45 Best R&B Throwback Songs – Relive The Good Times

The best R&B throwback songs are those that make you feel good and take you back to a time when life was simpler. They’re the ones that you can’t help but sing along to, no matter how many times you’ve heard them.

So, in this post, we’re going to take a look at 45 of the best R&B throwback songs that will have you feeling all the feels.

From 2000s hits like “Dilemma” by Nelly to classics like “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, these songs are sure to get you moving and reminisce about the good times.

Top Best R&B Throwback Songs

1. Dilemma by Nelly

No matter what I do (Woo!)
All I think about is you
Even when I'm with my boo
Boy, you know I'm crazy over you
No matter what I do
All I think about is you
Even when I'm with my boo
You know I'm crazy over you

“Dilemma” is easily one of the most well known songs by R&B artist Nelly, and it’s a killer first entry on our list of the best R&B throwback songs.

Released in 2002, the track features fellow R&B singer and friend Kelly Rowland and is all about a married girl who is torn between her love for her boyfriend and her growing feelings for Nelly. Which is why the title of the song is “Dilemma”!

Instrumentally, the song is sweet and loving and with its incredibly catchy beat and relatable lyrics, it’s no wonder this song was a huge success, spending 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

2. Family Affair by Mary J. Blige

Let's get it crunk up on
Have fun up on up in this dancery
We got y'all open, now ya floatin'
So you gots to dance for me
Don't need no hateration
Holleration in this dancery
Let's get it percolatin', while you're waitin'
So just dance for me

Mary J. Blige will always remain as an important figure in both the R&B and hip-hop scene, and she earns that spot with her performance on “Family Affair.”

Here, she shows off exactly why she’s a queen of both genres with her hip-hop inspired delivery and swagger that’s unmatched by most other artists.

Not to ignore the thumping bassline and head-nodding beat that makes this song an instant classic.

3. Angel by Shaggy ft. Rayvon

Girl, you're my angel, you're my darling angel
Closer than my peeps you are to me, baby (Tell them)
Shorty, you're my angel, you're my darling angel
Girl, you're my friend when I'm in need, lady

This one’s iconic, with Shaggy’s soft and sweet vocals complimenting Rayvon’s character-packed delivery perfectly.

While Rayvon’s verses are the ones that most people remember, Shaggy’s chorus is what truly brings the message and themes of the song together, resulting in an incredibly sweet tune.

4. I Know What You Want by Busta Rhymes & Mariah Carey

Baby, if you give it to me, I'll give it to you
I know what you want, you know I got it
Baby, if you give it to me, I'll give it to you
As long as you want, you know I got it

“I Know What You Want,” is performed by Busta Rhymes, one of the most respected figures in the hip-hop game, and there’s good reason for that.

Listening to this song is a one way track to having it stuck in your head forever, with so many killer hooks layered upon each other. The many verses also highlight the struggles of the past, and how they correlate with the current day.

And with Mariah Carey’s angelic voice sweetening the deal, this is one of the best R&B throwback songs without a doubt.

5. No Scrubs by TLC

No, I don't want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me
Hangin' out the passenger side of his best friend's ride
Trying to holla at me
I don't want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me
Hangin' out the passenger side of his best friend's ride
Trying to holla at me

If there’s one thing that TLC knows how to do, it’s making amazing R&B music, and “No Scrubs” is the prime example of that. The song is a timeless ode to independent women everywhere who aren’t interested in dating deadbeats or what the group calls “scrubs.”

In other words, this is the perfect song to listen to when you’re over those boys who just don’t know how to treat you right and who don’t have their act together.

The production is top-notch here, with a spacey synth melody and a minimalist drumbeat that allows the focus to be on the lyrics. And the song’s message is just as relevant today as it was 23 years ago. Which is what makes it one of the best R&B throwback songs.

6. Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake

You told me you loved me, why did you leave me all alone?
Now you tell me you need me when you call me on the phone
Girl, I refuse, you must have me confused with some other guy
The bridges were burned, now it's your turn to cry
Cry me a river
Cry me a river

Justin Timberlake needs no introduction, and anyone familiar with him is also definitely already familiar with this song.

“Cry Me a River” is Timberlake at his best, pouring his heart out over a haunting and catchy melody. It’s a song about looking back on how Justin was cheated on, and pulling off a power move of his own, he decides to not entertain her.

Instead, he tells her to cry, as he doesn’t care anymore and moves on, capping off a phenomenal song.

7. My All by Mariah Carey

I'd give my all to have
Just one more night with you
I'd risk my life to feel
Your body next to mine
'Cause I can't go on
Living in the memory of our song
I'd give my all for your love tonight

On a more somber note, we have “My All,” by Mariah Carey, a song that’s melancholic but nostalgic. Accompanied by a light acoustic guitar, Mariah guides us through her complex emotional state and memories, and it’s heart-wrenching stuff.

Soft and tearful, “My All” by Mariah Carey represents the sadder end of throwback songs, and it’s an excellent representation at that. 

8. Mesmerize by Ja Rule ft. Ashanti

Girl, your stare, those eyes I (Love it when you look at me, baby)
Your lips, your smile, I (Love it when you kiss me, baby)

Mesmerize,” is a light hearted throwback song with a great flow and signature delivery that meshes well with the production. It’s nostalgic and fun while also sensual and straight up raunchy in many areas. While sentimentality certainly takes a backseat in this one, you also can’t argue with the sheer fun factor of the song.

9. The Boy Is Mine by Brandy & Monica

You need to give it up
Had about enough
It's not hard to see
The boy is mine
I'm sorry that you
Seem to be confused
He belongs to me
The boy is mine

Fast-forward two decades and “The Boy Is Mine” remains just as popular, thanks in part to its timeless message of female solidarity in the face of romantic conflict.

But what makes this song truly special is its unshakeable sense of fun. From the catchy opening bars to the infectious chorus, “The Boy Is Mine” is pure pop perfection.

The track was a massive hit upon its release in 1998, spending 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.

10. Fallin’ by Alicia Keys Alicia Keys’

I keep on fallin' in and out
Of love with you
I never loved someone
The way that I'm lovin' you

“Fallin’,” is an absolute R&B classic, one that’s iconic to the point that it’s surprising when someone doesn’t know it. It’s all about how she continues to fall back in love with the same guy because of her memories with him, even though he keeps hurting her over and over again. It’s a relatable topic, and one that Alicia Keys tackles with her signature passion.

11. U Got It Bad by Usher

(You) You got it, you got it bad
When you're on the phone (Oh yeah), hang up and you call right back
(Oh you) You got it, you got it bad
If you miss a day without your friend, your whole life's off-track

As yet another big name in R&B, Usher makes his presence felt on this list with his song, “U Got It Bad.” In it, Usher sings about how the girl he’s talking to has faced a lot of bad times, but she also focuses too much on them. He tells her that it’s time to move on, as he sings his heart out to our enjoyment. 

12. Can We Talk by Tevin Campbell

Can we talk for a minute?
Girl, I want to know your name
Can we talk for a minute?
Girl, I want to know your name

“Can We Talk,” by Tevin Campbell is one of the most underrated songs on this list. It’s unique, smooth and calming, with Tevin’s vocals contributing a lot to the suave and smooth atmosphere that the song establishes.

Musically, “Can We Talk,” is lush and nostalgic, with excellent use of synths to enhance the somber mood of the song making it an easy recommendation for us.

13. Foolish by Ashanti

See, my days are cold without you
But I'm hurting while I'm with you
And though my heart can't take no more
I keep on running back to you

Ashanti popped up earlier in this list with Ja Rule, but here on “Foolish,” she really gets to show off her true skill as a songstress. Vocal harmonies are layered upon each other with a major key piano giving the song a positive vibe. Despite this, the vocals are filled with sorrow, resulting in a rather fascinating dichotomy that we can’t get enough of.

14. Back At One by Brian McKnight

One, you're like a dream come true
Two, just wanna be with you
Three, girl, it's plain to see
That you're the only one for me, and
Four, repeat steps one through three

Smooth, sleek and suave returns with Brian McKnight’s “Back At One,” a slow jam that’s deeply romantic and nostalgic. As he takes his time lovingly describing all the ways he loves his girl, the music soars and sinks with the tone, resulting in a song that sounds like the distilled version of romance. It’s deep, warm, and just an excellent listen all around.

15. Doin’ Just Fine by Boyz II Men

I'm doin' just fine, getting along very well
Without you in my life
I don't need you in my life
But I, I'm doin' just fine
Time made me stronger
You're no longer on my mind

Boyz II Men are always welcome on R&B lists, and here they give an absolute gem of a song with “Doin’ Just Fine.”

Leaning towards the sadder side of R&B, it’s a melancholic look back as he talks to a girl he used to be with.

Even though he feels sorrow thinking about it, he also knows that now, he’s doing fine again, and he’ll keep moving forward. An excellent entry to close out the list! of top best R&B thorwback songs.

R&B Throwback Songs of the 90s

The golden age of R&B is often considered to be the 90s, and for good reason. The genre was at its peak during this time, with artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and TLC dominating the charts.

There were also a number of important innovations happening in R&B during the 90s, such as the rise of hip-hop-influenced R&B and the popularity of new jack swing.

So, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of great R&B throwback songs from the 90s. Here are 10 of our favorites:

  • Promise – Jagged Edge
  • If I Ever Fall in Love – Shai
  • Before I Let You Go – Blackstreet
  • Too Close – Next
  • Angel Of Mine – Monica
  • Love You Down – INOJ
  • I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz II Men
  • Candy Rain – Soul For Real
  • All The Man That I Need – Whitney Houston
  • Freak Me – Silk

R&B Throwback Songs of the 2000s

During the 2000s, the R&B scene shifted from the popular sounds of new jack swing and hip-hop soul to a more mature and experimental approach.

This decade saw the rise of artists like Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, Usher, and John Legend, who brought a fresh sound to the genre.

While the 2000s may not be remembered as the Golden Age of R&B, there are still plenty of great throwback songs from this decade that are worth revisiting. Here are 10 of the best R&B throwback songs from the 2000s.

  • Un-Break My Heart – Toni Braxton
  • How You Gonna Act Like That – Tyrese
  • U Should’ve Known Better – Monica
  • Be Without You – Mary J. Blige
  • Always On Time – Ja Rule ft. Ashanti
  • One Wish – Ray J
  • You Make Me Wanna… – Usher
  • Walked Outta Heaven – Jagged Edge
  • Playas Gon’ Play – 3LW
  • Don’t Think I’m Not – Kandi

R&B Throwback Love Songs

What’s better than cozying up with your boo and listening to some smooth R&B tunes? Whether you’re in the mood for something sensual or sentimental, these R&B throwback love songs are sure to set the mood.

  • Stand Up For Love – Destiny’s Child
  • I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
  • We Belong Together – Mariah Carey
  • Let Me Love You – Mario
  • If I Ain’t Got You – Alicia Keys
  • Back At One – Brian McKnight
  • Everything I Do I Do It For you – Bryan Adams
  • All of Me – John Legend
  • Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye
  • Let’s Stay Together – Al Green

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are plenty of great R&B throwback songs to choose from, no matter what your mood or taste. Next time you’re in the mood for some smooth R&B tunes, be sure to give one of these tracks a listen. You won’t be disappointed. We hope you enjoyed our list of the best R&B throwback songs as much as we enjoyed making them! Thanks for reading!