The Best Progressive R&B Album award is often mistaken for the Best R&B Album award. However, the difference lies in the music composition of the projects. Furthermore, according to the Grammys, the category is "intended to highlight albums that include the more progressive elements of R&B and may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance, and electronic music." As such, the nominees for the 2024 Grammys are a genre-blend of interesting sounds.
Five albums are up for the prestigious award. These projects have been noted for their immersion in a plethora of elements. For example, Janelle Monáe's stellar album The Age Of Pleasure, is a blend of Afrobeats, dance, R&B, Reggae, and soul. Similarly, the rest of the nominees have ventured past traditional R&B, adopting multiple styles in their sound. Steve Lacy's debut album, Gemini Rights, received the award in 2022. In any case, here are the projects that are up for the Best Progressive Album award at the upcoming 2024 Grammys.
SOS - SZA
While Ctrl was a masterful display of R&B and soul, SZA took things up a notch with SOS. The critically acclaimed album is a sleek blend of R&B, hip-hop, soul, and pop elements. Moreover, she got a lot more experimental than in her previous works. As such, it's no surprise that it's been nominated in this category for the upcoming 2024 Grammys.
Upon its release, SOS received overwhelming positive reviews. In addition, it has also been one of the most successful albums of the 2020s decade, regardless of genre. It is currently the longest-running number-one female album of the decade. It spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard 200. Moreover, it broke the record for the largest streaming week for an R&B album in the US. SOS also features a wide variety of artists, including Travis Scott, Don Toliver, and indie singer, Phoebe Bridgers. The latter collaboration with Bridgers earned a nod for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Finally, the late Hip Hop icon, Ol' Dirty Bastard also makes a posthumous appearance on the album.
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The Age Of Pleasure - Janelle Monáe
For her fourth studio album, Janelle Monáe continued her usual infusion of multiple genres. However, in The Age of Pleasure, she took a phenomenal leap into the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean, particularly Afrobeat and Reggae. The album's opening line, "No I'm not the same ni**a... I think I done changed," is a testament to Monáe's personal and artistic evolution. What resulted from this positive experimentation is a sensual, joyful, distinctly Black musical experience.
Even the features on the album are stellar and perfectly suited to the album's overall vibe. Nigerian Afrobeat star Seun Kuti and his band, Egypt 80, appear on two tracks. Afro-Fusion acts like CKay and the brilliant Ghanaian artist Amaarae also appear on the project. Rounding out the features are Doechii, Grace Jones, Nia Long, and the Jamaican powerhouse, Sister Nancy. In summary, The Age of Pleasure is an eclectic mix of multiple genres. It is an even further extension of Monàe's versatility.
Since I Have A Lover - 6lack
Released on March 24, 2023, Since I Have A Lover is 6lack's third studio album. While the project was not as commercially successful as his earlier offerings, it is undoubtedly still a strong entry in his catalog. For one thing, 6lack explores uncharted territories on this album, and his experimentation sounds almost entirely seamless. Additionally, the guest appearances are intentional and curated excellently. For example, Don Toliver was a necessary addition to "Temporary," a standout track from the album. The other two guest verses from QUIN and Wale are equally as fitting for their respective tracks.
For most of Since I Have A Lover, 6lack is a lone wolf and goes at it alone. However, it's never monotonous, and he delivers a healthy dose of vocal dexterity on each track, effortlessly blending contemporary R&B and pop. The album also features impressive production from Leon Thomas III, Sounwave, Fwdslxsh, Psymun, and Dylan Wiggins, among others. A win for Since I Have A Lover at the 2024 Grammys would be 6lack's first.
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The Love Album: Off the Grid - Diddy
In the music industry, collaborations can be hit-or-miss, so one has to be very careful with their ambition. However, sometimes, an artist throws caution to the wind and goes all out to achieve their ambitious goals. With The Love Album, that's exactly what Diddy did. Arguably the most ambitious project on this list, each of its 24 tracks features one or more artists.
Guest verses from R&B's finest litter the entire album, making it a truly spectacular sonic experience. H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Mary J. Blige, and Swae Lee among many others, appear on the album. Despite its lengthy runtime, The Love Album is anything but boring. In fact, as a result of its masterful curation and sonic excellence, some would argue that the album is not long enough. In conclusion, The Love Album is an outstanding project that exemplifies progressive R&B music.
Nova - Terrace Martin & James Fauntleroy
This 6-track project is a jazz-infused R&B showpiece. Released on August 25, 2023, Nova is a very successful collaboration from two outstanding musicians. Whether or not Martin and Fauntleroy created the album with the Grammys in mind, it certainly deserves the nomination for the 2024 ceremony. Nova is not as popular or commercially successful as other entries on this list. However, it has earned its place on this lineup because of its sheer R&B brilliance.
Furthermore, the album features renowned musician Robert Glasper on "Witchcraft." In addition, six-time Grammy nominee, Chief Adjuah, appears on "Like It Like That," and "Chocolate for Dinner." Production on Nova was entirely handled by Martin and Fauntleroy as well. Without a doubt, it is one of the strongest contenders in this category. Overall, the album, just like the others, has a good chance of winning at the 2024 Grammys.
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