One phenomenon in black music that seems to get worse as time goes on is the album track that should have been a single.
Now, for me, when I say "should have been a single" I really mean "deserves to be heard by more people than bought the album." The songs that will make up this list are not necessarily "single-worthy" in the conventional sense of having the ability to reach the greatest number of people possible (though some may). Interestingly Sadly, though "commercial" and "good black music" are not mutually exclusive terms, the best songs by any Black artist you can think of are 90.5% likely to be an album track, not a single.
(I calculated that figure, by the by.)
That said, this list is really only about highlighting what I consider to be some of the best recent music recorded by Black pop artists that too many people haven't heard. It's not intended to necessarily denigrate any one artist's single choices (at least not all the time).
In terms of time, its kind of loose, but you can expect to see nothing before 1990. Mostly, because the further back I go the harder it is to keep the list manageable. Also – I am of the mind that right around the time New Jack Swing became popular, it became fashionable to denigrate black music (on the whole). So in some ways this is a restorative exercise.
I also use the term "pop" very loosely here, yet for a number of reasons hip-hop is not included in this list while artists that can be called "soul" are. This has more to do with just how the list shook out, than any design on my part. In retrospect, I think the list shakes out the way it does because hip-hop album tracks get a kind of love that other types of album tracks just don't. I could be wrong though. But it is my list. Enjoy the madness (sans method).
In the interest of confusing you further, "album track" can include soundtrack singles and songs on compilations, because songs that end up in these places are often considered to be "non-singles." It will also include songs from independently released albums, which don't have singles at all but by their very nature as an independent piece of work are not heard by as many people as they should.
Lastly, no artist will appear more than once, just for some diversity.
Post-lastly, I created a tag just for this list, Best of the Rest (like that rhyming, no?). Clicking on it gets you the full list.
Thoughts and criticism and appreciative notes in the comments section of each post are encouraged. Like to see how folks will react.