60 Best 90s R&B Songs (Essential Classics)

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Written By Will Fenton

Founder of MidderMusic. From numerous bands to stints working in music shops, read more about me on the 'Here's My Story' page!

The 1990s were a golden era for R&B music.

The new jack-swing era gave way to a more hip-hop and contemporary sound, while the classic sound of Motown soul continued to evolve.

Along with the rise of hip-hop, R&B artists were able to experiment with new sounds and styles, creating some of the most iconic songs of the decade.

This decade also saw the rise of some of the most popular R&B artists of all time, such as Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Boyz II Men.

We’ve compiled a list of the 60 best 90s R&B songs, so whether you are looking to take a trip down memory lane or just want to enjoy some good old-fashioned R&B, this list is sure to give you what you are looking for.

Table of Contents

1. “Brown Sugar” by D’Angelo

The lead track from D’Angelo’s 1995 debut album is called Brown Sugar.

He talks of a woman who is his “brown sugar” and who has completely won him over.

He delivers an outstanding vocal performance throughout the song, and the lyrics are written in a way that makes them simple to understand.

Although this was early in his career, the singer later had other popular songs.

If you keep up with him, you’ll come across some fantastic soul and R&B songs.

2. “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill

With her debut, Lauryn Hill shocked the music industry.

She could skillfully mix genres to appeal to viewers and increase revenue.

The song “Ex-Factor” was released in 1998, and Wyclef Jean is purportedly mentioned in the lyrics.

It is a popular breakup song

Her captivating vocals and varied melodies did the song justice.

3. “Candy Rain” by Soul for Real

“Candy Rain” by Soul for Real is one of the best 90s R&B songs.

Jase, the youngest and frontman of the group, sang passionately.

The song many dedicated to their crush was “Candy Rain.”

Andre Harrell played a significant role in the New Jack Swing sound, which later underwent some sort of fusion between hip-hop and R&B.

“Candy Rain” is one of the very few songs on this list that continues to be played regularly.

4. “Just Kickin’ It” by Xscape

It is obvious that men wrote this song, “Just Kickin’ It.”

The women’s amazing vocals were given the best opportunity to be seen thanks to the production value, which is quite honestly as straightforward as the logic used in the lyrics.

Perhaps some of you desire a woman who can prepare greens and turkey necks for you, has wonderful sex and views both as her “duties.”

Perhaps you don’t.

You will unquestionably be soulless if you don’t bop along to the Atlanta foursome’s breakout hit, regardless of how you feel about it.

5. “Tell Me” by Groove Theory

This song was released by the duo in 1995 on their debut album.

Unfortunately, they split up not long after the album was released, leaving fans with the Billboard chart’s fifth-highest single.

This song serves as a reminder of what might have been, even if their reign was short.

6. “Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince & The New Power Generation

You can’t mention the best R&B songs of the 90s without including “Diamonds and Pearls.”

The ferocious drums and cheerful beat in this song depict lust and love.

The song is a phenomenon thanks to the jaw-dropping bridge.

The New Power Generation and Prince’s restrained vocals and sparkling statement of love helped the song become a huge hit at the start of the decade.

7. “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd

R&B began to move in a distinctly sexual direction in 1990, but there was still a thin veil of slang, innuendo, and euphemism over everything.

With “I Wanna Sex You Up,” a hit on R&B and top 40 radio that grew to be the second-largest pop song of 1991, the interracial boy band Color Me Badd finally put an end to the filth with which they had been dealing.

This R&B song was created for a generation that had lost its innocence, where being real was the only choice and polite sincerity seemed too cheesy to be taken seriously.

8. “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy & Monica

Teenagers Brandy and Monica successfully execute the duet “The Boy Is Mine” with all the necessary intensity as if the arguments were occurring, complete with sneers, dismissive ad-libs, and harmonies.

“Get away, it’s my turn to shine / You’re the past; I’m the future,” Brandy Norwood sang to Monica Arnold in 1998.

9. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston

Whitney’s third studio album, released in 1990, features this song.

The song was a worldwide hit and the singer’s eighth chart-topper, despite some critics questioning the song’s lyrics.

The song was elevated to new heights by her deep, relaxed performance, and it is unquestionably a deserving addition to her illustrious discography.

10. “Bills, Bills, Bills” by Destiny’s Child

The 1999 album Writing’s On The Wall contains this song as well.

The song received two Grammy nominations and spent some time at the top of the charts.

The girls in the song are complaining about a guy who can’t provide or pay bills.

There are several covers of the song, but we like the original more.

11. “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” by Deborah Cox

This ballad was so potent that gospel radio would play it as if Deborah Cox were the choir.

Which, given the central concept, isn’t quite blasphemy: a lady suffers heartbreak, isolates herself, and then discovers “the love who’ll stay for eternity, the heaven-sent to fulfil my needs.”

12. “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Toné!

Tony! Toni! Toné! has a number-one R&B single with the title “Feels Good,” and it features a Mopreme Shakur rap verse.

The popular song held the top spot on the American R&B chart for two weeks.

Additionally, it was their first top-ten success on the American Billboard Hot 100, reaching the ninth spot.

13. “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey ft. O.D.B.

Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” is one of the top R&B songs from the 90s.

Without a doubt, Mariah Carey, one of the best-selling musicians of all time, ruled the 1990s.

In 1995, when Carey released her fifth album, Daydream, she wished to include more hip-hop in her sound.

With rapper O.D.B.’s help, she accomplished this on the album’s lead song, “Fantasy.”

With the fusion of R&B and hip-hop, it was a sound that not only transformed her career but also had an impact on other musicians.

14. “Dreamlover” by Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey is looking for a partner who can offer her everlasting love.

She was a member of the production team and wrote beautiful lyrics.

1993 saw her perform the song frequently, primarily on television talk shows.

The carefree music video completely completes the song.

This song is appropriate for you if you’re looking for the ideal partner.

15. “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men absolutely dominated the 90s with their R&B sound, so they could take up even more positions on this list.

They entered the scene in 1991 with a new style, and this song quickly rose to the top of the R&B song charts.

Nothing truly equalled the young vocalists’ success as a team, even though they went on to have fantastic careers after that.

16. “You Make Me Wanna…” by Usher

Usher, the undisputed king of R&B, rose to fame with the 1997 hit “You Make Me Wanna” off of his second album, My Way.

The song, which was produced by Usher’s longtime partner Jermaine Dupri, reached its highest position on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 2.

The legendary hit was sampled, and Usher was featured on rising star Summer Walker’s song “Come Thru” in 2019.

17. “Are You That Somebody?” by Aaliyah

Aaliyah experimented with new sounds in the middle of the 1990s thanks to artists like Static Major, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland.

Timbaland provided her with a unique production for her 1998 single “Are You That Somebody?” that featured a baby cooing.

The “Are You That Somebody?” video featured one of Aaliyah’s signature dance routines.

Timbaland is famed for creating sounds out of anything, and this song from the “Dr. Doolittle” soundtrack showed him at the height of his powers.

18. “Remember The Time” by Michael Jackson

Each of Michael Jackson’s albums has had a unique sound throughout his career.

The King of Pop decided to try out a little New Jack Swing during the “Dangerous” phase.

“Remember The Time,” a song produced by Teddy Riley, peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

Along with introducing a fresh sound, the song’s accompanying music video, which was shot by John Singleton and featured acting cameos from Iman, Magic Johnson, and Eddie Murphy, will always be recognized as one of Michael Jackson’s best dance videos.

19. “I Love Your Smile” by Shanice

This song will make any list of the best 90s R&B songs.

Shanice is a well-known dancer, actress, lyricist, and singer.

This love song is still her most popular track, and she sings it beautifully.

The radio version of the song omits the song’s rap bridge.

The narrator struggles to maintain composure when in love, which causes her to take several actions.

This great song is a demonstration of Shanice’s brilliance, and we believe fans of 90s R&B should listen to it.

20. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue

This song will draw you into the world of these four women.

On their second album, Funky Divas, this song served as the album’s lead single in 1992.

The song did exceptionally well in the industry, and it still sounds great today.

21. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison

Early in the 1990s, Mark Morrison made his debut.

His career, however, started to take off after his 1996 hit song, “Return of the Mack.”

The song achieved multiplatinum status and spent 41 weeks on the Billboard charts.

22. “Weak” by SWV

SWV, an acronym for “Sisters With Voices,” made their musical debut in 1992 with the release of the album It’s About Time. Their song “Weak” is possibly their most well-known song.

Brian Alexander Morgan, who wrote the song, based it on his love for R&B singer Chante Moore.

On the Billboard Hot 100, the multi-platinum hit peaked at No. 1.

23. “Not Gon’ Cry” by Mary J. Blige

By 1996, Mary J. Blige had demonstrated her ability to capture uncomfortable feelings through music.

However, there was still something unique about the way she sang “Not Gon’ Cry.”

The song led to her receiving her third Grammy nomination.

The movie Waiting to Exhale served as both the story’s and the song’s inspiration.

24. “Nice & Slow” by Usher

Another great 90s R&B song is “Nice and Slow” by Usher.

This is another hit from Usher’s 1998 second album.

This song was more sensual than his earlier ones.

Usher is driving to the home of his lover, full of hopes and desires.

His soft voice adds a romantic touch to the song.

25. “Real Love” by Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige earned a reputation for sampling classic songs from the ’70s and ’80s with a new-age touch early in her career.

She achieved exactly that in her 1992 song “Real Love,” which used the 1987 hit “Top Billin” by Audio Two.

Despite being Mary’s second single, “Real Love” became her first Billboard top-10 hit and launched her career as the Queen of Hip-Hop and R&B.

26. “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe

Since their time as New Edition members, the R&B group Bell Biv Devoe has provided their audience with hit songs.

The 1990 hit song “Poison,” which became the group’s biggest single to date, is a cornerstone of the New Jack Swing sound.

27. “Forever My Lady” by Jodeci

Singing groups dominated in the 1990s, which is uncommon to see today, 30 years later.

Jodeci, also referred to as the “bad boys of R&B,” was one of the most popular bands of that time.

Jodeci was popular when it came to love songs, notably with “Forever My Lady.”

Al B. Sure! and group member DeVante Swing co-wrote and produced the 1991 hit.

On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart, it reached its highest point at No. 1.

28. “Sittin’ Up In My Room” by Brandy

The 16-year-old singer’s hit song was produced by Babyface.

The lyrics are brilliant and have a playful yet emotional tone.

Brandy was too graceful for her age, especially considering how well she sang.

Even if you are not thinking out your feelings in the bedroom like the girl in the song, you can still enjoy listening to it.

29. “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” by Mint Condition

“Breakin’ My Heart” is definitely among the best 90s R&B songs.

The album Meant to Be Mint, which was released in 1991, contains this mellow ballad.

This is unquestionably the album’s biggest hit.

Since peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song has been sampled numerous times.

30. “No Scrubs” by TLC

TLC’s “No Scrubs” is one of the biggest R&B classics of the 90s.

The ’90s saw a rise in girl groups, and TLC was one of the best-selling groups of all time.

To appeal to fans, members T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli constantly displayed their personalities and fashion senses.

Their 1999 song, “No Scrubs,” was a feminist anthem criticizing men for not contributing anything.

It is one of their most famous songs and ended up taking home two Grammys.

31. “On & On” by Erykah Badu

Neo-soul was one of the musical subgenres that emerged in the 1990s.

It was referred to as a fusion of funk, jazz, hip-hop, and R&B.

Erykah Badu, whose debut album, Baduizm, featured her first single, “On & On,” was one of the early pioneers of neo-soul.

Badu won the Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the song.

32. “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men, a group popular in the 1990s for their four-part harmonies on love songs, was one of the bands with distinctive sounds and styles.

Between the baritone, tenor, and bass, each group member contributed a unique sound, which was audible in their popular song “On Bended Knee,” in which the singers begged for the return of the love of their lives.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who wrote and produced “On Bended Knee,” replaced the group’s previous No. 1 song, “I’ll Make Love To You,” at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

33. “So Into You” by Tamina

Tamina is a vocal prodigy, and her singing is evident in her music.

The music from her 1998 debut album quickly became popular among listeners.

The song’s mid-tempo expresses the singer’s feelings for her partner.

Tamina was signed by Quincy Jones to work at his record company and recorded her debut album there.

34. “I Get Lonely” by Janet Jackson

On this 1998 hit, Janet Jackson sounds awesome.

Most people felt that this was a change from her characteristic pop sound because it was all R&B, unlike most of her earlier tracks.

Throughout her musical career, Janet broke numerous records, and with the release of this song, she became the first and only female to have eighteen straight top ten songs.

Give the song a good listen because it’s filled with feelings that can bring back some memories for you.

35. “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill

Her spitting rhymes and soulful voice are among the qualities that have always set Lauryn Hill apart from other singers.

Before other musicians began to combine their two talents, she was a rapper and a singer.

After leaving the Fugees, she released The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, her debut solo album, which featured the smash hit “Doo Wop (That Thing).”

Two Grammys, including Best R&B Song, were later awarded to the No. 1 song.

36. “That’s The Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson, who comes from one of the most musical families ever, was never scared to forge her path.

Her 1993 album Janet, which featured the popular song “That’s the Way Love Goes,” brought out the singer’s sensual side.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, two of her longstanding musical partners, gave Janet’s lower-register tone a mellow and silky sound.

As the best R&B song, “That’s the Way Love Goes” received a Grammy Award.

37. “If I Ever Fall In Love” by Shai

Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was the only song that kept this track from reaching the top spot.

That is the calibre of the song.

You will play this wonderful love song over and over because you can’t get enough of it.

You’ll want to fall in love after hearing him describe his love for this girl with brown eyes.

Finding a companion who will stand by you through thick and thin is the key.

38. “Twisted” by Keith Sweat

In 1996, Keith Sweat released this song as a single.

It features the vocals of talented musicians, adding to the song’s uniqueness.

One of the artist’s most popular tracks is this one.

Regardless of whether you are a fan or not, you must acknowledge Sweat’s value to the industry.

39. “No Diggity” by Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen

Thanks to founding member Teddy Riley, Blackstreet was among the first to incorporate hip-hop and New Jack Swing into their R&B sound. Dr. Dre and Queen Pen appeared on Blackstreet’s 1996 hit song “No Diggity.”

Their biggest hit, “Macarena,” was dethroned from the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 by the song, which went on to become one of their biggest hits.

40. “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan

There are lots of 90s R&B hits, and this song is one of them.

Some musicians don’t gain popularity until their second album or follow-up single.

In contrast, Montell Jordan’s popularity came from his first single, “This Is How We Do It.”

The song was the ideal party tune for clubs after reaching No. 1 on a couple of Billboard charts.

41. “In My Bed” by Dru Hill

Many songs have been written over the years about how heartbroken artists felt when they learned their lovers had another relationship.

The same topic is covered in this heartbreaking song. It is the follow-up single to the 1996 debut album.

The singer believes there is someone else and that there is something wrong with his partner.

You won’t need to guess because the lyrics are so clear; he conveys the story eloquently.

The girlfriend who is allegedly cheating is the main subject of the music video.

42. “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton

“Un-Break My Heart” was a worldwide hit. It was one of the top R&B hits of the 1990s.

Dian Warren deserves credit for it because she wrote this classic ballad.

Toni Braxton was very skilled at delivering the lyrics.

This is one of her biggest songs to date because of that.

If you already own the song or know the lyrics by heart, it’s no surprise that it keeps coming up.

For almost three months, it was at the top of the Hot 100 chart.

43. “Pony” by Ginuwine

The early sound of Ginuwine’s career was created by superproducer, Timbaland.

The hit song “Pony” was featured on Ginuwine’s debut album, Ginuwine… The Bachelor, which was produced by Timbaland.

In addition to being a top 10 Billboard hit, it served as Timbaland’s breakout song as a producer, particularly for his work with R&B performers.

44. “I Miss You” by Aaron Hall

On his first debut album, Aaron released this song as the fourth single.

It was done to remember the ex-girlfriend who was no longer with him.

This became one of his biggest songs on Billboard and earned him a few awards.

It’s great music that you may enjoy listening to, even though it has a depressing story associated with it.

45. “My Boo” by Ghost Town DJs

Ghost Town Djs released “My Boo,” one of the best 90s R&B songs.

The Ghost Town DJs have only ever released this one song.

The careers of these vocalists began and ended at the top, which is something that not many musicians can accomplish.

The song became popular due to its vocal delivery.

1996 saw the song’s peak popularity.

The Running Man Challenge in 2016 contributed to its resurgence in popularity.

Because the meme spread so quickly, a lot of individuals online recorded short videos of it.

46. “Right Here” by SWV

This 1992 song is upbeat yet depressing.

The song was a hit on many levels, although the band later said that they didn’t initially like it. They felt it would not be a hit.

On the Hot R&B Singles chart, the original song peaked at number thirteen.

Most producers who want to add a retro sound to contemporary tracks now turn to the song’s remix.

To fully understand the song, you should listen to both the original and the remix.

It’s easy to fall in love with the music because of the lyrics.

47. “Hold On” by En Vogue

In 1990, the American girl group En Vogue released Hold On.

On the Billboard Hot 100 list, the track peaked at number two.

It performed remarkably well in terms of sales.

The single’s lead vocals serve as the ideal opening to the song, and the downtempo dance beat makes it comfortable to dance to.

A wave of sisters followed in their footsteps, notably Destiny’s Child.

48. “No Ordinary Love” by Sade

This 1992 song is about loving someone even though you’re not sure if they’ll reciprocate.

You will enjoy the song even if you have never experienced the suffering that love may bring.

The guitar and other sounds amplify the song’s emotional agony.

It’s a portrayal of attempting to remain calm even though things aren’t going well.

It served as the fourth studio album’s lead single.

In the category of best R&B performance by a duet or group, the song received a Grammy award.

49. “I Wanna Be Down” by Brandy

Brandy released one of the best 1990s R&B songs titled “I Wanna Be Down.”

When Brandy released this song in 1994, she was only 15 years old.

The amazing video goes along with the greatest crush song.

It’s the first of the gifted singer’s many hits.

In this song, Brandy sounded young for her age.

In these lines, you could criticize her purity and innocence.

She sings in a soft voice that fits the song’s subject matter beautifully.

You can express your feelings through the song.

50. “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child

The most popular track from The Writing’s On The Wall album is Say My Name.

One of Destiny’s Child’s first songs to maturely discuss the dangers of falling in love is this one.

Between 1999 and the beginning of 2000, the song was an anthem.

For fans of the female trio, the Grammy-winning song is still an absolute gem.

Two of the band members had already left by the time the song was made public.

51. “Don’t Walk Away” by Jade

This song is from the renowned album Jade To The Max by the American R&B trio Jade.

In 1992 and 1993, it rose to become one of the most popular songs.

At the time, it was also a tremendous dance hit.

It peaked at number 2 on the Hot R&B and Hip Hop Songs chart and number 4 on the Billboard chart.

The song’s lyrics show a woman in love who is confused.

It is considered one of the best pop R&B songs of the 1990s.

52. “Freak Like Me” by Adina Howard

Adina released her first single, “Freak Like Me,” in 1995.

On the Billboard chart, the single spent two weeks at number two.

Over the years, numerous artists have created various versions of the song as “covers.”

Many musicians of the day sang songs about sex, but Adina stood out and informed everyone that it was acceptable to embrace your freaky side.

If you haven’t heard this classic piece yet, you are missing out!

53. “Heartbreak Hotel” by Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston must be mentioned for a list of 90s R&B songs to be considered complete.

Heartbreak Hotel is only one of the gorgeous songs that her illustrious career has graced the world with.

When the song debuted in 1998, it had a significant impact on the industry.

It served as a reminder of Whitney’s musical talents in addition to her Hollywood blockbuster roles.

If you haven’t listened to any of her music before, this song is a wonderful place to start.

54. “Creep” by TLC

When it comes to performances and song themes, TLC is among the most creative bands.

Their debut hit single, “Creep,” peaked at number one on the Hot 100.

A woman who is aware of her boyfriend’s cheating is the subject of the song’s lyrics.

Additionally, the woman decides to cheat on him.

In 1996, the song earned the trio a Grammy.

Left Eye, one of the group’s members, opposed the song’s release because she believed it didn’t provide the best advice to those being cheated on.

55. “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men

1992 saw the release of End of the Road, which spent 13 weeks at the top of the charts.

The American boy band is renowned for writing memorable songs with a sensual and romantic feel.

The unfiltered emotions of heartbreak are captured in this song.

You listen to this type of music when things are difficult in your relationship and you want to cry.

It all comes down to the approach, and Boyz II Men handled the song admirably.

56. “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey

The song is from the highly successful commercial album Daydream, which was released in 1995.

The song’s music video is so sweet and innocent.

Mariah Carey can be seen having fun beside a campsite.

It will briefly distract you from the fact that the songs are about a broken relationship.

Although the singer has many wonderful songs, this one stood out.

It is simpler and has a chorus that you can’t get out of your head.

Both critics and listeners gave the song good reviews.

57. “When Can I See You” by Babyface

This is one of the best R&B classics of the 90s.

In 1994, this acoustic masterpiece was released.

As the fourth-highest-ranking track on the Billboard Hot 100, it became Babyface’s most successful hit.

The song’s wonderful lyrics are another factor in its success.

Even if you’ve never heard it before, you can still simply sing along because of its repetition.

The love song will be a great addition to the R&B playlist.

58. “You’re Making Me High” by Toni Braxton

This song, which is among Toni Braxton’s best, gave her the chance to express her sensual side.

The music is seductive without being excessive.

The husky-voiced singer won her third Grammy for the hit song from 1996, which peaked at number one on the Hot 100 Chart.

Her vocals can be heard in the captivating song.

Through her masterpiece, she won the hearts of many.

The music is nicely captured in the accompanying video.

59. “Waterfalls” by TLC

It seems unusual for a pop song to address themes like religion and death.

But these are the topics of discussion on TLC’s second album’s lead hit, “Waterfalls.”

It’s a dark song, but the chorus’ rich, singable melody lifts the warning verses, which undoubtedly contributed to the song’s success on the radio.

A high-budget video for “Waterfalls” was also included, which increased its popularity and played constantly on MTV.

60. “Freak Me” by Silk

From the opening note, Silk’s “Freak Me” is a masterclass in ’90s R&B excess.

There is a thudding bass, a bunch of males chanting “Freak me baby” around a campfire like cult members, and suddenly there is a starburst of lovely voices singing “Let me lick you up and down.”

A single voice then suddenly jumps up in pitch and exclaims, “Cause tonight, baby, I wanna get freaky with you!”

It is the peak of everything fantastic, amusing, and incredibly lovely about young males trying to get laid using the seductive powers of falsetto vocals.

90s R&B songs – Final Thoughts

The 1990s was a great decade for R&B music. 

This list of the 60 best 90s R&B songs shows just how much the genre has to offer. 

Many of the songs from that era are still popular today and there’s something for everyone on this list.

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