AllMusic 2016 Year In Review

Favorite R&B Albums -

 R&B took some fascinating turns in 2016, highlighted by boundary-pushing releases like Frank Ocean's Blond, Childish Gambino's divergent "Awaken, My Love!", and Esperanza Spalding's progressive Emily's D+Evolution, along with more traditional releases from Usher, Maxwell, K. Michelle and Bruno Mars.
Apache

Aaron Neville

Apache

A set of stimulating originals, all co-written by the New Orleans legend, produced by retro-R&B specialist Eric Krasno.

Spirit

Amos Lee

Spirit

The singer/songwriter's first completely self-produced album finds him balancing his earthy folk sound with a contemporary R&B and '70s soul vibe.

Malibu

Anderson Paak

Malibu

Stellar second album from the singing, rapping, and producing Dr. Dre collaborator, assisted here by 9th Wonder, Madlib, and Kaytranada.

The Powerful Now

Anthony David

The Powerful Now

A surprisingly diverse yet hardly aimless album from the Georgia native, made with early collaborator Eddie Stokes.

What I'm Feelin'

Anthony Hamilton

What I'm Feelin'

Over four years after his previous studio LP, one of the era's most remarkable singers returns beside Mark Batson for more modern red-dirt soul.

Lemonade

Beyoncé

Lemonade

On her fearless sixth album, Mrs. Knowles Carter confronts adultery, and grieves and works her way toward healing with a dizzying array of collaborators.

In My Mind

BJ the Chicago Kid

In My Mind

Long overdue Motown debut from a gospel- and soul-rooted singer and songwriter who appeared on several high-charting albums during 2014 and 2015.

24K Magic

Bruno Mars

24K Magic

An all-out R&B affair with references that span the '80s and scrape the '90s, from post-disco boogie to new jack swing.

Changes

Charles Bradley

Changes

Retro-soul vocalist is in great, powerful form on this third album, which finds him covering Black Sabbath on the title track.

"Awaken, My Love!"

Childish Gambino

"Awaken, My Love!"

Forsaking rap and rapping entirely for epic-sounding psychedelic funk and soul, the third Childish Gambino album is a thrilling surprise.

The  Heart Speaks in Whispers

Corinne Bailey Rae

The Heart Speaks in Whispers

Featuring several collaborations with Paris and Amber Strother of King, a rejuvenating set of glistening folk-soul and sophisticated funk.

The MANuscript

Dave Hollister

The MANuscript

Another solid addition to the Chicago native's deep discography of gospel-rooted soul, made with much of the crew that worked on Angie Stone's Dream.

Redemption

Dawn Richard

Redemption

The proudly defiant conclusion to the expectation-defying singer and songwriter's "heart trilogy."

Eric Benét

Eric Benét

Eric Benét

Among the singer's best work, a sturdy set of high-stepping sophisticated funk, impeccable slow jams, and moving ballads.

Emily's D+Evolution

Esperanza Spalding

Emily's D+Evolution

The Grammy-winning bassist/vocalist's ambitious, poetic, prog rock-infused concept album.

Blond

Frank Ocean

Blond

The proper follow-up to the Grammy-winning Channel Orange is a challenging, undiluted work dominated by atmospheric ballads.

Ology

Gallant

Ology

Intense left-field R&B from an up-and-comer equipped with sharp hooks and a knockout falsetto.

Struggle Love

Jaheim

Struggle Love

More fine modern soul from the New Jersey native, featuring a handful of great ballads, some side-splitting lines, and a little dirty talk.

Hold On!

James Hunter / The James Hunter Six

Hold On!

On the band's Daptone debut, they deliver ten dynamic, soulful originals cut in mono and live from the studio floor with producer Gabriel Roth.

Building a Beginning

Jamie Lidell

Building a Beginning

Modern, family-man soul from the singer and producer, assisted by musicians including Daru Jones and Pino Palladino.

DARKNESS AND LIGHT

John Legend

DARKNESS AND LIGHT

The Academy Award winner's fifth album, produced by Blake Mills, is a fully evolved synthesis of gospel, folk, R&B, and adult pop.

More Issues Than Vogue

K. Michelle

More Issues Than Vogue

Pate's third album doesn't stray far from the candid songwriting and traditional-meets-contemporary R&B productions that drove her two Top Five LPs.

We Are King

King

We Are King

Harmony-rich electronic soul from a trio who count Erykah Badu, Questlove, and Prince among their admirers.

Special Night

Lee Fields & the Expressions

Special Night

The veteran soulman and his crack band switch up to deliver a varied set about the transformational power of love.

blackSUMMERS'night

Maxwell

blackSUMMERS'night

Seven years after the preceding release -- 20 years after the debut -- the Grammy winner delivers relatively raw yet sculpted modern soul.

Love & Hate

Michael Kiwanuka

Love & Hate

The London native's sophomore LP is a dark and graceful expansion outward from his retro-soul roots.

Everything's Beautiful

Miles Davis / Robert Glasper

Everything's Beautiful

Keyboardist/producer Glasper and a large supporting cast create new material using disparate elements from Davis' Columbia multi-track recordings.

For All We Know

Nao

For All We Know

Off-center pop-funk debut from a U.K. artist with a dynamic voice.

Yes Lawd!

NxWorries

Yes Lawd!

Dazed soul loops from Knxwledge and freewheeling wordplay from Anderson Paak, released by the label that brought Madvillainy and Champion Sound.

Tigallerro

Phonte / Eric Roberson

Tigallerro

Easygoing set of deep R&B from the occasional studio collaborators.

Eldorado

Ro James

Eldorado

Promising debut from a modern, soul-rooted R&B singer whose label is rightfully confident enough to refrain from guest rapper recruitment.

ArtScience

Robert Glasper Experiment

ArtScience

This quartet explores new directions by composing and producing collectively for the first time, without sacrificing their accessibility.

A Seat at the Table

Solange

A Seat at the Table

The expectation-defying singer, songwriter, and producer's first release in four years is calmly cathartic, tender, and potent.

Sea of Noise

St. Paul & the Broken Bones

Sea of Noise

Inspirations for the tight retro-soul octet shift from the fiery '60s ballads of their debut to the more socially conscious era that followed.

Velvet Portraits

Terrace Martin

Velvet Portraits

Seemingly designed for unwinding, a warm mix of soul, funk, and jazz featuring Lalah Hathaway, Robert Glasper, and Thundercat.

The  Nashville Session

The New Mastersounds

The Nashville Session

Recorded live in analog and pressed on vinyl lacquers, this riotous live-in-studio date is the band's finest recorded moment.

The Suffers

The Suffers

The Suffers

Debut album from ten-piece R&B machine from Houston is clever and eclectic, a great showcase of their many talents.

Charlene

Tweet

Charlene

A decade after her second album, the soft-voiced yet 100-percent soul singer makes a pleasingly relaxed and intimate return.

Hard II Love

Usher

Hard II Love

The R&B superstar's most pleasing album in over a decade, highlighted by work with Pop & Oak, the-Dream, and PartyNextDoor.

Something About April II

Venice Dawn / Adrian Younge

Something About April II

Another dose of engrossing cinematic soul from Adrian Younge and his collaborators, including Bilal, Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, and Raphael Saadiq.

Black Terry Cat

Xenia Rubinos

Black Terry Cat

A bold and infectious sophomore outing from the jazzy-voiced, genre-mingling indie stylist.

SkyBreak

Zo!

SkyBreak

Native Detroiter continues to evangelize sophisticated late-'70s and early-'80s funk and soul with a modern perspective and extensive supporting cast.