It’s not like we need a reminder to celebrate Black music, but we’ll never pass up the opportunity to uplift the entertainers and bodies of work that have shaped our culture. Black Music Month is upon us and we’re celebrating by getting our nostalgic fix by looking back at these classic Black albums released in 2002 that turn (or turned) 20 this year.
2002 was an influential year for music. Ashanti released her record-breaking self-titled debut album breaking the record for the biggest first-week sales for a debut woman artist at the time. B2k brought back the Black boy band with their eponymous debut album that peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and number one in the hearts of teen girls everywhere. Amerie had the summer on lock with her infectious and feel-good hit Why Don’t We Fall In Love. 20 years later, we’re still singing along to songs that have transcended time.
Music has unified our people since the days of Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker, and beyond. Decades later, we have several artists that nostalgically bring us back to those moments on the stoop, where our favorite songs blasted from a boom box.
From Ashanti to Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse, these classic albums became the love language of our generation. In honor of Black music, we wanted to round up a few of our favorite records turning 20 this year. Let’s just say the nostalgia is real. Since we’re happily celebrating Black music month, we’re taking a look back at the albums turning 20 that shaped us.
I spent most of my middle school career singing Ashanti’s debut album like I wrote the lyrics myself. The Murder Inc Princess had us deep-sea diving in our feelings like never before. It was such a bop that she won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album and a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album by a female. She paid homage to the classic album two decades later by recreating the cover and dropped an NFT collection with web3 tech company, EQ Exchange.
B2K, also known as the Boys of the New Millennium, had the tightest chokehold on the radio from 2002 to 2008. The boy band comprised of Lil’ Fizz, J-Boog, Raz-B, and Omarion was plastered on every young girl’s wall due to their charismatic and romantic vibe. They released two albums in 2002, B2K and Pandemonium – both were *chef’s kiss*! From “Gots Ta Be” to “Bump, Bump, Bump,” these boys brought back the same feeling I am sure my mom felt when she heard New Edition.
3. Voyage to IndiaSource:Getty
Since India Arie broke into the music industry, she has sold over 10 million records worldwide. Voyage to India sold 9,000 copies in its first week and went on to win a Grammy for Best R&B Album, and the single “Little Things” won Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Not to mention, my absolute favorite song, “Get It Together,” lit up the big screen in the classic Black film, Brown Sugar.
4. Under ConstructionSource:Getty
MTV and BET couldn’t get enough of Missy’s fourth studio album. This was when music videos reigned supreme, and Missy Elliott’s visual creations were top tier. Of course, Timbaland graced the record with his producer magic of songs like “Work It” and “Gossip Folks.” Between his heart-jumping beats and Missy’s unmatched hip-hop style, it’s no surprise that this album went double platinum.
Keeping with the hip-hop greats, Nelly gave us STL grandeur when he released Nellyville in June 2002. It was “Hot in Herre” everywhere you went, and we all had a “Dilemma” with Kelly Rowland. We also wanted more “Pimp Juice” in our “Air Force Ones.” The St. Louis artist had some type of magic in that band-aid that caused him to make hit after hit.
6. Full MoonSource:Getty
Brandy is the vocal bible, period. Billboard proclaims that “when Brandy released her Full Moon album in March 2002, something shifted creatively.” We can’t help but agree because it’s the range, tone, and transformation for us. She took to Instagram to celebrate with her fans, saying, “Happy 20th Anniversary to my third life-changing album #FullMoon. Like the phases of the moon, I have evolved, and want to share this magical year with all of you! #TheYearOfFullMoon20. Stay tuned for new performances, new vocals, new visuals as we celebrate A #NewMoon #TheYearOfFullMoon20.”
BET named Floetry one of the top R&B girl groups, and they aren’t wrong. The English duo, Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart, were brought together in 1997 over their affinity for poetry. They found a way to combine R&B and spoken word in ways we never imagined. Their debut album, Floetic, was deemed certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
8. The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The CurseSource:Getty
It ain’t a list without The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. It’s hard to believe that this was his seventh studio album because he came with the same grit as he did on his debut album, Reasonable Doubt. The album produced anthems like “Excuse Me Miss” and “’03 Bonnie & Clyde.” The Brooklyn rapper showed us a different side of his lyricism, and we are forever grateful. The double album amassing 25 songs, debuted at number one with over 500,000 units sold in the first week.
9. Life Goes OnSource:Getty
Donnell Jones doesn’t receive his due credit for all he’s done for R&B, so we are here to give him his flowers. After releasing “Where I Wanna Be,” the songwriter and producer delivered more heartfelt ballads and hip-hop medleys perfect for the club, car, and backyard parties. Jones’ third studio album reached No. three on the Billboard 200, and best of all, it was featured in every Black girl’s favorite movie, Love & Basketball. Thank you, Donnell Jones, for being all we needed on the music waves!
10. All I HaveSource:Getty
*screams at the top of my lungs* “So many things I’m goin’ through! So much that I wanna do!”
Listen, Amerie has been that girl. In under three minutes, the songbird gave us the summer anthem for decades with “Why Don’t We Fall in Love.” Amerie told Mic, “When I was recording the song, it felt — whenever I’m singing or creating music, I see little images or colors. So to me, that song is dark red and black. It’s interesting that it’s become the summer anthem because it was so dark to me at the time. But then later, I could see why it felt so summery.”