#10 Two Eleven - Brandy
This sixth studio album from Brandy
is easily her best piece of work yet. Influenced by idol Whitney Houston's passing, Brandy personified her with mind-blowing vocals and a focused album that spawned album sales debuting Two Eleven
at the top of the charts. Seeming to take influence from Frank Ocean
(who ghostwrote "Scared Of Beautiful"), Drake
, and Kanye West
circa 808's & Heartbreak
, Brandy gave her fans an absolute treat with this album. With real swagger to the poppy, club tracks, it's enjoyable to all and even the hardest of people will break down a little when listening to the gut-wrenching, soulful ballads Brandy has in store.
#8Looking 4 Myself - Usher
It feels like Usher
has been around for a really long time and with his seventh studio release, he justifies his longevity with yet another strong album. Usher decided to go outside his usual realm of pop by incorporating dub step, rock, soul, and electronic beats and samples in the album - a strange variation for the R&B singer but one he pulls off with apparent ease, creating crowd-pleasing favourites with each track. Usher seems to have evolved and that's what makes this album one of the best of the year, he's stepped his game up to a level where his usual fans won't tire of him and he can garner new ones too. Though the album sales didn't do as well as previous ones, it'll be remembered as Ushers first step into the unknown.
#7Unapologetic - Rihanna
has had a tumultuously emotional year but ended it by being GQ's Sexiest Woman of the Year, getting the love of her life Chris Brown
back, and releasing Unapologetic
, a heartfelt, emotional album that resonates with you long after you've stopped listening. Even at the albums weak points, it isn't vulnerable, rather the production at times lets the track down with Rihanna's vocals and lyrics allowing you to delve into the pop stars heart. Selling over 200,000 copies in the first week, it wasn't just Ri Ri fans that ate her album up as word-of-mouth spread the albums catchiness. Don't act like you weren't bumping the "Diamonds" remix non-stop.
#6Trilogy - The Weeknd
The compilation album of Weeknd
s previous three free mix tapes, Trilogy
might just be his best and most complete piece yet. Having three new tracks on it, the album arguably could be a game changer in R&B when looked back upon. The dark, nocturnal piece is at times hauntingly beautiful R&B. It's not so much his singing that does it, which does help, but the beats are just so perfect and on-point. If you didn't grab the tapes when they were free, this might be the better option as it's so poignantly nihilistic.
#5Kaleidoscope Dream - Miguel
used his second studio album, Kaleidoscope Dream
, to portray what he has in his repertoire and show off his distinctive style. Featuring thick bass lines, heavy synthesizers, sounds that reverb, fade, and haunt you, Miguel incorporates R&B, pop, funk, rock, EDM, soul, and psychedelic to show he has more than one genre to offer. The album, which lyrically discusses your typical sexual and romantic themes, does tend to deviate from the R&B norm by delving into the existentialism of life. Definitely an album that might take you by surprise, don't be surprised when you jump on the Miguel bandwagon soon enough.
#41977 - The-Dream
for free in 2011, it finds itself being re-released on December 18th of this year. Apart from featuring two additional tracks in "AK47" and "Tender Tendencies," the album will retain its original line-up of tracks, which is what the public will want. 1977 strays far from The Dream's few solo pop smashes. Instead, it is a deeply personal and presumably therapeutic album, mainly dealing with his divorce from singer Christina Milian. It shows a bitter and angry Dream and he leaves no rock unturned. If you haven't picked up a copy already, do so immediately or wait for the anticipated re-release.
#3Chapter V - Trey Songz
dared to do something different on this album: he talked about what he can do for the women, instead of to the women. Though Chapter V
wasn't as cohesive as it should've been, Trey's ability to bridge the gap between soft-core and hard-core in R&B is one he does with aplomb. He uses soft-core imagery and sweet nothings to detail hard-core scenes of pleasure or pain. Where other artists wouldn't be as bold and try to deviate from their usual sound, Trey is unafraid to stick to his usual sweet silky sound on his successful fifth studio album.
#2Fortune - Chris Brown
Maybe it was the incident with Rihanna, maybe it was the night-club brawl with Drake, whatever it was, Fortune
wasn't the critically acclaimed hit that it was meant to be but that didn't matter to Chris Brown
's legions of fans. Breezy stuck to his arrogant self on the album and rapped/sang about his love for women, the desires he wants to fulfill and created the quintessential R&B album. Getting into the top ten of the charts and debuting at one in the UK, Fortune wasn't a flop. Hate him or love him, Chris Brown still makes good music.
#1channel ORANGE - Frank Ocean
No one could have really doubted this. Frank Ocean
had a monumental year, the apex of it being releasing arguably the album of the year in channel ORANGE
. Creating a masterpiece record is no easy feat but its apparent, it came easy to the Odd Future member as he poured all his emotions out into an album that has changed the way listeners define R&B. Every track was a hit with "Super Rich Kids" appealing to rap fans with the Earl Sweatshirt
verse; "Pilot Jones" hitting home for teens; "Pink Matter" reminding everyone to the greatness of Andre 3000
; and the record of the year in "Pyramids" which seamlessly merged two songs in one. Frank Ocean created an album that will be cherished for years. He then went on to cap off this wonderful year by being nominated for six Grammy's.
With 2012 drawing to a close, HNHH decided to look back on the best R&B albums of the past year.
It was hard sifting through albums and debating on what actually categorized as R&B.With artists crossing genres constantly or including more than one in their album, it's hard to truly define their sound. Some were more obvious than others but after much discussion, HNHH has brought you what we think are the Ten Best R&B Albums of 2012.