R&B Fridays: Episode 78

Flying ever quicker towards that milestone 100th episode, episode 78 stops off at many of your favourite artists, having already done so a few times this week: we were given the new Michael Jackson video, R. Kelly then covered one of MJ’s biggest hits (as well as turning back the clock with some live performances), and Tinie Tempah unleashed his latest video.

However, it’s been the upcoming names that have really shone this past 7 days, with Jesse Boykins releasing the highlight of this week’s R&B/soul and Theophilus London adding a modern spin to Tweet’s Oops, courtesy of a Lindsay Lohan assist.

Cast your eyes and cursors downwards for more meaty (or soya) chunks of music.

Mohombi-Bumpy Ride (G-Mix) ft. Talib Kweli
-Kicking off with an uptempo effort from Mohombi, this one boasts a likeable verse from Talib to open it up, and another one towards the end. Good production on this one, with a pounding drum giving this track a strong, driving feel, and some fairly standard pop vocals from Mohombi make this a decent crossover effort.

Stephen Marley-Jah Army ft. Damian Marley
-Nice! Two of the Marley sons get together for a superb reggae track that will certainly get some heads nodding. Much like the above track, it’s held together by thumping percussion that paces this track nicely, setting a great backdrop for some real diversity in the vocal delivery. It’s a great hybrid reggae track, as it adopts some more modern elements without losing the basic sensibility of the style. Certainly one to check out.

Ne-Yo-Miss Right
-Fantastically smooth effort from Ne-Yo. The production in the verses sounds straight out of the mid-90s, with a soul jam feel to it, whilst the hook steps it up to today’s era with some additional elements that keep the beat interesting. The vocals are up there with Ne-Yo’s best as he goes right through the range, opening with a more relaxed style and ending with a more passionate delivery. It’s capped off nicely with a warming lyrical message, dedicated to his ‘Miss Right’ that you can’t help but admire. Nothing wrong with this one at all.

Melanie Fiona-Gone and Never Coming Back
-From her upcoming album, The MF Life, this is a powerful track that displays Melanie at her very best. Crossing those rarely-ventured boundaries between soul, pop and R&B, Melanie treats us to a progressive production that is forced to take a backseat due to the magnitude of her vocals: whilst the production rise for the hook is admirable, Fiona does her part by upscaling her vocals to grand levels, delivering that addictive raw, emotional style in superb fashion. The verses and lyrics are certainly not lacking either, and this is a very solid all-round effort.

Sammie-Spontaneous Love
-He’s been hit-and-miss with his music, but this is certifiably in the ‘hit’ section. A slow jam of the highest order, Sammie brings some mellow vocals to an atmospheric production to remind the R&B heads of his growing potential. One of those productions that’s perfect for a winter evening, it’s full of those drifty, wistful elements that characterise Lloyd’s slow jams and is a formula that suits Sammie just as well.

Dirty Money-Last Night Part 2 ft. Keyshia Cole
-A bonus track on the Last Train To Paris album. The original Last Night was a great track, and I’m glad to see they’ve given it a sequel. Whilst sequels are normally pretty poor, this is certainly a decent track that does the original version justice. The drumline certainly has similarities to Part 1 with the same style of progression, whilst the rest of the production isn’t as subservient as in the original and hence has a strong identity of its own. Really enjoying the vocals in this one, with both the hook and verses being incredibly memorable. Another genuinely enjoyable track from the Diddy-Dirty Money crew.

Ciara-You Can Get It
-From her upcoming Basic Instinct album, this is a decent slow jam that highlights the improvements she’s made vocally. She comes through on a sultry, relaxing tip that suits the mellow vibe of the production well, and makes for a mainstream-friendly slow jam. The hook does get a little repetitive though, and hence lacks that killer grabbing point, but it’s still worth a go.

Brutha-High Is Coming Down ft. Rick Ross & Twista
-A version of this without Ross and Twista dropped way back in April, and I’m really glad they’re pushing this as a single. The production is everything you’d want in an R&B beat, with a very memorable key melody and midtempo percussion work giving this one a really wide appeal. The vocals are never lacking when it comes to Brutha, and each member contributes greatly to the track. Hopefully these guys get a good break soon, and this is a good co-sign going into 2011.

Mario-Black and Yellow Remix
-Another week, another Black and Yellow remix. Mario opts to rap on this one, and frankly he should have stuck to singing. I’m not too sure why some singers do this: they’re not going to suddenly be fantastic rappers, and given that some great rappers have already shredded this beat, they’re never going to win. Only really worth grabbing for the dedicated Mario fans.

Jamie Foxx-Best Night Of My Life ft. Wiz Khalifa
-And from the Black and Yellow remixes to the original owner, Mr. Wiz Khalifa, as Wiz and Jamie put together a feelgood, positive effort for the title track from Jamie’s upcoming album. Lots of uplifting elements in the production, Jamie delivers a likeable effort on the vocals and comes through with a track that will start off anyone’s night out brilliantly. Top feature from Wiz too, and he could certainly become quite the staple for R&B features with his burgeoning reputation.

Jordin Sparks-Walking In New York
-A pop effort for the mainstream/chart fans, this is an uptempo effort that will go down well with the younger crowd. Can’t really say much more than that really, it’s an very, very poppy track that doesn’t really have any appeal to me. EDIT: Turns out this isn’t Jordin Sparks, if that makes a difference to your life.

Tank-I Can’t Make You Love Me

-Would your week really be complete without a new Tank slow jam? Mine sure as hell wouldn’t, and Mr. Tank makes sure we don’t go wanting with his latest single from Now or Never. I’m normally the first to criticise for acts not changing their style, but Tank manages to make every slow jam sound different thanks to his great songwriting and vocal versatility: with top vocals supplemented by a piano-laced melody, he once again comes through with a heartfelt, emotional track that will set the R&B fans right off.

Charlie Wilson-Where Would I Be
-Undoubtedly, the appreciation for Charlie has grown in recent months with his repeated collaborations with Kanye West, and he capitalises on that with some new solo material. From the Just Charlie album, the production blends a piano-heavy, old-school sensibility in the verses with a modern, synth-based twist for the hook to deliver a well-rounded piece. Charlie’s vocal talents are unquestioned, and his captivating voice is in full effect here.

Ciara-I Don’t Care
-As of right now, this is not set for Basic Instinct, but probably should be. The smooth and sultry style of the earlier Ciara track is amplified here, as she displays more vocal versatility and is ably backed by a very airy, atmospheric production that is highly addictive. Really big fan of this trakc, and it’ll be a huge shame if she doesn’t make more of this.

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