From Boys to Men: Giving These Millennial R&B Kings Their Flowers

Millennial Kings, Mario, Omarion, Usher

Source: Prince Williams/David Livingston/Paul Morigi / Getty



VERZUZ announced an Omarian and Mario matchup. The event is scheduled to take place June 23, Unlike other VERZUZ match-ups this ticket features a bonus pre-show. Bobby Valentino and Ray J are putting their collective hits up against Sammie and Pleasure P. This announcement is music to older millennial ears. The 2000s were formative years for many millennials at the top of the curve.

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The 1990s were filled with R&B crooners singing about love and sex with a mature tone and explicit lyrics. Genuwine, Joe, Case and their contemporaries were on their grown man-ish heavy. As younger teenagers, many connected with their artistry superficially. The fine and talented men of the ‘90s were years older and chances are—sexually wiser. Their love and sensuality was inaccessible. This realization took away from the fantasy and infatuation that comes when you allow yourself to be immersed in an artist and their music. Luckily, a wave of fresh young talent began to take center stage. The newcomers sang with the language of youth. They kept that same energy when performing. They became millennial kings of R&B. No longer boys, these men are still doing it for the culture. —And in no particular order, MADAMENOIRE is going to give these kings their flowers. 

Usher 

The King. Before we bestow honor, we must acknowledge the outlier — Usher Raymond. Usher’s career took off in the ‘90s with the hits “You Make Me Wanna” and “Nice and Slow.” It was his run in the 2000s that put him at the top of the list. Usher has the range. In 2001, the Confessions singer released his third studio album 8701. He gave us both visuals and vocals. The video for “You Got It Bad,” featured his then-girlfriend Chilli of the iconic group TLC. Some were shocked at him dating the older woman. It didn’t stop millennial girls from swooning, as he danced in the rain pouring pure love on them tracks. Usher is the complete package. His dance moves were graceful and fluid. His Jermaine Dupree-produced albums kept his sound fresh and his dimples held our attention. He may have been a seasoned performer, but the new millennium is where his true ascension began. Raymond would win two Grammys for 8701. He then dropped one of the biggest albums of the decade, Confessions. Selling 1.1 million records in its first week, the evocative album gifted us not only with its chart-topping singles, but album cuts, like “Superstar” and “Seduction.” Confessions sold 15 million physical albums before the days of streaming. All hail the King.

Sammie 

Sammie came on the scene in 2000. A young prince with a young sound. His first single “I Like It,” featured light prepubescent vocals. The song matched perfectly. It alerted the younger generation to a new wave of heartthrob. Sammie was a young Florida boy with a charming presence. He continued performing through the 2000s, featuring on Lil Bow Wow’s “Hardball,” and Soujah Boy’s “Kiss Me Through The Phone.” Teaming up with both young rappers solidified Sammie as a millennial singer. He took some time off to finish high school. He is now a seasoned songwriter, performer and sex symbol. His instagram posts are filled with thirst traps, complete with rock hard abs, tattooed skin and gorgeous mane likely to set a few panties on fire. He joined the Millenium Tour in 2019, giving fans a taste of nostalgia and a glimpse of his future sound. 

Omarion

Omarion’s career and our obsession with him started in 2002. Lead singer of B2K—Boys of the New Millenium—Omarion created a frenzy amongst teenage girls. The group’s studio album “Pandemonium,” sold 1.9 million units. The album included the song “Girlfriend,” where Omarion sang about his need for a young lady in his life. Young women all over wanted the role. Clearly a stand out talent, Omarion stepped out to start his solo career. His signature cornrows and new age pop-locking dance moves kept folks entranced. He was, indeed, boyfriend material. Omarion’s presence gave off fun loving vibes which were apparent in his first single, 2004’s “Touch.” Omarion’s impeccable footwork is still recreated today with viral TikTok challenges. He kept his evermoving feet on our necks throughout the Millennium with songs like “O” and “Icebox.” Omarion is an infamously unbothered king. He continues to drop heat, like his 2015 hit “Post To Be,” featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko. As it’s only right, Omarion is currently the co-headliner for the Millenium Tour.

Mario 

If Omarion is boyfriend material, then Mario is definitely husband material. At least he is, now. Back when Mario hit the scene in the early 2000s, he was a cute kid with an amazing voice and cornrows. His style was of the time, oversized jeans and T-Shirts. Where the other Young Millenium king’s voices needed to mature, Mario came with the vocals. He was young and his voice had power. Mario’s first single “Braid My Hair,” was a sweet ode to the simple yet intimate act of  braiding your boo’s hair. He would later release what is now a cookout staple “Let Me Love You.” Keeping his choreography light, Mario’s vocals were the draw. His range from a light tenor to a beautiful falsetto on “Crying Out For Me,” cemented a love for his sound. Mario struggled personally in the last few years, but seems to be coming out on the other side. His set on the Millenium tour has gotten attention for the over enthusiastic response of his female fans. 

Lloyd 

New Orleans native, Lloyd started his solo career in 2004. He brought with him a bit of nostalgia as many recognized him as the lead singer in the boy band N-Toon. As a solo artist, he left behind the boyish charm. His first single “Southside” featured heavy hitters Scarface and Ashanti. The single quickly hit the Billboard charts. Lloyd won over the hearts of his fans using a simple formula, baby face, braids and tattoos. He possessed a soft spoken melodic voice. He wasn’t overtly sexual. His sex appeal was apparent, but with it came an air of sensitivity. Lloyd’s flame burned hot in the 2000s. His reign gave us songs like the uptempo “You,” featuring Lil Wayne and “Lay It Down.” After taking a break to begin a family Lloyd dropped “True” in 2016. 

There are some artists who are intentionally left off this list—those who shall not be named. To be fair, this list doesn’t do justice to all the men who stepped up and shut shit down after the turn of the century. This list is only a snapshot of those that gave us fresh sounds, personas and R&B excellence. They don’t necessarily get their flowers as they should. It’s heartwarming to see so many of them taking center stage again, whether the VERZUZ stage or The Millennium Tour.

We salute them.

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