Back in 2015 on the GRAMMY stage, Prince declared, “Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.” He ain’t never lied. Albums—great ones especially—are more than just a compilation of songs thrown together on a succinct body of work. LPs that stand the test of time follow a theme, tell a cohesive story, evoke emotions, have relatable lyrics, and infectious melodies that induce hours and hours of replay.
R&B, particularly, is in such a special place. We have artists sticking to the traditional recipe while also incorporating individual, standout elements while others dare to experiment, breaking out of that nostalgic chokehold and sample-heavy culture to spark refreshing conversations and remind listeners, both old and new, that not only is R&B alive, but it remains in flux if you allow it to.
Before we get into VIBE’s Best R&B Albums of 2022 list, we’d first like to acknowledge those who almost made the cut. Alicia Keys’ KEYS II, Muni Long’s Public Displays of Affection: The Album, DIXSON’s 004DAISY, Ambré’s 3000°, Ogi’s Monologues, Tank’s R&B Money, Chris Brown’s Breezy, Brent Faiyaz’s WASTELAND, and Giveon’s Give Or Take all had our staff in heated debates during the selection process and kept us going throughout the year for our respective reasons.
Not to mention that though Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE is not a traditional R&B album, it is without a doubt the album of the year. As we give flowers to new faces dominating the genres and more notable ones still reigning supreme, enjoy our carefully curated picks for the best R&B albums of this past year.