Anyone who knows me knows that my go-to genre of music will always be R&B, which is simply a combination of rhythm and blues. Growing up, music from different artists within this category filled my house during every family gathering and early Sunday mornings where I would be forced to help clean the house. My parents, also big R&B listeners themselves, introduced me to singers who I consider to be some of my favorite artists to this day.
I like to think that you haven’t heard good music until you’ve given R&B a fair listen. You will be surprised to learn that some of your favorite artists, such as Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, SZA, or even Justin Bieber, are a part of the genre. If you want to look into R&B, but don’t know where to start, here are five songs to consider adding to your playlist, as these songs will most definitely have you a fan by the end.
“You Are” – Charlie wilson
First up on the list is what I am considering to be my future wedding song. “You Are” is a ballad sung by Charlie Wilson, who is no stranger to belting out vocals and creating songs about the woman he loves. Since a young age, this song has been one of my favorites, as it is simply Wilson singing about everything his partner means to him. The lyrics, the beat, and his voice all blend together to make a song that I would consider to be perfect.
“Baby girl I just wanna tell you that you are
The reason I loveCharlie Wilson – You Are
The reason I trust
God sent me an angel
You are, the best in the world
A wonderful girl
Knowing you by my side
Brings tears to my eyes”
This song is only one of multiple songs where Wilson praises his wife and shows the world just how much she means to him. He married his wife in 1995 after they met while he was in a rehab center, and he has constantly praised her in his music for saving him. Ladies, if he isn’t praising you like this — look for someone better!
“V.S.O.P” – K. Michelle
In this song, Michelle is singing about a lover who she is madly in love with but wants to keep their relationship out of public view. She continues on to sing about how she hopes her partner will “make the rest of [her] life very special,” revealing how much this relationship truly means to her, as the intimacy and moments shared between the two lovers brings her comfort and fulfillment. As the song goes on, Michelle sings about how many don’t accept or understand the two together, and how she is willing to go the full mile to prove how much the relationship means to her.
Since the age of nine, this song has been on most, if not all, of my playlists. The vocals Michelle conveys throughout are what has had me in a chokehold for the last 10 years. She is not afraid to show off her vocal range and leave you wanting to look into the rest of her discography.
“Naked” – Ella Mai
This song is about wanting genuine love with a partner who understands and loves you for who you are — flaws and all. Throughout the song, she sings about her desire for someone who appreciates her natural self, meaning no makeup or fancy clothing. Mai took the emotions that most women feel when looking for a relationship and turned it into a song that truly conveys the want and need of a partner who is accepting of you, whether it be perfect or not.
“Take away the big shirts, the tattoos, the sweatpants and VansElla Mai – Naked
Okay, I don’t wear no makeup, no purse in my hands”
Towards the end of the song, Mai reiterates her desire for a partner who would never hesitate to love her out loud, even in moments where she is feeling vulnerable and unworthy of love. This song has been one that has always resonated with me due to the vulnerability and relatability of the lyrics. It is important to have someone who loves you for everything that makes you who you are; whether you think of those aspects of yourself as flawed or not.
“Overtime” – Bryson Tiller
Next, we have one of my personal favorites. Here, Tiller is singing about the hard work he has been putting into his relationship as he sees it lasting, and it is paying off. In this first part of the song, he is singing about his desire to live a lavish lifestyle and also being interested in a girl who is currently in another relationship. In the second part of the song, Tiller continues on to sing about the different efforts he is putting in, but isn’t receiving the same back. By the time he reaches the interlude, he is enjoying their relationship and singing about his determination to make sure that it lasts.
If I am being completely honest, I never knew this song existed until recently. I was familiar with other songs on this album, but skipped over this one entirely. It wasn’t until I was exchanging songs with a friend that this one was brought to my attention. Sophia if you’re reading this — thank you.
“With you” – Chris Brown
Last, but certainly not least, we have a song that I can never get tired of. This song is something I would consider to be a classic, simply because of the lyrics and the vocal presence of Brown. Here, he is singing about the adoration and affection he has towards his partner. He goes on to describe the woman’s beauty and qualities, going on to insinuate how she is one of a kind. As the song carries on, Brown continues to sing about his love and commitment to the women, and how he falls in love after every hug and kiss.
This song is what first introduced me to the wonders of R&B music. The lyrics and the beat both combine into something that I think made me fall in love with this style of music and want to hear more. To this day, this song remains one of my favorites and is a song my friends and I can sing on a late-night drive.
Overall, these five tracks are only a handful of songs made by each artist, and there are hundreds of others that will have you wanting more. R&B is an evolving genre that can have the music fitting into different categories, keeping you a satisfied listener. Hopefully, you’ll give these songs a listen and fall in love with them the way I did the first time I listened.