Legends Of The New School: Today’s Artists Who May Just Go Down In History…

June 3, 2012  |  
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In case you may not have known, June is Black Music Month and people, we’re in a musical crisis: Where are today’s legends? Though many of us grew up on our parents’ music (Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Earth Wind & Fire, etc…) and some of us in the 80s were blessed with Michael, Whitney, New Edition and Prince, the 90s and beyond have presented a challenge.  I’ve come up with a list; you may or may not agree, but we need to talk about this! Who is an all-around legend to you?


Boyz II Men

I wanted to start here because we absolutely have a shortage of great groups.  Boyz II Men released their first album CooleyHighHarmony 21 years ago and they’re still going strong.  Sure, their four part harmony is now three part harmony and they definitely don’t sell albums the way they used to but they still tour and people still love them.  The longevity and ability to stay true to their sound has made them legendary.



She’s only been a solo act since Dangerously In Love was released in 2003 but what she’s done in that short amount of time and the status she’s reached is enough to render her a current music legend. I am not saying she’s the “next” anybody but her talent and ability to sell out tours every time she goes out has to make you realize that she’s doing things that not many can do and keep up these days.  Mark my words, no one will forget Beyonce.


R. Kelly

I completely recognize that many of you will disagree with this choice but “The R” has been in many conversations where he’s been labeled a musical GENIUS so if that’s the case, he is likely going down as a legendary artist. Not only has he released some amazing songs himself, but he’s also written incredible songs for other artists.


Celine Dion

When Celine hits her chest with her fist, you better act like you know what is about to happen.  She laid vocals to one of the biggest smashes in pop music history with “My Heart Will Go On”  and did a four year Vegas show that grossed $400 million.  You better WORK, Celine!



Because hip-hop is such a huge part of music’s culture, I had to add Jay to the list. He has released 11 solo albums (8 of which came out every summer from 1999-2003) and they’ve done all been extremely successful (the numbers reflect that but let’s be honest and say that they haven’t all been good).  He’s also worked with artists that we’d call legends from yesteryear as well as some of today’s biggest acts.  You cannot deny the effect his music has had on the people.  Most people can quote a Jay-Z line…even if they don’t like him.


Mariah Carey

One of the marks of a legendary singer? They have you singing along and BELIEVING that you sound like them. Mariah’s range is not one that just anyone can hit but most of us just ignore that fact. With the release of self-titled debut album, we all knew that Mariah was a bonafide STAR.  She’s been cranking out hits ever since, many of which she wrote herself.  Hopefully she has some more heat to come.


Toni Braxton

Sometimes, people become legendary for just one song and although Toni gave us hit after hit in the 90s, she is internationally known for “Unbreak My Heart.” That one single boosted her to a level of fame that many just dream of.  Miss Toni also had a Vegas show that lasted over a year and entered the top 10 of Vegas show charting.  That deep, sultry and powerful voice out of such a small woman had us rocking for YEARS and we still sing so many of them like they came out yesterday.


En Vogue

When Dawn, Maxine, Terry and Cindy stepped on the scene with their debut album, Funky Divas, you KNEW it was on.  Every one of them could BLOW and each album with the original members had at least one smash hit.  Differences caused members to leave and the group has had different phases but no one will ever forget the smackdown the original Funky Divas put on the industry.



Mary J. Blige

Now you know we’re not leaving MJB off this list. No Burger King commercial can void of the many years we’ve spent in a love affair with Mary. That grit and passion she sang with right from the start with the release of What’s The 411? told us there was a new sound we needed to hear and one we’d never forget. Mary has graced the stage with many of our older female faves such as Aretha and Chaka.

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  • Envogue

    En Vogue’s debut album was Born to Sing…in 1990

  • Cali2MD2010

    Correction for the blogger…En Vogue’s debut album was called Born to Sing. Funky Diva’s was their second album. Please check your facts before posting!

  • monitorette

    TRue, BC Jean will never forget that Beyonce has stolen ‘IF I were a boy’ from her / Ne Yo will never forget that Beyonce claimed that she wrote Irreplacable for girl empowerment when in fact N Yo penned this song, … and as a whole the artists who wrote for her will never forget that they illegitimately lose a part of their royalties because Beyonce is illegitimately added as a co-writer. It is not because BILLBOARD are acting as the super PR for Beyonce that the rest of the media has to follow this path, even though Beyonce releases good music

  • Guest

    I agree we should add lauryn hill, Jill Scott, A.Keys, Erykah Badu.. So many more.

  • Numero Uno

    I agree with pretty much everyone on this list.

  • Kneekieee

    Ms. Jill Scott..
    Don’t you dare leave her out.lol.
    I love R-kelly to pieces..met him too.

  • Uhhh Usher Hello?!?!

    • drennab

      Ush definitely is a viable option.

      I didn’t want to get too long-winded in the intro pirce but we have to be able to draw the line somewhere between an artist who made good/great music and a person who has legend written over them. If it were the former, I’d have names for DAYS!

  • EarthIsASac

    erykah baduuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu HELLLLLLLLLLO

  • opotrini44

    you forgot Faith Evans and even Usher..hello?????????

    • dancerzrule14

      I can see Usher (as an R&B icon) but Faith a legend?….shes hardly a legend.Idt u can be a legend if most ppl dnt care abt u.

    • Numero Uno

      Usher…maybe….Faith Evans, as much as I used to enjoy her, I would never consider her having legend status.

  • Tallchiick

    Beyonce definitely deserves to be in this list…what other female artist (in the last 20 yrs) came from a girl group and made/kept herself relevant, and became a solo superstar??…Bey already a legend..

    • Numero Uno

      Exactly! She came from an already hugely successful girl group, and went solo, and became even more successful and famous than she already was. Kudos to Bey. She’s about the only artist nowadays that I would pay to go see.

  • IllyPhilly

    Boyz II Men!!!! Bout to blast the greatest hits right now!

  • IllyPhilly

    Boyz II Men!!!! Bout to blast the greatest hits right now!

  • Tagirl

    Mariah, Celine & Toni are make the greatest singers of all time. Toni’s first 2 albums were everything and Mariah and Celine are Mariah and Celine.

  • Fashion lover

    So no one that debuted in the 21st century? Half of these people are already seen as legends u didn’t predict anything

    • IllyPhilly

      LOL damn don’t take away their dreams? LMAO