The 90s was a huge era for R&B music. We’ve rounded up the albums that had
the biggest influence on this ever-evolving music genre and on avid fans.
R&B’s Most Influential Albums of the 90’s
The 1990’s was a pivotal time for R&B. The genre had only recently hit its stride in the public eye and
was becoming increasingly popular among worldwide audiences. This cultural wave allowed for the
expansion of R&B music and paved the way for some of the world’s most influential artists to share
their work. Here, we take a look at some memorable and influential R&B albums from the 90’s .
Poison – Bell Biv DeVoe
Characterized by its fusion of early hip-hop, dance, jazz, and modern R&B, the New Jack Swing wave
was the sound of early 90’s R&B. Poison is one of the most critically acclaimed and well-received
albums of the New Jack Swing movement, bringing forth a fresh and imaginative creativity that has
delighted fans ever since. Bell Biv DeVoe topped the R&B Albums chart with Poison in 1990 and
climbed to number five in the U.S. Billboard 200. Soon after its release, it was certified platinum.
With their debut album, Bell Biv DeVoe wanted to emulate the hip-hop culture of the late 80’s,
smooth it out with the R&B musical influence, and give it the mass appeal of pop. They created a
unique sound that has influenced hip-hop and R&B artists ever since.
My Life – Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige’s My Life arguably skyrocketed the then newly minted R&B star’s career to the
meteoric heights that made her a household name. The 1994 album is a heart-wrenchingly powerful
and autobiographical exploration of Blige’s struggles with deeply personal issues. The album touches
on abusive partnerships, drug abuse, and mental ill-health using Blige’s experiences as a focal point.
The album was a startlingly brave and honest expression of suffering, which many of her fans were
able to relate to. With My Life, Blige was part of a musical and cultural movement that shone a light
on several complex social issues and contributed to feminist R&B in a significant way. The album
received a plethora of awards, nominations, and obtained triple-platinum status in 1996.
Brown Sugar – D’Angelo
D’Angelo’s debut album, Brown Sugar, was an instrumental and vocal masterpiece that married
contemporary R&B with its forerunners, jazz, funk, and soul. Years later when have access to
everything from dubstep to online NZ casino entertainment, Brown Sugar is referenced by many as
the birth of the neo-soul movement in modern R&B. D’Angelo clearly draws on the old greats of funk
and soul while simultaneously making them his own with the influence of hip-hop.
Brown Sugar pays homage to black American musicians throughout the 20 th century while
reinventing and redirecting a fusion of beloved genres for a new generation. Critics and fans alike
credit D’Angelo with pioneering a sound that would be carried forward by R&B artists for years to
Although Brown Sugar cannot claim the same accolades as My Life or Poison, it is consistently
referenced as having begun a definitive movement within R&B that would resonate throughout the
1990’s and 2000’s. D’Angelo’s lyrical prowess, vocal talent, and creative expression is
unquestionable, as is his role in pioneering neo-soul.
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