Tag Archives: R&B

My Five Favorite R&B/Hip-Hop Albums of the 2010s (So Far)


Black History Month is soon approaching, but it doesn’t have to be a certain month for me to talk music. This post is all about R&B and hip-hop, specifically some of my favorite r&b and hip-hop albums of the 2010s.

Beyoncé: 4

Year released: 2011

This was the album where Bey went back to her R&B roots. Personally, I feel that this album doesn’t get enough credit for how good it is. This album spawns the girl power anthem “Run the World (Girls),” a beautiful love song “1+1,” and one of my all time favorite songs of hers, “End of Time.” I feel like this album was overshadowed by her pregnancy.

drakeDrake: Take Care (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2011

This was the album when Drake mania exploded to another level. It’s also where the assumption that Drake is emo began. Personally, I don’t think that he’s emo. I just think that he’s comfortable with expressing how he feels, which is refreshing. This album is one that you can press play & let it ride. One of my favorite tracks on this album is “The Real Her” that features Lil’ Wayne & Andre 3000, who delivers my favorite verse on the song. This album also features the classic “Marvin’s Room,” which spawned several remixes over the summer of 2011.

Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream

Year released: 2012

Miguel carefully avoided the sophomore slump with Kaleidoscope Dream. This album is what made Miguel crossover into mainstream attention. This album features the Grammy Award winning, timeless single “Adorn.” The album is alternative R&B & it works. It’s a great album from start to finish.

J. Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Year released: 2014

J.Cole has always made great music, but this is the album that finally made the naysayers pay attention & give him his long overdue credit. Cole did a very brave thing with the release of this album by having it come out without releasing any singles. This was a bold decision, but it worked because it sold a lot in its first week. Not many artists nowadays can do that. This album was a story, with each song being a snapshot into a different time in Cole’s life. It’s a great album not only for hip-hop, but for music in general. The album features “Apparently,” which is a great song and the first verse always gets me emotional when he talks about his mother.

Chris Brown: F.A.M.E.  

Year released: 2011

This album was Brown’s comeback album, and in my opinion, his best album. On this album, Brown showcased that he could do practically any genre of music, even rap. He proved that on the blockbuster single “Look At Me Now.” This album earned Brown a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2012. It was well deserved.

kendricklamarHonorable mention- Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2012

This album is one of the best rap albums that I’ve heard in a long time. This album is basically Lamar’s autobiography set to music. Throughout the album, listeners can hear snippets of his friends and family on different tracks. It gave audiences a closer glimpse into the life of Kendrick Lamar.

These are some of my favorite R&B/hip-hop albums of the 2010s so far. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below.


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We’re Playing Your Song

Humans have made music for thousands of years, and yet we still manage to keep coming up with new and pleasing combinations of sounds. That’s a good reason to celebrate, don’t you think?


Click through for tickets and more information!

The Library agrees. On March 7, 2014 our After Hours series continues with a magical mystery tour through centuries of sound, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Mark your calendars, buy your tickets, and swing by Main Library at 7 p.m. sharp for trivia, tasty nibbles, and tunes.

If you’ve been to our previous After Hours programs, you know we have a knack for creative good times, and our latest event is no exception. Your tickets include:

Whether you’re a coloratura soprano or strictly a “sing to the cats when nobody else is around” sort of person, you’ll find something to love at After Hours. Click here to buy your tickets, and click here for more information about the event, our sponsors and partners, and the tax-deductible value of your ticket purchase.

Sing out if you’re coming! And don’t forget to spread the word.

–Leigh Anne


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Goodbye, Babylon

I don’t know how I forgot about the boxed sets on the second floor. I’ve visited the Film and Audio section of the Main Library  about a million times over the years and scoured those CD cabinets countless times. Despite all that, I probably looked a little like St. Paul when I went to the very end of the CD section and saw all of those big boxes of music. It was a revelation!

Goodbye, Babylon

They were kind enough to include cotton in the box for us Yankees.

The box that caught my eye was Dust to Digital’s  big, beautiful Goodbye, Babylon. I first heard about this 6-disc set on a gospel show called Sinner’s Crossroads that I religiously (sorry–couldn’t resist) stream from New Jersey freeform giant WFMU. The show plays mid-century, mostly Southern, gospel music, the kind that had a big influence on R&B, soul, and rock and roll music, to name a few, a genre I came to after learning that many of the greatest soul singers were first gospel singers.

Goodbye, Babylon was touted as a great primer to more obscure gospel sounds, and it seemed to be universally well-reviewed. Alas, it also cost about sixty bucks, so I relegated it to the part of my brain where I keep ideas of what I’ll buy when I become a wealthy celebrity librarian. But then, all of a sudden, there it was, a big pine box packed with cotton (really!) and a lovely booklet.  Hallelujah!

The lineup consists of artists ranging from the very famous (Mahalia Jackson, Flatt and Scruggs) to the famous-to-those-who-listen-to-this-kind-of-music (Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Reverend Gary Davis) to a long list of performers whose work was previously only available (or not) on 78. A large booklet, designed to look like an old hymnal, includes background essays for each song in the collection.

Anyone with an interest in the origins of secular pop music in the U.S. should have a good time recognizing the close harmony, driving rhythms and impassioned vocals that have characterized commercial pop music in the postwar era, here in raw form. If you haven’t listened to many old recordings, it might take a few listens to get accustomed to the sometimes poor sound quality; I’d advise you to think of it as part of the atmosphere and, soon enough, you won’t notice it anymore.

Although I’m tempted to keep this library find close to my chest, lest it become so popular that it’s checked out when I want to revisit it, I feel inspired (perhaps by the fire and brimstone sermons that make up disc 6 of the set) to spread the good news about this wonderful collection of Americana.



P.S.: If there is a wait for this collection, don’t despair! The Main Library has a great collection of old gospel, including Mahalia Jackson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Louvin BrothersRev. Gary Davis, and many other luminaries.


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