10 Black Male Singers Of The 80s And 90s
Black Male Singers Of The 80s And 90s include the likes of 1. Michael Jackson 2. Usher 3. Lionel Richie and more. These singers have Soul, Rhythm, and Blues.
These two decades saw the growing rise of African-American artists in prominent positions in mainstream music. Following more than 30 years of being maligned from the charts, television, and the radio, the rise of Michael Jackson, in particular, made Black artists impossible to ignore.
So, many singers built on that and began, and continue to have, vibrant careers in various fields like Soul, R&B, and Pop. Some of these stars would go on to have great careers not only in the 90s but in the 2000s too.
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10. Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown first gained fame in the 1980s as a member of New Edition. After he split from the group, he started releasing his solo albums.
Brown split from the group in '85, and embarked on a solo career the next year, with the release of his debut solo record, King of Stage. The album was a modest success that only reached #88 on the Billboard 200.
However, it was his sophomore record, 1988's Don't Be Cruel, that solidified his solo success. It peaked at the Billboard 200, R&B, and also the Canadian Charts, and is certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA.
His third record, 1992's Bobby would also be successful, peaking at #2 and being certified double platinum. Sadly, his next album 1997's Forever only reached #61, and his most recent record, 2012's The Masterpiece, didn't even chart.
D'Angelo is an acclaimed 90s singer who first gained fame in 1995. He released his debut album Brown Sugar that year.
The album instantly made him a star, peaking at #22 on the Billboard 200 charts, and being certified Platinum by the RIAA and Gold by the BPI and MC. The album also spawned three Top 10 R&B hits with Brown Sugar, Cruisin, and Lady.
The singer would return with his celebrated sophomore album, Voodoo at the start of the new millennium, and instantly top the Billboard 200 and grab another Platinum record. D'Angelo was all set to the best next big thing in R&B.
Then, he disappeared for over 14 years as the pressures of fame got to him and he didn't like where his career was going. Thankfully he returned in 2014 with his amazing third album Black Messiah, which peaked at #5 on the Album Charts.
8. Rick James
Rick James is one of the greatest black singers from the 80s. Rick came out of the gate swinging from the beginning of the decade.
Though he had been releasing music since 1978, with his first album Come Get It! even achieving Gold certification and reaching up to #13 on the Billboard 200, he hadn't yet become a household name. In fact, by 1980, he had released his fourth album Garden of Love only to see it reach a meager #83 on the charts.
However, in 1981 he released his magnum opus Street Songs which not only bounced his career back but took it to new heights as it reached #3 on the Album charts, topped the R&B charts, and went Platinum. With such hits as Give It To Me Baby and Super Freak, Rick James was the first Black superstar of the 80s.
7. Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross is one of the most beloved singers of the 80s. Luther has sold over 40 million records globally.
Like Rick, he also started his career at the start of the decade and released his debut album Never Too Much in 1981. It topped the R&B charts, went #19 on the Billboard 200, and is certified Double Platinum.
He would go on to release 5 more albums in the decade, each of which would top the R&B charts and be certified at least platinum, with some even going double. In fact, of the 13 studio albums he has released from 1981 to his last record in 2003, all but one have failed to go Platinum.
After a lifetime of missing the spot, he finally topped the Billboard 200 with his 2003 release Dance with My Father. It too is certified Double Platinum.
6. R. Kelly
R. Kelly may be a controversial individual and a terrible person but he was a great singer. Kelly ruled the 90s with his amazing voice and hit-making status.
Despite his many illnesses, Kelly has sold over 75 million records globally and won three Grammy Awards. At one point in time, people called him either the King of R&B or the Pied Piper of R&B.
He has released over 18 studio albums throughout his career, starting with 1992's Born into the '90s, which peaked at #42 in the Billboard 200 but achieved Platinum status. His next album, 1993's 12 Play reached #2, and the self-titled record after that finally topped the charts.
The singer would release 12 more albums that would finish somewhere in the Top 5 of the Billboard charts. However, given his legal circumstances, he won't be releasing music any time soon.
Ginuwine is an iconic black singer from the 90s. Born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, he is best known for his song, Pony, and has sold over 21 million albums in the US.
Over the course of his career, which started in 1996, he has released over 8 studio albums, beginning with his debut Ginuwine...the Bachelor. It peaked at #26 on the Billboard 200 and sold 2 million copies.
His next album, 1996's 100% Ginuwine would continue that success by peaking at #5 and selling 2 million again. His third album 2001's The Life would go even higher, peaking at #3, and selling over 1.3 million.
He would release 5 more albums that would gradually slip down, chart and saleswise, but the singer's unique voice and style has guaranteed him a lasting legacy.
Prince was one of the most influential and beloved musical acts of the 1980s. He is dearly missed, with even his posthumous releases gaining traction.
The singer released 42 studio albums from 1978 to 2015, a year before his passing, with all but six of them charting somewhere on the Billboard 200 charts.
He has over 12 Platinum albums in his discography, with his most successful record being 1984's Purple Rain, which is certified 13x Platinum by the RIAA.
Prince was also a very popular singles artist as he had over 47 songs charted on the Hot 100, with 19 of them being Top 10 hits, and 5 within them peaking the charts at #1. Overall, the singer was a force of nature who provided critically and commercially successful records throughout his life.
3. Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie was one of the most beloved black male singers in the 80s. Lionel has continued to be just that over multiple decades into his career.
Starting out his career as the vocalist of the popular funk band, The Commodores, Richie struck out on a solo career in the early 1980s and has released over 10 studio albums. His first, a self-titled record, peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200.
His next two records would not only top the charts but be certified Diamond and 4x Platinum respectively. The singer's next six records would fail to match that success.
However, in 2012, decades after his perceived commercial peak, the singer released his tenth studio album, Tuskegee, which not only topped the charts but also went platinum, a feat much more difficult now than it was in the 80s.
As one of the hottest black male singers in the 90s Usher came out the gate swinging. At just 16 years old, he released his first self-titled album.
Though it only peaked at #167 on the Billboard 200, it did manage to go gold, and Usher's second record, 1997's My Way, peaked at #4 and was certified 7x Platinum.
The singer would finally top the charts with 2004's Confessions, which also went Diamond in the US and multi-platinum in various countries. Since then, all but his most recent project peaked on the Billboard charts.
Regardless of the failure of his most recent release, 2016's Hard II Love, Usher has still sold over 100 millions globally, and is one of the highest selling singers of all time.
1. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is the King of Pop. Michael is arguably the most famous black male singer of all time.
Once a member of the successful Jackson Family, as a solo artist, he released 10 studio albums, beginning with 1972's Got to Be There which reached #14 on the Billboard 200 and sold 1.5 million globally.
His albums started charting lower and lower over the next three albums until 1979's Off the Wall which made it to the Top 3 and was certified 9x Platinum. However, it would be 1982's Thriller that would make him a star as it went 3x Diamond and peaked at the charts of countless countries.
After that, every single album he released would not only peak at the charts but sell multiple millions of records. Commercially, critically, and by any metric where one can measure success, Michael Jackson did it all and is remembered as such.
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