After beginning her career in the late ’70s with the hip hop trio The Sequence, Angie Stone shot to prominence in 1999 with the release of her debut solo album, Black Diamond. Since then, she’s released a handful more albums, won multiple awards, earned praise for her acting, and even ventured into reality TV. Through it all, her intoxicating fusion of classic soul, funk, and hip-hop has continued to delight her armies of fans around the world. Here, we take a look back at some of her finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Angie Stone songs of all time.
Kicking off our list of the 10 best Angie Stone songs of all time is Everyday, a funky shiver of soul that will leave no doubt in anyone’s mind why Stone is considered one of the leading ladies of contemporary soul. Released as the third and final single from her 1999 debut Black Diamond, it reached number 52 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number 80 in the UK.
9. U Lit My Fire
Rich Girl, Stone’s sixth studio album, might not be a perfect album, but even on the weaker material, Stone’s vocal gifts and easy-going charm shine through like a beacon. Although the number of classic soul moments are thin on the ground, fans will still find plenty to enjoy on standout moments like U Lit My Fire, a sinuous, hypnotic knockout featuring one of the most seductive vocal performances of Stone’s career.
Written and produced by Missy Elliott, Nisan Stewart, Craig Brockman, and John “Jubu” Smith, and with backing vocals provided courtesy of Elliott, Betty Wright, Tweet, and Stone’s daughter Diamond, U-Haul is very much a collaborative effort. But unlike some of the other collaborations on Stone’s third album, Stone Love (if you haven’t already listened to I Wanna Thank Ya with Snoop Dog, don’t do it now), this one works brilliantly- so much so, it even managed to snag a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 47th Grammy Awards.
7. I Ain’t Hearin’ U
Prior to the release of her fifth album, Unexpected, Stone told Blues & Soul, “Being as I’ve delivered four decent albums already, I felt it was safe to switch up and do something different this time. And musically overall I just wanted to have FUN! I wanted to do something that embodies a jam kinda feel, so that we could have some fun in concert and show people everything doesn’t always have to be so serious.” In fairness, Unexpected isn’t as unexpected as all that, consisting of a typically enjoyable blend of soul and funk with a few blasts of hip hop for good measure. But while it might not throw up any surprises, it’s hard to care when it gives us tracks like the (expectedly) glorious I Ain’t Hearin’ U.
6. Stay for a While
Not all of the collaborations on Stone’s third album Stone Love work (Snoop Dogg’s constant interjections on the lead single I Wanna Thank Ya transforms what would otherwise be a great song into a snoozefest), but those that do, such as My Man featuring Floetry and That Kind of Love with Betty Wright, help make the album the enjoyable listen it is. On Stay for a While, Stone teams up with the always excellent Anthony Hamilton for an exceptional performance that easily ranks among the album’s best.
Stone’s second alum, Mahogony Soul, received an overwhelmingly positive reception, with the BBC calling it her “masterpiece” and “a confident musical statement of what it means to be African-American” and Pop Matters praising it as an “accomplished piece of R&B music.” Naturally, not everyone was quite so effusive, but the one thing everyone did agree on was that Brotha, the album’s lead single, is one of its chief highlights. Released in August 2001, it made it to number 3 on the US Adult R&B Songs chart and number 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
4. Life Story
Angie Stone’s debut album, Black Diamond, presented an accomplished, fully-fledged artist who knew her way around a funky groove just as well as a tender ballad. Described by All Music as a “refreshing and much-needed alternative to silicone-coated R&B and cartoonish rap,” its engaging fusion of soul, funk and hip hop led to the album certifying gold in both the UK and the US. One of its highlights is Life Story, a sensuous slice of hip-hop-infused soul that took Stone to number 22 on the UK Singles Chart on its release as the album’s second international single.
3. Love Junkie
Stone could sing the telephone directory and sound riveting, but it always helps when the song choice matches up to her superlative vocals. Her debut album, Black Diamond, is crammed with songs that showcase her gifts, from the standout single No More Rain to the sensual soul of Life Story. On Love Junkie, she digs deep and finds her funky side, delivering a downright dirty performance over a funky bass and a deep-seated groove that’s guaranteed to make your hips twitch.
2. Wish I Didn’t Miss You
Before the release of Wish I Didn’t Miss You, Stone’s career was on the verge of taking a nosedive into oblivion. But with that one song, she stopped being just another neo-soul diva among many and became a bona fide star in her own right. Delivered over a driving beat, her yearning vocals ache, break and smolder in a way that would give even Whitney Houston a run for her money. Released in February 2002, the song hit number one on the US Dance Club Songs chart and charted highly across numerous other countries.
1. No More Rain (In This Cloud)
In at number one on our list of the 10 best Angie Stone songs of all time is No More Rain (In This Cloud). Released as the first single from Black Diamond, it’s a stunningly accomplished debut, with Stone’s transcendent, soulful vocals shining brightly on top of a wonderfully clever sample of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye). After hitting the shelves in April 1999, the song flew straight to the top of Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart.