R&B Fridays: Episode 67

Lots of things I could pick out in this week’s episode, but probably the most prominent would be the features: there are lots of them! A couple of unexpected ones too, including Asher Roth’s first appearance in R&B Fridays.

Warm yourself up for this episode with some help from Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj: watch Bruno Mars perform some classics, listen to Bruno collab with Damian Marley, and enjoy a cover version of Just The Way You Are. Then, grab a great Nicki-featured collabo, listen to her next single from Pink Friday,  and finally catch her blended with La Roux and Colin Munroe.

Head below for this week’s instalment of the internet’s favourite R&B series.

Ne-Yo-Talking In Your Sleep
-Uptempo one to kick off this episode with a bang. Heavy dance influences on the beat give this a futuristic feel, whilst Ne-Yo’s smooth vocals ensure the production isn’t overbearing. Solid club track that will keep his fans very happy.

Jeremih-X’s and O’s
-Certainly up there with the best material I’ve heard from Jeremih. Switches from slow to midtempo with ease, and hence the key to this track is the versatility it offers. Good verses, but crucially the hook is very catchy and well delivered. Will be stuck in your head for days!

Nikki Grier-Downtown ft. Busta Rhymes
-The first of the features goes to Busta, who comes through with a decent verse. The most prominent thing about this track is the booming percussion, which adds some real thickness to the production, as well as making it great to turn up loud. It’s clearly a hip-hop inspired beat, and Grier’s delivery at times reflects that as she mixes it up with her delivery.

-I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Mya sound so happy! I think we’re all used to her going with darker, slower tracks and hence this one comes as a welcome change to her repetoire. Somewhere between pop and R&B, this is absolutely perfect for any mainstream audience with its cheerful melodies and the catchy hook.

The-Dream-Too Good To Leave
-A slow jam of immense quality, Dream comes through with a relaxing, soulful track that is hard to dislike. Unsure whether this a demo or not, but I fail to see who could improve on this. The beat is tailor-made for Dream, who duly delivers with some nice vocals.

Marsha Ambrosius-I Hope She Cheats On You Remix ft. Fabolous and Maino
-Marsha grabs two of NY’s finest to star on the official remix to her brilliantly-titled single. Fab kicks things off with one of his best R&B features in a while (which is saying something given that they’re all good!). whilst Maino also drops off a great, honest verse of his own. As with the original, it makes for really good listening and shouldn’t be missed.

Chris Brown-Matrix
-Set to be on his upcoming album (but not the first official single if I remember rightly), this is a great bit of music. There’s an unmistakable rock influence on the production, especially in the verses whereby Chris is left alone with a drum and a guitar. The song is completed superbly by a hook that steps up both the vocals and production, which cements this as potentially huge material for Chris.

Krys Ivory-Heartbeat
-Decent material from Krys, blending together a chillout vibe with a strong hook. Good vocals form the basis of this one, as the beat simply plays a secondary role and keeps things ticking along. Easy listening.

Ne-Yo-Champagne Life Remix ft. Fabolous and Rick Ross
-Another official remix, and another Fab feature. Not really much I can say that you don’t already know: it’s the original track plus a couple of verses. I liked the original, so this is fine with me.

Shontelle-DJ Made Me Do It ft. Asher Roth
-Massive potential here. A summery, uptempo jam but without being too loud, dance-influenced or obvious: all great qualities in my eyes, as it makes for a much more organic style of club music. The production has some similarities to Estelle’s American Boy (a good thing!), and Shontelle keeps her part of the deal with good vocals.  Asher’s fantastic on these quicker beats and comes through with a great feature, albeit only a short verse.

Avant-Kiss Goodbye
-One of those drifty, ‘sitting alone looking out at the sea’ sort of tracks, and hence the type of production that I’m a sucker for. These are without question my favourite type of slow jams. Avant doesn’t skimp on the vocals either, and in fact goes for an admirable style: instead of sitting back on the beat and letting it carry him, he brings a lot of passion and strength to his vocals that ensure he remains the focus. Impressive stuff.

Dawn Richard-Black Hole Sun (Cover)
-Say what?! Dawn Richard covering a Soundgarden classic?! Nice. What’s interesting is that it almost sounds like she’s left in the original vocals as backing for the hook, which probably makes sense as they are pretty iconic. It’s a shame the quality isn’t the best on the audio, but it’s still interesting listening.

Jennifer Lopez-Run The World ft. The-Dream and Rick Ross
-Another star-studded track, and a good one. The beat is one of those summer-vibe, Jagged Edge style productions, and J-Lo does a really good job on this style with her easy-on-the-ear vocals. Not the biggest Ross fan, but his ability to match the flow of a beat is unquestionable. Good track, definitely one that will resonate with most.

Jessica Mauboy-Get ‘Em Girls ft. Snoop Dogg
-Purely for the new-school, mainstream crowd. Not my thing, but definitely the sort of track that could dent the charts and clubs quite comfortably. Another pop feature for Snoop? He’s getting around!

Ne-Yo-Don’t Wanna Be In Love
-Slower, guitar-laced material from Ne-Yo? Doesn’t get a great deal better as far as R&B goes. Lyrically thoughtful, Ne-Yo paints a vivid image with his words that is ably complimented by a very rich production. Good vocals as always.

Shontelle-Take Ova ft. Pitbull
-If the Asher collab was more organic club music, this is the very definition of mainstream club music. Whilst the dance-influences are thankfully understated, it still boasts a very lively production that feels like its ready to explode into action throughout the verses. A powerful bassline provides the backing for a big hook too, which sounds like it has some very light tribal influences. Think Love Lockdown on crack. Good club music, without a doubt.

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