If you are reading this, there’s probably a better than 50 percent chance—and probably closer to 75 or 80 percent, really—that you were one of the, apparently, 8 trillion (Swizz’s math might be a little hyperbolic) people who tuned into the Jill Scott versus Erykah Badu Verzuz on Instagram Live on Saturday evening. Topping out at about 730K simultaneous viewers (if memory serves correct), the show was an awesome display of music, appreciation, respect and admiration. Also, this wasn’t really a battle per se. I have no idea if anybody was truly keeping score so much as waiting for the playlist from the evening to drop after it was all said and done. This was especially true for the Jill Scott jams she pulled out that I’d forgotten about, like “Calls” from The Robert Glasper Experiment’s Black Radio 2 record. Good lawd, is that record a mood. Her selections also made me revisit her 2015 album, Woman.
Of course, Erykah played all of her banging-est Erykah jams and we were even treated to the first few minutes of Mama’s Gun standout, “Green Eyes.” The night was almost good enough to make me cop an $80 hoodie in celebration of the event from Erykah Badu’s merch market, Badu World Market. Who am I kidding? I totally bought a hoodie...in May. I enjoyed the shit out of the whole thing. After it was over, I decided to revisit both of the albums that truly hit me the hardest from their collections: Erykah’s Mama’s Gun, an actual perfect album (which will be revisited later) and Jill’s Who Is Jill Scott?: Words & Sounds, Vol. 1. I have such fond and vivid memories of both of those albums and specific records from them, probably because they were both released while I was in college where so many memories end up being tied to music. But one thing stood out: They were both released in 2000.
These two landmark albums, especially in the soul (and whatever burgeoning category folks were trying to create to separate them from the Jagged Edges of the world; I will not be making such a distinction) genre, came out in August and November of that year, which makes 2000 already one of the best years for soul (it was also no slouch for hip-hop releases). But it made me wonder what else came out that year given that my college years were chock full of great album releases. As it turns out, what a year it was!
Here are six more impactful releases in 2000 that pretty much make that year one of the greatest black music album release years of all time.
J.E. Heartbreak, Jagged Edge
Love or hate Jagged Edge, this was that album that had the smoothed out jams with four top 20 singles. Plus, it’s Jagged Edge and we all know they’re one of the greatest singing groups of all time. The album had “Let’s Get Married,” and “He Can’t Love U,” (which is true). It’s a good album and a game changer and honestly, this is the album that truly revolutionized R&B music if we’re being honest. You know what, let’s just move on.
Actual game changer. Can I level with you? I was always more of a Brown Sugar fellow than a Voodoo chap. Sort of like being a Good Kid, M.A.A.D City guy over a To Pimp a Butterfly gentleman. I recognize that they’re all good, but some I’ve just liked more than others. But the more I’ve listened to Voodoo, the more I appreciate it as the masterpiece it is. Point is, it came out in 2000, too and it caught a lot of us by surprise.
Emotional, Carl Thomas
One of the biggest arguments I’ve ever gotten into with a person I didn’t know (at the time) was about Carl Thomas and his ability to sing. That Times Square Applebee’s got quite the laugh out of that convo. Be that as it may, this album still had the jams on it and the title track, “Emotional,” is probably the real birth of today’s R&B. Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity” was a decade ahead of its time. Carl Thomas made sure to not only stick the landing, but he also clapped when he landed.
Aijuswannaseing, Musiq (Soulchild)
I think he’s just Musiq now. Either way, when “Just Friends(Sunny)” landed, Musiq kicked off a whole genre of situationship jams wrapped up in funky dressing so it sounded like chicken soup for the soul. This album had banger after banger on it though. “Girl Next Door,” struggle vocal anthem “Love,” “Mary Go Round,” and his rendition of “Settle for My Love.” True story, the whole late ’90s early ’00s Philly wave had me feeling like I needed to move to the City of Brotherly Love.
Lovers Rock, Sade
I mean, it was Sade’s first album since 1992’s Love Deluxe so you know the streets were waiting. And by streets, I mean open mics and incense enclaves like Little Five Points in Atlanta. I still bump “King of Sorrow,” because that joint jams. Honestly, I can’t remember what the whole album sounds like off the top, but I do remember how excited everybody was for this album to drop. And I mean, Sade.
Lucy Pearl, Lucy Pearl
We already covered this here.