50 Best R&B Albums Of All Time, All Are Musical Masterpieces
R&B music is a major part of black culture.
We often reminisce on the sounds of yesterday while looking to support the newcomers of today and tomorrow.
From the 1960s to now, here are the 50 best R&B albums of all-time.
50. Johnny Gill By Johnny Gill
After taking a break from New Edition, Johnny Gill released his third album in 1990.
Peaking at #1 on the US Billboard Top R&B Albums, Gill collaborated with a lot of big names on this record like Babyface, L.A. Reid, and Kenny G.
This album bored singles like “Rub You the Right Way,” “My, My, My,” and “Fairweather Friend.”
49. Waiting To Exhale Soundtrack By Various Artists
While the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack can be seen as a compilation album, it has so many hits which earned it a right on this list.
Plus, not to mention the number of stars on the soundtrack beginning with Whitney Houston.
Musical artists like Toni Braxton, TLC, Aretha Franklin, Faith Evans, and Mary J. Blige also appear on the soundtrack album.
48. Cooleyhighharmony By Boyz II Men
Released in 1991, Cooleyhighharmony is the first album released by Boyz II Men.
Peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200, the album bore some of the group’s very first hits.
While “Motownphilly” and “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” were some of their earlier releases, “End of the Road” was the biggest single from this album.
47. Total By Total
In 1996, Total released their self-titled album on Bad Boy Records.
The biggest hits on their album were “Can’t You See” and “No One Else.”
With many of their songs charting in the Top 40, it’s no surprise when you realize that Diddy, The Neptunes, and Rodney Jerkins worked on their album.
46. HOMECOMING: THE LIVE ALBUM By Beyonce
This is the first of many appearances from Beyonce on this list.
After her performance at Coachella in 2018, the singer brought herself to a new level of talent and stardom.
While her performance was certainly a show, the album that came out of it is one of the best of all time.
45. Brown Sugar by D’Angelo
In 1995, D’Angelo introduced himself to the world of R&B.
While his sound is predominantly R&B, he was great at fusing it with R&B and funk.
The album produced some of the artist’s greatest hits like “Brown Sugar,” “Cruisin’,” and “Lady.”
44. Never Say Never By Brandy
While she was known on the scene as an actress, in 1998 Brandy released her second album.
This is the album that would propel her to be known in the R&B world with two of her career’s biggest hits – “The Boy Is Mine” and “HaveYou Ever?”
43. 112 By 112
In 1996, we were introduced to the R&B group 112 with the debut self-titled album.
Another ‘90s group signed to Bad Boy Records, they worked with a number of celebrities on this album.
While they released three singles before, their 1997 release of their single “Cupid” was the most successful.
42. Ctrl By SZA
SZA joined the R&B scene officially in 2017.
After recording her album for three years, she came and instantly made a name for herself.
With four Grammy nominations, the album has great, memorable hits like “Love Galore” and “The Weekend.”
41. Aaliyah By Aaliyah
In 2001, Aaliyah released her third album and what would be the last album before her untimely death.
Continuing to put out hit after hit, this album features some of her career’s biggest songs like “More Than a Woman” and “Rock the Boat.”
40. The Writing’s On The Wall By Destiny’s Child
Destiny’s Child is one of the best-selling groups of all time and it has to do with a lot of the singles on this album.
While this album brought about songs like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Bug a Boo,” and “Jumpin, Jumpin,” this album features one of the groups biggest hits of all time, “Say My Name.”
39. The ArchAndroid By Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae is one artist who is great at combining R&B with a series of other genres.
With her release of The ArchAndroid in 2010, her mix of neo soul with alternative R&B got her noticed.
Two of the album’s biggest songs were “Tightrope” and “Cold War.”
38. Blond by Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is considered a musical genius by many.
In 2016, he released his long awaited album after his 2013 album Channel Orange.
With the single “Nikes” leading the way, the album appears on numerous lists of the best albums of the decade and all time.
37. Love Deluxe by Sade
Love Deluxe is Sade’s fourth album.
Originally released in 1992, the album has a series of soothing crooners.
Even while releasing a number of hits, prior to this, this album added two more to the list – “No Ordinary Love” and “Cherish the Day.”
36. That’s The Way Of The World By Earth, Wind & Fire
In 1975, Earth, Wind, & Fire released their sixth album That’s The Way of the World.
The soundtrack for the 1975 movie, the album carried two hit singles, “Shining Star” and “That’s The Way of the World.”
35. My Life By Mary J. Blige
If you ask people who the Queen of R&B is, many of them will name Mary J. Blige, and this album adds to why they think that.
The follow-up to her 1992 album, My Life peaked in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and was nominated for Best R&B Album.
Lastly, while this song had many jams, you can’t help but sing to “I’m Goin’ Down.”
34. Sons Of Soul By Tony! Toni! Tone!
Tony! Toni! Tone! released their third album in 1993.
A mix of R&B, soul, and funk music, their album featured singles like “If I Had No Loot,” “Leavin’,” and their big hits “Anniversary” and “(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow.”
33. 8701 By Usher
Before Usher dropped his 2004 album Confessions and became more mainstream in the pop world, 8701 had the hits!
Released in 2001, this album had it’s fair share of singles that are synonymous with the highs of the artists career.
With “U Remind Me,” “U Got It Bad,” and “U Don’t Have to Call,” this album is easily one of R&B’s best.
32. Beyonce By Beyonce
Beyonce’s albums always have hits, but this fifth album took the entire world by surprise.
Without promoting the album, it instantly debuted at #1 on the Billboard 2000 and had hits like “Drunk in Love,” “XO,” and “Flawless.”
31. Forever My Lady By Jodeci
When it comes to the pure sounds of R&B, Jodeci is a staple.
Their album Forever My Lady” was released in 1991.
While this album features a number of classic R&B love songs, none of them compare to the title track “Forever My Lady.”
30. It’s About Time By SWV
Some of the biggest R&B hits of all time came from SWV’s debut album It’s About Time.
“I’m So into You,” “Right Here/Human Nature,” and “You’re Always On My Mind” are some of their best performing songs, but none compare to the classic that is “Weak.”
29. The Emancipation Of Mimi By Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is extremely talented, and while this is true, she fell off a little towards the late ‘90s.
Even so, she came back with her 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi.
With hits like “Don’t Forget About Us” and “Shake It Off,” this album was led by “We Belong Together.”
28. Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite By Maxwell
Maxwell joined the music scene in 1996 after recording his album Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite for two years.
Another singer who is known for his fusion neo soul sound, this album came alive with his single “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder).”
27. Lady Soul By Aretha Franklin
Bring on the queen of soul!
Aretha Franklin’s album Lady Soul is legendary.
With classic songs like “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools,” this album is a classic that deserves its place on this list.
26. A Seat At The Table By Solange
Most people might say that Solange lives in her sister’s shadow, but these sisters are in different lanes.
Definitely bringing the neo soul into R&B, Solange blossomed with her 2016 album A Seat at the Table.
With the leading single “Cranes in the Sky” that won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance, she did her thing with this record as a whole.
25. Wildheart By Miguel
Wildheart is the third album from Miguel that he released in 2015.
Earning two Grammy nominations, this album bore two singles – “Coffee” and “Simple Things.”
24. Lemonade By Beyonce
In 2016, Beyonce dropped her sixth studio album.
Let’s just say that it propelled her career even more.
While it carried popular songs like “Sorry” and “Hold Up,” none of them compared to the formidable “Formation.”
23. LP1 By FKA Twigs
As far as crossovers go, FKA Twigs created one of the best R&B albums of all time in 2014 by creating a fusion sound with electronic music.
The debut album of the singer landed her on the best album list of a number of different sites, not to mention that it earned her a Grammy for Best Recording Package.
Her album was led by her first two singles “Two Weeks” and “Pendulum.”
22. CrazySexyCool By TLC
TLC released their second album CrazySexyCool in 1994.
After experiencing success on their first album, this album helped propel the group even further with some of their biggest singles like “Creep,” “Red Light Special,” and “Waterfalls.”
21. Trilogy By The Weeknd
We love compilation albums which is why The Weeknd’s Trilogy shows up on this list.
Taking his previous mixtapes, the artist remastered them and released them in 2012 as a 30-song album lead by one of his career’s biggest hits – “Wicked Games.”
20. Don’t Be Cruel By Bobby Brown
After his split from New Edition, Bobby Brown embarked on a solo singing career.
While his first album wasn’t a flop, it was his second album that earned him a spot on this list.
Reaching #1 on the Billboard 200, this album was carried by singles like “Every Little Step” and “My Prerogative.”
19. Songs In A Minor By Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys showed up into the R&B world and made more than a splash.
Released in 2001 when Keys was just 20 years old, her album dropped and instantly debuted at #1.
Winning her an impressive five Grammy Awards, the album includes her iconic hit “Fallin’.”
18. Confessions By Usher
Let’s call a spade a spade.
Usher made an entire album about cheating and it became a hit.
Released in 2004, it still has some of the biggest hits of his career and was the best-selling album of the 2000s.
With singles like “Confessions Part II” and “Burn,” you’ll always find someone ready to belt the songs of this album.
17. Freudian By Daniel Caesar
Daniel Caesar is bringing a slightly new sound to the world of R&B.
He debuted his album Freudian in 2017 and while it took a bit of time for his songs to gain traction, they’re some of the greatest.
With well-known tracks like “Get You” and “Best Part,” the artist won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance for the latter.
16. Toni Braxton By Toni Braxton
While it might not contain her classic “Un-break My Heart,” Toni Braxton’s eponymous debut album is one of the greatest of all time.
With singles like “Another Sad Love Song” and the more popular “Breathe Again,” the world was introduced and impressed with the musical stylings of the artist.
This album earned Braxton her first three Grammy Awards which include Best New Artist.
15. I’m Ready By Tevin Campbell
“Tell Me What You Want Me To Do” might be his highest charting song on a different album, but I’m Ready is what solidified Tevin Campbell’s place in the R&B world.
In 1993, he released his second album.
While the album includes other singles like “I’m Ready” and “Always In My Heart,” it was the album’s first single, “Can We Talk,” that most remember of the singer’s career.
14. Songs In The Key Of Life By Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder is a legend and no one is questioning that.
In 1976, he released one of the best R&B albums of all time.
Being his eighteenth album, many might’ve thought that the artist didn’t have any more hits left in him.
That would be wrong!
This album features one of his biggest career songs ever – “Isn’t She Lovely?”
13. What’s Going On? By Marvin Gaye
In 1971, Marvin Gaye would release his eleventh album and one of the best R&B albums of all time.
With an apt title, many of the songs on the album are meant to bring forth the issues that were going on in the country during the ‘70s.
Often listed as one of the greatest albums, this song was led by the title track “What’s Going On.”
12. II By Boyz II Men
In 1994, Boyz II Men released their third studio album which would include one of the biggest hits of their career.
While this record includes singles like “Thank You” and “Water Runs Dry,” it was “On Bended Knee” which reached #1.
Even so, none of their previous songs had the mass success of “I’ll Make Love to You” which spent 14 weeks at the top of the Hot 100.
11. Purple Rain By Prince
In 1984, Prince released his sixth album Purple Rain which served as the soundtrack for the film.
Prince has always been considered a musical genius, and the first three singles on this album definitely prove it.
With “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Purple Rain,” on the roster, it’s no surprise that this is one of the best albums of all time.
10. Thriller By Michael Jackson
While this might be Jackson’s best-selling album of his career and the best-selling album of all time, we’re rounding out the top 10 with Thriller.
The amount of hits that Jackson put out with this song is unparalleled.
With “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Human Nature,” and more
9. Daydream By Mariah Carey
When Mariah Carey joined the music scene in 1990, the world already knew she would help mold the musical industry.
In 1995, she would release her fifth album.
With the single “Fantasy” leading the way and including another favorite, “Always Be My Baby,” none of her singles were as successful as “One Sweet Day,” – her collaboration with Boyz II Men that spent 16 weeks at the top of the Hot 100.
8. Whitney Houston By Whitney Houston
In 1985, Whitney Houston released her debut album and the rest was history.
While her first three singles are still notable, it was “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know,” and “Greatest Love of All” that propelled the album onto this list.
7. Rhythm Nation 1814 By Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson was looking to make a name for herself in the music industry, and she paved the way for herself onto this list.
In 1989 she released her fourth album and released hit after hit after hit.
While her album includes singles like “Miss You Much,” “Alright,” and “Come Back to Me,” it was “Rhythm Nation” that continues to stay in the mind of R&B lovers everywhere.
6. Baduizm By Erykah Badu
In 1997, Erykah Badu released her debut album Baduizm.
While neo soul is an area of R&B that has been increasing in recent years, it is Erykah Badu who helped put it on the map.
With her single “On & On,” she solidified her album’s place on this list and earned a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.
5. What’s The 411? By Mary J. Blige
There are some musical artists who are able to propel themselves with their debut album, and Mary J. Blige is one of them.
The artist released numerous singles on this album from “Sweet Thing” to “Love No Limit,” but the album’s second single is one of the most recognized R&B songs of all time – “Real Love.”
4. Channel Orange By Frank Ocean
Similar to many other R&B artists, Frank Ocean stepped onto the R&B stage in 2012 and quickly made waves.
With his debut album Channel Orange, he was instantly recognized for his fusion sound while paving the way for his career with his first single “Thinkin Bout You.”
3. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill
You’ll easily find this album on many “best albums of all time.”
Her debut album released in 1998, Lauryn Hill quickly showed her musical genius.
After leaving the Fugees, Hill came out to crush the R&B scene with “Doo Wop (That Thing).”
2. Sign ‘O’ The Times By Prince
All you have to do is take a listen to Sign ‘O’ The Times once, and you’ll understand why it’s #2 on this list.
The title track as well as “If I Was Your Girlfriend” were early singles that helped grab the album notice, but further tracks like “Housequake” and “U Got the Look” shaped what is the second best R&B album of all time.
1. Off The Wall By Michael Jackson
While Thriller could be considered Michael Jackson’s climb into the pop world, it was Off the Wall that had the R&B hits that gained him the number one spot.
It’s hard to refute that Michael Jackson might’ve been the most talented musical artist of all time.
With the album’s leading single “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” followed by “Rock with You,” this is without a doubt the best R&B album of all time.
Best R&B Albums Of All-Time Conclusion
It’s no surprise that artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and more take up numerous spots on this list.
From music of the past to the sounds of today, which album(s) do you think belong on this list?