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'

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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