From John Legend’s Love In The Future to Beyonce’s surprise self-titled visual album, 2013 was a great year for R&B. From the looks of things, 2014 is shaping up to be just as memorable. Here are four R&B albums in particular that I think you should be watching for in 2014.
1) Frank Ocean, TBD
The Odd Future crooner-turned-solo artist captivated fans with his 2012 debut Channel ORANGE, an album that seamlessly reveals Ocean’s dynamically engaging vocals as he sings over a versatile array of gorgeous production. Ocean not only has the vocal chops to melt hearts, but he has also proven to be a talented lyricist covering themes of unrequited love and the misgivings of fortune. Ocean will undoubtedly take us on another magical ride with the release of his second album this year.
2) Mariah Carey, The Art of Letting Go
There is no denying Mariah Carey has one of the best voices ever to grace this earth. With a five-octave range, Carey has produced chart-topping albums ranging from her 1990 self-titled debut to 2005’s Emancipation of Mimi. The release of her two singles “#Beautiful” (ft. r&b’s newest sensation Miguel) and “The Art of Letting Go,” both give an exciting preview of what to expect on her 14th studio album. Watch for a new single to drop on February 14, with the album itself to be released this spring.
3) Jennifer Hudson, TBD
Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson is a powerhouse vocalist who sings with great heart and depth, her unforgettable vocal performance of “And I Am Telling You” from Dream Girls propelling her to superstardom. Whether through her film performances or album releases, I am always profoundly moved by her emotionally alluring delivery and incredible vocal talent. Her third studio album will be an upbeat production with the help of Pharrell Williams and Timbaland, and is set to be released sometime this spring.
4) Jhene Aiko, Souled Out
Los Angeles native singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko gained recognition with her features on Big Sean’s “Beware,” Drake’s “From Time” and J. Cole’s “Sparks Will Fly.” Her solo EP Sail Out is backed by a tranquilizing production while her refreshingly sweet voice sings about love and relationships. After opening for Drake on his 2013 Would You Like A Tour, Aiko is now slated to release her debut studio album Souled Out in May 2014.