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Return of 90s R&B Artists in 2020

Every year I get a little sadder thinking that we're moving further from the 90s and thus, will see a big drop off in albums produced by 90s R&B artists. While that fear will eventually materialize, we are fortunately not there yet as we had a number of new albums by classic artists. Not only did we see a number of new albums from 90s R&B artists, but a lot of these albums were great listens that show these artists still have a lot of talent in them.

Here we hope to chronicle the list of new albums from 90s R&B artists that came out in 2020. It was a pretty strong year overall, with solid new releases from regular favorites like Alicia Keys, Toni Braxton and 112. We also saw a number of artists return after long breaks from the industry, like Brandy and Portrait. Whichever artists you connect with, there was likely a new release that should sate your hunger for 90s R&B in 2020. Check out the list below and let us know your favorites.

Brandy's B7 was the most welcome surprise of the new albums we saw this year. Brandy's last album had been Two Eleven in 2012 and in 2015, began appearing on Broadway in the musical Chicago. With her career taking her in other directions and the long gap, it was unclear if she was done with the music industry. Fortunately for us, she put out a great new album B7 which was well worth the wait.
112 returned in 2020 with a thinner line-up as the group was now comprised of just Slim and Mike. The album features several hot singles like For Us, Looking For Love and Spend It All. However, the album has a whole just didn't have those definitive tracks that could elevate it to the next level.
A Jagged Little Story was supposed to come out in 2019 but through various circumstances, the album was pushed back several times until it saw its mid-2020 release. Whether it was related to the delays or not, when this album dropped it was massive. Over 30 songs filled out the album, which in our review we wonder if this was really a wise decision or not. Still, the album has a number of great tracks on it that are worth checking out.
Our favorite album by a 90s R&B artist in 2020, Toni Braxton came back strong with her new album Spell My Name. Featuring solid dance songs, great collaborations with talented artists like H.E.R. and some haunting ballads, the album had something for everyone. The album was a short treat at only 10 songs, but when every song is good, it's hard to be upset by the length.
This album is a sadder one on the list. While Exodus was a solid album, Brian McKnight announced during its release that it would be his final album. Now for those who like to be optimistic, Brian McKnight used a bunch of qualifiers like "last original studio album" or something of the kind, so it's possible we will get other albums from him. In recent months, he has already put out several new tracks including a re-make of Let It Snow with Boyz II Men and several collaborations with jazz artists, so time will tell with what this all means.
It feels like every new album from 90s R&B artists this year have their own unique story, and Mariah Carey's is no different. For Mariah, this was a year of reflection. She put out a new memoir that looked back on her life. And her album, The Rarities, was almost the musical equivalent. The album was a collection of unrelesed tracks, as well as a concert she had done in the 90s. The album is like a time capsule to relive 90s R&B and a cool experience for every fan.
It's always a debate for us on whether or not Alicia Keys should be referenced as a 90s R&B artist. But as our review of the 12 Soulful Nights Christmas Album shows, Alicia was making moves in R&B in the 90s so we consider her a worthy addition to our pantheon. With her newest release, she had some amazing singles, like Underdog, Love Looks Better, and So Done with Khalid. The album featured the many different sides of Alicia Keys while also offering a positive message to help people through these trying times.
Afro Trees by Portrait wins the award for biggest surprise of the year. Portrait had been relatively quiet over the years. Their last wide release album was 1995's All That Matters, though the group had released a Japan only album in 2003 titled Share My Love. With Afro Trees, Portrait is attempting to reconnect with their fan base and capture 90s R&B. The album is a welcome surprise and leaves us hoping more great 90s R&B acts will return in future years.