What’s Happened To R&B Music? The Real Men of R&B We Love

July 24, 2012  |  
10 of 11

Source: lastfm.com

Let’s face it, gone are the days when R&B music would top the Billboard 100 without sounding like a mix of techno or house music.  Sure, you have artists like Usher and Chris Brown throwing out a few dance-worthy tracks here and there, but that’s nothing compared to the overload of pop music on the radio everyday (some of it Brown and Usher contribute to). Don’t take this the wrong way, the whole dance-meets-pop music thing can be fun sometimes, but don’t you ever miss hearing that those classic R&B vocals and tracks from back in the day? The “Come and Talk to Me,” “Candy Rain,” “Groove Me” type of joints we used to act a fool to? And while these crooners did talk about sex from time to time, that’s not ALL they talked about every time you listened to them (C’mon Trey, it’s getting old). Sadly, it appears that none of today’s most popular artists are capable of providing the type of classic music we reminisce over, and would rather spend their time dancing in skinny jeans talking about how they’ll “beat it up.” *Sighs* Let’s have a look at some of our favorite male R&B artists that no one has been able to match in recent times. This is who we like to call the real men of R&B Music.


R. Kelly

Despite his legal woes, many still refer to R. Kelly as the “King of R&B.”  In May 2011, Billboard named R. Kelly the most successful R&B artist of the last 25 years. They were definitely right, as Kelly has sold over 54 million albums worldwide. For an R&B artist, that is a lot. In addition to this, he has written and produced for many top artists such as Michael Jackson and Luther Vandross. At this point, no pure R&B artist has since matched the success that R. Kelly had in the 1990s. In June 2012, R Kelly released his new album Write Me Back and is currently working on a third installment of Trapped In The Closet.




K-Ci & JoJo

Not only did K-Ci & JoJo have an incredibly successful career as a duo, the two also were a part of one the most memorable pure R&B groups of the 1990s–Jodeci, also known as the “Bad Boys of R&B.” After Jodeci disbanded in 1998, K-Ci & JoJo went on to make their own string of hits, and released the number one hit, “All My Life” ultimately surpassing the success of their former group. It would be refreshing to see one of today’s artists sing a similar song that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. The two have been touring for the last two years and are currently signed to Babyface’s Soda Pop Records.




More known for his songwriting and producing abilities than his singing (although “When Can I See You Again” and “Whip Appeal” are that deal), Babyface was a key player in the success of many artists over the years. He started the careers of TLC, Usher, and Toni Braxton. He has written music for many other successful music artists, including Whitney Houston and Mary J Blige just to name a few (and his magic is all over the entire Waiting to Exhale soundtrack). He has written and produced over 26 #1 R&B hits in his career and won multiple Grammys as a producer. He is currently working on his 10th album.





We’ll never forget when Ginuwine rode his pony into the hearts of young women all over America. Ginuwine was one of the top R&B artists in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was a multi-platinum-selling artist and his single “Differences” was on top of Billboard’s Hot R&B charts. He was one of the few R&B artists of that time to be both a strong vocalist and dancer, and though he doesn’t do as much moving and grooving anymore, Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (you read that right) is currently creating music under his own record label, Bag Entertainment.




Boyz II Men

When was the last time you heard a singing group that could harmonize like Boyz II Men? Probably not in the last 10 years…the quartet was known for incredibly strong vocal harmonies and lyrics so romantically powerful that they could woo almost any female. This past January the group was awarded a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Boyz II Men still continue to record music (without Michael McCary–the dope bass singer) and their most recent album Twenty was released in October 2011.




After his recent performance at the 2012 BET Awards, it’s quite obvious that the fans still love them some D. After being one of the pioneers of “neo-soul” in the 1990s, D’Angelo can not only sing and produce, but he can also play multiple instruments, a quality that not many mainstream music artists have. With delays on his upcoming album entitled, James River, D’Angelo has instead decided to tour both the U.S. (he’s even going on tour with Mary J. Blige) and Europe this summer performing his classic hits.



Tevin Campbell

Who can forget Tevin Campbell? The once adorable 13-year-old boy who had the vocal range beyond his years was discovered by Quincy Jones and had everyone floored with his strong vocals and beautiful tracks (“Can We Talk” is a classic!). Not only did Campbell have great vocal range, but he also had the positive image to match. Nowadays, most R&B artists are known for their sexually suggestive lyrics and enormous amounts of collaborations with sketchy rap artists. His most recent performances include The Monique Show in 2010 as well as the BET Awards’ tribute to the O’Jays (2009), on the TVOne show “Life After,” and he’s currently recording new music for his comeback.


Source: soulculture.co.uk


If you don’t lose your mind the minute someone plays “Groove Me” or “I Like,” “Let’s Chill” or even “Goodbye Love,” then it’s safe to say that you don’t know real music. Guy, with a roster of the incomparable singer/songwriter/producer Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall and Timmy Gatlin, were the New Jack Swing kings with their lovable groove-worthy jams and dope production (Why “Teddy’s Jam” is so hot when it’s only an instrumental proves their greatness). Hall’s brother Damion was brought into the mix and the group went on to create a slew of hits that performed well on the R&B charts. Though they broke up, the group got back together in the late 90s only to break up again. Guy still tours with Aaron Hall and Damion Hall at the helm, but Teddy Riley is out doing his own thing.




A list like this wouldn’t be complete without Grammy award winning singer and songwriter, Maxwell.  The sultry soul singer was also one of the pioneers of the neo-soul movement and is most known for his award-winning hits, “Fortunate,” “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” and “Somethin’ Somethin’.” He also received six Grammy Nominations in 2010 for his album BLACKsummer’snight. Maxwell was set to begin touring again, but had to back out due to a vocal swelling and hemorrhaging.


Dru Hill

Never make a Promise”? “In My Bed”? “Beauty”? Do any of these songs ring a bell? If not, then you definitely missed out on one of the most talented R&B groups in recent times. With the vocal ability of lead singer Sisqo, and the group’s writing talents, Dru Hill took the industry by storm in 1996 and continued to make an impact until 1999. Despite some member changes, the group has reunited a few times and still continues to tour the world.


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  • midori2013

    Well clearly the socio economic singularity is the root template of the issue at hand, not withstanding the dutch-irish conflict at the heart of true RnB.

  • alexis


  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953@

    SCREW R&B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jay

      Get a life, you’re not attracting anybody, desperate.

  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953@

    And this life-size Brad doll-from 1968-’72,Brad was Barbie’s then-boyfriend Ken’s handsome black buddy;at 61,I’m regarded cover boy handsome,muscular,beefy-I’m 5’9″,205-210 lb.,
    boasting 181/2″ arms,but like a lot of us older lads,I’m attempting to lose about 25 lb.-and said to resemble a handsome black cowboy stud IN AND OUT of my Wranglers jeans and other casual/Western duds!!!!!–is trying to become a Country song-writer.

  • jlenoconel

    Sort of an unfair comment. I’m white and listen to real R&B the majority of the time. I hate the pop/dance stuff you have today, especially with all these singers who really cannot sing.

  • Dennis Wu

    im done with the techno music. Need some R&B. Tamar Braxton- Love and War is a good example of R&B.

  • j

    when they said what happened to r&b I thought they were gonna bring up Curtis Mayfield, Al Green, and whatnot not jodeci. I’m bummed.

    • Jay

      Very true but they’re talking about stuff from the last two decades… I guess if they tried to mention all of them the list would be WAY too long and would go all the way back to the 50’s, with the likes of Jackie Wilson and others.

  • ennui5

    You left out the extraordinary voice of Christopher Williams….really??

  • HollynMadison

    Hey! What about Mint Condition, Tone Toni Tony After 7, Hi Five and the women of R&B? Don’t forget! Keith Sweat and so many to mention…

  • HollynMadison

    Hey! What about Mint Condition, Tone Toni Tony After 7, Hi Five and the women of R&B? Don’t forget! Keith Sweat and so many to mention…

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  • lost

    Genuiwine is one fine bro….

  • Romeodeshon

    Should of had tony Tonie tone on here as well.

  • angelica

    where is tyres && jagged edge!?

  • Who knows!!!!!

    White people wanted a trade, they said (in my white guy voice that’s in a hurry to get to the area tone) “We will give you a black president if we can have the music”.lol

  • Shaun Morgan

    Music envolved today’s music is just different from that era

  • Nope

    People have complained about the state of music for at least the past 20 years, and most of those people are just too lazy to seek out new music and artists…. even though there’s this little thing called the internet. Here’s something to help you lazy people out:

  • Nope

    People have complained about the state of music for at least the past 20 years, and most of those people are just too lazy to seek out new music and artists…. even though there’s this little thing called the internet.

  • AfricanBambi

    Frank Ocean is bringing the real back….And before you hate on this comment, do your research.

    • jael

      I would have to say Miguel Jontel! He is keeping the R&B game going too!

    • Jay

      Um Frank Ocean’s voice is so bland and is he really “manly”? Not to mention, his music isn’t that unique or genuine sounding like back in the day.

  • Jagged Edge, 112, Mint Condition, Silk, Shai,

    • noneya

      Mint Conition is still making music!

    • YES! Shai is an awesome group that hasn’t received its full shine. Their voices/music can turn any mood that I am in into a much better mood! I listen to their Greatest Hits CD all the time, so much, in fact, that the CD skips!

  • Rayven

    Fantastic list I like everyone on the list except Ginuwine, he is ok but his singing isnt on par with the rest of the list. Instead of Ginuwine you should have listed Musjic or Tyrese..

    • TraceFace

      I agree. I read it and I was like Ginuwine? Also missing is Blackstreet.

    • it didnt say who could sing the best it said the real men of r&b. he was a true sex symbol and could out dance anyone on this list in his sleep.

      • Rayven

        He wasnt a “real man of R & B” to me then ’cause looks only get you so far, his singing was average!

  • realadulttalk

    Where was Jodeci? K-Ci and JoJo alone never touched the group as a whole. Legal problems, drugs, that it was a group and money never added up–that’s what happened to a lot of the people on the list.

    • noneya

      Jodeci was on the list…K-CI & JoJo was the group they did all the lead singing and had a successful career after leaving Jodeci… and about a yr ago did a show on TVone….where have you been??

      • realadulttalk

        What list you looking at sweetheart–b/c if you saw Jodeci (outside of the K-Ci and Jo Jo portion) then you are seeing things that do not appear. I know what they did darling…but never were they as good as the group–they spend most of their time in drug/alcohol-induced stupors on stage…so where have you been?!?!?! And it wasn’t just the singing that made the group so great.

        • RealTalk

          The group was great! The duo was more succesful! I would hate to have to click on a whole different page link just to see one for kci and jojo, and another for jodeci! We get it! They were both great! You must be dalvin or devonte lol!

          • realadulttalk

            The duo was more successful??? Really? Cause I can’t name 3 songs by them. Yeah I’m both Dalvin and Devonte *rolls eyes* BTW…you didn’t need to “get” anything…don’t recall directing anything but this to you. *rolls eyes again-hating trolls*

  • Hello_Kitty81

    My nieces and nephews were conceived off these guy’s music back in the day, now these days it’s like euro-pop with misogynistic rappers in their songs. Old school is the way to go these days.

    • Erin

      I’m 23 and even I know that! lol I’m thankful for my older parents, because of them I know and appreciate what real music is. The “club” music is fun to dance to in the club but I wouldn’t call that music. It lacks creativity and its all generic. No soul, meaning, or substance.

      • Jay

        Mine too!! Mine were 40 when they had me in the 90’s so your story is similar to yours. And I totally agree with what you said. Had no clue other people felt the exact same way I do.

    • Jay

      I completely agree with your comment and the statements in the article and I’m 17 🙂

  • Baddvixentype

    Jagged Edge??? They HAVE to be on this list.

  • Baddvixentype

    Where is Jagged Edge. You can not make this list without Jagged Edge. They still making good music, Baby Making Music…yes mam!
    I could barely get passed the first pic. Kels is lookin crazy as hell throwing up his westside with that big smile. lmao, made me stop like wtf!?

  • Alexa

    I guess this is what happens when you become a slave to the record companies. Because whites are the majority, I guess that’s the demographic they’re going for. And when you ask them about their new sound they want to use lines like “I’ve grown up as artist” yeah right.

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  • IllyPhilly

    “Sadly, it appears that none of today’s most popular artists are capable
    of providing the type of classic music we reminisce over, and would
    rather spend their time dancing in skinny jeans talking about how they’ll “beat it up.”
    I thought it was just me feeling this way. I guess I’ll just take with me, the memories to be my sunshine after the rain.

    • exactly! I try telling my niece what she’s missing. now I just ban radio play and any songs that came out after 2000, Except Jill Scott, Musiq & Maxwell.

  • Kenedy

    Everyone is converting to that Euro-techno trash…..they are dumping their old fans that put them on the map, & seeking to gain a whole new fan base……so much for being grateful

    • jlenoconel

      Responding to an old comment, but honestly, Euro dance back in the 90s was actually quite good, and house music is still nice. Its the newer stuff that’s made in the U.S. that sucks honestly. Its the dance/pop/hip hop mix that sucks as hard as it does in music right now. I hate what has happened to dance music as much as I hate for what has happened to R&B/soul/urban music honestly.