R&B Fridays: Episode 64

Lots of material in this episode, and plenty has already been released throughout the week.

To recap: Trey Songz’s latest visuals, Khalil’s debut visuals, the official single from the upcoming Foreign Exchange album, Cee-Lo’s anticipated F*** You video, a fantastic cover of Outkast’s Prototype, and finally a new Trey Songz and Drake collaboration.

Oddly, there are some huge hip-hop names making appearances in this episode. Click on to see what they’re doing hanging around these parts, and what everyone else is up to.

Ne-Yo-Everything’s Alright
-Not set to be on Libra Scale, this is an uplifting track from Ne-Yo that sounds like it’s an ideal fit for a female vocalist. It probably is a demo, and will make for a strong track with a pop-influenced production that lends itself to some inspiring vocals.

Marques Houston-High Notes
-His newest album is entitled Mattress Music, and it’s hard to disagree with that description on this track. It’s a solid effort that does a job, albeit its not exactly a new or fresh take on the style. Still a decent effort though.

Keri Hilson-Breaking Point
-Was previously posted a couple of weeks ago, but this is an extended, mastered and final version of the track.

Jazmine Sullivan-Holding You Down (Official Remix) ft. Mary J Blige and Swizz Beatz
-I’m rather happy that this track has picked up so much hype, as it is a fine piece of material. Almost Lauryn Hill-esque at times, it’s deserving of a big name remix and its got one. Jazmine and Mary go together brilliantly, both possessing huge voices that transmit any emotion they feel perfectly.

Pitbull-Hey Baby ft. T-Pain
-Pitbull and T-Pain on the track tells you exactly what’s happening hear: massive club anthem. It’s interesting how I actually look forward to T-Pain on a club joint nowadays, just because some of the vocalists on today’s anthems are incredibly boring. Great beat on this one, being a nice blend of hip-hop and electro, and I fully expect this to be enormous.

Natasha Bedingfield-Strip Me
-Can’t imagine many will reject that invitation. Just make sure you have permission. Another decent one from the last remaining Bedingfield, and I’m really growing to love her vocal work: there’s a very raw, distinctive aspect to her voice that makes it very addictive. Good all-round alternative pop that should appeal to most.

Jeremih-Down On Me ft. 50 Cent
-Heavily autotuned for some reason (even the mainstream acts know this is played out now, surely?!), this is club music but of the opposite kind to the uptempo Pitbull track above-it’s one of those slower, more driven ones that gets people moving. OK track, not completely my thing.

Spragga Benz-This Is The Way ft. Nas
-Looks like Nas’ reggae links don’t end with Damian Marley, and I’m glad. The legendary Spragga Benz lets loose of a bouncy dancehall anthem that will send the reggae heads home happy. Nice verse from Nas too, bringing a nice flow over this difficult beat. Great summer jam, even if summer is pretty much over.

Jamie Foxx-Yep That’s Me ft. T.I. and Soulja Boy
-One of those half-R&B, half-hip hop, fully mainstream tracks that I’m not really fond of. There’s obviously a huge market for these, and mainstream/chart fans will lap this up as it’s another slower potential club jam, and boasts a very catchy hook/tagline. I’m just not cool with this type of track.

Ne-Yo-Amazing You
-Another one not expected to be on Libra Scale, and another very good track. See, now this has influences of hip-hop in the beat and verse delivery, but is infinitely more enjoyable than the type of track above, especially as the fully-R&B hook is very well sung. Strong material as ever.

Karina Pasian-I Stand
-Uptempo, defiant and very catchy would be the best summary for this one. Definitely one for the ladies, the rebellious undercurrent fits perfectly with this sharp, upbeat production, whilst Pasian’s vocals do not let down either.

Mr Hudson-Angel Eyes
-Really enjoying this slice of eclectic music. The beat is very minimal, which makes a nice change of pace for Mr Hudson as it puts much-deserved emphasis on his lyrical ability and vocals. In particular, the production adds an atmosphere of loneliness (is that a paradox?) which adds greatly to the ‘internal voice’ style of the track.

Lyfe Jennings-Mama ft. Anthony Hamilton
-In one episode, I’ve got both of my favourite niches covered: the reggae heads AND the soul heads. Rejoice! Fantastic vocals make up the spine of this song, whilst the slow, progressive beat adds a richness to the lyrics that rounds off this R&B/soul crossover superbly. Great track.

Joss Stone-Back In Style
-A more pop-soul style, Joss comes through with an almost storytelling style in the verses that brings some flavour to her undoubted vocal talent. The production takes this track on a more pop direction, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it adds an uplifting feel.

Bilal-Little One
-That’s right: THREE soul tracks this week! Who better to close off the triumverate than the legendary Bilal, who drops off an introspective, thoughful and compelling effort that is one of the best soul tracks I’ve heard this year. Fantastic lyricism and the vocals really bring the lyrics to life, enriching them with a heavy dose of emotional attachment. One that could appeal to everyone, please don’t miss this one.

will.i.am-Check It Out ft. Nicki Minaj
-Set to be on both of their upcoming albums, this is…questionable. The sample just doesn’t work for me, but I can guarantee it will absolutely destroy the charts. It’s undeniably mainstream pop music, and is somewhere in between being uptempo and midtempo. Will be a huge hit, no matter what I think/do/say/set fire to.

Trey Songz-Novocaine
-Not set to be on the upcoming album, but Trey fans know how good his unreleased material is. Continuing the trend, Trey lets loose of a slow-to-midtempo jam that sounds a little unfinished, but in being so highlights how naturally brilliant Trey’s voice is. The played-down production (as a result of it being unmastered) still manages to work with Trey’s voice well, and enhances the impact of his work in the right places.

Faith Evans-Everyday Struggle ft. Raekwon
-Must be Rae’s first appearance in R&BF. As with most of Faith’s recent material, she retains a real old school flavour on this one with both her vocals and choice of production. Smooth delivery from Faith over a simple, soulful production makes this easy listening. Nice verse from Rae as you’d expect.

T-Pain-Rap Song ft. Rick Ross
-Imaginative title. Not necessarily what you’d expect though, as Pain puts a creative spin on a fairly unexpansive title with a catchy hook. Some more decent R&B material from Pain, with some definite similarities to the material on Thr33 Ringz.

Drake-I’m Ready For You (Original)
-Yes, a version of this was dropped last week but apparently that wasn’t the ‘original’ version, as the beat had miscellaneously been tampered with. This is supposedly the original beat, and it has to be said that it is a lot better. I didn’t mind the other version, but this one is much cleaner and uses the Nneka sample an awful lot better. Very likeable track, definitely one of his better R&B/reference joints.

Ne-Yo-Try Me Out
-First thing that will grab you is the superb beat. I’m pretty sure it samples the core melody of Rihanna’s Rude Boy, but in an understated and toned down way, and to great effect. It’s one of those tracks that can quite easily perk up your day, and has some more great songwriting from Ne-Yo. Massive props to his vocals on this, as he mixes it up superbly, especially for the second verse. One of his strongest of recent times, unquestionably.

Akon-Once Radio
-It’s been a little while since Akon let loose of some solo material, and his recent affiliation with David Guetta shows through here as he goes for a dance-inspired track, although he adds a very unique twist: it’s not a pure club anthem, and has a slightly deeper, thoughtful and more uplifting feel to it, with the verses being supported by an almost acoustic/alternative backdrop. Really nice contrast of the two styles, especially as the hook definitely has club track written all over it.

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