R&B Fridays: Episode 75

A more digestable episode this week, which makes a nice change for us all having had a few extended instalments in recent weeks.

Outside of this episode, it’s been a fairly quiet week for R&B, with just the three notables: a video for Rihanna and Drake’s collaboration, new music from UK upcomer Talay Riley, and the latest drop from Trey Songz’s upcoming mixtape.

Click below for the 75th instalment of R&B’s favourite weekly episodical.

Keri Hilson-Pass Me By
-Not set to be on her upcoming No Boys Allowed (though that could still change), this is an unfinished track with lots of potential. A dulled guitar makes for a strong, driving backdrop in the hook, whilst Keri’s vocals get well-tested with a good range of styles. Solid all-rounder.

Taio Cruz-Higher Remix ft. Travie McCoy
-Not sure if this is official or not, but I have a feeling it is as Travie contributes adlibs as well as verses. Taio’s uptempo hit is a perfect fit for Travie, with his ever-versatile flow adapting perfectly to this production, as he brings a double-time delivery on his two short verses that certainly leaves you wanting more. Good remix.

will.i.am-Loosin’ It ft. Fergie
-So, basically the Black Eyed Peas. The one thing you’ll always get with will.i.am is a decent production, and this is exactly that with a minimal approach that upscales nicely for the hook. However, what has let him down in recent years is the vocal/lyrical contribution, which never really seems up to par, and Fergie saves the song with a very catchy and well-delivered hook. If you’ve heard his Songs About Girls album, you’ll know this guy is capable of so much better.

Black Eyed Peas-Do It Like This
-I guess this would be the combined BEP. Going with that electro influence that worked fairly well on their last track, this is probably a more level, consistent track that will sit very well with the mainstream. There are no annoying samples or pointless additions on this, which makes this one of their more bearable (albeit still not great) tracks.

Tank-Can I Make Love

-From the digital style of the above track to this smooth, sultry slow jam. I’d actually recommend listening to these songs in that order, as it really brings out the quality in this sort of music: Tank’s vocals are pure, unfiltered quality laid atop an elegant piano melody, creating some first class bedroom music. Arguably the most consistent slow jam maker around right now.

Josh Xantus-Deuces Remix
-Yet another Deuces remix, and another decent one. It has to be said, with a production this good it’s probably going to be hard to release a bad remix, but Xantus does definitely do a good job with his vocals, bringing a similar style to Chris Brown. It’s a fairly short one, and hence worth a listen to refresh the original a little.

Chris Brown-Deuces (Europop Remix) ft. Keri Hilson
-Speaking of Deuces remixes, this one surfaced this week. It’s official too, and takes the previously slower, more contemplative track into the realms of electro and dance. There are hardly any similarities with the original, save for the fragments in the hook and a couple of Chris’ lines in the verses. Otherwise, this is a fully fledged dance anthem in its own right, with Keri coming through with a worthwhile contribution. Certainly one that will be in a club near you soon.

Jay Sean-Back Break
-From his upcoming Freeze Time album, you can hear the Young Money influence all over this one with the club-targeted lyrics and hip-hop style production. Jay comes through with a pretty simple chorus, which does its job as a radio-friendly, catchy hook. A very mainstream track, and one that will probably go down well with Jay’s fans.

R. Kelly-Love Letter
-From his upcoming album of the same name, Love Letter is a mellow track with great songwriting as the highlight. Kelly’s vocals are at their soothing best, emphasised by a simple R&B production with a retro twist. I’m particularly fond of the track being slow, but not your typical slow jam as Kelly naturally infuses his energy and verve into the track.

Ameriie-Outside Your Body

-Not a spelling error, she’s now spelling her name with an extra ‘i’. That’s not the only change either, as Amerie seems to have succumbed to the mainstream’s current tastes for dance-influenced productions. Although I loved the fact she used to take on hip-hop style beats, this does work for her as it keeps up with her natural energy and passion. Nice touch in the hook too, as she incorporates her heritage with a couple of catchy Korean language lines.

Ne-Yo-Everything ft. Gucci Mane and OJ Da Juiceman
-When you hear the style of beat, you’ll wonder why Ne-Yo ruined this song by adding these two oddballs to it. It’s a slow, winding production that is absolutely perfect for Ne-Yo to deliver one of his lyrical chillout tracks, but instead is marred by verses from the ‘special’ kids in the class of hip-hop. Ne-Yo still manages to come through with a great hook, leaving you to wonder what could have been.

Miguel-Like A Knife
-We don’t hear from Miguel enough these days. The production is similar to the Tank track posted above, though a fraction quicker which allows Miguel’s powerful vocals to project further. Lots of diversity in his singing too, which really cements Miguel as one of the better upcoming artists in the R&B game, and all capped off nicely with a really gripping hook.

Keri Hilson-By You ft. Lil’ Kim

-This one is definitely set for No Boys Allowed, and continues the theme of the tracks we’ve heard thus far from it with a brash, in-your-face style. The one thing that’s been consistent over these tracks is that she hasn’t fallen into the trap of becoming ‘too hip-hop’ in adopting this rebellious style, as most tracks of this nature tend to: her singing has remained on point, and as harmonic as ever. Catchy, bouncy and a potentially decent party track.

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