There's something special about '90s R&B. Maybe it's just easy for the generation that came of age during the heyday of DeVante Swing, Teddy Riley, Jermaine Dupri, and many, many others, to make such a claim. Certainly there are older generations who would argue for the excellence of the '70s or '80s. But please remember that Jodeci are wearing wetsuits on the cover of Diary of a Mad Band. Do not forget that the a capella version of Shai's "If I Ever Fall in Love" destroys the video version. You must recall that Next crafted an entire song about popping a hard-on while dancing.
But which one is the greatest? To answer that question we took stock of 126 (!) groups and divided them into seven categories: the Icons, the All-Stars, the Hitmakers, the One-Hit Wonders, the Throwbacks, the Half-Hit Wonders, and the Lost Boys. Keep in mind that these categories are based on the performance of each group between the years 1990 and 1999. So, for example, if you're upset about Jagged Edge's position, remember that all their hits popped off in the 2000s.
You'll notice that those exemplars of '90s greatness all come from guy groups. Why? Because there were so many quartets and quintets and triplets competing for your attention during that decade. Of course, there were just as many women vying for space on your dubbed cassette mixtapes. En Vogue, SWV, TLC, 702, Jade, Total, Xscape, Destiny's Child, Brownstone, Allure—you are all queens deserving of your own monuments. But first, we look to the fellas.