September 16, 1997 is one of the greatest dates in R&B history. On this day 25 years ago, Jon B released his second album, Cool Relax, just as the Soul Food soundtrack dropped ahead of its theatrical release. However, two standout releases came from Mariah Carey and Usher. Carey debuted Butterfly, her most vulnerable album—at that point in her career—while R&B king premiered his foundational sophomore LP, My Way.
As these legends celebrate the 25th anniversary of their respective projects, other acts currently dominating R&B like DIXSON, Jessie Reyez, Craig David, and more unearthed new greatness from their music catalogs. Here are our favorite R&B releases of the week.
Mariah Carey – Butterfly: 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition
Carey’s deluxe edition of Butterfly includes the long-awaited studio version of “The Roof” duet with Brandy, alongside a new club mix of the titular track from rising sensation, Amorphous, two live renditions of “Butterfly” and “My All,” plus acapella versions of “Fourth of July” and “Outside.”
The elusive chanteuse shared on Instagram, “I will never forget the day I released this album to the world. I had never felt more exposed and vulnerable yet free and euphoric at the same time. It was a true EMANCIPATION (no pun intended!) of my spirit, soul and innermost feelings which I poured into every lyric and every note on every song. 25 years later and it’s still one of the proudest moments of my life and career.”
DIXSON – 004DAISY
DIXSON’s new album is a welcomed refresher into how dynamic soul music is. In a statement, he explained, “I’m not trying to be R&B’s personal Jesus. I’m not as worried about R&B as the rappers and white boys are. ‘004DAISY’ is the beta, my own version of freedom. If you let them, they will box you in. This is me boxing back. Round 1. Punching mediocre square in the jaw. My drive is expanding. From God’s ears to yours. Enjoy.”
Nestled in 10 tracks is a sweet, defiant melody of pop mixed with elements of traditional R&B. There’s no one else quite like DIXSON and as this industry veteran stands firm in his own lane, there’s truly nothing sweeter than that.
Usher – My Way (25th Anniversary Edition)
Though it wasn’t his debut, My Way paved the way for the Usher we know today. To celebrate the anniversary of his breakout project, the crooner has released three newly imagined tracks for the album’s singles: “My Way,” “You Make Me Wanna,” and “Nice & Slow.” The Ryan James Carr-produced remakes were first heard during Usher’s Tiny Desk performance and are a perfect nod to honoring Usher’s legacy.
Jessie Reyez – YESSIE
With her highly-anticipated sophomore album, Reyez chronicles a range of emotions without rose-colored glasses. 6LACK joins her as the sole feature on the LP, and their magic makes it one of the immediate highlights from YESSIE. Not to mention, the raw vulnerability and truth splattered throughout the project will captivate any listener and may even induce tears—fair warning.
Kiana Ledé – “Irresponsible”
Evoking nostalgia courtesy of Musiq Soulchild’s “Halfcrazy,” Ledé is back with something new since the release of her EP, I AM WOMAN, from earlier this year. It’s a dreamy tune where she thrives on “talking sh*t” about her exes. Why not turn pain into profit?
Babyface Feat. Queen Naija – “Game Over”
The newest single from Babyface’s upcoming album, Girls Night Out, is one that cuts out the bullsh*t from a bad relationship. After fighting an internal tug-o-war, Queen chooses herself, instead of continuing to play games with her toxic lover. Out of previous releases from the LP, “Keeps On Fallin'” featuring Ella Mai still remains the strongest, but don’t let this deter you; our favorite tracks from the project haven’t even been announced yet.
Craig David & Galantis – “DNA – Part 2”
David returns with “DNA – Part Two,” the follow-up to the lead single from his forthcoming album, 22. Though this new offering isn’t seen on the album’s track list, it’s the complete opposite feeling compared to its predecessor. If there were a preferred record, it would be this song, as it’s more R&B than pop and feels more like classic Craig David. 22 also features a duet with Muni Long and arrives on Sept.30.