Honor roll: Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album

Each of these albums has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album. They are ranked by honors received.

Album:The Emancipation of Mimi

The Emancipation of Mimi

Mariah Carey

Early buzz on The Emancipation of Mimi predicted that this would be the disc to mark “the return of the voice”—the voice being that glass-shattering instrument that propelled Carey to bestselling female artist of all time status—and mostly it is. But because of the small army of talent involved in its assembly, the album is way more than just a comeback vehicle. For proof, try straight-ahead, look-out-Beyonce-Mimi’s-still-got-it “Mine Again,” or ‘70s-soul cuddle-up, “Circles:” a don’t-attempt-on-American-Idol love song, or the gospel dazzlers “Fly…

Album:Confessions

Confessions

Usher

A CD is always more compelling when you know it’s lifted from the artist’s autobiography, and that’s certainly the case with Confession, Usher’s first record since 2001’s 8701. The Atlanta singer’s string of hits over the past decade have been decidedly PG-13 rated, almost veering towards teen pop, but he’s changed all that on this co-produced offering, which he claims is “the real him.” It would be too simplistic to just brand this record a break-up record, chronicling his public split with TLC’s Rozonda “Chili” Thomas; it is that, but so much…

Album:Dangerously in Love

Dangerously in Love

Beyoncé

The perfect timing of Beyonce Knowles’ career moves continues with the release of her debut solo album. Dangerously in Love’s best music is wildly up-to-date, craftily designed for both maximum street acceptance and positioning as some of the most cutting-edge stuff on current radio. The brash first single, “Crazy in Love,” melds Jay-Z with an unstoppable Chi-Lites horn sample, shape-shifting into something brand new. Collaborations with Outkast’s Big Boi and Sean Paul also prick up the ears, while changes of pace like “Be with You” and “Speechless”…

Album:Ashanti

Ashanti

Ashanti

These days, R&B girls are a dime a dozen, but Ashanti Douglas is a step ahead of the pack. Youthful appeal and a pleasantly dreamy voice complement the 21-year-old singer/songwriter’s ability to pen her own radio-friendly verses. However, Ashanti’s young’un status shows itself through her treatment of the usual R&B-girl subject matter: love standing strong, love gone bad, and the search for love of self. Songs like “Foolish,” “Happy,” and “Baby” are as simple and agreeable as their one-word titles suggest, while “Call,” “Movies,” and “Over” take a slightly more…

Album:Destiny Fulfilled

Destiny Fulfilled

Destiny's Child

Some thought it would never happen, but after solo successes and a three-year hiatus the ladies of Destiny’s Child have reunited for the eagerly-anticipated Destiny Fulfilled. The Houston-based trio of Kelly, Michelle and some girl named Beyonce follow up their mega successful Survivor with another album full of infectious dance grooves and melancholy tales of women done wrong. Lead single “Lose My Breath” is their first offering of the former. Backed by a kinetic marching band sample, they sing with an urgency that bolsters the Rodney…

Album:O

O

Omarion

Two years after teen heartthrobs B2K threw in the towel, Omarion, their vocal center of gravity has resurfaced with his solo debut, the aptly titled O. Despite such high wattage producers as the Neptunes and Rodney Jerkins, the toothsome singer sounds much the same as he did when he fronted the boy band, except some of the tracks are a little racier than the stuff his former outfit put out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you get lost in the ardent yearning of a track like “Slow Dance.” But it’s not the love jams that shine here, it’s…

Album:Touch

Touch

Amerie

Amerie’s 2002 debut, All I Have, found tough guys and urban sophisticates alike tangled up in the question of “Why Don’t We Fall in Love?” It spawned a collaboration with Nas, and ignited a cult of cool around black-Korean culture. With her exotic looks and draw-the-shades sound, the smoky-eyed chanteuse came by her frothy fan base fairly. With Touch she pulls through for a second exercise in sultry, solid sound. Two tracks on this disc grab hold instantly: “1 Thing” forges its way from an R&B-spiked pop place into rockier territory, and “Touch”…

Album:Turning Point

Turning Point

Mario

"Turning Point" is teenage R&B sensation Mario’s second album, and the follow up to his 2002 eponymously-titled release. Featuring slick production and smooth vocal stylings, the album sticks very rigidly to the contemporary R&B formula that has proved so successful for his peers. Includes the single ‘Let Me Love You’.

Album:Afrodisiac

Afrodisiac

Brandy

After a breakup, childbirth, and a reality show, the one-time teen star finds herself growing up a little more on Afrodisiac. While this isn’t a concept album—the songs aren’t ordered as such—it’s filled with the frustrations and pleasures of Brandy’s past few years. At the same time, her vocals are richer than ever, reaching a Blige-like level of expression on “I Tried” and “Who is She 2 U.” Timbaland’s production on nine cuts anchors the disc; he even makes the title track’s sampled baby, a link to his classic work on Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,”…

Album:Damita Jo

Damita Jo

Janet Jackson

On her eighth studio album, Damita Jo—the title lifted from her middle name—Janet Jackson teams up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis once again on what is perhaps the most feverish album in her two decade long career. Whether she’s taking the listener on a torrid excursion in the four song island suite, or boasting of her sexual prowess on “Sexhibition’s” word games lyrics, where she tells fans “relax, it’s just sex,” the singer tries hard—maybe too hard—to establish herself as a sexual avatar with portfolio. But in “Strawberry Bounce,” she seems more like a…

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