2023 Toronto International Jazz Festival

Source: Jeremychanphotography / Getty

Some years, it seems like great music is just at a premium. Take 2022 for example. Last year, we got albums from heavyweights such as Beyoncé (Renaissance), Kendrick Lamar (Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers), Drake (Honestly, Nevermind AND Her Loss), SZA (SOS), Summer Walker (Still Over It) and Future (I NEVER LIKED YOU). When we look back at 2022 in 20 years, it’ll be hard not to note it as a standout year for music, with numerous potential classics.

This year, we’ve gotten a bevy of high quality albums, especially in the R&B space. These include Diddy’s The Love Album: Off The Grid, Janelle Monae’s The Age of Pleasure, Victoria Monet’s Jaguar II, Don Toliver’s Love Sick, Coco Jones’ What I Didn’t Tell You (Deluxe) and many more. An album standing the test of time is not only an indication of how timeless the project is but also how the artist knew their audience and the climate of music. With so many great bodies of work that we expect to age gracefully being released this year, we thought it might be a good idea to rewind 20 years to highlight some albums that fit the same bill.

In 2003, the climate of music was definitely different. People worldwide were still going to stores and buying their favorite artist’s CDs. Album sales seemed to mean a bit more since everything was organic and there wasn’t a real way to “juice the numbers.” One thing that’s still the same as back then though is how great music will always live on and be remembered. We got a bevy of music that fit that bill 20 years ago. While Jay-Z, 50 Cent, DMX, Ludacris and Outkast all had extremely great years, the R&B artists also made huge waves with their albums. We got the debut solo album from one of the biggest artists of all-time(Beyoncé), some established veterans showing why they are who they are in the game (Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu) and some crooners making baby making classics (Jagged Edge and Joe). The music was so good that some of the albums released that year are still heavily in people’s rotations to this day. Some of the albums rank very highly among the artist’s discography. No matter where they rank, no one can argue how classic they are. To recognize the greatness of these projects, enjoy a gallery of R&B albums that turn 20 years old this year. Let us know which albums are your favorites and if you think we missed any!

1. Beyonce – Dangerously In Love


Release Date: June 20, 2003

Singles: Crazy In Love; Baby Boy; Me, Myself and I; Naughty Girl, The Closer I Get To You

First Week Sales: 317,000 

2. Mary J. Blige – Love & Life

Source:Mary J Blige

Release Date: August 26, 2003

Singles: Love @ 1st Sight; Ooh!; Not Today; Whenever I Say Your Name; It’s a Wrap

First Week Sales: 285,298

3. Mya – Moodring


Release Date: June 26, 2003

Singles: My Love Is Like…Wo; Fallen 

First Week Sales: 113,000

4. Monica – After the Storm


Release Date: June 17, 2003

Singles: So Gone; Knock Knock/Get It Off; U Should’ve Known Better

First Week Sales: 185,500

5. Ashanti – Chapter II


Release Date: July 1, 2003

Singles: Rock Wit U(Awww Baby); Rain on Me; Breakup 2 Makeup

First Week Sales: 326,000

6. Kelis – Tasty


Release Date: December 5, 2003

Singles: Milkshake; Trick Me; Millionaire; In Public 

First Week Sales: 93,600

7. Erykah Badu – Worldwide Underground

Source:Erykah Badu

Release Date: September 16, 2003

Singles: Danger; Back in the Day (Puff)

First Week Sales: 143,561

8. Alicia Keys – The Diary of Alicia Keys

Source:Alicia Keys

Release Date: December 2, 2003

Singles: You Don’t Know My Name; If I Ain’t Got You; Diary; Karma

First Week Sales: 618,000

9. Macy Gray – The Problem with Being Myself

Source:Macy Gray

Release Date: April 28, 2003

Singles: When I See You

First Week Sales: N/A

10. Joe – And Then…


Release Date: December 2, 2oo3

Singles: More & More; Ride wit U; Priceless

First Week Sales: 121,000

11. Avant – Private Room


Release Date: December 9, 2003

Singles: Read Your Mind; Don’t Take Your Love Away; Wanna Be Close 

First Week Sales: N/A

12. Jagged Edge – Hard


Release Date: October 14, 2003

Singles: Walked Outta Heaven; What’s It Like

First Week Sales: 178,000

13. Musiq Soulchild – Soulstar


Release Date: December 9, 2003

Singles: N/A

First Week Sales: N/A

14. Anthony Hamilton – Comin’ Where I’m From

Source:Anthony Hamilton Official

Release Date: September 23, 2003

Singles: Comin’ Where I’m From; Charlene

First Week Sales: 33,000

15. Blackstreet – Level II

Source:Diana Hofman

Release Date: March 11, 2003

Singles: Deep; Wizzy Wow

First Week Sales: N/A

16. Blu Cantrell – Bittersweet

Source:Jaheim Hines

Release Date: June 24, 2003

Singles: Breathe; Make Me Wanna Scream 

First Week Sales: 29,000