R&B Music of 1980s and 1990s
Best 80s R&B Male Singers and 90s R&B Male Artists
No other era was as golden of an era than the time of 80s R&B male singers and 90s R&B male artists, a generation that produced hit after hit, and music that has easily stand the test of time. While the 1970s was legendary with soul music, music of the 1980s and 1990s was truly an iconic time in music as we witnessed the rise of numerous stars throughout the two decades.
Top 20 80s R&B Male Singer / 90s R&B Male Artists:
1. Boyz II Men
A group of four singers that led a promising career, expanding well into the 2010s. With two diamond selling albums, the hits that Boyz II Men produced, songs like “I’ll Make Love to You,” “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” “A Song for Mama,” or “End of the Road,” will forever be memorable as the Philadelphia group will be viewed as one of the greatest male groups of all-time.
2. New Edition
One of the very first R&B stars were a group of kids from the city of Boston, consisting of Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ronnie Devoe, Ricky Bell, and Ralph Tresvant, all formed together to create New Edition during the 1980s. Not only hit songs like “Cool It Now” and “Candy Girl” came from New Edition, while also becoming teen sensations, but the group also produced the legendary careers of Bobby Brown and Bell Biv Devoe.
While his debut album eventually reached gold status, Usher did not make a name for himself until he released My Way, an album that consisted of the classics “You Make Me Wanna…” and “Nice & Slow.” While Usher is truly remembered for his classic albums of the 2000s, an era he pretty much dominated with 8701 and Confessions, his late 1990s releases helped him solidify what would soon become one of the most successful R&B careers.
4. R. Kelly
Despite the controversy, the artist known as R. Kelly was one of the greatest selling R&B artists of all-time. With over 10 platinum selling albums, dating back to his first solo release of 1993, 12 Play, R. Kelly’s success is undeniable. With dozens of hit songs, people can hate him and disagree with his actions, as they should, but the music career of R. Kelly away from his personal life was truly successful.
5. Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown’s solo career was almost equally as successful as New Edition with two multi-platinum selling albums, Don’t Be Cruel and Bobby. Songs like “My Prerogative,” “On Our Own,” “Humpin’ Around,” or “Every Little Step,” along with film appearances and his relationship with Whitney Houston, continued Bobby Brown’s stardom well into the 1990s.
6. Keith Sweat
The Harlem native Keith Sweat has had a very long and prosperous career, a career that consisted of numerous albums from the 1980s to the 2010s. With over a dozen albums reaching gold and platinum status in three decades, albums like Make It Last Forever (1987), Keith Sweat (1996), and Didn’t See Me Coming (2000), Keith Sweat has always been known to be one of the hardest working artists in music.
No song was bigger in 1996 than the Timbaland produced track “Pony.” Beginning during the late 1990s with Ginuwine…the Bachelor and 100% Ginuwine, Ginuwine carried the momentum from his success during the 1990s into the 2000s.
8. Brian McKnight
With no end in sight, Brian McKnight has continued his career for almost four decades, with his latest project Exodus being released in June of 2020. While debuting in 1992 with his self-titled album, not until the late 1990s with Anytime and Back at One did we truly get introduced to Brian McKnight.
9. Tony! Toni! Toné!
Starting during the late 1980s and ending a successful career by the late 1990s, this trio, featuring Raphael Saadiq, would become known for songs like “Anniversary,” “Whatever You Want,” “If I Had No Loot,” “Feels Good,” “It Never Rains (In Southern California)”, and many more.
10. Dru Hill
Led by Sisqo, Dru Hill made their breakthrough with the debut album, Dru Hill. Songs like “In My Bed,” “Tell Me,” “We’re Not Making Love No More,” and “How Deep Is Your Love,” all contributed to the legacy of a group that was at the top of R&B during the late 1990s.
Known for members K-Ci and JoJo, along with DeVante and Dalvin, Jodeci was truly grown folks music. Though the group as a whole did not have as long of a run as other top R&B artists, Jodeci dominated rhythm and blues during the first half of the 1990s with Forever My Lady, Diary of a Mad Band, and The Show, the After Party, the Hotel.
12. Gerald Levert
With musical talents running deep through his blood, as his father was a former member of the legendary soul group the O’Jays, Gerald Levert would create his own separate career out from the shadows of his family’s name. From Grammy awards and nominations to platinum and gold selling albums, Gerald Levert has been a household name since the early 1990s, after debuting in 1991 with Private Line.
13. Bell Biv Devoe
Despite having one prominent album, the classic masterpiece of Poison, which featured one of the top songs of the 1990s “Poison,” Bell Biv Devoe transformed the rhythm and blues culture.
14. Tevin Campbell.
No artists was loved as much as Tevin Campbell during the early 1990s. While his most notable song was “Can We Talk,” Tevin Campbell’s short career produced two platinum selling albums, T.E.V.I.N. and I’m Ready.
15. Johnny Gill
Another former member of New Edition, Johnny Gill has had a very long career. Debuting during the early 1980s, but not until the 1990s would Johnny Gill reach success with his Motown release, Johnny Gill, while also becoming known for songs like “My, My, My” and “Rub You the Right Way.”
16. Montell Jordan
With four platinum and gold albums throughout the 1990s, Montell Jordan will always be known for one of the greatest R&B tracks of all-time, “This Is How We Do It.” With the hit song being his debut, Jordan would continue to release music into the 2000s, but not truly matching the success of “This Is How We Do It.”
112 was one of Bad Boys Records first R&B groups, and one of the few artists who were able to work with Notorious BIG. While much of their success came during the early 2000s, during the late 1990s 112 was key to Bad Boy Records’ success, especially with the release of 112 and Room 112, as well songs like “Cupid,” “Only You,” and “Anywhere.”
18. Jagged Edge
With the help of Jermaine Dupri and the So So Def imprint, this street meets classic melodies group of Jagged Edge grew quite a fanbase during the late 90s, which carried over into the early 2000s, with hit songs “Promise” and “Let’s Get Married”.
With super producer Teddy Riley, Blackstreet would become one of the top R&B groups of the 1990s. Throughout the mid and late 1990s, Blackstreet was on top, especially with producing one of the biggest hits of the 1990s, “No Diggity.”
While his first album, Everything, debut in 1993, not until the following two, All That I Am (1997) and My Name is Joe (2000), did Joe begin to receive recognition and true success within his career. In all, Joe’s career would produced a dozen albums from the early 1990s to the late 2010s.
Honorable Mention 90s R&B Male Artists / 80s R&B Male Singers
Guy. Another Teddy Riley creation, with the help of the Hall brothers, this group had quite some success, especially during the late 80s with their albums of Guy and The Future.
Al B Sure. Despite only having one truly successful album, In Effect Mode, he would continue to have chart topping hits throughout the relevancy of his career.
Color Me Badd. Known for their hit single from the film New Jack City, “I Wanna Sex You Up,” Color Me Badd would only release one classic album, which was also their debut.
El Debarge. Not much success after his debut self-titled album, DeBarge would still be remember as one of the more popular artists of his time, preferably during the late 1980s and the early 1990s.
Mint Condition. Hailing from the same town as legendary singer Prince, Mint Condition made a name for themselves during the early 1990s with their debut album Meant To Be Mint, led by their biggest hit to date, “Breakin’ My Heart.”
TQ. Not nearly successful as other artists on the list, but still was well respected and more known for collaborations with hip hop artists and West Coast and southern rappers.