90s Black Music, 25 Of The Best Songs

90s Black Music - The Best Songs

The 90s was one of the best eras for Black music, especially R&B.

It’s hard to list all of the best Black music of the 90s because the decade saw many iconic songs.

However, we’re going to try. Here’s a list showing some of the best Black songs of the 90s.

“The Boy is Mine” by Brandy & Monica

Song Year: 1998

Every teen girl in the 90s felt this #1-charting song and the feud behind it. We all were pulling for either Brandy or Monica. Everyone had to pick a side! “The Boy is Mine” is an example of not just one but two excellent Black women and artists climbing the charts.

“This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan

Song Year: 1995

Another number-one hit, “This Is How We Do It” sampled Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story,” which is an iconic Black song from the 80s.

Everyone knew this song in the 90s, from school-aged children to adults, even if they weren’t a fan of R&B.

Singer Montell Jordan left music to be a pastor and can be found worshiping at Victory World Church in Atlanta.

“Pony” by Ginuwine

Song Year: 1996

“Pony” is a sensual song produced by a Black artist that just about everyone knows the words to. This suggestive song saw huge amounts of success.

It peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1996 but spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart.

It may be almost three decades old, but “Pony” continues to be well-loved.

“That’s The Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson

Song Year: 1993

There is no denying that the entire Jackson family helped shape pop music as it is today. Janet Jackson is a powerhouse in the musical world.

This award-winning (Grammy, Billboard Awards, American Music Awards, and more) hit by the iconic Janet Jackson has been covered and sampled many times by other giant names in music.

“Waterfalls” by TLC

Song Year: 1994

“Waterfalls” was released on TLC’s second album, CrazySexyCool. It was a hit internationally and is still one of the most popular songs by any Black artist – or any artist, period.

The lyrics were especially popular for being socially conscious. In a 1995 issue of Billboard Magazine,Jarrett Nolan from BMC said that “Waterfalls” was actually the first #1 single that referenced the AIDS crisis.

After Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes’ death in 2002, the group took a hiatus before releasing their final album and retiring. They returned in 2015, but it is not the same without the original members. If this tragedy had not happened, we probably would still be rocking number one hits by TLC.

“Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa

Song Year: 1993

Just hearing this song conjures up images of the music video, and we can all picture Salt-N-Pepa driving down the beach in their convertible. It’s one of the most recognizable songs of the 90s.

We all know the answer to the question, “Girls, what’s my weakness?”

“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot

Song Year: 1992

“Oh my God, Becky” is really all we need to say. Sir Mix-A-Lot got us all with this one in 92, and thirty years later, the whole world is still jamming to “Baby Got Back.” The single has been certified as “Double Platinum” in the United States based on sales and Gold based on digital downloads.

“It Was A Good Day” by Ice Cube

Song Year: 1993

Ice Cube is one of the most famous Black rappers of the past few decades. “It Was A Good Day” was a chart-topping hit in the 90s and is used in media frequently today. The song has even been subject to conspiracy theories and investigations trying to discern the exact date of Ice Cube’s “Good Day.” The leading theory? November 30, 1988.

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Song Year: 1992

Whitney Houston is a legendary Black queen. Her version of “I Will Always Love You” was recorded for the 1992 film, The Bodyguard. It spent 14 weeks as number one on the Billboard Hot 100 that year, making it one of the most successful singles of all time. Even though we all know and love songbird Whitney’s version, it is a little-known fact that “I Will Always Love You” was actually written by Dolly Parton and originally produced in 1974.

“Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees

Song Year: 1996

The Fugees was one of the most influential Black groups of the 90s. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” was originally released by two different artists, Lori Lieberman and Roberta Flack. Roberta Flack achieved a number-one hit. In 1996, The Fugees released their own version, with the incredible Lauryn Hill on vocals. Their version went on to win a Grammy in 1997. Both the Fugees and Roberta Flack versions were on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs of All Time list.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by Lauryn Hill

Song Year: 1998

Another hit cover by the royal Lauryn Hill, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” was a 1967 Frankie Valli single. It was wildly popular.

In 1997, Lauryn Hill recorded her cover version for the movie Conspiracy Theory. The song was not included on the soundtrack, but radio DJs began burning it onto CDs. It ended up being released as a hidden track on her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and went on to become the first hidden track to get nominated for a Grammy in 1999.

“Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child

Song Year: 1999

Destiny’s Child is a Black recording group who achieved huge amounts of commercial success. One of the most well-known groups in the 90s, band members have gone on to become successful solo artists, like superstar Beyoncé.

“Bills, Bills, Bills” was a relatable song at the turn of the century that speaks directly to those kinds of guys. You know, the ones TLC sang about in their song “No Scrubs” that same year.

“O.P.P” by Naughty By Nature

Song Year: 1991

Most of the Black hits in the 90s were R&B jams, but there were a few important rap songs that decade. “O.P.P” was one of them. This golden-age hip-hop song was a lighthearted song about cheating. The title is a reference to the content, with the initials standing for “other people’s [fill in the blank].”

This song made it on a lot of music charts in 1991, most notably hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs in the United States.

“You Make Me Wanna” by Usher

“You Make Me Wanna” by Usher

Song Year: 1997

Usher, who was 19 at the time this song was released, continues to be active in the Black music scene to this day. He has released hit after hit over the years. “You Make Me Wanna” is a catchy song about the desire to leave a relationship for another. Usher’s buttery smooth voice and tendency to show off his expert dance moves in an unbuttoned shirt made all of his songs wildly popular in the 90s – particularly with teenagers.

“Bump n’ Grind” by R. Kelly

Song Year: 1993

R. Kelly is one of the most controversial Black artists of our time. Despite that, we can’t deny that “Bump n’ Grind” was one of the best songs of the 90s.

“C.R.E.A.M” by Wu-Tang Clan

Song Year: 1993

“C.R.E.A.M” is a track off the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The title of this rap song is an acronym for “cash rules everything around me.” Admittedly it was not very popular at its release but is now considered one of the best hip-hop tracks of all time.

“Hard Knock Life” by Jay-Z

Song Year: 1998

Rapper Jay-Z (who we all know would go on to marry Destiny’s Child’s Beyoncé) released “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” in 1998. It hit gold by March 1999, though it is now platinum. The song samples music from the musical Annie, which makes it catchy and unique. VH1 considered this song about rising out of poverty one of the 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs.

“Doo-Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill

Song Year: 1998

Lauryn Hill’s multiple spots on this list are well deserved. Following Fugees fame, “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” was her first solo single. Even though Lauryn Hill departed from the music industry and only performs or releases tunes sporadically, she is one of the greatest and most influential Black singers the world has ever seen. Her voice and her outreach are both incredible.

“Just A Friend” by Biz Markie

Song Year: 1989

This iconic song by the recently deceased Biz Markie may have been released in 1989, but it peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in April 1990. The song and the creative, cinematic music video are popular to this day. It is Biz Markie’s most popular song. Rest in Peace, Biz.

“I Wish” by Skee-Lo

Song Year: 1995

This rap song from 1995 continues to be relatable to everyone looking for love. Skee-Lo lists all the traits about himself that he “wishes” he could change in order to find a partner.

Because of its humorous but real approach to the topic of dating, “I Wish” is still a well-loved Black song from the 90s. It was nominated for a Grammy the year it was released.

“Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio

Song Year: 1995

This song by Coolio was the 1995 Best Rap Solo Performance winner beat out the previous song, “I Wish,” at the 38th annual Grammy Awards.

It is so popular that it has sold over 5 million copies.

Black rapper Coolio often used profanity in his songs. Because “Gangsta’s Paradise” sampled Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise,” and Stevie Wonder does not like his music to be used with profanity, Coolio cleaned up the lyrics, making this one of very few profanity-free Coolio songs.

“N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas

Song Year: 1994

Nas is known as one of the most talented and respected rappers.

“N.Y. State of Mind” is often found on lists such as “Best Hip-Hop Songs Of All Times” or “Greatest Rap Songs.” No matter where you’re from or where you live, everyone has those New York state of mind moments where life seems too big and too small at the same time.66

On his 1999 album, I Am…, Nas releases “N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II,” which is a sequel to the first song.

“It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” by Whitney Houston

Song Year: 1999

This banger by Whitney Houston covers the subject of infidelity. It’s a catchy dance tune that is relatable to all women who are hitting the door and getting away from a cheating man.

“No Ordinary Love” by Sade

Song Year: 1992

Sade, a group out of England with a Black frontwoman (named Sade), released this song in 1992. It is frequently touted as one of the best 90s R&B songs.

“No Ordinary Love” is a song that will get you in your feelings and feeling nostalgic.

“Nice & Slow” by Usher

Song Year: 1997

Released the same year as “You Make Me Wanna,” “Nice & Slow” is still an iconic 90s R&B hit. Featuring Usher’s crooning voice and sex appeal, this song dominated the airwaves in the late 90s, and millennials everywhere still have all the lyrics memorized.

Top 90s Black Music, Final Thoughts

There are so many great 90s hits by Black artists in the Hip-Hop, R&B, and Pop genres.

It would take forever to list them all, but hopefully, this list of 25 is giving you some fond nostalgia for the incredible Black music of the 90s.

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