R&B Fridays: Episode 30

This week has seen a number of leaks (potentially) from Usher’s upcoming Raymond vs. Raymond, and it’s those that anchor this week’s episode.

This milestone episode has got a lot of quality, and a lot of new tracks that I’ve really enjoyed this past week from both huge and lesser known names, as well as a surprising number of unreleased tracks, and some from artists of years gone by which will catch some by surprise.

It feels like only yesterday I wrote Episode 1!

Mary J. Blige & Sinead O’Connor-This Is To Mother You
-A really heartfelt, meaningful collaboration from this massively unexpected duo. Good track, and an easy listen. Didn’t know Sinead was still going, and those of you who don’t know Sinead O’Connor are fundamental idiots.

Usher-Foolin’ Around
-The first of 3 Usher tracks, all of which may be on the upcoming album. The leaks thus far have given me high hopes, and this is no exception. A simple piano melody plays an appropriate supporting role to Usher’s lyrics which are definitely the highlight of this track. Nothing I can criticise about this track.

-Firstly, look at that ‘n’ in the song title. Secondly, Francisco drops the style of track that only he seems to put out: a mid-tempo track with a few uptempo elements. It’s a difficult combination, but he always gets this right.

Ryan Leslie-Don’t Try 2 Call Her Now
-An older unreleased track, and one with that classic R.Les sound both on the production and the vocals. He’s already working on his third album, Les Is More, and you have to appreciate his work ethic: at this rate, he’ll have 3 albums out in a 12-month period!

Mariah Carey-Angels Cry Remix ft. Ne-Yo
-The first of 2 tracks from Mariah Carey this week, this is set to be the first single from her Angels Advocate remix album. It’s a slow jam which will go down really well with fans of either artist, although this sort of track isn’t really my thing. It’s no critcism at all, it’s just that this type of slower Mariah stuff has never really been my thing. It’s got some cracking vocals though, can’t deny that.

Next-On & Off
-Remember Next-Wifey?! Classic. I knew the lead singer RL was working on solo stuff, but didn’t know they’d reformed. This is pretty decent chilled R&B, and definitely a good comeback. Good vocals, and a likeable beat.

Jason Derulo-Psycho
-An awful lot of music is making its way out from Derulo’s camp each week, which is either a good promo drive, or a terrible leak situation. This is a more uptempo and bouncier track than his other material, and it’s a decent change.

Destiny’s Child-Life Like This
-Don’t get excited, this isn’t another reunion. This is unreleased, from around 2001, and is pretty decent. It’s a lyrically-defiant track, with a production which has elements of a slow jam and more perky uptempo parts. Unusual mix, but it just about works.

-I’ve heard this beat before, but I can’t figure out where. It’s a really good beat too, and Omarion brings some nice vocals to the mix. Definitely one of the better Omarion tracks I’ve heard in the last year or so.

Shanell-Other Side ft. Lil’ Wayne & Ne-Yo
-Don’t really know anything about Shanell. This is a very dance/electro-style beat, and with the strength of those features this should be a breakout hit. I’m not a big fan of the effect they’ve used on the vocals, and I think they’ve overkilled the techno vibe with that, but it’s still going to be a pretty big dance track as I doubt that will be a major issue…!

Jason Derulo-Revolution
-This track is a bit hit and miss. The use of AutoTune is absolutely terrible, not just because of my personal prejudice but you can just hear when it’s not used right and this is exactly that. However, the beat is good.

Usher-There Goes My Baby
-I absolutely adore this track. Unashamedly. The production samples an old song I really used to like, and again I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. Either way, the beat is really simple but likeable at the same time. Usher’s vocals are on absolute top form, and given some nice variety. As I said about the other Ush track above, this has nothing to criticise.

Mary J. Blige-Closer
-It’s almost as if everyone has at least two tracks in this episode! This Ryan Leslie-produced bonus track from MJB’s album is another good track which again surprises me as I never really used to listen to her stuff. It’s a very good production from R.Les, and the vocals are good as expected.

Mariah Carey-Up Out My Face Remix ft. Nicki Minaj
-Big, big feature for Nicki. This is set to be a single from Mariah’s upcoming remix album, and it’s not too bad. The beat is nothing spectacular, but Minaj makes me laugh (in a good way) with some of her lines which gives this song some entertainment value.

Dru Hill-Love MD
-New Dru Hill which leaked almost exactly when Sisqo went into the Celebrity Big Brother house. Interesting. Back in the late 90s, Dru dropped one of my favourite R&B tracks ever and it disappoints me that Sisqo, the lead singer, has fallen so low. Anyway, this track is pretty decent and is a well-sung slow(ish) jam which is definitely a strong comeback.

Keri Hilson-Get Ya Money Up (Remix) ft. Keyshia Cole & Nicki Minaj
-Keri’s banger from her 2009 album undergoes a remix, which will probably get it some buzz as the track is a guaranteed club smash. This remix replaces Trina with Nicki, and is definitely worth checking out if you liked the original.

Destiny’s Child-Twirk
-Told you, it’s coming in twos. Unfortunately, this unreleased 2001 track isn’t particularly good and I’m not really feeling this. It’s got production similarities to Mrs. Jay-Z’s Baby Boy track though, so fans of that might like this. Probably just worth having for the historical value.

Ryan Leslie-You’re My Angel
-Another unreleased Leslie track, with some nice use of different instruments on the production. The beat is definitely something different and I like how it’s got a few different elements and influences. The vocals aren’t bad at all, but it’s not mastered perfectly so the hook gets a bit swallowed up by the beat. Still really good though, and definitely an enjoyable listen.

Usher-Oh My Gosh ft. will.i.am
-When I was given this, it originally didn’t list will.i.am as a feature, but just as a producer. However, his influence is massive on this track, so I’m changing that. At times, it’s honestly difficult to discern between the two of them as will does lend some vocals, and Usher’s vocal style/notes on this are exactly what you’d expect of a will.i.am/BEP track. These are not criticisms at all though, as this uptempo number is a really likeable listen and is one of his better productions in a long time. It’s the juxtaposition of the dancey/uptempo verses with the more airy, and dreamscape chorus which really hooked me into this beat. Definitely a very good collaboration between these two, and on this evidence they should definitely look to do more together.

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