I’ve handpicked the best 2000s R&B songs that not only defined a generation but also continue to resonate with fans today.
This collection revisits the smooth, soulful sounds that shaped an unforgettable era in music.
Best 2000s R&B songs
- “Umbrella” by Rihanna
- “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé
- “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell
- “Foolish” by Ashanti
- “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys
- “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
- “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
- “U Remind Me” by Usher
- “Milkshake” by Kelis
- “Long Way 2 Go” by Cassie
1. “Umbrella” by Rihanna
“Umbrella” is hands down one of the best 2000s R&B songs.
It was in fact one of the biggest songs of the decade, and Rihanna recorded it when she was only 19.
She released it on her third studio album “Good Girl Gone Bad”, and it was a life-changing moment for her.
Besides becoming a Record of the Year, “Umbrella” earned Rihanna and Jay-Z a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
2. “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé
When thinking about top R&B songs from the 2000s, Beyoncé immediately comes to mind.
“Irreplaceable” was a huge hit when it came out, and Beyoncé’s second solo studio album “B’Day” marked the beginning of a new era for her.
Lyrically, the song is about the end of a relationship and saying goodbye to an unfaithful man.
In other words, it’s a song about strong and independent women who know their worth.
3. “Pretty Wings” by Maxwell
Maxwell released “Pretty Wings” in 2009 and won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
In the song, Maxwell is singing about meeting the right girl at the wrong time.
It’s a bittersweet feeling familiar to many people.
And that’s probably why Pretty Wings” became such a hit – it’s relatable but also catchy and easy to listen to.
4. “Foolish” by Ashanti
Ashanti’s “Foolish” is arguably one of the best throwback R&B songs.
The repetitive piano riff from the song is iconic, and it creates a nostalgic atmosphere.
But the song is also very calming, despite the complicated emotions Ashanti is singing about.
The lyrics revolve around a relationship that’s both important and painful for her.
5. “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys
When it comes to early 2000s R&B, one of the tracks that made a huge impact is “Fallin’”, a lead single from Alicia Keys’ debut album.
The release of the “Songs in A Minor” album was a turning point for Alicia Keys, and “Fallin’” was her first big hit.
The track remains one of her signature songs as well as one of the best R&B songs of the decade.
6. “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
“We Belong Together” is one of Mariah Carey’s most popular songs.
It was a huge success when it came out in 2005.
In fact, the song broke chart records in the US, after staying at number one for fourteen nonconsecutive weeks.
Also, Billboard listed it as the song of the decade.
7. “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
“Rehab” is Amy Winehouse’s signature song and one of the best R&B songs of all time.
It was released in 2009, on the iconic studio album “Back To Black.”
It’s catchy and smooth, and Amy’s vocal performance is incredible.
There’s no doubt about it – her music still lives on, and songs like “Rehab” will be popular for many years to come.
8. “U Remind Me” by Usher
“U Remind Me” is one of the most popular early 2000s R&B songs.
It’s a mid-tempo song about a man who meets a woman who reminds him of his ex-girlfriend, so he can’t be with her.
All in all, it’s an R&B song about love problems, which was very common for that music era.
9. “Milkshake” by Kelis
Of course, there are also 2000 R&B songs that don’t go deeper into emotions.
Lyrically, “Milkshake” is very straightforward.
But to be honest, nobody listens to “Milkshake” for the lyrics.
This early 2000s hit has an incredibly catchy beat and chorus, and it’s definitely one of the R&B all-time favorites.
10. “Long Way 2 Go” by Cassie
“Long Way 2 Go” is such a great R&B throwback.
The repetitive background beat simply gets stuck in your head, and Cassie’s singing is so soothing.
Plus, the song talks about a situation with a guy – and that’s something quite relatable.
Either way, the song still sounds great, and that’s why it deserves a place on our list.
11. “Cry Me A River” by Justin Timberlake
The moment we hear “Cry Me A River”, we are transported to 2002.
There’s something amazing about R&B music from the early 2000s.
And “Cry Me A River” was definitely one of the biggest hits back then – and one of the greatest R&B hits in general.
After all, it’s Justin Timberlake, one of the world’s best-selling artists and an R&B icon.
12. “100 Yard Dash” by Raphael Saadiq
“100 Yard Dash” is a soulful R&B tune from 2008.
Lyrically, it’s a song about love and all the intense emotions associated with it.
However, the song is far from intense – it’s smooth, easy-going, and very catchy.
It’s a nice reminder of some other music eras.
13. “Touch” by Omarion
Just like the previous song, Omarion’s “Touch” didn’t do well on charts, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
The song is smooth and easy to listen to, and it marked the beginning of Omarion’s solo career.
“Touch” was written by Pharrell Williams, and it features his vocals on the song’s bridge.
14. “Girlfriend” by B2K
Omarion rose to fame as a lead singer of the boy band B2K.
The group achieved success in the early 2000s with their R&B tracks “Girlfriend” and “Gots Ta Be.”
In a way, “Girlfriend” is a typical 2000s R&B song – and it’s great.
Plus, it has a cool video that will make you miss the choreographies from old music videos.
15. “Frontin’” by Pharrell Williams ft. Jay-Z
Pharrell Williams also has his share of 2000s R&B hits.
He released “Frontin’” in a collaboration with Jay-Z, and the song was a big success.
The song also marked Pharrell’s solo breakthrough, as he was previously a member of the group N.E.R.D.
Nevertheless, “Frontin’” is a great song to vibe to, and it definitely brings back memories.
16. “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige made a huge impact on the R&B music scene.
She released numerous hits throughout her career, and “No More Drama” is one of them.
In essence, “No More Drama” is a song about overcoming hardships and moving on.
The song samples “Nadia’s Theme”, used as the theme music for the American soap opera The Young and the Restless.
17. “Golden” by Jill Scott
Jill Scott’s “Golden” is without a doubt one of the most popular R&B songs from the 2000s.
It was released in 2004, and it has been present on the radio ever since.
The song was also used in several films and video games.
Living my life like it’s golden…
18. “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson
Another great tune you can add to your 2000s R&B songs list is “Spotlight” by Jennifer Hudson.
The song was written and produced by Ne-Yo for Hudson’s self-titled debut studio album.
And “Spotlight” definitely got the spotlight it deserves – it climbed the charts and received two Grammy Award nominations.
19. “Why Don’t We Fall In Love” by Amerie
Amerie’s “Why Don’t We Fall In Love” is another catchy R&B track with a sad love story behind it.
This summer jam was released as a lead single on Amerie’s album “All I Have” in 2002.
And the music video is also typical 2000s – from outfits to certain locations and, of course, accompanying dance moves.
20. “S.O.S.” by Rihanna
“S.O.S.” is maybe a pop hit more than an R&B track, but it’s usually a part of essential 2000s R&B music playlists.
It’s also one of Rihanna’s best-known songs from that period of time.
It’s fast-paced and energetic, and therefore a great song for getting ready for a night out.
The song is taken from Rihanna’s second studio album “A Girl Like Me.”
21. “Knock You Down” by Keri Hilson
Keri Hilson also had a lot of influence on the R&B genre.
She recorded many R&B hits throughout the years, and one of her biggest hits is “Knock You Down.”
She released the song in a collaboration with Kanye West and Ne-Yo, and it was nominated for multiple awards.
And that comes as no surprise – the song is very catchy but also powerful and inspiring.
22. “Wifey” by Next
Another tune that will take you back to the early 2000s music era is “Wifey” by Next.
The song became a huge hit when it came out.
More precisely, “Wifey” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
23. “Don’t You Forget It” by Glenn Lewis
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about Glenn Lewis and his 2002 R&B hit.
It was the first single from Lewis’ debut album.
And it remains his signature song.
At the end of the day, “Don’t You Forget It” has everything an R&B hit needs to have – a catchy beat, smooth vocals, and a cool music video.
24. “Rock The Boat” by Aaliyah
Aaliyah is one of the best R&B singers of all time.
She recorded many R&B hits before her tragic death.
And “Rock The Boat” is one of them – the song is at the same time relaxing and danceable.
And as always, Aaliyah’s soothing voice accompanies the song perfectly.
25. “Independent Woman, Pt.1” by Destiny’s Child
This list wouldn’t be complete without Destiny’s Child.
Beyoncé, Kelly, and Michelle have their share of iconic R&B hits, including “Independent Woman, Pt.1”, released in 2000.
The song was used for Charlie’s Angels soundtrack, and it generally achieved a huge success worldwide.
It remains one of Destiny’s Child’s most popular songs, and one of the best early 2000s R&B songs.
26. “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” by D’Angelo
“Untitled (How Does It Feel)” is a slow-paced R&B song, written and produced by D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq.
It was originally composed as a tribute to Prince.
However, the song’s music video was regarded as controversial, but it helped D’Angelo gain a number of fans.
Nevertheless, “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” is proclaimed one of the best songs of the decade by several publications.
27. “American Boy” by Estelle ft. Kanye West
“American Boy” is hands down one of the top 2000’s R&B songs.
It’s incredibly catchy and uplifting, and it can still be heard on the radio or in night clubs.
The song was written by Estelle and Kanye, along with will.i.am and John Legend, who also provided back vocals.
Lyrically, it’s a song about meeting a guy from the United States – the idea came after John Legend suggested it to Estelle.
28. “Let Me Love You” by Mario
You should also add “Let Me Love You” to your essential 2000s R&B playlist.
The song became a top 10 hit in many countries.
It was also the eighth most successful single of the decade (according to Billboard.)
More importantly, the song is smooth and easy-going, and it reflects the spirit of 2000s R&B perfectly.
29. “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys
Another great R&B song by Alicia Keys is “If I Ain’t Got You.”
The song is slow-paced, sentimental, and soulful.
Alicia Keys was inspired by Aaliyah’s death, as well as other things in the singer’s life that remind her that “material things don’t feed the soul.”
She also admitted this is one of her favorite songs.
30. “Soldier of Love” by Sade
“Soldier Of Love” is a soulful pop track, but it has elements of the R & B genre.
But in a way, Sade’s music is also a genre of its own.
It’s authentic and amazing – from Sade’s mesmerizing vocals to soothing melodies and genuine lyrics.
And “Soldier Of Love” captures the essence of her music perfectly.
31. “Give It To Me Right” by Melanie Fiona
“Give It To Me Right” is another song that fuses different music genres.
It also samples the 1968 song “Time of the Season” by The Zombies.
“Give It To Me Right” was a huge radio hit when it came out, and it still sounds fresh and infectious.
32. “Honey” by Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu is one of the most influential singers of her generation.
Her music is heavily influenced by R&B, soul, and hip hop, but it’s mostly associated with neo soul.
Nevertheless, many of her songs have a pure R&B vibe, including “Honey.”
Badu released “Honey” on her fourth studio album in 2008.
33. “Do You?” by Ne-Yo
Ne-Yo is an important name in the 2000s R&B – he released as well as wrote and produced many popular songs.
And one of his most famous songs is “Do You?”, a sentimental tune from 2007.
There’s also a version with Mary J. Blige.
34. “Be Without You” by Mary J. Blige
Speaking of Mary J. Blige, we can’t skip “Be Without You”, one of the biggest R&B hits in 2005.
It was the most played song on the radio back then, and it was certified double-platinum by the RIAA in 2007.
That being said, “Be Without You” is one of the most successful singles to date.
35. “Ego” by Beyoncé
“Ego” is taken from Beyoncé’s third solo studio album “I Am… Sasha Fierce.”
The song was originally written for singer Chrisette Michele, who turned it down, but it eventually became one of Beyoncé’s best R&B songs from the 2000s.
The song was well-received both by music critics and fans.
36. “Get It Shawty” by Lloyd
Another tune that rocked the charts in the 2000s is “Get It Shawty” by Lloyd.
It’s a fun R&B song that easily gets stuck in your head.
It was produced by James “J. Lack” Lackey, Usher’s younger brother.
And it became one of Lloyd’s best-known songs.
37. “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrty” is a golden 2000s throwback.
It’s one of the best pop R&B tracks of her career, released on her iconic studio album “Stripped.”
And we still didn’t forget about its beat and music video.
38. “Don’t Mess With My Man” by Lucy Pearl
Lucy Pearl was an R&B supergroup formed in 1999.
They released only one studio album, but they managed to make an impact on the R&B music scene.
Their single “Don’t Mess With My Man” is often referred to as one of the best R&B songs of the 2000s, even though it wasn’t a big hit at the time.
39. “Ordinary People” by John Legend
John Legend’s “Ordinary People” is an R&B ballad released in 2005.
It’s very simple yet emotional and impactful.
The song was written and produced by Legend and will.i.am for the singer’s debut album.
And it achieved great success – it was nominated for multiple awards, including the Song of the Year.
40. “Teenage Love Affair” by Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys released “Teenage Love Affair” on her third studio album “As I Am.”
The song is catchy and romantic, and it reflects the energy of Alicia Keys’ earlier music.
As the song’s title suggests, the lyrics depict teen love.
41. “Differences” by Ginuwine
Ginuwine is best known for his hit “Pony”, but the R&B singer has released many other memorable tunes.
For example, his 2001 song “Differences” topped the charts and received a lot of praise.
In essence, “Differences” is an R&B love song, conveying an honest message of love and devotion.
42. “Bed” by J Holiday
“Bed” is also among the top 2000’s R&B songs.
It’s a song that helped J Holiday reach fame and become a part of R&B music history.
It was the second single for his debut studio album, released in 2007.
43. “Like A Boy” by Ciara
Another important name in the R&B music history is Ciara.
“Like A Boy” is arguably one of her most powerful and memorable songs.
The song tackles double standards in society and emphasizes how men can do certain things in relationships that’s considered acceptable.
44. “Slow Down” by Bobby V.
Bobby Marcel Wilson, better known by his stage name Bobby V, rose to fame after recording his first solo single “Slow Down” in 2005.
The song spent four consecutive weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
It’s Bobby Valentino’s most successful songs to date.
45. “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx
“Blame It” is also known as “Blame It (On The Alcohol).”
The song was released as the second official single from Jamie Foxx’s third studio album in 2008.
Besides the famous actor and singer, the song features T-Pain.
“Blame It” earned Jamie Foxx many awards, including a Grammy Award.
46. “Heard It All Before” by Sunshine Anderson
“Heard It All Before” is the debut single by Sunshine Anderson, an American R&B and soul singer.
The song became a top 10 R&B song, and it’s still a part of countless ‘best of R&B’ lists.
It seems like the song withstands the test of time.
47. “Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop)” by Erykah Badu ft. Common
Despite the song’s hint that it’s an ‘ode to hip hop’, Erykah Badu’s 2002 track sounds like good old R&B from the 2000s.
However, Badu co-wrote the song with an American rapper Common, and he adds a dash of hip hop to the song.
Either way, the song got many positive reviews and climbed the hip hop/R&B charts.
48. “How You Gonna Act Like That” by Tyrese
“How You Gonna Act Like That” is one of Tyrese Gibson’s most recognizable songs.
It was released in 2002, and in a way, it expresses the emotion and sound of 2000s R&B music.
Tyrese has released many other notable R&B songs since then, and he also got famous thanks to his roles in the movies.
49. “Oops (Oh My)” by Tweet ft. Missy Elliott
Another song we would like to remind you of is “Oops (Oh My)” by Tweet and Missy Elliott.
It’s very simple and repetitive yet infectious.
Lyrically, it’s about appreciating your own beauty and being confident.
50. “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child
Of course, we didn’t forget about Destiny’s Child’s biggest hit.
After all, “Say My Name” is widely regarded as one of the best R&B songs of all time.
The song received multiple awards and accolades, and Billboard named it the best song of 2000.
And who are we to disagree?
51. “I Am Not My Hair” by India.Arie
“I Am Not My Hair” is a catchy R&B song with an important message.
Throughout the song, India.Arie says she wants to be more than her hair and her skin.
She says: “I couldn’t get no job ’cause corporate wouldn’t hire no dreadlocks.”
And that issue is still relevant and important to talk about.
52. “Don’t Stop The Music” by Rihanna
Released in 2002, “Don’t Stop The Music” remains one of Rihanna’s best dance hits.
Musically, the song is very simple and catchy yet incredibly captivating.
The song famously uses the verse from Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.”
And it is still one of the popular club songs – it seems like it doesn’t get old.
53. “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga
When thinking about 2000s dance hits, Lady Gaga also immediately comes to mind.
“Just Dance” was her first big solo hit.
It’s a mix of R&B, soul, and pop, and it was supposedly written by Gaga in 10 minutes, as she claims.
Nevertheless, the song became a huge hit and catapulted her to stardom.
54. “You Rock My World” by Michael Jackson
“You Rock My World” blends pop, R&B, and soul.
The song was released in 2001, as a part of Michael Jackson’s final studio album, “Invincible.”
It peaked in the top ten in many countries, and it’s arguably one of the best songs on the album.
Michael Jackson made an impact on many artists and music genres, including R&B.
55. “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé
Is there a better way to finish this list than with “Crazy In Love”?
After all, it’s the staple of Beyoncé’s live performances.
It was also Beyoncé’s first big solo hit, and it achieved instant success – it reached the top ten in many countries.
It’s also proclaimed one of the greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stone, so it’s fair to conclude it’s an R&B classic.
Best 2000s R&B Songs – Final Thoughts
We hope you had fun with our list of the best 2000s R&B songs!
It’s always nice to get a vibe of old R&B songs, and today we went through so many great throwbacks.
And there’s no doubt about it – the early 2000s were life-changing for the R&B genre.