Year In Review: Impactful R&B artists in 2011

2011 was a great year for new and veteran artists alike. There were some that stood out to me more than others and there were also some that you couldn’t deny their impact musically and/or personally. With a few second opinions, here’s the list of artists that I thought did their thing in 2011.

#10 Melanie Fiona

  • Toronto native, Melanie Fiona busted on the scenes with her amazing vocals. Still making her mark on music, she’s already been nominated for two Grammys. Releasing her second album called The MF Life next year, Melanie has already worked with so many artists and even snagged my attention with a couple of favorites, two of them being Gone and Never Coming Back and 4 AM. She’s worked hard and that’s why she makes her mark at the number ten spot.

#9 Mary J Blige

  • 10 albums in, Mary J Blige is the Queen of Hip Hop Soul. There’s not one song that you don’t know off her past albums. Diddy bopping, remixing and sampling hip hop songs, baring her soul while still keeping herself relevant with features by newer artists including Drake, Mary takes the number nine spot. Having set the foundation for so many women vocalists after her, she’s still respected as a major industry player. In a league of her own, she still keeps the rhythm in R&B.

#8 Marsha Ambrosius

  • First hitting the scene as one half of the group, Floetry and teasing us with mixtape after mixtape, Marsha Ambrosius has been everywhere this year. After finally releasing her first studio album, Late Nights, Early Mornings, she jumped on the Rising Icons Tour alongside Miguel, having one of the hottest singles earlier this year called I Hope She Cheats On You. With a beautiful voice and a pen game (songwriting skills) out of this world, Marsha lands at our number eight spot.

#7 Kelly Rowland

  • After the super rise of fellow group mate Beyonce, some weren’t necessarily convinced on Kelly’s marketability. But she proved a lot of us (including myself) wrong this year. Although this was not a particular favorite of mine, Motivation featuring Lil’ Wayne became a top hit for her and reminded the music world that yes Kelly Rowland can sing outside of being best friends with Beyonce and being a former member of successful, Destiny’s Child. She evolved musically while dabbling into the pop realm as well. Kelly showed her versatility and I think this new direction works for her. This puts Kelly at our number seven spot.

#6 Trey Songz

  • Trey Songz has evolved from just trying to make it, to calling the shots with his successful music career. With Kevin Liles as his manager, Trey became a household R&B name, landing a short lived show on BET, successful radio singles Bottoms Up, and touring with Usher and Jay-Z.  He didn’t stop there. He released two mixtapes last month called Let Me A Hold a Beat 2 and Anticipation II, along with a new EP out, Inevitable. What a year for him.  Although Trey Songz is no longer on my radar, that didn’t stop him from making our number six spot on the list.

#5 Usher

  • Traditionally starting off in R&B, Usher makes his mark on this list, even though most of his music started spilling over into the Top 40, pop/dance genres this year. Although his last album was released in 2010, that didn’t stop him from popping up on features, television performances (Grammy nomination concert and NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller), and alongside the young sensation Justin Beiber. Usher has had an un‘belieb’able year with no sign of letting up. My intuitive senses tell me that that we should expect to see in the New Year, Usher delving into more production, working with new artists, and of course lending his vocals here and there. We’ll see if he’ll dance, dance like it’s the last, last night of his life on the music scene going into 2012. He lands at the number five spot.

#4 Miguel

  • He’s had an amazing year and has been on a meteoric rise since the release of his first album All I Want Is You last September. Not only did he grab the attention of music executives, he also grabbed the attention of the rest of the world with loyal fans who already knew what we soon found out later, that he can SING his ass off!  What made his story interesting was he re-released songs that he wrote prior years back, with Sure Thing being the single that got him signed.  Miguel’s talent is remarkable, adding to his credentials, musician as well as an amazing songwriter (having worked with Usher, Musiq Soulchild, and others). He became a sensation seemingly overnight adding a fresh sound to what music’s been missing.

#3 Chris Brown

  • 2011 has been a very good year for the F.A.M.E.D Chris Breezy as well. He didn’t shut all the naysayers up but he restored the musical confidence within his fan base. He dropped Look At Me Now which landed #21 on Billboard’s 2011 Top 100 Year End Charts, he was one of the headliners for Hot 97’s major hip hop concert, he has been featured on many collaborations in Top 40 and urban radio, as well as making a BET Awards cipher debut. Not bad at all. What will 2012 bring C.B.? Hopefully more great music with his focus expanding beyond sex. This lands him at our number three spot.

#2 Beyonce

  • Since releasing her 4th studio album on June 28th, this has been the year of the ‘B’. She went from selling 310,000 units in her first week, landing her the No.1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 charts, to strategically releasing 6 videos, along with performing 4 intimate shows at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC. Let’s not forget how she left the internet in frenzy when she revealed her baby bump at the MTV VMAs. All that noise puts her at the number two spot for impact on 2011.

#1 Frank Ocean

  • I contested putting him on this list because he’s undefinable but he has made an indelible mark on music this year especially with his mixtape nostalgia, ultra. Part of the group Odd Future, Frank Ocean has resonated with so many producers, artists, and music lovers alike, landing him the number four spot on our list. He was tapped as one of the two only guest features on Watch the Throne, he penned I Miss You on Beyonce’s 4 (one of my FAVORITE songs on the whole album), and has still managed to play by his own rules musically. He’s a songwriter, a producer, an artiste (spelled this way intentionally), and a mastermind in his own right. 2011 was a great year for him and I think 2012 will prove to be even greater with his first major solo debut.

Who did you want to see on the list that didn’t make it? Let us know. Cheers to 2012.