You might’ve heard the word “toxic” thrown around a lot in recent times, particularly when it comes to describing the love lives of many out there in relationships — we’re assuming our single folk have more pressing things to worry about! The situation, or situationship if you will, can become even more complicated when the love songs on the radio are lyrically and verbally encouraging infidelity up and down the Billboard charts.
R&B veteran Usher went a step further in a recent interview with GQ Hype to even claim that his Diamond-selling 2004 hit album, Confessions, helped birth the current era of “toxic R&B.” We’ll go out on a limb and assume he’s referring to the current kings and queens of the game that glorify acts like gaslighting when caught — DVSN crooned of it verbatim last year on their controversial single, “If I Get Caught” — or had EGOT-in-the-making H.E.R. singing about essentially helping a cheating lover get his “story straight” on her Back Of My Mind album cut, “Cheat Code.”
Not exactly an honorific music title to be proud of, eh Ursh?
“The conversation, the music, the entertainment, the dialogue, the energy around it….[Confessions] was the birth of toxic R&B.”
— Usher, GQ Hype [Feb. 2023]
In his defense, Usher did tell GQ that his era saw toxicity more or less as a form of brutal honesty, explaining to the outlet, “It’s how you choose to say it.” Using the album’s standout cheater anthem and title track, “Confessions, Pt. II,” the R&B hitmaker went on to add, “Toxic now is like: ‘I’m fucked up and I’m just sayin’ I’m fucked up,’ and that’s it, with no remorse.” We think he’s got a good take on the culture overall, but at the same time he also claiming to have “birthed” this same generation of unapologetically heartless new age soul stars. Did he actually start the era though, or has “toxic soul” been around ever since the first time rhythm met blues? We decided to explore that further, and found that R&B’s finest can oftentimes be the most foul as well.
Take a look at 10 R&B cheating anthems, from being a proud side dude or settling sister, to accepting the role as a third in a messy love triangle. Jam on, jezebels — just keep giving us something to sing to while sinning!
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Toxic Soul: 10 R&B Songs That Gave A Voice To The Cheaters was originally published on blackamericaweb.com