the songstress, which is a very good thing. Most of the time when artists that have a core fan base try to switch things up too much, they get lost with the direction and lose fans because of it. Not in this case, Ledisi lets her hair down with this album. Showing the fun side of her music, and taking you on a journey lyrically with each song. It’s so crazy how much personality she has in her voice. So distinguished, and polished as a singer. She can sing the phone book, and make it sound heavenly. To all artists take notes from Ledisi. If you want to change up your music style, make sure to keep the soul intact to the music.


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6. Algebra Blessett – Recovery

It is going to be so interesting to see how she develops as an artist over the next 5-10 years, because she definitely has the creative ability and talent to last that long. Maybe even longer than that. Just the fact, this was a conceptual album makes it that much more enjoyable. It is a wonderful thing to witness song writers paint a picture vividly and just flat out write great stories. Bravo, to Miss Algebra for this well put together album.


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5. Marsha Ambrosius – Friends & Lovers

Talk about a true artist who stays true to her craft. This album is easily in the Top 5. This is the singer’s sophomore album release, and does not come short of anything more than a easy flowing, laid back flow of work. Numerous producers credited on this, and also features the legendary singer Charlie Wilson on a song.  A baby making album for sure, but never forget the overall concept is showing the ups and downs of a friends and lovers relationship. That reason alone is why this album is so highly placed on the list.


 

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4. Syleena Johnson – Chapter 6: Couples Therapy

Definitely a debate if this should have been in the top 3, but confident this is perfect where it is considering the ones ahead. Talk about an album oozing with soul. A lot of vocal highlights on this album, for the Grammy nominated singer. Her influences in music definitely came through on this album, and you cannot forget about the amazing writing skills Syleecia Thompson showcased as well. There are three artists featured on the album: Leela James, Dave Hollister, and Willie Taylor. High caliber style of writing, and interesting twist on how to handle relationship issues through therapy.


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3. Toni Braxton & Babyface – Love, Marriage, & Divorce

A collaboration that everyone has been waiting on for over 20 years, these two legendary Grammy award winning singers finally decided to give the fans what they wanted. Not only is this fine production, but let’s get to the root of why this is in the top 3. These two put out 2 chart topping hits, “Hurt You”, and “Where Did We Go Wrong”. Then, made a complete conceptual album telling a story of how love turns to marriage. Even if the relationship ends in divorce, the love is still there. This album is great for the genre of R&B, because they are showing and proving real quality lyrics and production can exist in mainstream music.


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2. Kindred the Family Soul – A Couple Friends

Let’s start off by saying that if not for #1, this album hands down would’ve taken the spot. This is the most complete album out of all the albums listed. That’s not to take away from anyone listed, but when you talk about a clear concise, direct vision for an album. You can say Fatin Dantzler and Aja Graydon-Dantlzer did a phenomenal job show casing their incredible talent throughout this album. They are masters with the pen, of expressing the warmth and joys of marriage. Also, talking about the ups and downs of marriage as well. What leaves marks on soul albums is the instrumentation, and they definitely left the mark with this fine production. Also, paying homage to the greats before them. Sampling the late iconic Isaac Hayes, and the legendary Gamble & HuffA Couple Friends deserves all the respect from anyone who calls themselves a fan of R&B music, and this is why it’s #2 on this list.


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1. D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah

This Top 10 list was literally ready to be published until the day this album came out. The soulful musician/singer came out of no where in the month of December, and gave this album to his fans to decipher and enjoy. Of course, there have been talks of a new D’Angelo album for over 2 years now. Questlove mentioning it, in interviews that it was almost ready to be released. That still wasn’t enough to prepare people for this surprise album he released on December 15th, as well as dropping the first single at the same time.  This album has 12 songs, and all of 12 written and produced by the multiple-talented Grammy award winning singer. Put aside Black Messiah being the best R&B album of the year, hands down the best album of the year, period. A straight funk, jazz, R&B, and hip hop inspired album, with excellent instrumentation. Vanguard (musicians) definitely deserves their own praise as well.

This is just a full body of work, and creativity at its finest. Marvin Gaye released What’s Going On in 1971, Gaye spoke about police brutality, war, environmental woes and many other things. You can say, we might be witnessing the same thing with Black Messiah. Think of how much of an impact, Sly and the Family Stone and many other artists in the 1970’s who spoke on what was happening during that time period. We could be witnessing a time stamp of an era where an artist like D’Angelo is the first of many of this generation who are expressing their views about the injustices going on across the world. Only time will tell to refer to it as a timeless classic, but what one thing is for sure. This is a masterpiece of work.

 

There were plenty of good R&B singers that came out with albums this year, but failed to make a great quality album. This list is composed of artists who have done that. The whole point of a “best album” list is to be able to listen to the album in its entirety. If an artist has better singles than the album, it cannot be considered one. An “okay” or mediocre album should not be accepted at all, if you’re true lover of music. Especially if it’s a singer, it’s not a sin to want the artist to put more effort into an album. Punctual lyrics, stellar vocals, and actual instrumentation are all the things that make a great R&B album. All the artists listed in the Top 10 Best R&B Albums of 2014, your hard work into these albums are appreciated from Soul Savviness.

 

Is your favorite album of this year on the list? If not, let us know down below!