Remembering the OTHER Female R&B Voices of the ’90s
'90s music and culture is currently experiencing a resurgence. Bruno Mars has been tapping into the New Jack Swing sound. Urban fashion lines such as Cross Colors and the African American College Alliance are making a comeback. The VH1 Hip Hop Honors highlighted 90s game changers. Missy’s back with new music, Lauryn Hill is on tour, Xscape caused a mild riot at Essence Fest in 2017, Drake is staging Degrassi reunions. The '90s are hot again.
One of the most significant aspects of the '90s, musically, is that it was one of the last great eras of R&B; the last decade with a broad and vast selection of artists to choose from in the genre. It was also the decade we saw the return of the girl group…only to decline again in the 00s immediately.
According to Billboard, the number of women on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts today is roughly half of what it was in the '90s: "There were 62 songs by women on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart during 1993, but just 33 during 2016. During this period, the number of songs by male acts on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart has drifted downward at a much more gradual rate (115 in 1993, 109 in 2016)." There are some artists whose careers continued to grow and/or peaked beyond the decade, and their legacies have endured: Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah, TLC, etc. (no, Mrs. Carter doesn’t count here because Destiny's Child hit the scene in late '97. She belongs to the aughts). Even Toni Braxton, SWV, and Xscape have, in recent years,” appropriate nostalgic love and props. However, there was a gang of voices, solo, and groups, which lent themselves to the overall flavor of the era.