Life is never fair to promising artists destined to win. For every talentless lab creation like Rihanna (or Macklemore), are legendary underachievers and prisoners of label politics who fail to reach their full potential. Cruel reality, but that’s life. Here are the ten greatest R&B tragedies. Take a look.
Rise & Fall of Lauryn Hill There was a time (lifetimes ago) when the socially-awkward vagabond was a living legend who didn’t hate her fans. Between ’96-’99, she had two classic albums and a game-changing movie role (“Sister Act 2”) before running from everything to play guitar, barefoot, in tranquil Wyoming meadows like Andre 3000.
Death of Aaliyah The fallen R&B icon was so far ahead of her time in 1996 it’s surreal. With boundary-pushing records like “Are You That Somebody? she redefined an entire genre. Now, she can’t even rest in peace without Drake harassing her via Ouija Board.
D’Angelo’s Liquor-Fueled Downfall The soulfully-incredible crooner’s heartstring-plucking falsetto and superhero-physique made him a Neo-Soul GOD until he drank it all away, and eventually fell from stardom into the darkest of holes. Tragic.
Brownstone: Criminally-underrated & Slept-on No R&B group SANG for their freedom like the vocally-untouchable trio who could’ve been so much more than they were. How three women sounded like an entire choir, we may never know.
R. Kelly: Prisoner of Public Opinion The functionally-illiterate “legend” will always be known as an 8th grader-loving sicko (supposedly) instead of his generation’s Prince and that’s sad. Whether you believe it was him in that infamous video or “someone who looked exactly like him,” his legacy was forever ruined.
Rick Ross eats Teedra Moses’ career In an alternate reality, the completely-irrelevant songbird is the face of R&B/Soul. Sadly, in 2013, she’s a cautionary tale of what NEVER to do as a promising R&B artist.
Monica’s Inner-Hoodrat Struggle Vocally-impeccable, Monica
Murder had the pure talent to reach Whitney levels of superstardom but her inner-hoodrat wouldn’t let her be great. Mostly irrelevant in 2013, she’s yet to reach her full potential as an artist.
Static Major: Death Before Stardom Static was destined to be everything Future Vandross is today, but bigger, after writing most of Aaliyah’s timeless hits. Some may not know the Playa frontman with the golden pen by name, but he was definitely next before his tragic death in 2008.
Johntá Austin: Property of Jermaine Dupri So So Def’s best-kept secret has rotted in JD’s darkest dungeon for years. To those who remember, he was Frank Ocean before Frank Ocean who penned several hits for Mariah, Janet and Chris Brown. Now, he’s just another Jermaine Dupri casualty. Photo credit: Instagram