20 Best R&B Albums of 2014

The year in tough lovers, elusive chanteuses, purple royalty and more

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PartyNextDoor, 'PartyNextDoor Two'
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11/20

11. PartyNextDoor, 'PartyNextDoor Two'

Though Drake affiliate PartyNextDoor might find it easier to say he's from Toronto, the crooner continues to represent his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario. To be fair, it's more a further-flung outer borough (population: over 700,000) than an isolated 'burb, but that small detail casts PND in a much different light than his predecessor, the Weeknd. He's more relatable: a suburban kid, looking beyond the quick fix wins of coke dreams. Largely self-produced, PND makes wide-screen, rap-styled R&B songs and sings wistfully, and often, of driving away from his hometown in a rental. "Summer's over and we're watching the sun finally set," he tableaus on Two's cabin fever-ish opener, "East Liberty." Two songs later, over a sublime rework of Disclosure's "Latch," he's found a solution to keeping winter at bay, touching down in Miami on "Sex on the Beach." A.M.

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