Not all R&B singers are created equal.
In the world of Rhythm and Blues, many singers come in and become Pop superstars like Usher, Rihanna, Beyoncé and R. Kelly. But sometimes, even when the music is good, it seems that some singers just can’t get a break.
Not all singers are able to achieve mainstream success, and it can be attributed to legal battles, self esteem issues, laziness or just not being able to overcome industry politics.
Here’s a look at R&B singers between the ’90s and today who never quite received their fifteen minutes of fame.
In 1998 and 1999, there were two R&B songs that lit up the Billboard charts: “My Body” by LSG and “Meeting in My Bedroom” by Silk. Both songs were written by Relativity Records singer Link. Due to his writing success, Link was rewarded a record deal and released his first single “Whatcha Gone Do?”, which became a mild hit.
A song off the album, “Gimme Some” has become an underground sensation. As of March 2013, Link is planning a comeback and has released “Erotic“. Seems like some people are better off behind the scenes?
9. Sam Salter
When you’ve got LaFace Records’ Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and L.A. Reid behind you, you’re in good hands, right? In 1997, Salter released his debut album It’s On Tonight, with the singles “After 12, Before 6” and “There You Are”. The singles became mildly popular, but failed to catch steam. The same year, Salter’s labelmate Usher released his sophomore album My Way which went on to sell 7 million copies and turned Usher into an R&B megastar.
Though Salter hasn’t experienced mainstream success as a solo artist, he’s written songs for artists including Babyface, Destiny’s Child, Tyrese and Omarion. Salter got his start early, as part of a group with singer Robin Thicke. He left the group and partnered with producer and writer Laney Stewart, who now works with popular LA-based singer Alex Jacke.
8. KeKe Wyatt
In 2000, KeKe Wyatt got her big break when she appeared on singer Avant’s debut album on a song titled “My First Love”. The duo worked so well together that Wyatt enlisted the help of Avant again on her Soul Sista debut for 2001’s “Nothing In This World”, a song that would prove to be Wyatt’s most popular to date.
In 2013, KeKe Wyatt and Avant teamed up for “You & I”. Has KeKe Wyatt’s appearance on TV One’s R&B Divas help further her career? No one seems to like the attitude as she usually appears as a “crazy” character.
7. Tynisha Keli
In 2007, Tynisha Keli made her debut with the single “I Wish You Loved Me“. Though released that year, the song made its way on the internet years before it was officially released as a single, eventually becoming an underground hit. In 2009, her debut album The Chronicles of Tk was released via Warnes Bros. Records and was a commercial failure, with less than 11,000 albums sold.
In 2012, Keli surfaced again and released “Not Comin’ Back”, which failed to catch steam. Did Warner Bros. wait too long to capitalize on the success of Tynisha Keli’s independent movement?
In 2004, singer JoJo released “Get Out (Leave)”, the first single off her debut album that pushed worldwide sales to 3,000,000. Two years later, she followed up with her sophomore album, The High Road, which didn’t fare as well as the first.
In 2012, after a six year hiatus, JoJo returned with “Demonstrate”. The song, produced by Drake’s in-house producer Noah “40” Shebib, became popular on social networks but never gained any mainstream success. Later in the year, JoJo released her second mixtape, Agápē, to great response.
What do you think is up with JoJo’s rocky rise to the top? Do you think European singers get flack for trying to do R&B? One thing is for sure – Homegirl can sing!
5. Brandon Hines
Singer Brandon Hines appeared on YouTube in 2006, with a song called “10“. It was followed up with several covers which includes the popular 1-million viewed “Pretty Wings” Maxwell cover.
The cover videos caught the attention of So So Def’s Jermaine Dupri who signed Hines to a deal. His first official single “Yes You Are” was released in 2012, but failed to garner mainstream interest. An album has yet to surface from this singer. Too much like Trey Songz?
4. Willie Mo. Jr. (formerly Pretty Willie)
In 2001, St. Louis native Pretty Willie signed with Universal Records and released his debut album Enter The Life of Suella. The album was a commercial failure and did not chart, but in 2004, the singer developed a deep underground following when his song “Lay Your Body Down” was featured in the film Johnson Family Vacation.
Today, Willie Mo has left the sex-filled music behind and chartered a different path as a gospel singer and motivational speaker. The gospel isn’t as good as his “Four Walls” bedroom jams, but we respect his change towards a man of faith.
3. Teedra Moses
Teedra Moses made her debut in 2004, with the critically acclaimed album Complex Simplicity. The album spawned two singles “Be Your Girl” and “You’ll Never Find (A Better Woman)” featuring Jadakiss. Though the album was a sales failure, Moses eventually independently released music via her social websites and garnered a cult-like following.
In a 2012 interview, Moses revealed she was working on her sophomore album, as the first lady of Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Imprint. She soon released “Another LuvR” featuring Wale. The album has yet to surface. Could the brash mouth and not-made-for-tv image be the cause of Moses’ failure to become a commercial success?
2. Marcus Cooper (formerly Pleasure P)
Considered an underground legend of R&B, Cooper got his start in 2005 as the stand-out singer of Hip Hop group Pretty Ricky. In 2009, he released his solo debut The Introduction of Marcus Cooper with the singles “Under” and “Boyfriend #2”. The album was a moderate success, earning Cooper three Grammy nominations.
In 2012, he achieved writing success with Miami-native Flo Rida’s single “Wild Ones”, which has gone on to sell over 11 million copies. In 2009, Cooper got into legal battle when he was accused of sex offending. That one event, which came during his debut album release, seemed to cause the singer to lay low for a while. Cooper released the single “I Love Girls” in 2012. Did the sex offender charges cause Pleasure P’s image to drown or can he make a successful comeback?
AND NUMBER 1 goes to:
1. Jhené Aiko
In the early 2000’s, with the success of R&B group B2K, we were introduced to a very young Jhené Aiko who was featured on many of the groups songs. Aiko utilized social networks and developed a strong following, eventually releasing her debut mixtape Sailing Soul(s) in 2011. The mixtape earned accolades and Aiko is now signed to producer No ID’s record label, through Def Jam Records.
In a 2012 interview, Aiko revealed her problem with authority, working with Kendrick Lamar and deets on her debut album Souled Out. In 2013, she released “Burning Man (3:16pm)”. No album release date has been confirmed. Could it be Aiko’s rebel attitude that holds her back from mainstream success?
Which of these artists would you like to see go mainstream? Please tell us in the comments!