Soul Music Mix 90s Styles

Soul music has given birth to numerous subgenres over its history, beginning from rhythm and blues music and evolving further with gospel influences. Artists in this subgenre typically displayed an aggressive, street b-boy aesthetic.

The 1990s witnessed R&B’s golden age. Driven by new jack swing, R&B adopted hip hop’s gritty aesthetic while offering silky production styles and more risque subject matter than before.


R&B (rhythm and blues) refers to any popular African-American music style other than jazz or traditional blues, including soul, disco, funk and contemporary R&B aka urban contemporary which sits between these genres as well as neo-soul and hip-hop soul. Their definition may vary but all share one common goal – to convey emotion through lyrics and vocal performance.

During the 1990s, a new generation of artists propelled R&B music to new commercial heights. Hip-hop’s influence brought with it more sexually explicit production styles and songwriting that was less overwrought and more emotionally raw; this trend was epitomized by Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill and Boyz II Men as notable examples.

The 1990s saw the establishment of new soul music labels such as Tamla Motown and Atlantic Records, which specialized in producing R&B records while creating their own distinct sound and image for R&B genre. Many artists on these labels were black and their works often depicted social struggles they were facing as black Americans.

Here is a selection of some of the greatest R&B songs from the ’90s compiled from votes cast by thousands of SoulTrackers. Each panelist nominated 30 tracks which were then merged together into one master list that was then ranked.


Neo-soul is a genre defined by blending traditional soul elements with new perspectives, creating a distinctive musical style which emerged during the 1990s as an R&B/hip hop hybrid. Black artists find neo-soul’s distinctive sound quality appealing as an emotional outlet, particularly due to its ability to capture modern soul’s complex emotions. Furthermore, this genre draws heavily from jazz influences like funk as well as classic soul and gospel influences for both lyrics and harmonies; its distinguishable sound quality often making neo-soul difficult to define.

Erykah Badu was the first artist to popularly introduce neo-soul. Her career launched with an opening slot at a D’Angelo concert and she quickly established herself as one of the most influential artists within this genre. Baduizm, her debut album featuring both old-school soul and hip-hop influences as well as vocal range reminiscent of Billie Holiday – further established Erykah as an influential neo-soul artist.

Cody ChesnuTT’s Conflict was another pivotal album in the development of neo-soul. A double-disc set that displayed its versatility, it combined classic soul sounds with raw musical elements and an experimental production technique – as well as touching upon topics ranging from romantic turmoil to personal development in its lyrics. Conflict’s success opened doors for other neo-soul artists to explore uncharted territory musically.

Jazzyfatnastees, comprised of Mercedita L. Andrews and Tracey Moore, produced this album. Their vocal chemistry can be heard throughout, showcasing their talent for creating soulful harmonies. With innovative production techniques bringing soulful beats together with innovative production techniques establishing them as pioneers of neo-soul, along with spiritual awakening and personal growth as themes explored on this record.

Memphis soul

Soul music’s foundation lies with Memphis. Stax Records was an early pioneer, while other scenes eventually flourished across the country such as New York (anchored by Motown) and Chicago (inspired by Impressions). Memphis soul is defined by its emphasis on gospel-influenced R&B with heavier harder-edged sounds; Sam Cooke was among its inventors although his songs lean more towards gospel than R&B; they can all be found here on Any Major Soul alongside Emore James (whose songs tend more towards gospel) and Melba; another early pioneer were The Temptations who made history with hits such as Hold On I’m Comin’ and I Can’t Get Next To You which helped establish them as one of America’s premier male vocal groups of their time era with hits like Hold On I’m Comin’/I Can’t Get Next To You/I Can’t Get Next To You/

Booker T & the MG’s were an iconic southern soul band and an essential influence. Comprised of keyboardist Booker T Jones, drummer Al Jackson, bassist Steve Cropper and guitarist Donald “Duck” Dunn; their unmistakable sound cemented southern soul’s place as a popular genre. This mix features their iconic tune “We Got That Thing Going on…”

Melba Moore released two albums before leaving the music industry; L.V Johnson played session guitar on Bar-Kays and Johnnie Taylor recordings; however he never found much commercial success. Debra Laws from a prominent jazz/soul family sings her song Lightin’ Up on this mix – her brothers Ronnie and Hubert Laws as well as cousin B.B. King have been involved with jazz/soul performances.

The Bo-Keys are a Memphis band who specialize in soul, funk and R&B music. Their lineup of musicians has performed with Otis Redding and Al Green among others.

New Orleans soul

New Orleans Soul is an unique subgenre of R&B that draws its inspiration from the rich cultural and musical history of New Orleans. This genre fuses jazz, funk and gospel music influences together with powerful vocals and horn sections that add emotional intensity. New Orleans soul is also distinguished by combining traditional production techniques with cutting edge production methods to craft its soundscapes.

Though New Orleans Soul remains widely popular, its under-the-radar. Though its 1960s counterparts such as Stax-Volt, Deep Soul, and Southern Soul have garnered much media coverage, New Orleans soul is often ignored. Pioneered by singer-songwriter-producer Allen Toussaint around 1960, New Orleans soul offers piano-driven pop soul sound inspired by boogie-woogie styles popular in postwar Crescent City.

New Orleans Soul Music stands out with its distinct sound, defined by the joyous rhythms of second line parade bands, piano triplets from barrelhouse wizards and tight horn sections, not to mention no-nonsense lyrics and fat midtempo rhythms. Unlike traditional R&B, few guitars were used – most pieces in New Orleans Soul music were driven mainly by piano and saxophone players.

Irma Thomas, Aaron Neville, Ernie K-Doe and Bobby Marchan are some of the genre’s best-known artists; their songs range from energetic dance tunes to soulful ballads. Additionally, this compilation contains five cuts by Professor Longhair himself, who made New Orleans soul unique through his unique mix of saxophone playing and singing voice.

New Orleans Soul has also been heavily influenced by Latin music and Caribbean sounds, and by the soul-jazz movement, which blends R&B with jazz. Additionally, Memphis soul, produced at Hi and Stax Records during the 1970s, is another subgenre of soul music with melancholic melodic horns, Hammond organ, bass guitars, drums and other rhythmic instruments that recall classic sounds by Al Green from Hi Records or Booker T & the M.G’s from Stax Records.

Chicago soul

Soul music’s roots can be traced back to African American churches, tight neighborhoods and underground clubs of its early days in America. Soul’s music mirrored social unrest within a community seeking freedom and equality during the Civil Rights Movement as it called out for change through songs like those by Jamie XX, Mohwake and Ronson who regularly reference classic soul tracks as influences for their beats and melodies. Today the genre’s influence still resonates worldwide and modern producers such as Jamie XX Mohwake Ronson often use soul classics in their production arsenals citing parents or local DJ’s as sources for influences when creating beats and melodies within beats and melodies produced today by modern producers such as Jamie XX Mohwake and Ronson to produce classic soul tracks with beats that fit seamlessly within beats and melodies produced today by modern producers such as them today citing them for change pleading them as part of an audible echo from Civil Rights Movement that rallied them as it did then pleading, fighting, rallying people through music to rally them into action during fightback rallying events during that struggle that would later become known as Civil Rights Movement as well. Today soul’s influence remains globally- and is still strongly felt today by producers like Jamie XX Mohwake Ronson to name drops it’s production arsenals while their beats and melodies produced to represent change p4 Ronson production arsenals! Ronson often reference classic soul earworms which makes for change p1 and rally people that took place against it too p and rallying them on change by using those reson. Today its resonance. Today the civil Rights Movement for change. Today.

Chicago Soul music was an elegant combination of upbeat rhythms and soulful Blues. Its authentic gritty strains blended effortlessly with fluid melodies and intricate compositions; an effect still audible today in R&B ballads.

Chicago-based labels Vee-Jay, Chess, Okeh, Brunswick with its Dakar Records subsidiary and Curtom were pivotal in shaping soul music as well. Key figures responsible included Curtis Mayfield, Carl Davis and Johnny Pate who all made significant contributions.

Chicago soul music was distinguished by its use of strings and woodwinds, lending a classically-influenced, soundtrack-esque feel that contrasted sharply with the brass power-riffs found on Stax house band recordings like Booker T & the MGs.

Chicago soul music’s hallmark feature was its emphasis on female vocalists like The Opals, Dells and Major Lance, all of whom scored notable hits within its genre. Vocal harmonies and call-and-response structures found within gospel music are still integral parts of soul genre today.