It’s been some time since we gave you a throwback in years for you. This time it’s back to the year of 1998. It was a year that was wonderful for Hip-Hop and R&B and you’ll see why after going through this post. In 1998, we had loads of debut releases including Destiny’s Child, DMX and more. We also had big contributions from R. Kelly and R&B classics that still live on. So I shall say no more…1998!
R. Kelly – When A Woman’s Fed Up
Well it would be wrong to kick this off with anyone but R. Kelly. 1998 was a great year for the R&B star where he released his double disc album R.. The album came of the back of the classic I Believe I Can Fly but R. Kelly’s habit of coming up with classic didn’t stop there. From the album R., he had the track When A Woman’s Fed Up where he talks about his women problems over a fantastically produced R&B beat. This is personally one of my favourite R. Kelly tracks and with his discography, that’s saying a lot.
R. Kelly – Did You Ever Think (feat. Nas)
But let’s not stop there with Kells. Another stand out that track came from the R. album was Did You Ever Think. After the release of the album, Nas jumped on the track for a remix where they both talk about how went from rag to riches, demonstrated by the video. The two came together to create a great, great track from 1998 and credit also has to go to Trackmasters for the production of the beat.
Destiny’s Child – No, No, No (Part 1)
1998 saw the emergence of Destiny’s Child and their debut track No, No, No – this track being Part 1 if we’re being specific (the better version). The slow jam track shot Destiny’s Child to stardom and also contributed to a platinum selling album. This was just the beginning of a top drawer discography from the girl band, even with a line-up change. Lovely debut track here.
Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right But It’s Okay
In 1998, the legend Whitney Houston made her comeback with her My Love Is Your Love album, 8 years after her last. On the album, she had Babyface and Darkchild have a heavy hand in the music that came from it. What came from this was It’s Not Right But It’s Okay which had the distinctive R&B Darkchild sound that you couldn’t get enough of. Most definitely one of the stand out tracks of 1998. Let’s also not forget some of the other tracks that were on the album such as My Love Is Your Love itself, Heartbreak Hotel, the duet When You Believe w/ Mariah Carey and many more.
Sparkle – Be Careful (feat. R. Kelly)
As we’ve seen so far, R. Kelly had featured heavily during the year of 1998. Not only did he write and produce his own music, he also done the same for others. An example of this is the massive hit Be Careful by his protégé Sparkle. Be Careful was the lead single from her self-titled album which eventually went on to be certified platinum. For me, this is one of my favourite R&B tracks from this era and there’s no surprise that the track was played over 40 million times on US radio, 5 weeks after its release.
BlackStar – Definition
Another emergence in 1998 was the Hip-Hop duo BlackStar, made up Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli. Their album BlackStar was an album that put both artists on the map. The album was well received as it came of a time where gangster rap was branded as “negative” and BlackStar was an album very far from gangster rap. It was more back to the classic era of rap from the 80’s. The most popular and stand out track from the album was Definition. A real feel good song, with both Most Def and Talib Kweli showing their lyrical prowess – something they continued to showcase with their following solo albums.
Lauryn Hill – Doo-Wop (That Thing)
Not many would disagree with you for saying that the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the album of 1998. It’s an album that has gone down a classic and still lives on. One of music’s travesties is that we never got another album from L. Boogie. Nonetheless that takes nothing away from her as an artist. Miseducation was an album full of amazing tracks and any track from the album could have featured in this post. One of the most well-known tracks was Doo-Wop (That Thing) and no more needs to be said about the tune. One of 1998’s and music’s true, true gems.
Kelly Price – Friend of Mine (feat. R. Kelly & Ronald Isley)
Soul-singer Kelly Price emerged on the music scene in 1998 with her huge track Friend of Mine. Again, helped by R. Kelly with production and song writing, the track went to the top of US music charts. Nonetheless, what emerged was a remix that would give the original a run for its money. The remix included features from R. Kelly himself as well as Ronald Isley, and what they added to song was nothing short of genius. Both tracks are fantastic tracks, but the remix just edges it for me.
Jay Z – Money, Cash, Hoes (feat. DMX)
In the golden year of 1998, we saw Jay Z release his most commercially successful album Vol 2… Hard Knock Life. We also saw DMX release two albums that year that ended up 7x platinum combined. Two rappers that dominated Hip-Hop in 1998 came together for the track Money, Cash, Hoes produced by none other than Ruff Ryder’s very own Swizz Beatz. It was a beat that suited both rappers despite having very different styles and putting these on a track was a no brainer. It has been left to wonder why DMX’s verse was taken off the track and replaced with Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel – nonetheless the original is still very much worthy of being on this list.
Busta Rhymes – What’s It Gonna Be? (feat. Janet Jackson)
Let me not lie, I forgot about this track and I honestly don’t know how. Again, we saw another album release held in high regard in 1998 and that was Busta Rhymes’ E.L.E album. It featured tracks such as Gimme Some More and Everybody Rise. However, what was also on the album was a smooth collaboration with Busta and Janet Jackson on one track. Janet’s contribution on this track was a large factor of why the track made it to the list. Can’t mention the video which had a very futuristic element to it and is no surprise it is one of the most expensive music videos to this day. Once again, another gem from 1998.
Brandy – Have You Ever
Brandy once had the most angelic voice and this was evident to see through her album release Never Say Never in 1998. There were a number of tracks on the album that could have made the post such as Top of the World, The Boy Is Mine, Never Say Never. I actually was going to go with Almost Doesn’t Count but went with Have You Ever because of the beautiful, thought provoking lyrics. Don’t listen to the track alone and late at night lol. But it’s of no surprise that Darkchild had a large contribution to this album. He was literally everywhere during this era and the Brandy and Darkchild collaboration is one that produced some amazing music.
DMX – Ruff Ryders’ Anthem
As mentioned earlier, DMX was at the forefront of the rap game in 1998 and released two albums that year, both of which were critically acclaimed. His debut album It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot went 4x platinum and included tracks like Ruff Ryders’ Anthem. I’ve personally been in a club and gone crazy when this has dropped and I can only imagine what the club would have been like when this was first released. DMX put himself on the map with this track and his ‘idgaf’ attitude shone through which you can’t help but like.
Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody?
It wouldn’t be right to have an R&B/Hip-Hop post and not have Aaliyah and Timbaland featured in it somehow. This time it’s the track Are You That Somebody and it probably one of Timbo’s most impressive beats. The track was used on the soundtrack of Dr. Dolittle during in 1998. Aaliyah has a haul of bangers and Are You That Somebody is categorically one of her best. Take the time to have another listen and appreciate this classic!
The LOX – Money, Power, Respect (feat. Lil Kim & DMX)
Yet another debut we saw from 1998 was the Hip-Hop trio The LOX. The trio had been around prior to their release with features such as Last Day on Life After Death, I Got The Power on (then) Puff Daddy’s No Way Out album and more. With these features, they had built up anticipation for their album to be released on the Bad Boy label that had an impressive roster at the time. The LOX had created a 21 track album and one of the stand out tracks was the actual song Money, Power & Respect. Of course, there was feature from DMX and Bad Boy’s female rap star Lil’ Kim. A collaboration of this calibre makes it no surprise to what success came from this raw track.
Monica – Angel of Mine
Off the back of her successful debut release Miss Thang in 1995, Monica came back in 1998 with her second album The Boy Is Mine. Her debut album would take some beating considering the tracks it had like Before You Walk Out My Life and Don’t Take It Personal. However, her sophomore had tracks of the same (if not better) quality. Let’s not forget the collaboration with Brandy, The Boy Is Mine which also featured on her Never Say Never album. But one of the standout tracks on Monica’s second album was Angel of Mine. It was a track that was certified platinum and reached the top of the US charts. It’s also no surprise that it was a track that was produced the ever present Darkchild. Beautiful lyrics and a beautiful song.