Whitney Houston
Was this year the genre's commercial and creative peak...?

In the final years of the 20th century approaching the new millennium R&B had arguably reached its creative and commercial peak. In one corner were the sonic innovators and alchemists of sound like Missy, Timbaland and Aaliyah and in the other were legends like Whitney and Mariah breathing new life into their careers.

Add to this the pop pavericks like Macy Gray and Kelis and you have a thrilling period of musical triumphs. 1999 was a year bang in the middle of that golden period and as well as spawning the best song of the decade it was also chock full with hits and amazing deep cuts to savour.

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Destiny’s Child - Bug A Boo'

The first instance of Queen Bey making her first step this is as pristine a banger as you’ll ever hear.

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Q-Tip - 'Breathe And Stop'

Insane production characterised all the best R&B of this period and it doesn't get more insane than Q-Tip in his finest flow.

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Whitney Houston - 'It’s Not Right But It’s OK'

Even legends of a different era were getting in on the act and Whitney moved her sound forward into the future on this late period gem.

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Donnell Jones - 'U Know What’s Up'

Here’s Left Eye back again providing the perfect foil to Donnell’s smooth emoting.

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The Roots/Erykah Badu - 'You Got Me'

Some jazzy musings from one of the most enduring groups of the period paired with one of the finest voices.

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Faith Evans - 'All Night Long'

This might be unfairly forgotten now but it aches with a sultry charm and style.

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Macy Gray - 'I Try'

This song was inescapable in ‘99 and for good reason. It’s amazing.

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Mary J Blige - 'Deep Inside'

A killer banger from one of the greatest voices of all time.

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Mariah Carey - 'Heartbreaker'

Always a close ally of the most exciting sounds and styles, Mariah showed she wasn’t going to be left behind.

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Words: Martyn Young

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