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Before I make this list that could be questioned by everyone who will read this post, I based my criteria  off of the following: Production, Song Selection, Hits, Album Sales, and Impact on the R&B Community.

Let the list begin………

10. Maxwell: BLACKsummer’snight 2009       

This may be too early for this album to make the list, with the criteria above, there is no way that this album shouldn’t make the list. In a year where traditional R&B is almost a lost art, Maxwell reminds us that traditional R&B still exists. Bringing back its 30 and over fans, Maxwell distinguished himself from the younger generation and delivered one of the best R&B albums of 2009 and stamped R&B with an album it could never forget. From its cleverly worded break-up song smash hit “Pretty Wings”, to his follow-up hit “Bad Habit”, he made vocal R&B relevant in a genre that is now dominated by artist

9.  Mary J. Blige: The Breakthrough 2005       

Just when we thought the Queen of R&B’s best days were over she proved the critics wrong once again in 2005 with her dynamic album The Breakthrough. The smash hit “Be Without You”, gave you a glimpse of the old Mary from the 90’s. Not being the greatest vocalist but embodying exactly what soul music is. On this album you can feel the hurt and pain that Mary felt during this time. It was a reminder that when R&B female stars are selling lust and sex, there is always Mary to give us the truest essence of R&B and soul music.

8. Justin Timberlake: FutureSex/LoveSounds 2006

Damn it this white boy has soul. We all know Justin Timberlake as the curly haired lead singer from pop boy band N’Sync, but what we didn’t know is that this man can flat out bring it. In 2003 he dropped his debut album Justified which earned him solo success and respect among his R&B peers. While Justified was good, in 2006 Justin gave R&B an album it would never forget. It spawned his first #1 hit with “Sexy Back” which ultimately became his biggest solo song hit of his career. Also the album had no songs with lyrics written on paper and had beats from super producer Timbaland. While “Sexy Back” was the albums biggest hit, it wasn’t the only one. It also spawned top 10 hits such as “My Love”, “What Goes Around Comes Around”, and “Until The End Of Time”. Justin shocked everyone with this album and I have a strange feeling that he isn’t done yet.

7. R. Kelly: TP-2.Com 2000  

Now aside from all the legal drama that R. Kelly has been through in the past decade, there is NO way that you can deny that the man is a musical genius and showed it on his 2000 album TP-2.com. Now at the time, we were all used to the bald R. Kelly who poured his heart in soul into every hit that he came out with such as “I Believe I Can Fly”, but on this album R. Kelly went back to his roots and came out with the 2nd version of 12 play, TP-2.com. This album has hit after hit after hit and gives us vintage R. Kelly singing the panties off every woman that listens to it. But the best thing about the album it gives us more than just sex with “Greatest Sex”, “Feeling On Your Booty”, and “Strip For You” but also he pours out his feelings for his late mother and friend with “I Wish” and the remix and also a couple of break up songs with “A Womans Threat” and “I Don’t Mean It”. All in all R. Kelly began the decade on the right foot by delivering  this dynamic album and proving himself worthy of the throne as the king of R&B.

6. Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is 2005  

So while Mary J. Blige was asleep, there was a new comer on the scene giving women what they missed in R&B at the time, and that was a woman to express all the hurt and pain they were going through and from Oakland emerges Keyshia Cole. Keyshia gave R&B desperately what it needed at the time and that was a woman who could relate to the majority of women out there who were dealing with lying, cheating, low-down dirty men. Now as a man, I hated every song that came out, but as a lover of R&B, I could not deny what this album meant to a lot of women. It let them know it was ok to cry and be upset, but at the end of the day get up, dust yourself off and keep on moving. This album had hits written all over it with “I Just Want It To Be Over”, “I Should Have Cheated” and “Love”, mix that with all of the pain and hurt in Keyshia’s voice you get one of the most heartfelt albums this decade had to offer.

5. Beyonce: B’Day 2006

So now we enter the top 5 R&B albums of the decade and lets face it Beyonce owned this decade. It all started when she went solo from Destiny’s Child and came out with her solo debut Dangerously In Love which gave us a peek of what was yet to come. Now I can name all the hits off the album, but there are 2 that stick out in my mind. “Irreplaceble” is the get your shit and go song of the decade. Just by the first line “to the left to the left” let me know as a man that if I am not doing my job I will be fired. The next song “Get Me Bodied” had every female and their mama dancing in groups at every club acting out the video to this song. It became a ladies anthem everywhere and it spread almost like a plague. That is the kind of affect that Beyonce has on R&B and this album was almost like the icing to the cake from what was done since her Destiny’s Child days.

4. John Legend: Get Lifted 2004  

Now what do you get when you mix heavenly vocals, kanye west produced tracks, and a man who can ply the piano like his fingers were made just for each key……you get John Legend and his 2004 debut Get Lifted took the R&B world by storm. No one knew who John Legend was when he sang on hooks and went on tour with Kanye West, but by the end of the year in 2004, everyone was a fan of Mr. John Legend. It’s hard to define what soul music is sometimes, but I think that everyone will agree that John Legend owns the title of soul music. With its smash hit “Ordinary People”, this propelled John Legend into a superstar and earning him grammy nominations and awards. He wrote, produced, composed, and performed most of the songs on the album, which that alone is an accomplishment by itself in a day where everyone isn’t a musician. John Legend reminded us with this album that there are some damn good musicians still around in the R&B genre.

3. Alicia Keys: The Diary Of Alicia Keys 2003  

Speaking of musicians, as I’m making this list I am having a real tough time just picking one of Alicia Keys albums. Its almost like everything that this woman touches turns into platinum. Her 2nd album, “The Diary Of Alicia Keys” is arguably one of the best pieces of music ever assembled on one CD. Along with winning a record tieing 5 Grammy awards, she also wrote, composed, produced and performed most of the songs on this album letting us know that her 1st album was not a fluke.

2. Mariah Carey: The Emancipation of Mimi 2005  

Don’t call it a comeback!!! She’s been here for years. That is the line that should be used to describe this masterpiece that Mariah put out. Now, in the 1990’s Mariah Carey was the only artist who spawned a #1 hit in each year. The early 2000’s was a little different for her, coming out with “Glitter” and “Charmbracelet”. Everyone was starting to wonder, what the hell happened to Mariah Carey? Not so fast, in 2005 marked the return of an R&B superstar. She went back to her roots and started singing from what was in her heart again, she put away all the fairytale stuff and sang about what every woman needed to hear and that was to be free from any stress that was holding down their lives, hints the album title The Emancipation of Mimi. She got back with producer Jermaine Dupri and made magic. “Its Like That”, “Fly Like A Bird”, “We Belong Together”, “Shake It Off” are some just to name a few songs that came with Mariah’s new stress free attitude that she brought with this album and she proved a lot of people wrong who thought she was finished. Like I said don’t call it a comeback!!!!!!!!

1. Usher: Confessions 2004

As if you didn’t know? Usher’s Confessions is by far the best R&B album of this decade hands down. This album had absolutely everything you could want. Just by reading this is making you want to go into your itunes and listen to this album all over again like the first time you heard it. This album had club bangers, “Yeah” and “Caught Up”, and gave you a peek into Usher’s personal life. The song confessions alone is enough to drama to last you the entire album but he came with everything he had on this album. There were number one hits flying all over the place, he opened up with selling over 900,000 copies leaving his competition in awe of what he had just put out. This album was the total package and I am almost positive that everyone would agree with me when I say that this is at the top of everyone’s list.

I hope that you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with these classic R&B albums that took us through middle school, high school and also our early adulthood. I don’t expect you to agree with this list but here are a few great albums that didn’t make the list but are honorable mentions.

Jill Scott: Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds Vol. 1 2000

Chrisette Michele: I Am 2007

Ne-Yo: In My Own Words 2006

Musiq Soulschild: Aijuswanaseing 2000

Anthony Hamilton: Comin’ From Where I’m From

Raphael Saadiq: The Way I See It 2008

The Dream: Love Vs Money 2007

Aaliyah: Aaliyah 2001 (R.I.P

“I love this commercial with the little boy in the towel and his father…….but it makes me mad that we think it’s so “cute” as opposed to it being the norm…..why cant the notion of black fathers spending time with their kids be the norm? Why is it deemed so much more special?” from @imanadero via twitter.

I Thought It Was Normal………

It’s funny for the majority of my life I grew up with both my mother and my father both in the same household and when I told some of my classmates that I live with both my mom and dad, they looked as if they were shocked. I thought it was the normal thing to have both parents in the same house with you. The older I got, I started to notice that a lot of (african american) kids did not grow up with a father in their house. I started to ask myself, “why is it such a beautiful thing when you see an African-American family”? I think it’s because the media and bitter african american women (yes I said it) have painted a picture that African American men do not respect or value of what it is or means to have a child. So now you have the issue where anytime that you see a African American man with his wife and kids you think yourself as an African American “awww thats so nice”, where as you see a white family you don’t say anything because its normal for you to see that. It hurts as a African-American man to see that it has come this where people are shocked to see that an African-American man actually takes care of his kids and does right by his family. Its gotten to the point where we as African-American men have become the villian in todays society against our own women.

chris rock

Nobody Tells Daddy Shit!!!!!!!!

In Chris Rock’s stand up Bigger and Blacker he says,”see nobody gives a fuck about daddy, there’s some real daddies out there……..there’s still some motherfuckers that handle their business”. Now after reading that quote I think to myself that statement couldn’t be more true and he said that back in 1999. The fact is the media and researchers want to drum up statistics about how many black kids grow up without a father in their life, or the percentage of black men that leave their woman after she gets pregnant, but they neglect how many black men actually handle and take care of their business or the number of black men that actually believe that family is extremely important to them. That’s not what makes good television or good news and magazine articles, the ones where they are talking about their no good man who took advantage of them and left them to fend for themselves after they had 2 or 3 kids thats what makes good media. The coonery out shines the quality thats why it’s not normal when you see a black man with his family. I’m not saying that we need credit or we need a stamp of approval to let us know when we are doing a good job because a real man doesn’t need any stamp of approval but I wish that they would stop making it look like black men are only good for going half on the baby instead of taking care of his responsibility.

single black mother 2

“You Can Drive A Car With Your Feet That Don’t Mean It’s Supposed To Be Done”

The quote I just used above is again from Chris Rock’s Bigger and Blacker. Now the reason I chose that quote is because another problem is some women actually WANT to be a single parent (yes i said it). You watch all of these feel good stories about how through adversity and through it all you had the courage to stand up and say you are going to raise your kids alone and you don’t need anyones help. You see these Tyler Perry plays and movies and see how black women pull through anything (which is a desirable trait and i love it) and you get the notion that you don’t need a man so the 1st time a man slips up or does something you don’t like, you leave him and say you don’t need him, making your own struggle and your own fight a lot harder when actually the man wants to be around and take care of his responsibility. “You can drive a car with your feet that don’t mean its supposed to be done”. You don’t need a man, and you don’t have to put up with anything that you feel you don’t need to deal with, but on the same token you have to give the man and the situation a chance before you say you don’t need him.

At The End Of The Day………….

At the end of the day there are way more black men who actually take care of his business and who has a family than black men who don’t take care of their kids. Family is just as important to us as a black woman the problem is we do not get the attention that we are supposed to get because you want sell more records, get more ratings and sell more magazines and newspapers. A black man feels as though family is important and dear to us. Having a child is carrying on your legacy. After you leave the earth the only thing that you have is your name, and to me as a black man I can’t wait to let my son and or daughter to carry on my name with pride. I am positive that other black men feel the exact same way I do but we are not the ones that get shown on television (exclude the cosbys, family matters and the Fresh Prince) we are the ones women say don’t exist anymore.

black family

“Despite the genre’s spreading popularity, Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City’s by fans and critics. Hip hop music was popular there at least as far back as the late 1970s (the first Philadelphia hip hop record was “Rhythm Talk”, by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philadelphia the “Graffiti Capital of the World”

As a hip hop fan, over the years I have noticed that hip-hop is the only genre that allows you to represent where you’re from anytime, anywhere and anyplace. Now, as a die-hard hip-hop fan from PHILADELPHIA, I haven’t had too much to represent in the past couple years. I was on the train listening to the Blueprint 3 album and the song “Empire State of Mind” comes on. I then think to myself, “they are reppin’ New York to the fullest why don’t we have that kind of energy in Philadelphia?” Philadelphia is without a shadow of a doubt Hip-Hop’s “2nd Home”, and the fact is we do not have a major hip hop icon that has emerged as a great M.C. New York has Jay-Z and Biggie, Chicago has Kanye, L.A/West Coast has Dre, Snoop and Tupac, Atlanta has T.I., Ludacris, Jezzy and Outkast, and Philadelphia has………The Fresh Prince? No disrespect to D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, they have their place in Hip-Hop history as the first grammy-award winning hip hop artist (also prince was a beast on the microphone), but they were not hip hop superstars and they can not sell out a concert.

Philadelphia has a very rich history in hip hop and the problem is these artist that come from Philly either don’t know, don’t care, or simply don’t respect exactly where they come from, because if they did then you would see that you have a very rich tradition that you simply need to live up to.

Philadelphia Hip Hop History Timeline

1965- 1970
Cornbread & Cool Earl become the first graffiti artists
they create the Philadelphia style- tall skinny letters, one color large tags
1966
Cornbread first uses the arrow as style element

1971
NY Times refers to Philadelphia as the “Graffiti Capital of The World”
July 25th, 1971 edition

1972
Time Magazine estimates 10,000 “graffitists” in Philly
March 13th, 1972 edition

1979
Jocko Henderson releases the FIRST rap record ever released
“Rhythm Talk” on Philly International Records

WZZD AM- Wizzard 100 plays the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”
the first Hip Hop record played on Philly radio

Lady B begins spinning Hip Hop records on WHAT 1340 AM

DJ Cosmic Kev & emcee Parry P start their partnership
they quickly build a following and emerge as one of Philly’s first star attractions

1980
Lady B releases “To The Beat Y’all” on Tec Records
the first Hip Hop record ever released by a solo female artist

1984
Lady B moves to Power 99 FM and begins legendary Street Beat program

Cosmic Kev & Parry P perform at the Festival of American Folk Life
sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, who have their photos archived

City of Philadelphia forms the Anti Graffiti Network
Schoolly D releases his first record “Maniac b/w Gangster Boogie”
this launches the subgenre known as “gangsta rap”

1985
Cosmic Kev & Parry P perform in Nassau, Bahamas
they become the first Philly Hip Hop group to appear outside of the United States

MC Breeze releases “Discombobulatorbubalator”
the first Hip Hop record ever banned from radio

1986
Jazzy Jeff wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

Kurupt leaves Philly and relocates in Los Angeles
he meets Snoop Doggy Dogg at a freestyle battle and becomes part of the Dogg Pound

Schoolly D releases the Hip Hop classic “P.S.K.- What Does It Mean?”

1987
Cash Money wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

MC Breeze defeats Just Ice & Disco C defeats Kool Keith at the
New Music Seminar Emcee Battle for World Supremacy

DJ Spinbad invents the Transformer Scratch

Sean G signed by RCA Records
the first Philly Hip Hop artist signed to a major label

Sean G killed in subway attack

North Philly’s Money B joins Digital Underground

1988
DJ Cash Money wins DMC World Championship Battle

DJ Miz wins New Music Seminar DJ Battle for World Supremacy

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince win the first Rap grammy

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince unveil the first Hip Hop 900 number service

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince appear on the first episode of Yo! MTV Raps

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince release “He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper”
Hip Hop’s first double album

Lady B & Mike Elliott launch Strictly Hip Hop magazine
the first national magazine dedicated exclusively to Hip Hop culture

Philadelphian John Schector launches The Source as a one page newsletter in Boston

Jazz Fresh defeats Big Daddy Kane in legendary freestyle battle

1989
Lady B resigns from Power 99 FM ending Street Beat’s initial run

1990
MC Breeze releases the theme song for Rocky V entitled “Go For It”
released under the name Joey B. Ellis

1991
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez joins TLC

1995
Jackal The Bear releases “For Real”

1996
Hilltop Hustlers Cool C & Steady B murder police officer Lareitha Vaird
during a botched bank robbery, the first female Philadelphia police officer killed in the line of duty

Rapper Kenny Krash aka Kenneth Ellis murdered in his home
the case of MC Breeze’s brother’s death remains unsolved

1997
Lady B revives Street Beat on WPHI- Philly 103.9 FM

As a hip hop lover from the city of “Brotherly Love”, I am extremely disappointed in the rappers that have come out from philly in the most recent years. They do not give Philadelphia a reason to be proud in no way, shape form or fashion. They give us a reputation of a bunch of complaining, gun-toting, under achievers who outside of Will Smith, Eve and The Roots can not make a platinum cd and its sad. Being from Philadelphia and hip hop fan I have no one to be proud of when I am arguing about hip hop when it comes to other cities right now. The under-achievement in Philly almost reminds me of our sports teams. We can be good and get to the big dance, but when it really counts we always fail to produce and it hurts. Beans, Freeway, Cassidy etc…. have failed to produce platinum albums and hit singles but these are the people we have to say are our Philly hip hop heroes. Hopefully in the near future (meek millz is not the answer) we have someone who can sell a million records, become a hip hop star, and exemplify exactly what Philly is all about. In the mean time I will be grateful to Jazz and Prince and The Roots.

fresh-prince and jazz