Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
2017 may still be too early to float the argument that the R&B of the 00’s decade surpasses that of the ‘90s, but I’d make my submission nonetheless, and base my premise on the debut album by one Ms. Jill Scott.
Born in 1972, the Philadelphia songstress seemed to be the direct creation of the love expressed in Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s self-titled duet album released that year. With her smooth, layered vocal tones, combined with her rich lyrics, Ms. Scott debuted with anticipation when the music scene was primed for a neo-soul take over.
Erykah Badu had paved the way with her socially conscious lyrics, and D’Angelo served as the male counterpart, rising to become one of the premier men in late ‘90s R&B. Rappers Common and The Roots were both finally enjoying some commercial recognition with Grammy nominations for Like Water for Chocolate (2000) and Things Fall Apart (1999). By the summer of 2000 all of these acts along with other rappers, singers, producers and composers collectively formed a neo-soul/conscious hip-hop super group known as the Soulquarians, which helped showcase Jill’s early potential.
Hit single after hit single, Who is Jill Scott? managed to combine the essence of your favorite childhood summer with the best poetry night you ever attended, and the early date where you learned your partner shared the same favorite Stevie Wonder album. It’s an album that not only introduced a once-in-a-generation artist, but marks time as a genre-redefining milestone that opened the door for over a decade of great soul music to come.