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Spotify CLASSICS: The 100 Greatest R&B Songs of the Streaming Era


In February, we launched Spotify CLASSICS, our first-ever program to celebrate catalog music. Our inaugural list focused on the Classic Hip-Hop and R&B Albums of the Streaming Era and featured timeless bodies of work like Beyonc 's Lemonade, Frank Ocean's Blonde, SZA's Ctrl, Rihanna's ANTI, and Jazmine Sullivan's Heaux Tales, to name a few.

Today we're unveiling the second chapter of our CLASSICS program: The 100 Greatest R&B Songs of the Streaming Era. Spotify defines the Streaming Era as a timeframe that spans 2015 until present day.

R&B went through an identity crisis during the first half of the 2010s, but the genre found its footing during the streaming era. R&B morphed into a style of music that absorbed hip-hop, pop, Afrobeats, electronic, alternative, and indie into its sound, breathing new life into the genre.

Spotify's U.S. editorial team-along with Carl Chery, Creative Director, Head of Urban Music at Spotify-has taken on the ambitious task of corralling all shades of R&B under one umbrella, and in the end, this list offers a snapshot of all the genre has offered in the streaming era. Based on criteria such as quality, impact, replay value, influence, and cultural significance, Spotify CLASSICS is 100% qualitative. The program is driven by our editors' music and cultural expertise-and not by data-meaning that massive streaming numbers were not a requirement for the 100 songs you see below.

Note: All songs were released on Spotify after January 1, 2015. The Spotify streams are current as of April 8, 2024.

100. Mahalia ft. Ella Mai What You Did 5K/Sony, 2019

Spotify Streams: 119,207,837

Fun Fact: The song samples Rose Royce's I'm Going Down. Mary J. Blige and Cam'ron previously sampled the song. Cam'ron appears on the remix to What You Did.

99. Libianca People 5K/Sony, 2022

Spotify Streams: 599,870,162

Fun Fact: Jakarta, India, is the top city listening to People on Spotify.

98. Lucky Daye ft. Alex Isley, Masego & Jack Dine Good & Plenty (Remix) Isley & Dine, 2021

Spotify Streams: 51,032,263

Fun Fact: Joey Badass sampled Good & Plenty on his song Passports & Suitcases.

97. PJ Morton ft. JoJo Say So Morton/Empire, 2019

Spotify Streams: 35,878,123

Fun Fact: Say So won Best R&B Song at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. PJ Morton has won five Grammys as an R&B artist.

96. Kali Uchis Moonlight Geffen, 2023

Spotify Streams: 640,798,930

Fun Fact: Kali Uchis first teased the song on her TikTok account on November 20, 2022.

95. SiR D'Evils Top Dawg Entertainment, 2018

Spotify Streams: 119,009,859

Fun Fact: Jay-Z released a song with the same title on his debut album, Reasonable Doubt.

94. Sampha (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano Young Turks, 2017

Spotify Streams: 91,697,106

Fun Fact: (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano is Sampha's most-streamed solo song on Spotify.

93. Ravyn Lenae ft. Steve Lacy Skin Tight Atlantic, 2022

Spotify Streams: 23,727,173

Fun Fact: Skin Tight was a late addition to Ravyn Lenae's album, Hypnos. Steve Lacy brought it to Ravyn's attention as they were starting to mix the album.

92. Yebba Distance RCA, 2021

Spotify Streams: 31,535,923

Fun Fact: Distance was recorded in New York City's legendary Electric Lady Studios. D'Angelo's Voodoo, Bilal's 1st Born Second, and The Roots' Phrenology were also recorded at Electric Lady.

91. Tiana Major9 ft. EARTHGANG Collide Motown, 2019

Spotify Streams: 45,894,014

Fun Fact: Collide was nominated for Best R&B Song at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards.

90. Thundercat Them Changes Brainfeeder, 2020

Spotify Streams: 302,994,988

Fun Fact: Them Changes borrows its drums from The Isley Brothers' Footsteps in the Dark, Pts. 1&2.

89. Kelela LMK Warp, 2017

Spotify Streams: 12,352,417

Fun Fact: Stereogum, Noisey, and Highsnobiety all ranked Kelela's LMK at #7 on their Best Songs of 2017 lists.

88. Oxlade KU LO SA Troniq Music/Epic, 2022

Spotify Streams: 18,882,490

Fun Fact: The A COLORS SHOW version of Oxlade's KU LO SA has over 81 million views on YouTube.

87. Kehlani ft. Masego Hate the Club Atlantic, 2020

Spotify Streams: 34,330,901

Fun Fact: Kehlani name-checks Shabba, a popular reggae/dancehall party now known as Donovan's Yard. Young Thug also shouts out Shabba on Metro Boomin's Trance.

86. Janelle Monae Only Have Eyes 42 Atlantic, 2023

Spotify Streams: 8,967,190

Fun Fact: Only Have Eyes 42 samples reggae artist Derrick Harriott's The Loser.

85. Snoh Aalegra I Want You Around ARTium/AWAL, 2019

Spotify Streams: 147,258,213

Fun Fact: I Want You Around is Snoh Aalegra's first Platinum single certified by the RIAA.

84. Ro James Permission ByStorm/RCA, 2015

Spotify Streams: 69,369,232

Fun Fact: Permission samples Willie Hutch's Brother's Gonna Work It Out. The sample was previously used on Chance The Rapper's Lost.

83. Ty Dolla $ign ft. Musiq Soulchild, Tish Hyman & 6LACK Your Turn Atlantic, 2020

Spotify Streams: 14,684,668

Fun Fact: Your Turn was originally included on the tracklist for a Ty Dolla $ign album slated to be released before the COVID-19 pandemic.

82. Masego ft. FKJ Tadow EQT, 2017

Spotify Streams: 442,923,172

Fun Fact: The Tadow video was released almost two years after the song came out.

81. Jacquees B.E.D. Cash Money/Republic, 2016

Spotify Streams: 261,215,353

Fun Fact: B.E.D. s chorus interpolates the bridge of Avant's Read Your Mind.

80. Khalid Location RCA, 2017

Spotify Streams: 1,347,691,159

Fun Fact: Location has been officially remixed three times: The first including Lil Wayne and Kehlani, the second featuring Lil Simz, and the third featuring Jorja Smith and Wretch 32.

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