R&B Fridays: Episode 38

I had 40 potential tracks this week. 40. That’s a big number. I barely have the time for a regular episode, let alone a 40-deep one, and it’s actually really hard to pick a set out of them. I’ve picked what seemed to be the strongest/potentially most popular 20, and I’ll try to post the rest up in a few days.

Click on for 5 helpings of new Usher, a couple of features from The-Dream and many more huge names.

EDIT:  I uploaded the wrong artwork for the tracks, and they have pictures of The-Dream as the album art. My bad, but I’m not re-uploading everything again. It could be worse :)

Usher-Mars vs. Venus
-Of the 6 Usher leaks this week (5 in here, 1 to come in part 2), this is the only one confirmed for the upcoming album. I like that, as it means the album doesn’t get spoiled but we still get plenty of new Ush to keep us going. This is a great track though, really slow and should be a strong album track. Driving production, with trademark Usher vocals.

Diddy-They Don’t Love Me ft. The-Dream
-The jury is still out for me on this. The stuff with Dirty Money has been better than this, but it could grow on me. It’s worth checking out as it’s one of those tracks that can divide opinions, so you may well feel differently.

Ryan Leslie-When I Think About Love
-An older, unreleased track from R-Les. I like this production, and it’s a pretty chilled joint which flows nicely. Nothing overly outstanding, but that’s part of its charm and it will slide into a playlist nicely.

Kelly Rowland & Michael Bublé-How Deep Is Your Love
-Don’t know what this collabo is for, but it’s pretty unexpected. As you’d guess, it’s a cover of the Bee Gees classic and (unfortunately) not the Dru Hill track. As you’d guess, this isn’t my thing but it’s probably yours.

Donell Jones-All Night
-Donell keeps on the comeback trail with another great track. I’ve always really liked Tim & Bob’s production work, and this is no different. In my books, they’re the best R&B producers around and always bring a great sound to a track. Donell takes this on nicely, and brings some smooth vocals to a great beat.

Usher-Lay You Down
-The title probably tells you that this is another slower jam, and it’s another great one. Lyrically, it’s pretty well written and the beat is nothing crazy which fits the sentiment of the track well. Very few do these sort of tracks as well as Usher.

Christina Milian-Boombox
-Those of you who pay attention will immediately recognise this beat from a Riz track that dropped back in November. I was told that was for a soundtrack, but it either seems that’s now been changed or this was simply a demo for it. Not sure which version I prefer, as they’re both pretty good. Decide for yourself and check this out.

Bobby Valentino-Stilettos & T-Shirt ft. Nicki Minaj
-I liked the original version of this, and most R&B tracks are better with Nicki on them. Potentially a big hit for Bobby, and I’d be happy for this to go that way as it’s an easy track to listen to.

Trey Songz-The Machine (Buy U A Round Remix)
-Oh man. I loved this beat from the original (probably more so the remix), and Trey drops a great remix of his own. Adding in some backing vocals as well as dropping a dope freestyle, this is another beat you can tick off your list that Trey has destroyed.

Johnta Austin-Don’t Stop
-Someone PLEASE tell me where this melody is from? I’m sure it’s from an early/mid-2000′s track but can’t quite place it. Anyway, this is another nice Johnta track, and as chilled out and smooth as ever. This dude needs to release an album of these type of tracks, ‘cos this is just so easy to listen to.

Usher-Somebody To Love
-A more uptempo joint this time, and a good one at that. This would go down a storm in a club, and the beat has some electro influences that work well with Usher’s vocals. Decent effort.

Leona Lewis-Can’t Fight It ft. Ne-Yo
-Leona not doing a slow, overly-emotional song?! Dare I say, this track actually has some upbeat and positive vibes to it, and I’m quite liking this production. Obviously her voice needs no hyping, but this is quite an interesting look at how little she actually needs to use her voice on this type of track, and hence justifies why I think Alexandra Burke is massively wasted in her current ‘genre’. Crediting Ne-Yo with a feature is generous, as he only adds a couple of words in the backing vocals.

Akon-Party Animal
-The title, the artist, and the fact it was produced by David Guetta tell you exactly what type of track this is. Funny I say that, as the verses are pretty slowed. The chorus makes up for it as it’s pretty catchy and bouncy, both in terms of beat and vocals. If he releases it, this could be pretty big.

Ryan Leslie-Too Late
-Very well written, and the verses are great examples of good songwriting. The beat does it’s job, as it plays a fairly subdued role and gives the vocals/lyrics more emphasis. The hook is a little simple, but works with the verses well and is memorable.

Usher-Just Be You
-Another slower track from Usher, but slightly different from the above two lyrically. This one has a more personal, introspective message with an uplifting edge. Nice to hear a bit of variety, and that’s certainly what he’s brought to the table this week.

Christina Milian-Too New ft. The-Dream
-Loving this track. The beat is classic Tricky Stewart/The-Dream, and sounds like something from The-Dream’s incredible debut album. Milian does her thing on this, and I’m really enjoying her work with these guys so far. Probably one of her strongest tracks I’ve heard, and I’m a big fan of how this relationship of theirs is manifesting itself in the musical output!

-Unreleased track, and to be honest it sounds like it could be either from the Rated R sessions, or  from as far back as the Unfaithful days. It’s pretty good though, and will definitely remind most of you of Unfaithful. Be sure to check this one out, as her vocals are really good over this piano.

Colby O’Donis-My Girl ft. Hot Dollar
-What’s a Hot Dollar? Anyway, glad to see that Colby’s still around. His bridge into the hook is slightly cringeworthy, but the rest of the track is decent and will go down well with pop fans.

Bobby Valentino-Lipgloss & Ponytail Ft. Cap1
-Bobby just keeps on bringing the good stuff. Really enjoying this track, and it’s an absolutely classic Bobby beat/hook. The track is slower, but it’s got a really big, rich production (especially on the hook) which is superb. I have a suspicion this may be a Cap1 (who I’ve never heard of) track as he does most of the verse work, but it was given to me as a Bobby track so whatever.

-This track’s got an unusual mix of production elements, which makes for compelling listening. The verses have an atmospheric airy quality, but the hook brings in some futuristic sounds that contrast it quite a lot. Not necessarily a bad thing, and creates some necessary segregation between the hook and verses. Usher delivers a really strong vocal performance, mixing it up throughout, and it’s a decent all-rounder.

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