Women have been leading the charge for R&B in the last two years, but the guys are right behind them, providing the sounds that are transforming the modern soul landscape. The 2020 Soul Train Awards are right around the corner, and it looks like they’re going to be stacked when it comes to the Best Male R&B/Soul Artist category. Nominees Anderson .Paak, Charlie Wilson, Chris Brown, PJ Morton, and the Weeknd have proven that they are men of the moment with powerful releases and featured verses. But who’s going to take home the coveted trophy?
We carefully considered why each artist is worthy of the prize. Take a look below.
Also known for having the “Best Teef In The Game,” rapper Anderson .Paak has been one of the game’s best singers, too. You can hear traces of it on last year’s Ventura, his fourth studio album that mixed parts of funky rap with shimmering slices of slick R&B. With his unique and eclectic approach to music, it’s no wonder he’s being considered for such an award.
At 67 years old and with more than four decades of experience in soul music, it feels like Charlie Wilson is just getting started. The singer has recently appeared on songs with Guapdad4000 (“Gucci Pajamas”) and Amine (“Roots”), showcasing the ability to fit in with the younger generation whenever he wants. It’s not hard to imagine that he’s got more albums in the tank to continue captivating the world in the future.
Chris Brown continues to charge on in the industry with an unrelenting work ethic and a testament to make both rap and R&B meet at its intersection. After last year’s platinum album Indigo, the singer released Slime&B with Young Thug and its colorful theatricality made it an instant hit because both artists were at top form. Now, Brown is preparing for the release of a new album, Breezy, in the future and it’s clear that he has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
In August, singer PJ Morton released Gospel According to PJ: From the Songbook of PJ Morton — his first ever gospel record and eighth studio album overall. Entirely produced by Morton and featuring an amazing number of gospel’s biggest artists, it’s a true work of art that fuses the genre with elements of modern R&B and soul. His career so far has led up to that moment, so seeing it all come together so masterfully puts him in the conversation of being one of the best.
The Weeknd is set to perform at next year’s Super Bowl. He released his latest album, After Hours, in March, with it selling 444,000 units in the first week and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200. He’s one of Canada’s best-selling musicians of all-time, with more than 75 million records sold around the world globally. He epitomizes the drive and work ethic it takes to be considered one of R&B/Soul music’s elite.
R&B legend Usher continues to go out of his way for the genre, even when he doesn’t have to. He recently released “Bad Habits” as the second single from a forthcoming studio album. He’s set to headline a 12 show residency in Las Vegas, NV in 2021. And he’s worked with Tyga, Summer Walker, and others recently as a dominating guest feature who brings the world of the past into the contemporary scene. Usher is just as capable of snagging the award as anyone.
(Photos by J. Merritt/FilmMagic & Mindy Small/FilmMagic via Getty Images)