Did you know that out there, right now, living among us, are people who were born in the 1990s? Forget the ones who were born in the 2000s. Tadpoles, all of them. The 1990s babies are old enough to know about the R&B hits of the 1990s, but young enough not to care. Or at least young enough not to remember doing the running man to "Motownphilly," or to have had "Too Close" serve as a gateway to an awkward sex talk. Too young to remember where they were when the "Remember the Time" video premiered, or what the world was like when Carey, not cash, ruled everything around me. Call me ageist—because I probably am—but, really, those poor kids.
Or maybe the children of the 1990s have a better perspective on all of the brilliant R&B music that came out at that time because their experiences with the songs aren't clouded with nostalgia. If a gang of them had been responsible for picking this list, maybe they would've rated it by the numbers, a list based on facts rather than feelings. But we don't listen to music in a vacuum, and personal associations are part of why we come to remember, and love or hate, certain songs. And who knows, maybe those 1990s kids are actually even closer to the music than people who were old enough to remember it in real time because, as R. Kelly pointed out in 2011, "Let's be honest, how many babies been made off me?" Who has more of a bias: the fan who grew up with En Vogue, or the fan who was conceived during "That's the Way Love Goes"? Consider this as you read you through this list of The 50 Best R&B Songs of the '90s.