Honorable Mention: Prince - Art Official Age
Prince is one of the most influential artists of the last 50 years. Drawing from a wide spectrum of styles, ranges, and eras, Art Official Age, which is the artist's 33rd studio album, reflects a virtuoso creating from the highest sources of energy.
Listening to this album requires a bit more careful ear, as the finer points are in Prince's attention to detail and technical excellence, as well as spiritual vibrance. Over a mix of eclectic sounds, Prince free flows, raps, sings, and gathers the world's premier voices and musicians for this album.
It is important to listen to Prince because he is the artist many of our other R&B Kings and Queens have grown up listening to. Thusly, Art Official Age is a preview of what other R&B superstars like Chris Brown may face in the foreseeable future. "Breakdown" tells such a story of rising and falling from grace that even other artists on this list may relate to and find comfort.
If you like Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, give Prince's new album a listen, as The Artist reigns as the Godfather of R&B well into his 50s. Do yourself a favor and listen to the legend that is Prince and understand that the source of many of the sounds that we know as contemporary R&B is indeed the cultural icon, Prince.