In the 90s and the early 00s R&B dominated the charts with a host of American stars finding chart success here in the UK. These days R&B music is much closer to pop and dance than it’s ever been and we kind of miss the old days when it married a beat with real soul. Sony Music has collected 72 of the biggest R&B tracks from the last two decades and put them together on new collection Ultimate R&B.
For the most part Ultimate R&B celebrates the classic hits from the 90s and 00s providing a real retrospective of the genre hits that dominated the airwaves at that time. The collection opens with the catchy Ignition (remix) from R. Kelly and it serves up gem after gem thereafter.
Digging into the 90s gems on here there’s some real corkers including the classic Brownstone number If You Love Me, Toni Braxton’s gorgeous Breathe Again, and Aaliyah’s soulful Back & Forth. We’re surprised we’re admitting this but we were pleased to see MN8’s (remember them?!?) I’ve Got A Little Something For You kicking off the second disc of the collection.
Elsewhere there are standout tracks from Tyrese (How You Gonna Act Like That), 3LW (No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)), Deborah Cox (Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here), and Boyz II Men (The Color of Love). Of course no R&B collection would be complete without TLC whose track No Scrubs appears here and chart-topping solo star wonder Justin Timberlake who features twice with Cry Me a River and the Ciara collaboration Love Sex Magic.
As with any collection of this nature there are a few tracks we could have done without. Pitbull (Give Me Everything) is never an artist we particularly want to hear on our stereo whilst Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls is a middling track that makes us reach for the skip button. Still the hit ratio is far bigger than the miss ratio across the collection.
Ultimate R&B makes us yearn for the days when R&B was more distinct from other genres of music. For the most part the collection is a solid series of gems and it mixes up all the hits we remember and love well. It’s also made us wonder what happened to stars such as Blu Cantrell (Breathe), Joe (I Wanna Know) and Next (Too Close) who were huge but barely heard from any more. Ultimate R&B is a definite party album and one that will keep you going all night.