The 9 Best R&B Groups from the 90s and 2000s
When I look back at the late 90’s into the early 2000’s, I can see now that the renaissance that music experienced in the 90’s was being phased out for the reemergence of traditional pop. One of the biggest casualties of that change was the popularity of groups. But those that were active during this time managed to leave a mark on the industry and give us some classics that we’ll be listening to far into our own retirements. But who did it best?
To be fair, I’m judging this list based on a specific list of metrics (i.e. the only things that matter), the same metrics I used to rank the top groups from the late 80’s – early 90’s. Through my own highly scientific means, I’ve ranked the top 9 Black music groups from the 90’s-2000’s.
It’s hard to believe that B2K only released 2 albums (plus a Christmas album) because when they were out they were everywhere. The group didn’t amount to much other than Omarion and a few background dancers, but I can’t deny that the world would be all over a B2K reunion if that were even in the realm of possibility. I also can’t deny that the group had so much pull at one point that they got Ronald Isley, Flex Alexander, Vivica A. Fox, and Will Smith to all-star in their “Girlfriend” video.
Though their success was relatively short-lived, Next is one of the most memorable groups from the 90’s-2000’s. This trio had their first hit with “Butta Love”, but it was “Too Close” that made their work immortal. “Wifey” only added to their monumental success.
We have Diddy to thank for this creation.They were the 3rd (and last) group he put together on Making The Band for MTV. They’ve dropped members, broken up, reformed, and released solo work. Still, at a time when both R&B and groups in general were mostly on the outs, Day26 forged a real band. They could all sing, had solid songs, had 2 chart-topping albums, and have fans that have stuck with them through all of their ups and downs.
6. Jagged Edge
Jagged Edge is one of those groups that was always forgettable (at least for me). But the numbers don’t lie. They’ve been around for nearly 2 decades and have spawned a plethora of hits that are nearly ubiquitous in the Black community. “Let’s Get Married”, “Promise”, and “Where the Party At” show up on every function playlist. And those 4 could all sing. If they didn’t define that era so well, they might still be riding a wave of popularity.
702 had some of the best music to come out of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. “Steelo” and “Get It Together” got their career started, but it was their monster hit “Where My Girls At?” that made them superstars. Even though Meelah was the most notable lead, but Irish and LeMisha had pipes too.Plus they’ll always hold a special place in my heart for their Good Burger soundtrack single “All I Want”.
4. Danity Kane
Remember when Diddy could do no wrong? When he was flying high, he put together this group on the second iteration of Making The Band on MTV. The series was highly rated, and the resulting group, Danity Kane, was a record-breaking success becoming the first female group in Billboard history to debut their first two albums at the top of the charts. They all had great voices, and even through televised firings, public breakups, and recording studio fights, fans still go hard for this group.
A lot of late 90’s R&B was all about exploiting sex as much as possible. And 112 was great at this. Look no further than “Peaches and Cream” for proof. They enjoyed a long run as a group with 3 platinum albums over 10 years. They even got a Grammy for featuring on “I’ll Be Missing You”. You don’t have that much success unless you’ve got some solid vocals and a devoted following.
2. Dru Hill
Dru Hill may be best known for its frontman Sisqo (of “Thong Song” fame), but this whole group was a force to be reckoned with. Everybody in the group could sang, whether they had many opportunities to shine or not. They had 2 platinum albums. And songs like “In My Bed”, “5 Steps”, “We’re Not Making Love No More”, and “These Are The Times” are some of the most memorable songs of the late 90’s.
I really wish that I didn’t have to put Destiny’s Child at the top of this list, but there really is no competition. If you threw Beyoncé into any group, it would probably be the best of any decade. But the rest of the group did hold their own (in every configuration). Their string of hit songs and albums is legendary. And the group still has not technically broken up. We’re all just waiting for them to put out new material, no matter how unrealistic that dream may be.
Photo credit: Amazon; album art
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