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Who Was the Best at Having Sex in 1998 (According to No. 1 R&B Songs)?

Breaking down a sultry collection of chart-toppers to determine which crooner was the leading lover of the late ’90s

R&B Songs in 1998 Getty Images/Ringer illustration

This is, admittedly, a silly exercise, but also a fun one, which means it’s a good one, because “silly” and “fun” are good, and so we start with a question: Who was the best at having sex in 1998?

It’s a big, big thing to ask, given that there were literally billions of people having sex in 1998 (probably even David Schwimmer). So we need borders. We need a barrier. We need a way to keep the conversation from stretching out for 10,000 miles over 10,000 years. So, and for obvious reasons this seems like the best way to do it, let’s allow for potential answers to be chosen only from R&B artists with songs that came out in 1998 that, at one time in that year, made it to no. 1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B chart.

These are the only 13 songs that can make that claim (meaning these are the only people who can win):

  • Boyz II Men, “A Song for Mama”: No. 1 for one week.
  • LSG, “My Body”: LSG was a supergroup formed by Gerald Levert, Keith Sweat, and Johnny Gill. No. 1 for two weeks.
  • Usher, “Nice & Slow”: No. 1 for eight weeks.
  • Destiny’s Child, “No, No, No”: No. 1 for one week.
  • Montell Jordan, “Let’s Ride,” featuring Master P and Silkk the Shocker: No. 1 for three weeks, though not consecutively. (Every other song on this list that was on the list for more than one week was in the no. 1 spot for consecutive weeks.)
  • K-Ci & JoJo, “All My Life”: No. 1 for two weeks.
  • Next, “Too Close”: No. 1 for three weeks.
  • Janet Jackson, “I Get Lonely,” featuring Blackstreet: No. 1 for two weeks.
  • Brandy and Monica, “The Boy Is Mine”: No. 1 for eight weeks.
  • Kelly Price, “Friend of Mine”: No. 1 for five weeks.
  • Monica, “The First Night”: No. 1 for six weeks.
  • Dru Hill, “How Deep Is Your Love,” featuring Redman: No. 1 for three weeks.
  • Deborah Cox, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here”: No. 1 for eight weeks.

We’ll go through each song, lift out evidence for or against the artist’s case, and then by the end we’ll know who was the best at having sex in 1998.

Boyz II Men, “A Song for Mama”

Without context, there are some very romantic things said in this song. Saying to someone, for example, “You’re the driving force in my life” is certainly romantic, as is “You’re the queen of my heart,” as is “Your love is like tears from the stars” (although I’m willing to admit that the star tears one is at least mildly confusing). That said, there’s just no way to work around the fact the Boyz II Men guys were singing to their mothers, which is decidedly not sexy, meaning Boyz II Men was decidedly not sexy in this particular moment. Boyz II Men was not the best at having sex in 1998.

Destiny’s Child, “No, No, No”

Here’s a revelation: Beyoncé was harassing the guy she was singing to in “No, No, No.” Consider these things:

  • In the song, Beyoncé romantically approaches a guy several times. Each time she does, he responds, “No, no, no, no, no.” (That he is saying “No” five times to her each time would, at least to me, suggest that this harassment has been taking place for quite some time already and he is fed up with it.) (Think on it like that scene in Breaking Bad where Skyler, completely frustrated with her sister Marie’s pestering, tells her to shut up 14 times in a row.)
  • Every time that Beyoncé hears him say no, she says to him that really what he means is, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” (This is standard and typical harassing behavior, really.)
  • There is never even one single time in the song where the guy says (or even implies) that he is interested in a relationship with Beyoncé.
  • In fact, there are 92 instances (!!!) in “No, No, No” where we hear that the guy has turned down Beyoncé. (FYI, that’s 91 more times than should’ve been necessary.)
  • The only proof that Beyoncé says she has that he wants to be with her is that she can “see it in [his] eyes” and that he’s giving her “signs.” However, whenever she asks him about it, he does not confirm her suspicions.
  • She threatens him on at least two separate occasions that if he doesn’t just come out and say that he wants her, she’s going to leave, and of course he never says it, and of course she doesn’t leave him alone.
  • There’s a part where Beyoncé says that she approaches the guy in the street and that he seems “so shy.” Maybe he’s not being shy. Maybe he’s just been shaken by her constant stream of harassment and is surprised that she’s advanced to the level of harassment where she feels bold enough to run up on him in the street when he’s out with his friends.
  • She tries every tactic she can think of to get him to want her. As mentioned earlier, she (a) threatens to ignore him forever if he doesn’t act, but also (b) she tries to use peer pressure to get him to cave (she invites her three friends to join along); (c) she tries to tell him that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks (“Don’t worry what they say”); (d) she tries to negate any of the reasons he’s not accepting her advances (“You won’t regret it”); and (e) she tries to embarrass him as being an inexperienced lover (“What’s the problem, baby? Never had a girl like I?”).

Proof enough, I would say.

Destiny’s Child was not the best at having sex in 1998. (They were likely the best at harassment, though.)

Monica, “The First Night”

The title here might make it seem like the song is about the first time Monica makes love with someone, but really what it’s about is how Monica goes on a very nice date with a guy and, despite wanting to, she decides not to have sex with him because it’s only their first date. The bulk of the song makes it clear that Monica is likely very good at relationships (the most insightful part: “Wanted to touch you / Wanted to kiss you / And somehow in one night / Discover I love you”), and there’s also a line that suggests she is responsible in general life (“My watch tells me it’s getting too late,” because who even wears a watch on a date). But neither of those things are sex, so: Monica was not the best at having sex in 1998.

K-Ci & JoJo, “All My Life”

K-Ci and JoJo have, no question, been part of some extremely sexy songs (“Freek’n You” is the most obvious example, what with it starting with JoJo singing the line, “Every time I close my eyes, I wake up feeling so horny”). But “All My Life” isn’t that. “All My Life” is a celebration of love, not libido. (There’s a part in it where K-Ci compares the woman to whom he’s singing to not only his mother, but also his father, his brother, and his sister.) (There’s also a part in the video where an old woman gives a homeless man in a subway a plate of food, and I can’t think of a time in my life where, as a way to set a sexy mood, I brought up the heartbreaking plight of homeless people in America.) (Also, since we’re talking about the video, both K-Ci and JoJo wear white cotton gloves in the video, which is the least sexy kind of glove to wear, just barely losing out to “boxing glove” and “arthritis gloves.”) K-Ci and JoJo were not the best at having sex in 1998.

Brandy and Monica, “The Boy Is Mine” / Kelly Price, “Friend of Mine”

Brandy and Monica spend all of their song arguing over who actually holds the rights to a boyfriend they both happen to be sharing. That means there’s probably an argument to be made that the boyfriend (played by Mekhi Phifer in the video) was among the best at having sex in 1998, but that Monica and Brandy weren’t. (We can use the same logic to eliminate Kelly Price from this conversation because “Friend of Mine” is all about how her friend stole her man from her.)

Dru Hill, “How Deep Is Your Love,” featuring Redman

Sisqo makes multiple claims about how good he is at sex in “How Deep Is Your Love” (he specifically mentions that he is good at performing oral sex, and also that he is good at making his sexual partner aroused, which are definitely things that someone who wants to be named The Best at Having Sex in 1998 would need to have in his or her arsenal). HOWEVER, the reason he’s even bringing it up is because he suspects that the woman he’s seeing is cheating on him with another man. (All of Sisqo’s claims are in reference to the other guy, as in, “You know that he can’t go down like me.”) And so if we’re cutting Monica, Brandy, and Kelly Price from the competition because each of their partners were unfaithful, then we have to do the same with Sisqo and Dru Hill.

(Additionally, it sounds a lot like Sisqo’s girlfriend was cheating on him with Redman, which is the worst part of an already bad situation. If I were tasked with making a list of late ’90s pop culture figures that was arranged by how much or how little I’d be OK with my wife cheating on me with them, Redman would absolutely be near the bottom.) (Coincidentally, Sisqo would be the near the top.)

Deborah Cox, “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” / Janet Jackson, “I Get Lonely,” featuring Blackstreet

Both of these songs are about the aftershocks that rumble out of a breakup. To wit, in “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” Cox sings about how she’s had her heart broken too many times to feel comfortable trusting anyone again (the video, of course, ends with her allowing herself to be courted by a handsome man who is good at catching butterflies). In “I Get Lonely,” Jackson sings about how she misses the person who has recently broken up with her and how she won’t settle for anyone but him (the video, of course, ends with her ripping her shirt open to show her breasts, which is not that good of a way to catch butterflies but is a good way to catch men, insomuch as I understand butterflies and men). At any rate, what I’m saying is both Cox and Jackson are too preoccupied with heartache to be able to focus on sex. Neither of them were the best at having sex in 1998.

Next, “Too Close”

Four things here:

  1. I have no doubt that the guys from Next were extremely interested in sex in 1998, but I can’t convince myself that they were actually any good at it, what with their opening move in “Too Close” being to press their erections up against women they were dancing with.
  2. If we were all given the ability to travel back in time and peek in on any three historical events of our choosing, I would 100 percent use one of mine to sit in on the pitch meeting when Next presented the idea of making one of their album singles be a song about predatory boners.
  3. The best line in the song is when RL, singing about the way a girl is dancing, says, “Makes me want you so bad ...” and then there’s a slight pause, and then, just so everyone is on the same page, he says, “... sexually,” as in, “Makes me want you so bad sexually,” as in, “Just so we’re clear, I would like to put my penis in you.”
  4. Next was not the best at having sex in 1998.

LSG, “My Body”

Extremely sexy. There are lots of things you could pick out here to make an argument that LSG was the best at having sex in 1998. You could talk about how the video has a sexy color palette, or how everyone in it is wearing sexy clothes, or how everyone in it is doing sexy dances, or how the words that each of the guys in LSG are singing are delivered in a very sexy manner, and so on and so forth. BUT, the main issue against picking them as the winner is that everything they’re saying and singing about is conjecture. It’s lots of “I can do this …” and “I can do that …” and “I’ll make you feel this …” and “I’ll make you feel that …” We never get any actual proof that any of the things they’re saying are true. That’s why we can’t pick them. Because what if it turns out that Johnny Gill was lying? What if there actually were people who could do “the things that Johnny can do”? It’s just too big of a risk to take. Which is why the decision has to be: LSG was not the best at having sex in 1998.

Montell Jordan, “Let’s Ride,” featuring Master P and Silkk the Shocker

Montell Jordan, Master P, and Silkk the Shocker all make noble attempts at earning the Who Was the Best at Having Sex in 1998? crown on “Let’s Ride.” Of the three, Montell finishes in third place (he spends his time at a strip club, eventually paying a woman who likes him only “occasionally” $50 for a lap dance). Master P finishes second (he makes reference to his penis being nine inches long, and also he talks about having camouflage sheets, which is a peculiar thing to mention). And Silkk finishes in first (he talks about sharing expensive alcohol and strawberries with his bedmate, as well as taking a bath with her, as well as engaging in multiple positions during sex, as well as expensive rugs, and expensive rugs aren’t a thing you realize is sexy until you’re at least 33 years old, which makes Silkk at that stage of his life advanced for his age). And so they all take big swings, but none land quite as heartily as …

Usher, “Nice & Slow”

The video for “Nice & Slow” is, in no uncertain terms, incredible, and not only establishes that Usher is very good at having sex, but also that Usher is willing to do all manner of things to be able to have the aforementioned sex. What I mean is, these are the things that happen in the video:

  • He flies to a city on a private jet, then rides to a home, takes a shower, then calls a girl and tells her he’ll be over in 10 minutes while he’s still wearing only a towel.
  • The two have a past, and that past includes him being so good at sex that when he tells her he’s on the way she literally stands by the door waiting for him to knock on it. (Usher hints at his bedroom abilities when he sings, “I got plans to put my hands in places I’ve never seen, girl, you know what I mean,” which, really, is probably the nicest way a person has ever told another person they were going to put their fingers inside their [REDACTED] or their [REDACTED].)
  • He takes the girl on a trip to Europe, then makes out with her in front of a tourist attraction.
  • He promises to make love until the sun comes up. (This is a thing only people in their 20s say. When you get older, you quickly realize that making love until the sun comes up would be a total fucking nightmare. You’re talking about somewhere from seven to 10 hours of constant sex, which is one of those things that is better to say than to actually do.)
  • He plays an acoustic guitar with his shirt open in front of the Eiffel Tower.
  • HERE’S WHERE THE VIDEO GOES SIDEWAYS: As he’s driving the woman around Paris, kidnappers attack them, beat him up, and then kidnap the woman.
  • He tells the police but they refuse to do anything.
  • He decides he’s going on his own revenge mission.
  • He puts on an eye patch, rides a motorcycle to where the kidnappers are, karate fights them, rescues the girl, then kills them all by exploding the building as he and the woman ride away. (And mind you, this is all while he’s singing about how he still wants to do something “freaky” to the girl.)
  • He takes her back to a room, then they make love with so much passion and energy that the only thing the woman can think to do is go to her computer, open a Word document, then type “Nice & Slow” over and over and over again until the screen is full.

Usher was the best at having sex in 1998.