R&B Fridays: Episode 63

Lots of great stuff this week, swelling it up to delicious proportions. Before you slam your face into the meal, get accquainted with these appetisers: Dirty Money and Drake collaborate, the announcement of Bruno Mars’ album, lots from newcomer Justin Michael, Usher’s newest video, Sean Garrett’s Inkwell mixtape, the video/audio for 3OH!3′s latest single, Cee-Lo’s amazing new song, and the final version of a Drake reference track.

Plenty of stuff there, and plenty of stuff below. This has to go down as one of the strongest R&B Fridays in recent memory too, there’s nothing I wouldn’t recommend from this week’s batch. Entrance below.

Chris Brown & Tyga-Like You ft. Parlay Starr
-I was supposed to let this one out last week, but dropped the ball a little. A leftover track from their recent Fan of a Fan mixtape, this is actually pretty damn good and will satisfy fans of Deuces. The production has some similarities to the aforementioned in being a pretty chilled out track, although it has some more upbeat elements thrown in too.

Choklate-Overdose ft. Drake
-Some real smooth soulful sounds from newcomer Choklate. Soul fans (old and new) can really appreciate this one, with its laid-back vibe and soft vocals from Choklate. Drake opens up the track with a verse, which will inevitably interest most of you more…sadly.

Trey Songz-Doorbell
-A few songs from Passion, Pain and Pleasure made their way out to the wild recently, and out of respect for the man’s craft I’ll only be letting loose of one for now. It was a tough choice as they were all good, but this was probably the strongest of the bunch. The beat is slow, deliberate and one of those seductive Trey Songz joints that has developed his fanbase so hugely. Some nice wordplay as always with Trey, though he rightfully keeps it simpler given the bedroom-music nature of the track. The man is in his element with these tracks, and it’s another 5-star effort for me.

Mishon-Feel The Same
-Supremely good track from youngster Mishon. This is one of those really well-rounded tracks that you really can’t pick a flaw with: the vocals are well-delivered, the production is very good with jumps and changes in the right places, and the hook is memorable. Great mid-tempo jam that would probably be a huge hit if it was by a bigger artist.

Ray J-Celebration ft. Ludacris
-I’m pretty sure this beat samples Forever. If not, the beat is very similar and hence you can get a good feel for the type of track you’re getting, considering it’s R&B and not hip-hop like Forever: uptempo, energetic and club-aimed. Luda comes through with another great verse and Ray J does his thing throughout, especially with the catchy hook.

Ron Isley-No More
-Seriously, Ron Isley!! As in, Ron Isley of The Isley Brothers! New material from the veteran (never was the term more appropriate!) and it’s really relaxing soul/pop that will definitely help you unwind. With a retrospective tint on the lyrics, they come with a little hint of regret that is nicely doubled-up in Isley’s delivery throughout. Really likeable track.

R. Kelly-She Knows What She Wants ft. Rick Ross
-Multiple versions of this track have leaked over the last few years, featuring Taio Cruz on one of them, and under different names. As far as I know, this is going to be the final version and is otherwise the same as the others with the addition of a Ross verse. The beat is fairly uptempo, with some light techno influences although Kells plays it down with his vocals.

Donell Jones-Strip Club ft. Yung Joc
-Far, far from what you’d expect given the title/feature. I was waiting for some dancey club track, but instead was treated to some smoothed-out music that doesn’t skimp on the production or vocals. The production is a nice combination of simple and rich, having many little layers but all of them having a simple function, whilst the vocals give the track a soulful overall feel that makes this very easy listening.

Shontelle-Perfect Nightmare
-Decent one from Shontelle, fusing together an uptempo beat with lyrics that could have easily been a slow jam. It’s a nice juxtaposition and makes for good listening, allowing you to appreciate the song on a different level given your mood/environment. Not often you get a strong, upbeat production tied to good lyrics. Could easily be a club banger.

Drake-I’m Ready For You
-A reference track for a female artist, this is in that grey area between R&B and hip-hop as Drake combines singing with some rapping. A very uplifting and motivating beat whilst being club-friendly, the production boasts some live drums with strong synths that mesh together well. Really enjoying the sampling of Nneka’s Heartbeat, although it may have been better placed in the hook.

David Banner-Run Away ft. Tyrese and Akon
-Not R&B per-se, but the nature of the features lends itself to the fanbase that read these things. One from the vaults too, as it’s unreleased material that didn’t make a previous Banner album. Banner’s always been a bit hit-and-miss with his raps, as evidenced here with both decent and average lines delivered, whilst Tyrese comes through with a great hook. Akon guest spots on an OK verse.

Mario-Letter To The Game
-Mario takes a turn on Trey Songz’s awesome Can’t Be Friends, and comes out looking pretty good. Undeniably strong performance on the vocals, especially as they sound so raw/live, and some decent lyricism throughout. Definitely a good effort.

Ricky Blaze-Just You & I ft. Maino
-These boys hook up for a remix revamp of Gyptian’s Hold Yuh, with Blaze adding a much more R&B feel to the track. As I said before it’s good to hear some talented rappers giving this a go, with Maino dropping off a good verse as ever. I like Ricky’s take on the track, although he gets a bit too Sean Kingston at the end with the vocals.

Ne-Yo-One In A Million
-Set to be a single from Libra Scale, this is a really unique and addictive listen. I really like Ne-Yo’s rapped/spoken word ‘intro’, and the progressive production transitions the song superbly throughout. Very impressed with Ne-Yo’s delivery on this, as he goes back and forth with some high notes and fast-paced flows to deliver a varied and replayable experience. Strongest track from the album so far for me.

Ray J-1 Thing Leads To Another ft. Pitbull
-Ray’s really going for it with these club bangers! This one is even more hyped than the last, bringing in Pitbull for a very electro-influenced track that I’m surprisingly enjoying a great deal. It’s not like most other dance-R&B hybrids being spawned out by various generic artists, with Ray J’s R&B delivery giving this a considerable edge and advantage over the usual stuff. Very good party/club music.

Iyaz-Pretty Down ft. Rick Ross and Richie Wess
-The much more bearable version of Sean Kingston lets loose some new material, throwing us an airy and atmospheric production that would fit any Lloyd song perfectly. Not sure whether the hip-hop features were necessary, but it adds a bit of variety for those who like the crossover.

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