R&B in 2015, By The Numbers (So Far)  


Miguel, Wildheart © RCA

R&B is not dead. Yes, the topic of the ‘impact’ of R&B as a major player has been questioned and argued often on brentmusicreviews.com – maybe too much. But, R&B is ailing commercially. Part of the fuel for the argument against R&B’s role as a major player is how poorly the genre is performing on the Billboard 200. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been high-charting albums, but the impact is small and the staying power nonexistent. Here are the BIG R&B albums that have dropped in 2015 (so far) and how they performed their first week on the Billboard 200 in units and pure sales.

1) Mark Ronson, Uptown Special (RCA, 1/13/15)

Mark Ronson, Uptown Special © RCA

Is Mark Ronson’s Uptown Special a pop album or a R&B album – that’s the debate. What’s not debatable is the soulfulness of the music and the prevalence of neo-funk. The R&B industry should be ‘claiming’ the album as Uptown Special has outperformed everybody else. It debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, but moved 77,000 units.

2) Chris Brown & Tyga, Fan Of A Fan The Album (RCA, 2/24/15)

Chris Brown & Tyga, Fan of a Fan the Album © RCA/ Cash Money

Chris Brown is typically good for a six-figure start, but that wasn’t the case on the joint R&B/hip-hop album with Tyga. Fan Of A Fan The Album debuted in seventh place on the big board, moving 67,000 units. In regards to actual sales, well, the album sold just 51,000 copies. Still, that’s better than the majority of R&B albums released in 2015.

3) Ne-Yo, Non-Fiction (Motown, 1/27/15)

Ne-Yo, Nonfiction © Motown

Few will deny that Ne-Yo isn’t nearly as popular as he once was. Few might also deny the fact that “old Ne-Yo” truly does eclipse “new Ne-Yo.” Regardless, Non-Fiction had one of R&B’s more respectable debuts in 2015, landing at #5 and moving 59,000 units. Of those, Billboard stated 82% percent were pure sales, selling whereabouts of 49,000 copies. Still, 49,000 copies is down from the 66,000 Ne-Yo’s previous album, R.E.D. sold.

4) Miguel, Wildheart (RCA, 6/29/15)

Miguel, Wildheart © RCA

Not even Miguel seems to have the support to give R&B a big hit in 2015. Wildheart debuted at #2 #3 which is a pro, but only impacted to the tune of 48,000 units, with ~85% (41,000) of those being pure sales 65,000 units. Miguel had more support around the time that Kaleidoscope Dream bowed in 2012, debuting at #3, but selling 71,000 copies. Of course at that time, single “Adorn” was a hot commodity, while “Coffee” has had a lukewarm reception on the pop charts. (Note: The red figures indicate what was originally reported by Billboard. Given a new global music release day and adjustments to the charts, Miguel’s peak position change from #2 to #3, while his numbers increased from 48K to 65K.)

5) Leon Bridges, Coming Home (Columbia, 6/23/15)

Leon Bridges, Coming Home © Columbia

A newbie does respectably in R&B in 2015 – contextually speaking? As hard as it is to believe, 25-year old Leon Bridges’ debut album Coming Home debuted respectably at #6 to the tune of 42,000 units.

6) Jamie Foxx, Hollywood: Story Of A Dozen Roses (RCA, 5/15/15)

Jamie Foxx, Hollywood- A Story Of A Dozen Roses © RCA

Ah, Hollywood: Story Of A Dozen Roses, the album Jamie Foxx should be asking himself, ‘why did I bother?’ He did bother, and Hollywood debuted mediocrely on the Billboard 200 at #10 impacting to the tune of 36,000 units while ultimately selling 31,000 copies. Foxx’s album exemplifies “no ceilings” for the simple fact that this album was flop before it even charted – just saying!

7) Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show (RCA, 1/13/15)

Jazmine Sullivan, Reality Show © RCA

It is unfortunate that big-time success has eluded Jazmine Sullivan. Sullivan’s critically lauded third album, Reality Show, debuted at #12 on the Billboard 200, selling 29,000 copies. Think about all of the people in the United States, and then think how small a percentage the 29,000 people who bought Reality Show make up.

8) Snoop Dogg, Bush (Columbia, May 8, 2015)

Snoop Dogg, BUSH © Columbia

Why is Snoop Dogg on the R&B list? Because Bush is a funk or neo-funk album and Snoop Dogg does his fair share of singing. Like the majority of this list, Snoop Dogg’s commercial performance was so-so. Bush landed at #14 and sold 27,000 copies. He did earn a #1 R&B album out of it.

 9) Jason Derulo, Everything Is 4 (Warner Bros, 6/2/15)

Jason Derulo, Everything Is 4 © Warner Bros

You can have the debate all the day long whether Jason Derulo should be considered a solely a pop artist or part of the R&B fold, but this post includes Derulo – there’s some ‘urban-ness’ there. Derulo’s latest album debuted at #4, but only impacted to the tune of 37,000 units. Worse yet is actual sales – Everything Is 4 lassoed in a tepid 22,000 copies.

10) Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie (RCA, 1/27/15)

Charlie Wilson, Forever Charlie © RCA

Charlie Wilson’s latest solo album came out the same day as Ne-Yo’s Non-Fiction. Though a big commercial performance wasn’t expected out of the 62-year old veteran musician, Forever Charlie did see less support than Wilson’s previous solo efforts. It moved a modest 25,000 units (most of which were pure sales) , enough to give it a #17 bow on the Billboard 200. The set fared better on the top R&B/Hip-Hop albums charts, debuting in the runner-up spot behind Ne-Yo.

11) Ciara, Jackie (Epic, 5/1/15)

Ciara, Jackie © Epic

Let’s keep it 100 – Ciara laid a complete egg with Jackie. Critics panned the album and the sales are nothing short of abysmal. In overall impact, Jackie mustered up 25,000 units, while in pure sales she just missed the 20,000 copies mark. Jackie is definitely the flop of flops, particularly considering Ciara remains a major label artist.

12) Tamia, Love Life (Def Jam, 6/9/15)

Tamia, Love Life © Def Jam

Tamia returned to a major label for the first time in more than a decade. Little was expected of the album, and predictably, Love Life didn’t light the charts on fire. Love Life sold 16,000 copies, debuting at #27 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the R&B/Hip Hop Albums, and #1 on the R&B albums chart.

13) Raheem DeVaughn, Love Sex Passion (eOne, 2/17/15)

Raheem Devaughn, Love Sex Passion © Entertainment One

Raheem DeVaughn is an indie R&B artist, so gargantuan sales aren’t expected from him. He’s got an old school, traditional R&B appeal and likely by the younger generation is considered ‘old fashioned.’ But this isn’t about making excuse for DeVaughn’s small sales; it’s just about crunching those numbers! Love Sex Passion debuted at #31 on the Billboard 200, selling 13,000 copies. Again, his bread was buttered on the R&B Albums, where he scored the top R&B album the week he debuted.

Other R&B albums from 2015 include Estelle’s True Romance, Mariah Carey’s greatest hits compilation #1 To Infinity, Lyfe Jennings’ Tree of Lyfe, and Elijah Blake’s Shadows & Diamonds.



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