R&B Fridays: Episode 76

Whilst the rest of the music world seems to have taken a much-needed breather this week (album releases aside), there’s been no shortage of new and/or unreleased R&B and pop material in the 76th instalment of R&B Fridays.

The week has already seen a great new video from Tank, two new remixes from T-Pain, a captivating video for Bruno Mars’ Grenade, the UK’s own Chipmunk working with Chris Brown, another release from Trey Songz’s upcoming mixtape, Keri Hilson and Kanye West getting together for a new remix, Keyshia Cole and Nicki Minaj’s collabo video, and the unexpected release of a John Legend and Estelle EP.

Lots up there, and lots down below. Click on.

Brandy, Ray J and Willie Norwood-Talk To Me
-Father, daughter and son get together for a Norwood family track that is a bit too corny for my liking. Lots of overblown sentiment in the lyrics and a production that sounds like a 90s Christmas song. It’s pretty much one the pop/mainstream heads (11-16 year olds) will go crazy for.

T-Pain-Loving You No More (T-Mix)
-T-Pain’s been working hard this week! Another likeable remix from Pain, with a production that once again suits him down to the ground. He’s about the only person I can stand to hear on Autotune, and he does a great job on this serene Dirty Money production.

Fefe Dobson-Stuttering Remix ft. Pusha T
-Pretty decent pop track here, with some great vocals from Fefe anchoring this track really well. The production has an alternative pop air about it, with the high-tempo percussion alongisde a mid-tempo piano melody, with slight lashings of guitar work in and around the hook. Pusha comes through with a decent verse, telling a simple relationship story well. Great look for Pusha, and a decent all-round track.

Sean Kingston-BBM ft. Soulja Boy

Kevin Cossom-Danger
-Produced by Danja (I know…), this is a slightly disorienting track. When it goes well, it goes really well, but the opposite also applies sadly. The hook and final portions of the song are heavily layered with synths which make for great listening and add much more rigidity to the structure, but the verses have that off-beat, pseudo hip-hop style that plagues mainstream R&B. Good and bad.

R. Kelly-Taxi Cab
-Nothing ambiguous about this one, as Kelly comes through with another fantastic track. The lyrics are seedy, the production is minimal but he manages to turn it into a captivating event of a song with his unmistakeable vocals. I actually really like this production, which has really simple and effective elements for the verses, and occasionally steps it up in bursts for the hook. Leaving out an obvious percussion line works wonders for projecting Kels’ vocals on this one, and it’s the sort of track that you could easily imagine Michael Jackson would have wanted (especially the last third).

Keri Hilson-It Won’t Be Long
-Produced by Timbaland, this is one of Keri’s more pop-influenced tracks to date. Light melodies are layered over a mid-tempo percussion for a mainstream-ready beat, whilst Keri’s vocals and lyrics are relatively simplistic to add to that effect. Certainly not her strongest material, but likely to appeal more to a younger audience than her usual stuff.

Ron Isley-Put Your Money On Me ft. T.I.
-One half of the classic Isley Brothers hooks up with T.I. for his latest single. Whilst Ron’s recent material has been full of that vintage sound, this one has a much more ‘modern’ lyrical style, with ‘bottle pop’ references and so on. Hence, I’m a bit divided with this one as I love his vocals, but the lyricism is generic at times.

T-Wayne-Hoes and Ladies ft. Smoke

-The T-Pain and Lil’ Wayne duo come together once again for a track from Pain’s upcoming prEVOLVEr mixtape. It’s not bad either, with a fairly relaxed production making for good listening. Pain probably comes through a little more aggressive than necessary, but it’s bearable. Wayne brings the right kind of delivery, with a quieter, more melodic style that fits the beat perfectly.

Olivia-Love Me
-Now this is unexpected: Olivia uses Raekwon’s classic Ice Cream for a beat. I absolutely love the original, so this is always going to feel a little inferior, but it has to be said that she does make it sound like a legitimate R&B track with some catchy and mellow vocals. Worth a listen.

Soulja Boy-Hey Cutie ft. Trey Songz
-I only listened to the hook, understandably.

-Sounds like a female demo, and a good one again from Ne-Yo. There’s an urgency in the production that is very captivating, with the orchestral samples being particularly prominent. Top vocal work as ever from Ne-Yo, and once again it’s hard to imagine anyone topping the quality he brings to this one.

Erin Christine-Say Remix ft. Pusha T
-Another alternative pop track, and another Pusha feature! A very powerful production drives this track, with similarites to the above track but with stronger drum work, whilst Erin supplies some very good vocals throughout. The hook in particular is a great introduction to the ability she possesses, and this makes for an explosive introduction to her work. Pusha doesn’t quite sound like himself on this verse vocally, which is a testament to the anger and passion he injects into his voice here, a marked change to his usual laidback style.

Brandy-I Can’t Wait
-More Brandy, but without the rest of her family. A more bearable track from my perspective too, with a little more R&B influence on this one and some good work on the build to the hook/the hook itself. The production sounds like a StarGate track, layering high synths, light guitars and claps over a mid-tempo drum line. Decent all-round.

Marsha Ambrosius-Far Away
-One hell of an R&B/soul crossover. A mellow, relaxing production with soft piano melodies, light clicks and airy synths creates a superb backdrop for some huge, atmospheric vocals from Marsha, making for a brilliant juxtaposition of the two elements. It’s all brought together by a memorable hook too, and this is certainly one of those tracks that’s hard not to like.

Bruno Mars-Mama’s Worst Nightmare (Demo)
-Confirmed as a demo for a female artist, I’m quite thankful that’s the case. It’s an incredibly poppy track, with retro influences stamping their mark all over this track’s production, and Bruno’s vocals and lyrics being very favourable to a mainstream ear. Not for me at all, but the pop fans will eat this up.

Jazmine Sullivan-U Get On My Nerves ft. Ne-Yo
-Closing things out with a big collaboration from Jazmine’s new album, due on Monday. Really enjoying the storytelling in this one, with some great songwriting being the highlight of the track. Both trade places in delivering vocals for the hook, which works well to add emphasis to the duelling aspect of the track.

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