Behind every great artist is a super genius songwriter. As scribes ourselves, VIBE knows how much labor goes into building the perfect lyrical blocks to ensure a song will not only relate to listeners, but also be catchy enough to possibly shoot up the charts. The most skilled songwriters can transform an artist’s personal tales into anything from gut-wrenching ballads to club tracks to autobiographical classics.
When it comes to artists themselves moonlighting as auteurs, there’ve been heated debates over what constitutes “songwriting.” Only those present in the studio know how much is really contributed. But any music industry creative will tell you there’s more to it than just penning the words—it’s the adlibs, the structure, the meticulous re-writing and editing. It takes a village.
From the most visible to underrated to artists and producers pulling double duty for some liner note love, VIBE counts down the 35 best R&B/pop songwriters of the 2000s. Click above to begin!
Compiled by Stacy Ann-Ellis, Jasmine Aspinall, Rachel Francois, Clover Hope
*(Note: We’ve included songs the person has either written or co-written).