The Best R&B Albums Of 2024 So Far

Getty Image/Merle Cooper

First things first: R&B is not dead. It’s a necessary reminder that’s just as annoying to repeat as it is to hear from the occasional critic of the genre. I mean, when you look at what the genre has delivered in 2024, it’s hard to deny its life. In the first six months of the year, fans saw the return of veteran artists who went years without releasing a full body of work. Bryson Tiller re-emerged with his self-titled fourth album, his best body of work since his 2015 debut. PARTYNEXTDOOR brought back the classic feeling of his mid-2010s music with his own fourth album PARTYNEXTDOOR 4. Finally, after nearly a decade without a project, Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge’s NxWorries finally delivered a new album with Why Lawd? and lawd did they deliver.

On the flip side, there were plenty of newcomers who expanded their fan base with well-crafted debuts and sophomore albums. Normani’s long-awaited debut album Dopamine met all expectations as did Tems’ debut Born In The Wild. Sinéad Harnett, Fana Hues, and Loony were nothing short of captivating and with their outputs and then there’s DJ and producer ESTA. who constructed one of the best compilation of R&B artists we’ve seen over the last few years.

There’s so much to love from R&B so far in 2024, so let’s get into it. Here are the 15 best R&B albums of 2024 so far:

Bryson Tiller — Bryson Tiller

Bryson Tiller

Bryson Tiller told Complex that his self-titled album would “probably be my last one for a minute.” Enduring another Tiller hiatus? Bummer. But Bryson Tiller‘s entrancing 19 songs eased the melancholy — reinforcing Tiller as a reliable rap/R&B reservoir. “Whatever She Wants” led the charge — peaking at No. 5 and No. 19 on Billboard‘s Hot Rap Songs and Hot 100, respectively. Save for excellent Clara La San (“Random Access Memory [RAM]”) and Victoria Monét (“Persuasion”) features, Tiller allows fans precious alone time with his perspective. “Hope you don’t get bored with me over time,” he sings on the ballad “Undertow.” We won’t. — Megan Armstrong

Charlotte Day Wilson — Cyan Blue

Stone Woman Music/XL Recordings LTD

Charlotte Day Wilson’s ‘Cyan Blue’ album cover

The realm of alternative R&B is a playground that Charlotte Day Wilson makes an alluring experience. The soft-voiced Toronto singer woos the ear with seranades sweet enough to bring peace to the mind and body. Her second album Cyan Blue is no different, but it does mark a new chapter for Wilson. The pressures to create a perfect body of work withered away before Cyan Blue and out came a 13-track captivating experience. She waxes poetic about leveling up in love “My Way” and triumphs over her detractors on “Canopy” which is as slick as we’ve heard Wilson. With Cyan Blue, Charlotte Day Wilson breaks free from her own limitations and that of others for an album that is truly free in all the best ways.

ESTA. — Francis


ESTA. ‘Francis’ album cover

For years, producer ESTA. stood behind the boards to help craft some of the better offerings in contemporary R&B. Still, his true vision with the genre had to be put on display until the release of his debut album Francis. Through just ten songs, ESTA. explores the field and widens the boundaries with help from artists who established their chemistry with ESTA. years prior. A funky tunes get kicked into high gear on the DUCKWRTH and Joyce Wrice-assisted “Too Fast.” Kenyon Dixon and Mack Keane excellently capture the emotions and thoughts behind a relationship that’s falling apart on “Outta Space” while Arin Ray captures the initial moments of a magnetizing love on “Controllin.” On each song, ESTA. proves that he’s a master of the soundscape, and by selecting the most talented artist for the moment at hand, Francis strikes as one of the best crafted R&B albums of the year.

Fana Hues — MOTH

Sweet Virtue/Westminster Recordings/Bright Antenna Records

Fana Hues ‘Moth’ album cover

Fana Hues arrived to sir the soul and blow the mind away with her third album Moth. Through 13 songs, Hues emerges as both electric and gracious, ferocious and pristine, in what amounts to a truly otherworldly experience from the Pasadena singer. Look no further than the sassy “Rental” which explodes into a summertime bop wrapped in the confident struts of a singer ready to take on the world. “Sweetlike” opts for a sultry and playful breakdown of two lovers’ dynamic while “What Speaks” unwinds and oozes into a plea for Hues to enter the mind of her partner. Moth is unlike any other R&B project released this year, making for yet another standout moment by the incomparable by Hues.

Jordan Mackampa — Welcome Home, Kid!

AWAL Recordings LTD

Jordan Mackampa ‘Welcome Home, Kid!’ album cover

Four years after his debut album, British-Congolese singer Jordan Mackampa determined that it was time to reintroduce himself to new and old fans. Welcome Home, Kid! brought an unapologetically soulful artist to centerstage with the ability to uplift the mind and boost the heart with just one verse. “Proud Of You” keeps you light on your feet with a giddy dance and “Step By Step” takes you to church with glorious trumpets, lively drums, and the energy that only a family cookout can provide. Welcome Home, Kid! celebrates the moment that things start to make a little more sense. Jordan Mackampa’s second coming as an artist is also the rediscovery of his purpose, something incredibly evident on his sophomore album.

Loony — Loony


Loony ‘Loony’ album cover

The first thing that will probably catch your attention about Toronto singer Loony is her silky smooth vocals that always make it a joy to indulge in her music. Her self-titled debut album employs these vocals for a riveting tale of rising out of the perils of failed love and persevering onto the next thing. Loony thrives with deeply honest and self-aware moments like “Too Attached” where Loony admits her inability to exit an inadequate relationship in a timely manner. On the flip side, “A Good Night” wastes no time throwing it all away and disregard the wishes of her partner. Among that, there are still bright moments. “First Thing Smokin’” sweetly sings of an unconditional love while “Tiger Eye” prioritizes the fun of today and disregards the worries of tomorrow. Loony is as fun as it is honest, making for an enjoyable experience we can all relate to.

Normani — Dopamine

RCA Records

Normani ‘Dopamine’ album cover

There were times where it seemed like it would never come, but Normani made 2024 the year to finally release her long-awaited debut album Dopamine. Through 13 songs, Normani makes her debut worth the wait by inducing the same euphoria in her listeners as her album title is known to produce. “Big Boy” with Starrah commands the room with impenetrable confidence as Normani brags about her accolades and Houston roots. “Insomnia,” one of Normani’s best songs, finds her suffocated and restless over heartache. “Take My Time” flashes her versatility with a high-energy dance record while “Tantrums” opts for a dark and gloomy set up. With Dopamine, Normani is free; free to showcase her artistry in its truest and best form, true to live up to and past the artistic standards before, and free to say “I told you so” with a debut that stamped the promising career that awaits her.

NxWorries — Why Lawd?


It took them nearly eight years to get it done, but Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge’s NxWorries finally released their sophomore album Why Lawd?. Where their 2016 debut Yes Lawd! was a celebratory affair dressed in the funky beats and the high spirits of .Paak, Why Lawd? is born out of turmoil and heartbreak. .Paak weathers the storm of lost love with his emotions on his sleeve, remaining brave and confident despite a tear streak down the eye. “FromHere” contemplates the next move follow love’s sudden absence and “Where I Go” acknowledges the ups and downs present in a relationship. “MoveOn” struggles to adjust to change while the brief “DistantSpace” hopes for a final chance despite romance’s departure. Why Lawd? presents that very question in the aftermath of heartbreak, and though it never receives a proper answer, the exploration of it makes for another impressive album from NxWorries.


Santa Anna/OVO

The PartyNextDoor of old — that is, the one from the mid-2010s — re-emerged thanks to his fourth album, PartyNextDoor 4. The signs for a return to classic days were there thanks to singles like the scornful “Her Old Friends” and the praising “Real Woman.” With PartyNextDoor 4, though the feel is reminiscent of the past, we’re presented with a story of the singer who wants to grow from the man behind the mic on past projects. Genuine strides for authentic love are made on PND’s fourth album, more so than we heard on past bodies of work. Though he slips into a shell of his past on a couple of occasions, the desire and effort to be better makes PartyNextDoor 4 an excellent listen, especially when it houses one of PND’s best-composed songs to date with “No Chill.” — W.O.

Serpentwithfeet — Grip

Serpentwithfeet ‘GRIP’ album cover

With his third album Grip, Serpentwithfeet enters a new era in his career. The ten songs on the album find the Baltimore singer in touch with the more personal sides of his life as the album explores intimacy in romance, whether that be the touch of the hand around in the waist of your partner during a night out at the club as depicted on “Damn Gloves” or the accidental discovery of deep love following the “sixth night of a one-night stand” as Serpent sings on “Deep End.” Grip, just like Serpent did, finds its home in the flashing lights of Black queer nightlife and celebrates the communities within it that made Serpent comfortable enough to express himself. The sensitivity and the attention to detail are among the ingredients that make Grip a captivating listen.

Shaé Universe — Love’s Letter

Shaé Universe

Shaé Universe ‘Love’s Letter’ album cover

Nigerian-British singer Shaé Universe’s second project Love’s Letter is a nostalgic trip to the past meshed with modern influences from today’s R&B world. Inspiration from the likes of India.Arie, Brandy, and Lauryn Hill are hard to ignore through the project’s ten songs, but Shaé makes them her own for a body of work that could indeed stand the test of time. Love’s Letter ponders what it would be like for love to deliver a letter for each phase of your life, and what amounts from it are moments of true love, self-love, and the absence of love. “More Than Enough” is a moving reminder that no love is better than self-love while “LOML” finds Shaé whisked off her feet thanks to the presence of a love like no other. Love’s Letter is one for old-school and new-school R&B fans from an artist certain to be here for a while.

Sinéad Harnett — Boundaries

Sinéad Harnett ‘Boundaries’ album cover

Through a bit of therapy, healing, and reflection came the creation of Sinéad Harnett’s third album Boundaries. The 16-track affair present Harnett at her strongest and most aware as her newfound peace require the utmost protection, which brings to the Boundaries present for Harnett in her life and on this album. “Thinking Less” is both a reflection of heartbreak and a declaration to never accept the bare minimum or less when it comes to love. While “The Most” disposes of an inconsistent love, “Unfamiliar” makes use of Harnett’s newfound wisdom in romance to steer away from a potential relationship riddled with red flags. Boundaries is what the other side of heartbreak is supposed to look like and Sinéad Harnett emerges from it a new woman ready for a new story where she stands stronger than ever.

SiR — Heavy

Tope Dawg Entertainment

SiR ‘Heavy’ album cover

Birthed from a time he calls the “worst year of my life,” SiR’s fourth album Heavy unpacks all the highs and lows of a journey that saw him nearly reach a point of no return in his life. The album’s title track recounts the days where addiction ruled his life. The persistent “I’m Not Perfect” admits to internal flaws while also putting forth the fight to not those flaws control their every move. While Heavy depicts the dark days of SiR’s life, it also captures the brighter days and improvement that found its way to the singer after his period of struggle. The optimistic “Life Is Good,” the self-sufficient “Poetry In Motion,” and the determined “Tryin’ My Hardest” are all evidence of this. In the end, SiR’s Heavy is an emotional, raw, and honest account of picking yourself up at your lowest and getting your life together before it’s too late.

Tems — Born In The Wild

RCA Records

Tems ‘Born In The Wild’ album cover

Three years after her breakout into the mainstream world, Tems’ debut album Born In The Wild arrived as a refreshing tale of how the singer emerged from her shell to become a star. It’s more than a rags-to-riches story. At its conclusion, Born In The Wild is a delightful testimony for the fruits one could bare through faith. Born In The Wild is a balanced affair that captures Tems in as many reflective moments (“Born In The Wild” & “Burning”) as there are joyous and carefree ones (“Wickedest” & “Get It Right”). Furthermore, tales of love like “Unfortunate,” “Forever,” and “Free Fall” are thrown into the pot to make Born In The Wild a complete, excellently crafted debut.

Usher — Coming Home


Usher ‘Coming Home’ album cover

For the last 18 months, Usher thrusted himself into the spotlight to remind music lovers of his legacy. From his eventful and sometimes controversy-producing Las Vegas residency to his 2024 Super Bowl Halftime Show, Usher was nothing but a showman looking to entertain and impress the audience. Much of that is the same on Usher’s ninth album Coming Home, which, true to its title, is a return to form for the Atlanta native. Coming Home combines the best of Usher’s sonic landscapes with elements of traditional and contemporary R&B, upbeat pop, and flashy dance records. Coming Home is arguably Usher’s best output in a decade, but at the very least, it proves why he’s been able to thrive in the music industry.

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