R&B Fridays: Episode 71

Stacked episode this week, with some huge mainstream singles alongside great material from underappreciated artists. Quality wise, it’s one of the strongest R&B Fridays of recent months for sure: one of those where you could easily grab everything on offer.

The recap: Mastered version of Lloyd’s latest, Willow Smith’s debut video, Ne-Yo covering an MJ classic, Rihanna’s newest video, and finally the anticipated video for Chris Brown’s new single.

Click on for the longest running weekly episodic in the history of the universe.

Teairra Mari-Deuces Remix ft. Dondria
-Probably my favourite remix of the track to date. Both artists are hugely underrated, and come through with great vocals to demonstrate just what they can do. Mari’s voice is great throughout on this one, as she comes through with some captivating vocals along with good lyrical content.

Usher-I Did It
-A funk-inspired effort from Ush, which is presumably unreleased material from a past album session. None of the dance-pop feel that his recent stuff has been bathed in, this is a bouncy track that effectively channels Usher’s charisma into his vocals.

Pleasure P-She Likes It ft. LeToya Luckett
-P grabs the former Destiny’s Child member for a smooth bit of bedroom music that will appeal to the slow jam fans. Both come through with good performances, and are ably supported by a mellow production that boasts lots of interesting intricacies you wouldn’t usually associate with this sort of track.

Ke$ha-We R Who We R
-She’s already releasing a 2nd album-I suppose its easy when you’re basically going for the same sound again! This is the first single from Cannibal, and is a huge dancefloor anthem that you’ll struggle to not dance to. Even I quite like this, as it’s far less annoying than her usual fare and boasts a very likeable hook, along with a pulsating beat that is much less ‘in-your-face’ than her previous selections. Will be absolutely enormous.

Nelly-Long Gone ft. Plies and Chris Brown
-There’s a strange soulful feel about this one that you wouldn’t usually associate with Nelly. The beat has a blend of hip-hop drums with vintage soul/pop melodies that does lend itself to be taken into any direction, and Nelly goes for a singing/rapping hybrid that does move it toward the R&B side of things. I don’t like Plies at all, but have to credit him for getting his flow right for this sort of beat, even if his actual raps are poo(r).

Nikki & Rich-City Lights ft. Fabolous
-Not heard of this duo before, but they’re an act I’m going to be keeping an eye on. Rich is an established urban producer, and serves up one of those atmospheric, ‘night-time’ beats that works brilliantly at adding depth to any track. Nikki seems to have a good, unique voice with strong soul influences. Loso adjusts appropriately and fits in well on this too, giving us one of the best all-round tracks I’ve heard this month. Genuinely superb from top to bottom.

Jennifer Lopez-It Was You
-The acoustic/latin influence on the beat give this an old-school Jennifer Lopez feel (think Ain’t It Funny), which is always a good thing. Huge fan of productions with those additions, and it’s done well here in being allowed to be prominent throughout, and plays off J-Lo’s soft vocals to create a nice synergy. Big fan of most of her recent material, hopefully she keeps it up.

Johnta Austin-Your Love (Remix)
-Another one likely to be on that LSR Mixtape, this is the best remix from that project to date. Without question Johnta is fundamentally the best vocalist to tackle this track yet, and hence he fits the R&B style of the beat perfectly. Would be interesting to hear one of Minaj’s verses blended in.

Taio Cruz-Higher ft. Kylie Minogue
-Those of you who have Taio’s Rokstarr album will be familiar with this dance-influenced track, minus the Kylie addition. She’s been grabbed along for the official single version, and she’s a fantastic addition to an already likeable song. The back and forth vocals throughout really make the feature worthwhile, as they trade lines in the verses and even trade places singing the hook. That little bit of interactivity just make a song much more worthwhile than the standard ‘add a verse’ feature. Quality isn’t the best, but I’ll come through with the high quality when possible.

Cee-Lo-Old Fashioned
-Soul heads unite. Cee-Lo takes it right back to the old-school with this slick vintage effort, delivering some rousing vocals over what feels like one of the most incidental bits of production I’ve heard in a long time. It fills in the vocal gaps brilliantly to take on a life of its own, and with the undoubted strength of Cee-Lo’s vocals, you’ve got pure enjoyment from start to finish.

Jermaine Dupri-My Baby ft. R. Kelly
-Loved this track within seconds of it playing. Sounds straight out of the late 90s/early 00s, with a smooth, soft, guitar-laced production that is about as chilled as R&B comes. Fantastic vocals from R. Kelly on the hook too, as he upscales and downscales his vocals brilliantly to set the mood and tone of the track.

Black Eyed Peas-The Time (The Dirty Bit)
-This is so disorienting. It starts off with a pretty cringeworthy sample/cover of Time of My Life, and returns to it for the hook, but in between it turns into some pounding dub-influenced anthem. I’d actually be alright with this track if it wasn’t for the hook, as the electro/dubstep verses are good for a dubstep beginner like myself. The jury’s out on this one.

LeToya Luckett-You Need Me Back
-Another appearance from the former Destiny’s Child, this is a pretty soulful jam that has a defiant feel. Hovering somewhere between that grey R&B and soul boundary, Luckett comes through with some powerful vocals and a rebellious edge that gives this track some real identity.

Keyshia Cole-I Ain’t Thru ft. Nicki Minaj
-Funny production this. It’s got an almost fairground/carnival feel to it, and hence wouldn’t really be what you’d associate with Keyshia’s soulful nature. It works though, as it adds a bounce and positivity that fits with the brash style of the track. Minaj comes through with a pretty scathing verse, and Cole brings those addictive vocals to deliver a decent first single from her upcoming album.

Ciara-Turn It Up ft. Usher
-Imagine a dance-off between these two! It may happen, as this is scheduled to be a single from the perenially-delayed Basic Instict. Unfortunately, this version is a bit rough but you can still get a great feel for the track: it’s clearly going to be a huge dancefloor filler, with catchy vocals and a fast tempo making this perfect for the club. Looking forward to a better version so we can hear more of the production Higher quality version available at the above link.

T-Pain-Rap Song ft. Rick Ross
-Originally posted a few episodes ago, this is an updated and mastered version with more going on in the production. This has grown on me an awful lot, so be sure to give this a go whether you grabbed it before or not.

Nicole Scherzinger-Poison
-Really big, epic feel to this uptempo track. Almost feels like there’s a Crystal Castles influence on the production, and Scherzinger’s vocal qualities need no praise as she matches the huge beat with good vocals. Could be a really big hit for her if pushed correctly.

Flo Rida-Turn Around
-He’s back with a new single, and as you’d expect its another club smash waiting to happen. Just the right amount of dance influence on the production, and another catchy hook that will be stuck in your head for days, this is another Flo Rida track that you just have to dance to. Say what you want about him (and I do), but you have to give him some praise for constantly churning out massive hits.

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