R&B Fridays: Episode 41

50 tracks. I had to plough through 50 tracks this week! Expect a part 2 post in the next few days as a result.

The crazy thing is that pretty much all of the tracks are from really big name artists, which makes this episode (and the sequel) pretty stacked at 22 tracks each (5/6 of the tracks were poor, hence a 44 total!).

Lloyd, Keri, Leona, R-Les, and many more are all waiting for you after the click. There’s some real quality in here (especially from Johnta and Lloyd) and this is possibly the best episode ever, so be sure to check this one out whether you’re a new fan or a regular.

Lloyd-Put Out This Flame
-Kicking off with a really powerful Lloyd track. The first of a few fantastic Lloyd drops this week, this is a passionate vocal performance ably backed by a perfectly fitted production. Really good slower one, and up there with his best slow jams for sure.

Bobby Valentino-Hot & Heat
-Smooth, chilled out jam from one of the best at them. As ever, he drops a great hook too, and this is in keeping with the really strong leaks he’s had recently.

Leona Lewis-Intervention
-I do like this. It’s got a pop-acoustic vibe, and it really works with her voice. She definitely needs to do this sort of stuff more, as personally I find the ballady stuff pretty dull.

Johnta Austin-Lakeside
-Oh Johnta. You, my friend, are fiendishly gifted. I’d probably say he’s the most consistent guy who drops these R&B leaks, yet he’ll never release an album and probably puts out more material than anyone. Smooth beat, buttery vocals, great songwriting-budding artists, take note.

Chris Brown-Submarine
-Likeable mid-tempo one from Chris. The beat is simple, but a nice one and Chris’ lyrics/vocals are alright too. It’s good R&B, and would have slotted in nicely on Graffiti.

Keri Hilson-Green Light
-Just imagine Keri Hilson singing this to you. That will instantly make you like this song (if you’re male anyway). It is a good song aside from that of course, and has a nice mix of mellow and mid-tempo elements.

Tyrese-Like I Used To ft. Sean Garrett
-This is superb. The beat is my favourite sort of R&B production: summery, chilled, wispy and atmospheric. Tyrese has a really smooth voice, and Garrett’s always been able to turn it on when he wants to (which sadly is not the case with his recent solo stuff). He adds a lot to this song, and it’s generally a very good collaboration.

Lloyd-I Can Be More ft. J. Holiday
-Quite similar to the above tracks, with a smooth, soulful approach. The beat is a little different, and a lot simpler with a couple of guitar notes over some percussion. Works well, as the story these two tell is good and very well sung.

Bruno Mars-DreamTaker
-Yeah Bruno! Another bittersweet uptempo one, and another superb track. He really does push his vocals on this one, and it’s definitely his best vocal performance to date. The beat is pretty dancey, and is a very good production: the transititions throughout are very good. This one is all about Bruno’s vocals for me though, great performance.

Johnta Austin-Shut The Door
-Show me a better songwriter than Johnta, and I’ll show you a liar. Once again, great lyrics, mellow and simple on the beat (with some nice guitar) and smooth and easy on the vocals. Another winner for Johnta.

Ryan Leslie-Rendezvous
-Apparently, this is from 8 years ago. Could have fooled me, because this production sounds as good as anything around now. Despite that, you can still hear how R-Les has improved (mainly with his vocals), but it’s definitely one to check out for his fans.

Brandy-Fall ft. Natasha Bedingfield
-Potentially a massive track. Definitely more on the pop side of things, but with absolutely massive potential. Simple piano melody but Brandy and Bedingfield both do a fantastic job vocally, especially Bedingfield who slays this track in my opinion. Great duet.

Leona Lewis-Can You Handle It
-Not sure whether these are references, demos or for an upcoming album but they’re pretty decent. This one comes from the Johnta Austin mould of a smooth beat and soft vocals creating a mellow all-rounder. More R&B-esque than her usual stuff, and it’s pretty good work.

Keri Hilson-Cut My Hair
-Nice beat that hit me right from the start, which was made into a great track by Keri’s versatile vocals. Compare this track to the earlier one, and it just shows how flexible Keri really is. I do really like this though, as the addictive hook makes this a top all-rounder.

Lloyd-Dancin’ In The Mirror
-Lloyd called this one of his ‘favourite unreleased tracks’ from his vault and I’m not going to disagree, as this is a pretty good one to be honest. Smooth beat with a positive vibe, this is one of those gloriously addictive tracks that you’ll be singing along to yourself all the time. Cracking track, and one everyone should be looking to check out.

Johnta Austin-Break It Off
-Something with a little more percussion (albeit through a drum machine) from Johnta. As well as his great singing/songwriting, he often uses guitar melodies in his tracks which is so under-appreciated in R&B, as it does make for a much more enjoyable track. Really good track, just as the others have been.

Jamie Foxx-Winner ft. T.I. and Justin Timberlake
-You may recall the Jamie/JT version from a little while back. This is the final version, which throws T.I. into the mix. I’m enjoying this version as the quality is upgraded, there are some minor adjustments to the production and of course there’s a friggin’ T.I. verse (with a great beat change). Big hit on their hands here.

Akon-Strawberry Letter
-This is a really, really good track with some classic Akon vibes. Not like his more recent stuff, this is definitely more R&B-esque and is a really good effort. The beat has some similarities to Locked Up, whilst his lyrics and vocals are both good too. Nice job.

Leona Lewis-I Didn’t Wanna Hurt You
-As above, this one’s got a little more on the drums side of things too. She needs to really take on this sort of beat a lot more, as it suits her so well and still allows her to fully utilise her incredible vocals. Again, this one is definitely more R&B than pop, and it’s another very, very good track. Stick to this sort of stuff, and she’ll have a new fan in me.

Lloyd-Let Me Know ft. Natasha Bedingfield
-She’s popped up out of nowhere to make two R&B features, and I’m glad. There was a version of this track that was cut from Lloyd’s 2008 Lessons In Love album which I liked, and adding Natasha into the mix makes this an even better track. Really good one, that will appeal to a very diverse audience.

Keri Hilson-First
-One for the females to enjoy, with a defiant lyrical message throughout. Hence, it’s not my thing but I can see the merits in it as the lyrics are good, the beat does its job and Keri’s vocals round it off nicely.

Johnta Austin-Not Ready
-Lyrical brilliance combines with a fantastic production to close this episode off. Johnta moves out of his usual lane of chilled out vocals, and instead comes on the more powerful, emotional tip to demonstrate the kind of diverse quality that is rarely matched in R&B. Great week of R&B from Johnta (and Lloyd too!).

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