Radio: '90s R&B
July 20, 2013
Amid the tectonic shifts of nostalgia, few eras inspire as much wonder these days as contemporary R&B in the '90s. It has been referenced by artists as diverse as Drake, Jessie Ware, the xx and Solange Knowles. It's an area ripe for rediscovery because, although the genre collectively resulted in millions of albums sold, it was mostly dismissed as facile pop and was frequently overlooked by critics in favor of grunge, hip-hop and indie rock. A prime example is Mary J. Blige's 1994 masterpiece, My Life, which famously received mediocre to negative reviews upon its original release because it was considered to be too dark, and is now considered one of the best albums of the decade.
So a station dedicated to the '90s output of artists like Boyz II Men, Aaliyah, En Vogue and Jodeci is long overdue. Every R&B style that reached the charts is represented here, including late-period New Jack Swing, New Jill Swing and R&B-inflected G-Funk; the gangsta-fied crooning of DRS and TQ; the neo-soul of Erykah Badu and Maxwell; and the jiggy bounce of Missy Elliott and Dru Hill. Check out the playlist sampler to get a taste of an inspired period in popular black music.