Coming from Chicago, IL, I am a lifelong jazz enthusiast who has been collecting and writing about jazz and neo soul for several years.
Compiling the list of the 100 greatest neo soul songs of all time was much more difficult than I originally imagined. First, the issue of what is neo soul arises. I think neo soul is a sound, a mood if you will. I believe you don't have to be a neo soul artist to produce neo soul songs and you will find that evident in a couple of songs listed here.
For the purpose of this article, I have the neo soul era beginning with D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar," although there are one or two exceptions listed on my comprehensive list. You will find a couple of artists with more than one song listed; this is part youth of the genre and part quality of the artists. Lastly, each and every one of these songs I have listened to extensively, I would like feedback on any omissions.
Without further ado, here are the 100 greatest neo soul songs of all time.
- D'angelo - "Brown Sugar"
- Jill Scott - "A Long Walk"
- Erykah Badu - "Otherside of the Game"
- Maxwell - "Sumthin' Sumthin'"
- Tony Toni Tone - "Lay Your Head on My Pillow"
- Musiq - "Mary Go Round"
- D'Angelo - "Untitled"
- India Arie - "Brown Skin"
- Lauryn Hill - "Nothing Even Matters"
- Erykah Badu - "On & On"
- Bilal - "Soul Sista"
- Goapele - "Closer"
- Digable Planets - "Rebirth of Slick"
- Common - "Come Close"
- Anthony Hamilton - "Where I'm From"
16. Mos Def - "Umi Says"
17. Les Nubians - "Makeda"
18. John Legend - "Ordinary People"
19. Alicia Keys - "Butterflies (Keys Remix)"
20. Angie Stone - "Brotha"
21. Dwele - "Subject"
22. Jill Scott - "The Way"
23. Mary J. Blige - "My Life"
24. Floetry - "Say Yes"
25. Me'shell Ndeg'ecello - "Fool of Me"
26. Maxwell - "Fortunate"
27. Bilal - "Sometime"
28. Raheem Devaughn - "You"
29. Anothony Hamilton - "Charlene"
30. Alicia Keys - "You Don't Know My Name"
31. Dionne Farris - "Hopeless"
32. Musiq - "Just Friends"
33. Floetry - "Lay Down"
34. D'Angelo - "Me and Those Dreamin' Eyez of Mine"
35. Kemistry - "Love Calls"
36. Amel Larrieux - "Get Up"
38. Robin Thicke - "Lost Without You"
39. Chrisette Michelle - "Epiphany"
40. The Roots - "You Got Me"
41. Lauryn Hill - "Killin' Me Softly"
42. Eric Benet - "Georgy Pordgy"
43. Adriana Evans - "Seeing Is Believing"
44. Maxwell - "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever "Live""
45. Andre 3000 - "Prototype"
46. Erykah Badu - "Telephone"
47. Blackstar - "K.O.S. Determination"
48. Glenn Lewis - "Don't You Forget It"
49. Rahsaan Patterson - "Where You Are"
50. Foreign Exchange - "Sincere"
51. Jill Scott - "Whatever, Whatever"
52. Vivan Green - "Emotional Roller Coaster"
53. Dwele - "Find a Way"
54. Kindred the Family - "Far Away"
55. Rapheal Saadiq - "Still Ray"
56. Eric Roberson - "Pretty Girl"
57. D'Angelo - "Jonz in My Bonz"
58. John Legend - "Heaven Only Knows"
60. Angie Stone - "I Wish I Didn't Miss You"
61. Corinne Bailey Rae - "Like a Star"
62. Rapheal Saadiq - "You Should Be Here"
63. Amy Winehouse - "You Sent Me Flying"
64. Elisabeth Withers - "Be With You"
65. Heather Headley - "He Is"
66. Chrisette Michelle - "Your Joy"
67. Raheem Devaughn - "Woman"
68. Adele - "Hometown Glory"
69. Blackstar - "Thieves in the Night"
70. Lesdisi - "Alright"
71. Vivian Green - "What Is Love"
72. Gaelle - "Fallin'"
73. Eric Roberson - "I Love You Too Much"
74. Algebra - "At This Time"
75. Goapele - "Different"
76. Leela James - "Music"
77. Van Hunt - "Seconds of Pleasure"
78. Joss Stone - "Spoiled"
80. Gaelle - "Fade Away"
81. Jazzyfatnastees - "Breakthrough"
82. Lalah Hathaway - "Let Go"
83. Corinne Bailey Rae - "Enchantment"
84. Kemistry - "I Can't Stop Loving You"
85. Soul Sista - "Bilal"
86. Julie Dexter - "Venusian"
87. Dwele - "I'm Cheatin'"
88. Chico Debarge - "Iggin Me"
89. Lucy Pearl - "I Want to Dance Tonight"
90. Lyfe - "Never Never Land"
91. The Roots - "Hypnotic"
92. Allen Anothony - "Alright"
93. Dave Hollister - "One-Woman Man"
94. Trina Broussard - "Inside My Love"
95. The Refugee Camp - "Sweetest Thing"
96. Dwele - "Vain"
97. Van Hunt - "Down Here in Hell"
98. Donnie - "If I Were You"
99. Jazzhole - "Wintersky"
100. Jaquar Wright - "Told Ya"
Lové on July 14, 2019:
Frankie B - All or Nothing
SO SLEPT ON
ARMY on March 25, 2018:
BTS, V - STIGMA
Ricardo on December 04, 2016:
Awesome list. Missing some Remy Shand badlyyyyyy
Michael on August 05, 2016:
I hadn't noticed that India Arie wasn't on the list the now four years ago I visited this site...lol. I do not see a top 100 list of neo-soul songs not include her.
Mike on July 29, 2016:
Omar and India Arie and Donnie are missing from the list.
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on February 25, 2016:
Muzi on February 04, 2015:
Good list, also a difficlut list to make as you see from the comment. I've had this list bookmarked for 4 years!
Rafael Lua Salazar 1993 on December 23, 2014:
Anything by Ledisi
tbag_atl on November 27, 2014:
Fertile Ground - Please don't sleep on those cats.
Rafael Lua Salazar 1993 on November 01, 2014:
Eric Benet I Wanna Be Loved
Kevokay on July 30, 2014:
Great List :-) well done....
Johna385 on June 19, 2014:
Write more, that's all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what you're talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something enlightening to read? kabdeadffgba
MEL on September 27, 2013:
What about Amel Leroux??
stace on October 25, 2012:
Why by Eric Benet
When white turns to Gray by Bilal
chris on October 07, 2012:
great, great list.
but needs to include:
- more d' angelo
- more erykah
- maxwell - this womans work, and ascension.
npg fan on August 08, 2012:
No Prince on here?
Mikael on July 26, 2012:
Neo-Soul in my humble opinion is the masterful blending of 70's soul with hiphop. There are many who have a problem using this term to describe this music. I, as a musician, have no issues with it because I think of it as paying homage to a genre of music (R&B/Soul) that was created in era when "music was music" and not prefabricated or pieced together. I realize over time Neo-Soul has become somewhat of an umbrella term, including all variations on the theme. But, I'm a purist, and being a Purist, some of the songs appearing on this list wouldn't necessarily make it on to mine if I were putting together a top 100.
All in all, well done to the author of this article!
Jorge Avila 1987 on July 09, 2012:
Eric Benét "I Wanna Be Loved"
Jorge Avila 1987 on July 09, 2012:
This is my kind of music. How about Remy Shand "Take A Message", I first heard this song on 102.3 KJLH in Los Angeles and was under the impression that it was Earth, Wind & Fire. I'm a young Hispanic but I really love this kind of music.
Christian on July 04, 2012:
What about a list with 1.What Happened-Algebra Blesett 2. InMy Mind-Shannon Sanders 3. So Fine- Rahsaan Patterson 4.Closer-Goapele 5. Love is You-Chrisette Michelle 6.Teach Me a Lesson-Robin Thicke 7. Still a Man- Toni Tone Tony 8.Starship-Conya Doss 9.Morning After- Eric Roberson 10. Honey Mollasses- Jill Scott
crispusattucks from Brooklyn, New York on June 27, 2012:
Spotify playlist with almost all the songs above and a few songs mentioned from the comments
hannah_london on June 11, 2012:
What about D'angelo's "Africa"
Cut-Try's on June 08, 2012:
Yoh man just feel good music.You must pick the right categori for those artisits which they fall in
Devon on May 30, 2012:
Jesse Boykins III-Amorous could easily be on the list as well, great list nonetheless.
jjdancer59 on May 11, 2012:
Wow! I really wanted to join "City Shakes"...but 'PayPal' got issues! I loved those artists names listed too! If you find a way for me to get around paypal,,holla @ me!
justin on April 30, 2012:
dont leave out: governor/andre 3000/goapele/india aire/and mos def
Michael Muhammad on April 03, 2012:
Luvin' this...any1plz tellme THE BILAL N CHEROKEE trak they did 2gether sum yrs bak..VERY FONKY!!!
Drew on March 28, 2012:
Fantastic list. Mine is damn near identical. Here's my two cents to add to the list...
1. "Ain't Leaving Without You" Jaheim
2. "Can't Hardly Wait" (explicit version) N'dambi
3. "Bad Habits" Maxwell
4. "So Beautiful" and "Yes" Musiq Soulchild (well really anything by him...lol)
5. Any song by Mint Condition
6. "Off My Mind" Zhane
7. "Full Of Smoke" Christion
8. "Baby Stop By" and "Spend The Night" Rahsaan Patterson
9. "Sometimes" and "Soul Sista" Bilal
10. "Smooth" D'Angelo (who am I kidding...all his stuff too)
11. All of Jill Scott (don't mess...)
12."Woman" Raheem Devaughn
13. "Body Rock" Dwele (this is my Jimmy Jam Jam!!!)
14. "Say Yes" Floetry
15. "Sensuality" and "Make a Baby" Vikter Duplaix
16. "Forever More" Anthony David & Algebra
souljah94 on March 16, 2012:
How the hell is Adelle considered a soul singer!?
Joeyclubbin on March 06, 2012:
Just needs a little Peven Everett -Feeling Who You Are
Alex Stassi on February 14, 2012:
I agree this must have been a hard list to compile but D'angelo's "Lady" should be on there and way up the list... Jill Scott's "gettin in the way" should be on that list and why is there no inclusion of British Nu Soul artists Omar & Lynden David Hall?
dale on January 27, 2012:
reggie watts- Movin on
Belistó-Sphepho on January 11, 2012:
N'Dambi - Eva's song/Daydreamer
Erykah Badu - Orange Moon
Davina - After the rain/Cryin' blues
Rachel Farrel - Do you remember
Dwele - I understand
N'Dambi - L.I.E
Me'shell Ndegeocello - Love you down
Omar feat. Erykah Badu - Be thankful
Georgia Anne Muldrow - Simple Advice
Macharia on January 10, 2012:
Anthony Hamilton is definitely the King!Dwele - Find a way,Jill scott, Angie Stone and all the rest who make us wonna listen to Neo Soul
Ramz on January 05, 2012:
Good List, no Omar??
terry shiro on December 31, 2011:
I juz love john legend.
Michael on December 25, 2011:
Love the list. The top four gave you instant credibility with me as those four artists would have topped my list, as well. I may have switched out the Maxwell song with something else but I concur with the other three songs. Especially "The Otherside of the Game", which to me epitomizes the Neosoul essence.
MRodriguez1981 on December 17, 2011:
Raheem Devaugh Guess Who Loves You More
MRodriguez 1981 on December 11, 2011:
Rahsaan Patterson It's Alright Now
MRodriguez1981 on October 30, 2011:
What about Take A Message by Remy Shand from 2001-02? I was shocked to find out that he was white. That song didn't really get airplay anywhere except for KJLH Los Angeles back in '02.
rincon islam itaquera on October 27, 2011:
zap mama bandy bandy
Terence Mazon on September 30, 2011:
This list is great but....... where's number 79?
LTee313 on September 24, 2011:
I'm an 80's baby where is Loose Ends? Also Mary J , Alicia Keys, Dave Hollister and others alike should not be on this list. But good initiative I haven't seen anyone else attempt it
honey on September 20, 2011:
Hollywood is by Bilal. Does Robin Thicke count as neo soul?
davy on September 19, 2011:
there is no the late lynden david hall people,why?
Lorenzo on September 18, 2011:
How about "Tell me" by Groove Theory?
sizwe Magama on September 15, 2011:
MizzMoezzy from Washington on September 10, 2011:
You always have amazing lists. You either have people on the list that I love or people I have not heard of then look up and end up loving.
If I could give an award for great lists I would give you first place.
arlene on August 19, 2011:
ok ni love this website
EDDY on August 18, 2011:
Neo-Soul is the order of the day.
Spencer P on August 02, 2011:
Overall good list with one exception:
Where isKindred: The Family Soul??
Brayoz blacha on July 25, 2011:
Great list but you should include aretha franklin the queen of all this like you included goapele i love that artist
mrs007 on June 26, 2011:
I think the list is well done, and the topic is open to interpretation. He posted what his top 100 of all time were. We all have our own list, and inevitably it will vary from person to person. Mad respect on this list though. and, i do think some of you leaving comments may not truly know what neo-soul actually is...
j - R. O .C. on June 25, 2011:
Alicia keys, Mary j. Blige, Dave Holister, Andre 3000, Lyfe & Joss Stone are not Neo-soul Artists( true ones et that ). Let's not 4get the ones who started it: The king; Donny Hathaway, The queen; Minnie Rippleton, &, who helped alone the way; syreetha & Billy Preston. And in the 1980's; Loose Ends & there were others in the 80's who kept it going til the 90's came. So ppl, know ya history when it comes to neosoul & who started it or you'll lost in the movement.
j - R. O .C. on June 25, 2011:
Alicia keys, Mary j. Blige, Dave Holister, Andre 3000, Lyfe & Joss Stone are not Neo-soul Artists( true ones et that ). Let's not 4get the ones who started it: The king; Donny Hathaway, The queen; Minnie Rippleton, &, who helped alone the way; syreetha & Billy Preston. And in the 1980's; Lose Ends & there were others in the 80's who kept it going til the 90's came. So ppl, know ya history when it comes to neosoul & who started it or you'll lost in the movement.
pete on June 05, 2011:
I love your list. But, I am disappointed that very few, if any, people have actually taken the time to correct something.
This ''all time'' thing that is gripping our artistic society nowadays, is misleading. I think it would only be fair, if you could at least take note of the real roots of ''neo-soul''. That people like erykah badu, and maxwell, absolutely derived, then originalised their stuff from the likes of gil scott-heron and kate bush, should be something to take note of. If you listen to Kate Bush, you will get what maxwell has done, for instance. Erykah Badu's ''otherside of the game'' closely resembles Gil Scott-Heron's stuff done a few years before she did her 1997 album. In fact, Heron has a track called '' The otherside'' on his 1994 album.
I love Erykah and Maxwell(I have just about all their cd albums. And some of the other artistes listed as well), but I have realised where they got their ideas and sound from. And its uncannily similar. same thing for D'Angelo.
If you listen to Gil and other older artistes, you will realise that ''neo''-soul actually began ages ago. Neo-soul is just a marketing gimmick. and I was born in the 1970's, so the music of Gil and co. is not something I really grew up with. but, after you listen around, you will be able to link the dots a little.
I love your list, but please pay some respect to those pioneers who ACTUALLY started the stuff. all these guys didn't start anything. They just revived it.
Best of the 1990's+, yes. All time? No way.
Mellow-D on April 10, 2011:
I gree with several comments made, that India Arie should be on this list as Video & Get It Together are 2 of the most uplifting neo's I have ever heard, and I think Envogue's- Give It Up Turn It Loose (Ghetto remix) should be there also, and I think J.Dilla's-Look of Love should be there also if there is a clean version, but all in all i agree with another author whom said this is probably the most comprehensive neo R&B list I have seen, so all in all, much respect, as I even found a few, where I knew the artists but didn't know the tracks featured, or I found other tracks, so I salute you, nice job. 1 love neubian brother. Peace.
johnyrocket on April 05, 2011:
does anyone know the song where they sing a high pitch something something in hollywood
purity on March 20, 2011:
I'm exited about this compilation. Dangelo def deserves top spot. I would have included dangelo when we get by, maxwell bad habits and erykah next lifetime. But this is amazing
Justin on March 10, 2011:
I've come to love John Legend's 'I love you love' song. If 'a woman's work' by Maxwell was on the list I'd put it right next to it.
The one on March 07, 2011:
Maxwell - This Womans Work? I really think it should be a part of the list. Wayyyy up there. Almost every neo soul fan has loved that song at some point...
Freedom on March 02, 2011:
Great list! But as we all know we all differ somewhere abt some of the listings,Coz I was expecting to see Frank McComb - left alone, Hil st.Soul - Smile,Tweet - best friend.
burrells on March 01, 2011:
Good list. I think it slights some older artists like Incognito and Loose Ends. Couple of MJ cuts like Butterflies and Can't Help It are possibles as well.
The Lion Queen on February 17, 2011:
love amel larrieux! Great list, didn't think of adele as neo soul, but I definitely love that girl!
Luseso on February 10, 2011:
Add some NNeka and the list is perfect
AfrikanRoots on January 16, 2011:
I will also be doing a personal favorites top 100 list of neo soul songs within the next few days. I encourage you to take a look and give a reply when possible
1 on January 05, 2011:
Miguel - Vixen
anomelodious on December 19, 2010:
google anomelodious or neo soul redux. playlists of neo soul, radio hits and otherwise.
for the neo soul lover in you
bongani on December 09, 2010:
Love neo soul 2 much!
AngieWill on November 29, 2010:
Where is Eric Benet? And how on earth is Jill Scott second to Dangelo and what about Carl Thomas, Summer rain and Hey Now
J Money. on November 21, 2010:
India.Arie - The Truth
Glenn Lewis - Storm
Dwele - Open Your Eyes
Slum Village - Count the Ways
Harmony on November 16, 2010:
Would you consider having:
Why do I feel so sad- Alicia Keys
If I 'aint got you- Alicia Keys
mario rodriguez on November 08, 2010:
too bad the 100 songs isn't on a c.d. i would buy it quickly
me on October 29, 2010:
Do you remember the song "Full of Smoke" by Christion?
Glenroy Elias on October 18, 2010:
Good list but Erykah badu should be #1 then Jill scott!!
freeeradical on October 02, 2010:
Brand New Heavies
Davina So Good
VV Brown and others
Towanda on September 27, 2010:
I love this list I love Urban Mystic "In the Morning" & "Best Part Of The Day"
Vice on September 23, 2010:
Note - India Arie is on the list - it's #8, "Brown Skin". This is probably the most comprehensive list I have ever come across - well done.
chadone on September 22, 2010:
Cool list, but I think Me'shell N'Degeocello's Outside Your Door should be included. She may actually even be the first neo-soul artist...
Pika on September 14, 2010:
Wonderful list =) **Nneka - The Uncomfortable Truth
waiting4zion on September 13, 2010:
I second Ratana....india.arie surely does need a place on the list.
But fantastic list nonetheless.
Anyone heard Urban Mystic's newest song? In the Morning...it is amazing.
Ratana on September 12, 2010:
Lovin' the list! but im missing India Arie? she deserves a place on that list :)
Love from Neo Soul head "Denmark"
JZA on September 10, 2010:
anybody have this list available to download as a torrent???
DJ Funktual from One Nation Under a Groove on August 25, 2010:
Digable Planets is hip-hop. Anthony Hamilton's song is called "Comin' From Where I'm From". "Where I'm From" is the Digable Planets again.
The single greatest Neo Soul song of all-time and you missed it? I'll give you a clue, it is widely regarded as the greatest SONG of the entire decade of the 2000s by multiple magazines.
CRAZY - GNARLS BARKLEY
How in the hell can you miss that??????
Cee Lo's new song F**k You is also amazing.
CNeo on August 16, 2010:
Good list overall. My biggest critique of this list is the Musiq Soulchild song you chose as #6. I think "Love" should be there. I liked "Mary Go Round," but it did not have the visibility or impact of "love" or even other songs he did like "just friends" "half crazy"...or even the rest of the songs on the list.
Tati on August 10, 2010:
soul sista - bilal is on there twice. #85 and #11 Must have really live that song.
Very great list though
Hezekiah from Japan on August 09, 2010:
Wicked list mate, don't forget N'Dambi, I'm sure that's in your comfort zone too.
Les - South africa on August 05, 2010:
Wow - Superfantastic Great list guys - Calvin Richardson feat. Angie Stone - More than a woman :-)
But i cant complain on this 2 list (Top 100 and Possible 30 more). am smiling heh.
Bobbi on July 25, 2010:
Also pls check out Lemar - Lullaby. /Good job!!d-_-b
Zul on July 12, 2010:
Also the UK diva Martine Girault - revival.
Ray on June 28, 2010:
You gotta include Omar- There's nothing like this!!!!!!
Da Man on March 26, 2010:
Every 10 years u change the name of our music stop it we make music not titles ok stop it by some one that don't like it ok by shade W.
slim calhoun on March 25, 2010:
great list, actually I thought loose ends was one of the first groups with this style of music.
darren M aka Easy dee on February 06, 2010:
Awesm list,from every angle
Karen J/ aka DJ KJ on January 30, 2010:
Just wanted to say I host an internet radio that kicks all these jams on Sunday from 12-3pm. Join me and let me know what you think and what i may be missing.
Soul Full Sundays
Living In Paris on January 26, 2010:
A very ambitious list to take on. Well done. I like that you included neo soul-adjacent songs like "Umi Says."
-albz on January 17, 2010:
this is the bomb-diggity hahaha
KT4LIFE on December 06, 2009:
loving da list
RAM6328 on December 06, 2009:
After careful review, I see you had indeed included "Ledisi's Alright"...My bad. When you get around to doing "Part #2", I think you should include "In the morning" by her".
ram6328 on December 06, 2009:
Great list, just a few mentions. 1#, Which I'm sure you're aware of, you listed "Soul Sista twice. And secondly no "Top Neo Soul List" is possible without "Ledisi".
Here are some possible considerations:
1: Ledisi "In the morning"
2: Jill Scott "All I"
3: Raheem Devaughn "Lay awhile"
4: Slum Village "Call me"
5: Foreign Exchange "Come around"
6: Busta Rhymes Ft. Mary J Blige, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Common "Decisions"
7: Ronnie Burrage "Em Village"
8: Jazzy Jeff "For the love of da game"
9: Evidence Ft. Will.I. Am "For whom the bells toll"
10: Common Ft. Jill Scott "I am music"
11: Norman Connors "I am your melody"
12: J. Cole Ft. Lee Fields "Ladies"
13: The Foreign Exchange "Leave it all behind"
14: Raheem Devaughn Ft. Floetry "Marathon"
15: DJ Spinna "Melody"
16: Jazmine Sllivan Ft Floetry "Music"
17: Jazzy Jeff Ft. Raheem Devaughn "My people"
18: George Duke "No rhyme no reason"
19: Duo Live Ft. Al B. Sure & Fabolous "Princess"
20: B.O.B "Put me on"
21: Surface "Quiet Storm"
22: Me'shell NdegeOcello (love jones soundtrack) "Rush over"
23: Jill Scott "slowly surely"
24: Musiq "So beautiful"
25: Red Cafe Ft. Anita Baker "So easy"
26: Roy Ayers "Summer madness"
27: Slum Village "Tainted"
28: Jon B "They don't know"
29: Devin the Dude Ft. Andre 3000, Snoop Dogg "What a job"
30: Souls of Mischief "93' til infinity"