R&B divas, queens of rhythm, goddesses of blues, sexy songstresses… Call them by whatever you wish. Just remember that it has been their voices that have captivated your ears, mind, and body for decades. R&B has been around since the 1940s, but it has always been shifting and intertwining with other genres. In fact, rhythm and blues is a lot like women. Beautiful, yet tempting. Soulful, yet complicated. They both appear to make time stand still, but are forever changing. It’s no wonder that it took beautiful women to make R&B as hot as it has become. Beautiful women began using their voices and bodies to hypnotize you with their seductive lyrics.
Years have passed now, and things are different. The genres of R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, and Soul have been mixed till they almost fade into one. The women of R&B are still as sexy as ever. The past couple of decades have combined provocative dance moves, with revealing clothing ensembles. The impact has added more fuel to an already smoldering fire. The results have been jaw dropping, lustful, and have even broken the internet a time or two.
We have heard girl anthems that made us cringe, while seeing more skin than we could possibly bare. We have heard enough seductive lyrics to visualize more than we sometimes should, yet those hot R&B artists have been there invading our dreams at night, and our thoughts during the day. Their voices could melt the coldest heart, or make a grown man cry. These beautiful women are blessed with more than just looks, but these throwback photos just had to be shared. Here are 15 Throwback Photos of Hot R&B Artists in Their Prime.
15. Kelly Rowland
Who would’ve thought that the original Destiny’s Child would shrink down to a talented trio, which would lead to three very hot and successful solo R&B artists? They had you ready to say their name, pay their bills, and wishing you could do so much more. The photo that you see above was during the hiatus phase of Destiny’s Child, and when Kelly Rowland had begun to work on her solo career. It wasn’t long before Rowland released her first solo album, Simply Deep and collaborated with Nelly on “Dilemma”.
Rowland’s first album was released the same year that she became a survivor with her remaining sisters, but by then she had already proved how hot she could be, all by her lonesome. Her smooth dark complexion and sexy brown eyes, which appear to smile right back at you. Yes, Kelly has had us lost long before we got stuck listening to songs like “ICE”, while pretending that we weren’t.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s when you first heard the sweet melodies that Ashanti had to offer, but it was her collaborations that ruled much of that era. She was behind songs like “Always on Time”, with Ja Rule. By the way, did you know that she was the writer behind J-Lo’s mega-hit “Ain’t it Funny”? She could make your mind drift as her voice purred, all the while imagining that she was singing those sweet lyrics just for you. Once “Foolish” was released it was already over.
Ashanti has always been ultra sexy. In 2002, she was actually credited as being the “Sexiest Woman in Music” by FHM. It became obvious that she was multi-talented, with the voice of an angel, and song writing skills better than Taylor Swift could have ever dreamed of. As if that wasn’t enough, her beauty was spellbinding. Just look at how naturally hot she was, and still is, I might add.
The relationship between Hip-Hop and R&B was still somewhat unique and fresh, but they were coupling together like there was no tomorrow. Then Ciara hit the scene with her “Goodies”. She was young, hot, and just what R&B needed to bounce it up to that next level. She was fresh out of high school and started off writing, although it wasn’t long before she hooked up with Jazze Pha to collaborate. It wasn’t until then that you saw her full musical potential. The image above was from the video for “Goodies”. I guess you could say that it left quite the impression.
Ciara advertised her goodies with a super-hot beat, and some super sexy dance moves. Only to follow up by saying that you couldn’t have her goodies because they stay in the jar. She was pulling the independent battle-cry of the decade, but this only made us yearn for her more. The music, not the goodies. At least that’s what we’ll say.
Rihanna has already become an R&B legend, although her career as an artist is still sort of fresh. She stepped in the scene in 2005 with hits like “Pon de Replay”, but didn’t break real ground until 2008. It started off with her being this really hot girl with a unique voice and an umbrella, but after a while the tune just got stuck in your head. Then came the drama with Chris Brown, which was a sad situation. However, the reality did seem to help with publicity. She quickly became our modern-day damsel-in-distress.
Then she turned around and went all bad-girl in “S&M”. This still wasn’t the end for our darling Rihanna. She has topped more charts in a mere decade, than some artists do in a lifetime. She might have started off by being appealing to your girl, but it wasn’t long before you knew who this hot artist was.
11. Alicia Keys
The 21st century wasn’t only influenced by smooth R&B jams mixed with hot hip-hop rhymes. Alicia Keys came out with “Fallin'” in 2001. She could make you fall without ever seeing her face. Not that it mattered much. Her look turned out to be scorching hot, just like her sexy voice. These days she has been showing support for a #NoMakeup Movement, but she’s still as hot as ever. That doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to take a glimpse at this throwback of one of the hottest R&B artists ever.
Her vocals were so mature, that they could have come from a past long before her 20 years. Her first album sold over 12 million copies. It’s no wonder though, there are not enough women who can seduce someone with just a song, but Keys sure can. She dazzled us with so many hits that we’ve lost count. Alicia just released her seventh album and she’s also returned for her second season as a coach on The Voice.
You didn’t think that we’d leave out Queen Bey, did you? She wasn’t always perched above the kingdom of R&B, but she has earned her status at this point. I’m not sure exactly when it was official, but it would have to have started with this image right here. You already know that there were tons of hot throwback photos of Beyoncé, but this was a favorite.
This was a snap from her “Crazy in Love” music video. Beyoncé had struck gold on her solo career and jump started her path to the kingdom. This video was so hot that we could watch and discuss this one all day. Flawless, unless you count that we also had to see Jay Z. That tank top was perfect, her dance was hypnotizing. Why, oh Bey, why did you have to go braless? I would describe the reminder of that view, but it might be just a bit too graphic.
9. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill was another great R&B artist who could make you feel like she was undressing you with her songs. When you first heard Lauryn she was still with the Fugees and their style was unlike anything else out at the time. Her voice was seriously intense. Especially in their cover of “Killing Me Softly”, which showcased Lauren’s extremely provocative voice. Hill had also dabbled in acting as a child. In fact, she acted as Rita in the second Sister Act, although you probably didn’t know who she was until later.
The Fugees split up later and the rift was blamed on her relationship with Wyclef Jean, but Hill’s career did not falter. She went on to release her first and only solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. That one produced so many hits that she set a record for receiving 10 Grammy nominations and won five of them. Then her stardom got the best of her and she faded out of the spotlight.
If you were into Brandy, then you remember “Sittin’ Up in My Room” and “I Wanna Be Down”. It’s hard to believe that she had the world in her hands at only 13 years old, but she did. I guess Miley Cyrus‘ career could be compared to what Brandy had over 20 years ago, only the other way around. Brandy started off in music at twelve and went on to her biggest sitcom role starring in Moesha at 17.
Brandy’s growth into her role as an adult artist went way smoother than Miley’s. She was hot, she was young and nothing could stop her. Nothing except a fatal car accident anyway. Brandy was allegedly responsible for the accident, which killed the woman in the collision. The victim’s family filed a lawsuit and Brandy settled out of court. Brandy’s career never fully bounced back afterwards, but her brother Ray J, has found fame and you already know why. We’ll give you a big hint. Does the name Kim Kardashian jog your memory?
Looking back now, it almost seems like the 90s were years full of only the best hot R&B artists. These beautiful ladies often started out young and went by their first names, no matter how common their name was. Monica was another chart topper, who started out at 15. She sang girl anthems like “Don’t Take It Personal” and “The First Night”.
Monica’s rise to the top continued on into the next decade, but she had already snagged a record for being the youngest artist to have back-to-back hits on the top end of Billboard’s Top R&B Singles chart. She sort of outdid Brandy, but the two did a duo single called “The Boy is Mine” for Monica’s album. Later, Monica brought us more hits with “So Gone” and “You Should’ve Known Better”.
Speaking of R&B dream Queens, from our teenage years… Here’s Aaliyah. If ever there was a goddess of R&B from those years it’d have to have been her. She rose to fame singing R&B with fiery rhythms. A couple of examples would include “Age Ain’t Nuthin’ but a Number” and “Back and Forth”. Aaliyah was another hot artist whose sound was well beyond her years, along with her lyrics. She faced a lot of controversy following her illegal marriage to R. Kelly, who had married her when she was only 15, but they had filled in 18 on the certificate.
Aaliyah went on to find more success working with Timbaland and Missy Elliot on her second album, which yielded more hits and showcased some of the first sounds from Timbaland that rolled on for over a decade. Aaliyah’s career was remarkable, but could have been even better had she not died in a plane crash at only 22 years old. She was returning from filming her last video “Rock the Boat” when it happened.
5. Mariah Carey
Wow! So many years have passed since Mariah Carey blessed our ears with her first album. She was young, talented, and a very hot R&B artist. This throwback photo obviously goes back quite a few years. Probably before, or maybe around One Sweet Day, which she did with Boys II Men. Before that she told us how “Love Takes Time” and had us feeling “Emotions”, but we were more interested in how stunning this beautiful prodigy was. Did you know that she was labeled and promoted by Columbia Records to counter artists like Whitney Houston and Madonna?
You’ve got to admit that she was something else back then. Her voice and looks are still stunning all of these years later. Now she’s robbed a few cradles (just kidding) and acts like a diva, but there were still a few good years in between. Mariah even went on to be one of the oldies that adjusted with the new vibe. She even featured Ol’ Dirty Bastard on her “Fantasy” remix. It might be old, but it’s still a favorite of mine.
4. Toni Braxton
Here we go with another hot R&B artist who could melt a heart filled with ice. “Another Sad Love Song” was the one that put her name in lights, but it was followed by so many more hits. Toni Braxton’s sound was raw, deep and perfect. It could make a man’s knees go weak, yet it wouldn’t even matter what words she was singing. Her voice has always had a whisper to it that made it seem as though it was meant just for you.
She has a beautiful face and sexy brown eyes that even made her short hairstyle look good. “Breathe Again” made us struggle for air, while “You Mean the World to Me” made us swoon. Then a few years later Toni fired off with her new dance moves, while singing how he wasn’t man enough for her. Meanwhile the general population of men was thinking that if given a shot, they could do better. I guess you could say that life got in the way after awhile. She is still working on new albums and stars on her family reality show, Braxton Family Values.
3. Mary J. Blige
This throwback photo goes way back, but it was taken of one of R&B’s biggest game-changers. Mary J. Blige has been a hot commodity since the early 90s and since her debut album, What’s the 411. She had a fresh take on a R&B melody with an R&B rhythm, that came off like a rap, but all balled into one. She broke the ice with the single “You Remind Me” and nothing but hits flowed off of that album. Single after single, they just kept coming.
Her next album was entitled My Life. Then came her issues with depression, addiction, and her abuse from K-Ci, but that spawned even more hits when she wrote her next album. Mary has always been more than just hot on the mic. She was a hardcore style sexy that was thick and rare. If anyone could make a baggy style look hot back then, it was definitely Mary.
2. Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson was a musical genius like Michael Jackson, but so much hotter. Her career rolled a step below his for the longest. She was the youngest of the Jackson children and grew up in the spotlight. She focused a lot on acting and didn’t find huge success in music until later.
Janet’s first major album was actually her third. You might have heard a song called “Escapade”. That was early 90s, but later she starred alongside Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice and came out with some hot hits that went with the era, like “That’s the Way Love Goes”, “Again”, and “If”. The last was a hot one! As far as looks go, take a look above yourself. She even posed topless for Rolling Stone once, but her husband at the time blocked our view with his hands.
1. Whitney Houston
It might be kind of hard to imagine Whitney Houston as a steamy, hot R&B artist, but I assure you that she was just that. When Whitney came out nobody had a voice like hers, or a look like hers. She could hit every octave, sing every note, and carry a tune so long that you’d begin to assume that she didn’t need air like the rest of us. Whitney’s fame was too big for her, and Bobby Brown was there waiting to drag her down. This is why all you can find are images and stories of an addicted strung-out star, who died way too soon.
However, there are some images of a younger Whitney. A Whitney with sex appeal, who was a model and sang hot 80s tunes like “You Give Good Love” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight”. Then came the 90s and “I Will Always Love You”, which was a cover for Dolly Parton’s song, but you would’ve never known it because Whitney sang it better. It showcased how awesome her voice really was. It went along with her leading role alongside Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, which showed Houston as an actress and sex symbol. These throwback photos inspire the memories that all hot R&B artists should be remembered by.