Home > Editorials, Lists, Music > Editorial: The Top 5 R&B Groups of Our Generation

Editorial: The Top 5 R&B Groups of Our Generation

This is something I wrote back in 2007, but I figured I would add it to my blog just to have it in the archives.

For clarification: “Our” generation would include all us who were born in the 80’s. The artists on this list must have released their 1st album during or after that decade, had a career that lasted at least 5 years, and had at least one multi-platinum selling album. The groups will be judged on the following: 1. The Music (Overall quality of music, hit singles, lyrics, harmonies, albums sold, etc.) 2. Influence (impact on other groups, culture, and fashion) 3. Longevity (Legacy and Staying Power) 4. Individual Member Impact (Outside/Inside work by each member). “Wrote a song about it, like to hear it, hear go..”

Hit the jump for the list..

B.E. Entertainment & Good Penmanship Presents: “The Top 5 Male R&B Groups of Our Generation”

Honorable Mentions (in Descending Order): 112, Jagged Edge, Guy, Immature, Shai, Next, Silk, and Mint Condition.

5. Dru Hill:

Picking number 5 was probably the hardest position to choose on the list. 112 and Jagged Edge could have easily taken the 5 spot, but Dru Hill took the position by two factors: albums sold and individual member impact. Also, I have always loved this group and feel the albums they put out were better overall than the other two groups previously mentioned.

Dru Hill, founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1992, went on to record 7 top 40 hits. The group consists of Sisqo, Jazz, Nokio, and Woody (pause). The group is best known for it’s hit singles “In My Bed”, “Never Make a Promise”, & “How Deep Is Your Love”. Stylistically, Dru Hill was a mix between the smooth sounds of Boyz II Men and the self-proclaimed “bad boys of R&B”, Jodeci. A lot of people may not have known that Dru Hill received a lot of criticism, especially from Jodeci, for what was perceived as a direct appropriation of Jodeci’s style. Dru Hill will always be one of my favorite groups. If I were going by my personal favorite I would place them higher on the list.
Stats/Sales: Dru Hill (platinum); Enter the Dru (2x platinum); Dru World Order (platinum); Hits (3x platinum)

4. Blackstreet

Blackstreet scored a lot of points in the individual member impact category. There is no denying the impact that Blackstreet had on the industry. This group also was founded in 2002 by Teddy Riley, a New Jack Swing pioneer known for his work as a member of Guy. The originally members are: Teddy Riley, Eric Williams, Mark Middleton, and J-Stylz. Of course, we are all familier with another great addition to the group who appeared a few years later by the name of Dave Hollister. Their debut album, BLACKstreet, was a moderate success due to the singles “Before I Let You Go” and “Booti Call”. It was the follow-up album “Another Level” that pushed Blackstreet ahead of the competition. The song “No Diggity” sky rocked to the top of the charts in 1996 and earned the group a Grammy for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Two other stand out songs by Blackstreet are “Fix” and my personal favorite “Joy”. Blackstreet easily earned the number 4 spot on my list and will forever remain in the hearts of all 80’s babies.
Stats/Sales: BLACKstreet (platinum); Another Level (4x platinum); Finally (platinum)

3. Jodeci

I don’t think there will be argument on Jodeci making this list, except for those who may feel they belong at a higher position. Jodeci excels in every category I used to judge the groups on this list. There is no doubt the sound, influence, and impact of two particular members played in today’s R&B music. The group consisted of two pairs of brothers from Charlotte, North Carolina: the DeGrates (Donald “Devante Swing” Degrate, the group founder/leader, and Dalvin Degrate) and the Haileys (main lead singer “K-Ci” and second lead singer “Jo-Jo”). Jodeci, also known as the “Bad Boys of R&B,” have been a major influence on several groups that came after them, from Dru Hill to Jagged Edge (and especially what I call the bootleg Jodeci…Pretty Rickey). There are so many great songs by Jodeci, but they are best known for their songs “Forever My Lady”, “Come and Talk to Me”, and “Cry For You”. We all know the great songs that the Hailey brothers put out after the groups separation. It’s impossible to have this discussion without bringing up this group and years from now we will still be “Feenin’” for the sounds of Jodeci.
Stats/Sales: Forever My Lady (3x platinum); Diary of a Mad Band (2x platinum); The Show, The After Party, The Hotel (platinum)

2. New Edition

Putting New Edition at number two may cause a few of you to want to throw your computer at me, but after a lot of time and consideration I had to place them in this position. New Edition is probably one of the biggest groups to come out during our generation. They have a career that has expanded over 2 decades and is still going strong. They have influenced the likes of such acts as New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, & N’Sync. The individual impact of each individual member exceeds that of any group on this list. New Edition hit the airwaves with their debut album, Candy Girl in 1983. The group consisted of 5 members: Michael Bivens, Rickey Bell, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, and Ronnie Devoe. We could write 2 pages on the accomplishments on the individuals of New Edition alone, before we even got around to discussing what they accomplished together (solo artist: Bobby Brown; solo artist: Johnny Gill; group project: BBD). Hit singles “Mr. Telephone Man”, “If It Isn’t Love,” and Can You Stand the Rain” are just the beginning of the New Edition catalog. Each time they return they bring excitement to the game and continue to tour the U.S. every year.
Stats/Sales: New Edition (2x platinum); Heart Break (2x platinum); Home Again (2x platinum)

And the winner is…

1. Boyz II Men

It took me almost 10 seconds to decide who would hold the number one spot on this list. There may be many who will argue against this choice and I can definitely understand why you may feel that way…but…. once you look at the numbers and actually listen to the music there is NO denying why Boyz II Men takes the number one spot.  First, the overall quality and sound of this group cannot be touched by anyone on this list. The music should be the number one factor in deciding who is the best, and this group is hands down the best vocally. Second, they are the only group on here who has remained in tack from the beginning to the end of their career. This list is to showcase the best “group” of our generation, and there is no collection of singers that sound as well together as Boyz II Men. I would even go as far as to argue that they are one of the top 5 R&B groups of all time.

Founded in 1988, Boyz II Men found fame as a quartet with members Nathan Morris, Michael McCary, Shawn Stockman, and Wanya Morris, on Mowtown Records during the early 1990s (the group originally included a fifth member, Marc Nelson who left to pursue a solo career…sucks for him). Based on sales, Boyz II Men is the most successful R&B male vocal group of all time. It has recorded five #1 R&B hits and since 1992 sold more than 60 million records. Three of those hits, “End of the Road, “I’ll Make Love to You”, and “One Sweet Day”, set and broke records for the longest period a single remained at #1. I own every Boyz II Men album and suggest if you don’t own any that you hit up your local record online store. Boyz II Men remains my all time favorite R&B group and after you revisit their records they will be yours too.
Stats/Sales: Cooleyhighharmony (9x platinum); II (12x platinum); Evolution (2x platinum)

There you have it…The Top 5 Male R&B Groups of Our Generation. Feel free to leave comments…let me know if I left someone out, or you can list your top 5! Be safe…God Bless! ONe1.

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  1. July 20, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Very nice. I still prefer 112 to Dru Hill but I can see why Dru Hill was picked over them.

  2. KanGoodz
    August 3, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I completley disagree with BlackStreet being on the list. The only song that I remember from them is “If you take your love away”…if that is even the title of the song!! I think that you left out a very IMPORTANT group. A group that has defined some of the most passionate, wonderful, vividly intriguing songs of our time… TONY TONI TONE!!! Come on!! Raphel Saadiqu? HELLOOO!! They had HITS such as: “Just Me and You”, “It Never Rains” ,”That’s all I ask of You” ,”Slow Wine”, “ANNIVERSARY”, and “Lay Your Head on My Pillow” just to name a few. BlackStreet was a typical R&B group with average singers that have been forgotten. I will give you 1/2 a point if you mention Teddy Riley. Other than that, I politely decline. I concurr with the entire list, but not with BLACKSTREET!!! And, I still don’t see how you could fail to not even think of Tony Toni Tone!! Your Killin me Smalls….lol ;)

  3. August 4, 2010 at 6:31 am

    You make a some valid points about Tony Toni Tone. Like I said I wrote this list about 2 years ago, but in retrospect I would have to agree. Great suggestion! Not sure how that slipped my mind. You’re the first to mention them too.

  4. Joe
    November 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    What’s your favorite Boyz II Men song? I think “One Sweet Day” is their best. As for purely Boyz II Men songs, I’ll say “On Bended Knee”.

  5. candi
    November 27, 2010 at 1:33 am

    This list is more like for the 70’s babies, Ain’t nobody born after ’85 remember these artists.

  6. Timothy C Peterkin
    December 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    The only thing I disagree with is your generation assessment. Those groups represent the 70’s and 80’s early 80’s my wife was born in 87 me in 73 she wasnt old enough in time to appreciate Boys II Men in thier hey day. Or how crazy we were in high school in the late 80’s to the early 90’s over Blackstreet. You had to have been there. 112 never approached the power of BlackStreet or singing ability especially when Dave got there.

  7. DEVON
    March 19, 2016 at 3:23 am

    What about mint condition

  8. Norman Leach
    January 25, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I still put NE as number one. 34 years strong and now we have the movie! And there would be no Boyz II Men without Michael Bivins. So I attribute their success to NE also. He put them on and brought them to the world. And nobody wants to see any solo effort from them.

  9. Eddie D
    January 28, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Kidding me? New Edition is #1….far and away!

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