20 Best R&B Albums of 2015

The Weeknd, Erykah Badu, Janet Jackson and more

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Dawn Richard, 'Blackheart'

6. Dawn Richard, 'Blackheart'

When will the world be ready for Dawn Richard? Whereas her unique artistry was somewhat stifled in the radio-aspirational girl group Danity Kane, 2015 sees her inching closer and closer to her proper fate as an R&B trailblazer. Richard traverses dense, intergalactic soundscapes, fortified by cinematic, orchestral arrangements with touches of marimbas and other tropical accents. In "Billie Jean" she cunningly topples the legend of Michael Jackson's desperate babymama, rewriting her as a confident, menacing succubus: "Billie Jean, yeah I'm a sex fiend/I'm not your girl, I'm just your wet dream." Meanwhile "Adderall/Sold" flashes the pockmarked underbelly of drug-addled fame with the line "All that glitters is sold." The glitchy sprawl and dark pop fables of Blackheart uncover Richard at her most visionary. S.E.

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