Top 10 R&B Artists of the Past, Present, and Future

It is said that getting to the top is easier than staying there. With that being said, below are ten R&B artists who have managed to stay at the top of the charts and whose successes inspired a new generation of R&B singer.

1. Robert Sylvester Kelly (R Kelly)

Topping our list is an R&B singer whose illustrious music career has earned him the title of King of R&B. Born in Chicago, Illinois, R Kelly has sold over 40 million albums and 100 million records making him one of only five African-American artists to achieve such a feet. In 2011, the “I Believe I can Fly” hitmaker was named the most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years by Billboard. To date, R Kelly is still one of the most influential R&B singers of the 1990s.

2. Mary J. Blige

Mary Jane Blige (or Mary J. Blige) is another massively successful R&B artist who has managed to stay relevant. Mary is one of the few singers with eight or more multiplatinum albums. As of 2013 Mary has sold over 50 million albums and 25 million singles. With nine Grammy awards to her name, the singer is one of the greatest R&B singers of the past 25 years and in 2011 was ranked position 80 on the list of the greatest R&B musicians to ever hit the international music scene by VH1.

3. Mariah Carey

Born and raised in Huntington New York Mariah Carey is one of the most celebrated artists of both the 20th and 21st centuries. With 63.5 million certified albums copies, Mariah is the third best-selling artists in the USA according to the RIAA. Over the course of her music career, Carey has won five Grammy awards as well as 14 Billboard music award.

4. Beyonce Knowles

The self-proclaimed modern day feminist, Beyonce Knowles is fourth on the list. Beyonce rose to prominence towards the end of the 20th century and has won 20 Grammy awards. The R&B singer is currently the most nominated female entertainer in the history of the awards. Recognized as one of the most influential personalities of the year 2013 and 2014 by Time Magazine, Beyonce has sold an estimated 118 million solo records and an additional 60 million records as part of the now out-of-date Destiny’s Child girl group.

5. Usher Raymonds

Usher Raymonds, commonly referred to as Usher, is another R&B artist who rose to fame towards the end of the 20th century. As part of a new breed of singers that rose to prominence in the late 1990s, Usher has been recognized as one of the best-selling artists of the 2000s. His second album was certified six times platinum. To date, the singer has sold over 75 million records globally and continues to be one of the best-selling artists of the 21st century.

6. John Legend

Though known for his collaborations with some of the music industry’s iconic artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, John Legend’s success as a solo artist cannot be underestimated. The nine-time Grammy awards winner was the recipient of the prestigious Hal David Starlit Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007. His most recent award was the Academy Award for the Best Original Song in 2015 for the song Glory. Glory the featured song in the critically acclaimed feature film “Selma”.

7. Chris Brown

Despite his music career being marred by controversies, Chris Brown is still one of the best-selling solo R&B artists of his generation. The singer/actor released his debut album, which was number two on the US Billboard 200 in 2005. A native of Tappahannock, Virginia, Chris Brown has been certified as a double platinum selling artist by the Recording Industry Association of America.

8. Rihanna

Robyn Rihanna Fenty is probably the best musical export from the Barbados. Since her debut album titled “Music of the Sun” released in 2005, Rihanna has sold over 200 million records and between 2009 and 2012, the singer released four platinum-certified albums. Also, Rihanna was named as one of the top Hot 100 artists of the 2010 decade by Billboard.

9. Jason Derulo

With eleven platinum singles to his name since the beginning of his career in 2009, Jason Derulo is one of the fastest rising R&B superstars of the digital era. To bolster his already thriving music career, the Miami-born singer has sold over 50 million records so far.

10. Trey Songz

After being in the music industry since 2004, Trey Song’s musical star began to shine brightly in 2009 when he released his third album “Ready”. “Say aah” one of the songs in the 2009 album was ranked number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2010, the singer collaborated with the New York native rapper Nicki Minaj in his most successful single “Bottoms Up”. The song was from his fourth album “Passion, Pain and Pleasure”.

Could These Potentially be the Best R&B Songs of All Time?

Every R&B fan knows that too much can never be enough. This is because there’s always an opportunity to learn something from a good R&B song: harmony, soul, spirit, and strength. From the heartbreaking love songs to the lively dance tracks, the finest R&B songs have it all. While there toe too many great R&B songs that could be seen as some of the best tracks in history, we have pared down the available songs to pick the cream of the cream, from the sassy 70s to the cheeky 90s and beyond. Here is our list of the 20 best R&B songs of all time:

  1. Nobody – Keith Sweat Ft Athena Cage: one of the key players in the new jack movement, Keith sweat hit the airwaves with this snooty judgment of his foreplay skills in the 90s. The addition of a female voice in the track made it even more exciting. As Athena and Keith exchange vocals, tensions arise and harmony is certainly realized, making it one of the sexiest duets in the history of R&B music.
  1. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye exchange vocals in the various verses and then team up in the chorus to emphasize that love is truly infinite.
  1. My Girl: a memorable guitar riff accompanied by The Temptations’ smooth vocals make this track one of the best R&B songs in history.
  1. I Believe I Can Fly: a classic from renowned American R&B artist R. Kelly and an epic tune for a 90s song, this track is one of the top 10 best R n B songs of all time.
  1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine: while the first version of this track was recorded by Smoky Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye’s version is an epic tune. His impressive vocals did turn the sobbing/piercing vocals into something out of this world.
  1. Rock the Boat: Aaliyah may have passed on too soon, but she left a mark in the form of some great tracks that continue to enthrall R&B fans to this day. Rock the Boat’ was Aaliyah’s sexiest record while she was full of sexual innuendo through extensive nautical metaphors as well as a lively instrumental.
  1. Bump N’ Grind’: this track was recorded by R. Kelly when he was still making bedroom-friendly tunes without any stunts. It is the sexiest of all his romance tracks, pulsating along with its smooth baseline, romantic synthesizers and shameless lyrics about why tee is nothing wrong about bumping and grinding’ it.
  1. Let’s Get It On: there is no prize for guessing the number of babies that were conceived because of Marvin Gaye’s single ‘Let’s Get It On.’ This track is the ultimate sex song, grave enough to instill confidence in a guy to get it on and sexy enough to put a woman in the mood.
  1. Billie Jean: Jackson’s Billie Jean is based on an episode whereby a female fan claimed that Michael had fathered her baby. What came out of that incident was a groundbreaking track that has gone on to become one of the greatest R&B songs ever.
  1. When Doves Cry: Prince’s When Doves Cry is a unique R&B song that comes out without bass. He also explained what it feels like whenever droves cry

Other tracks that made it to the top 20 best R&B songs of all time include:

  1. U Got It Bad – Usher
  1. Oh- Ciara feat. Ludacris
  1. Just To Be Close To You – The Commodores
  1. All My Life – K-Ci & Jojo
  1. Anytime – Brian McKnight
  1. Here And Now – Luther Vandross
  1. Endless Love – Lionel Richie & Diana Ross
  1. If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
  1. Forever Mine – The O’Jays
  1. Overjoyed – Stevie Wonder

As you already know, music is highly subjective and therefore, some of these songs might not match exactly what you think. However, constructive help is highly welcome. If you think we have missed one of the top 20 best R&B songs of all times, don’t hesitate to add it in the comments section.