R&B Fridays: Episode 83

To me, the early hours of ‘Saturday’ count as Friday, so welcome to the first on-time R&B Friday in a few weeks!

Not a great deal to recap on this week, with the only notables being another official remix to Lloyd’s Lay It Down, and an all-British collaboration from Alesha Dixon and Jay Sean. However, it’s more than made up for with this week’s episode: with almost 20 tracks from the likes of Trey Songz, Pitbull and many more, there’s lots to enjoy and keep you going until next week.

Want some? Come get some.

Tyrese-Somebody Loves You Back
-Kicking off with a surprisingly vintage-sounding jam from Tyrese, so surprising in fact that I’m questioning whether its actually Tyrese! It’s enjoyable either way though, with a slow yet uplifting feel in both the vocals and the production, combining effectively to recreate an early 90s pop-soul vibe.

Pitbull-International Love ft. Chris Brown
-The first of two big Pitbull collabs this week, this track is everything you’d expect of both Pitbull and this collaboration: dance-infused production, catchy, and one that the pop/mainstream heads will enjoy. The highlight is probably Chris Brown’s really infectious hook, which will undoubtedly fill some dancefloors.

R. Kelly-Rodeo Show (Rough/Unfinished)
-Not sure whether it’s an old track or one for the future, but it’s an unfinished effort that has Kelly moving slightly towards the hip-hop/R&B boundary that has served him well in the past, specifically with hits such as Ignition and I’m A Flirt. The production on this is much softer than the aforementioned tracks, and hence its an easy song to pick up and play for most occassions.

Jazmine Sullivan-In Vain (Alternate)
-An unreleased ballad from the vaults, a version of this was found on her recent (and possibly final) Love Me Back album. This is considerably more ‘stripped out’, and keeps the production to a minimum to give full exposure to Jazmine’s vocals, a move that works to amplify the emotion of her bittersweet lyrics. Music of this quality further shows that her potentially permanent hiatus from music represents a huge loss.

Lee Carr-Right or Wrong
-Don’t hear from this guy very often, but he’s a talented upcomer who could do quite well with the right guidance. This is a strong slow-mid tempo track that draws on a few different influences to create a diverse production that remains interesting throughout with the various elements timed well. Decent vocals cap of a solid all-rounder that gives you a good reminder of Lee’s ability.

Ginuwine-Heaven ft. Tank
-DAMN. One of the past masters of slow jams hooks up with a man on incredible form to churn out some slow music of the highest order. Ginuwine recaptures some of his classic vibe with this one, coming through with a memorable performance over a very simple, elegant production that remains unobtrusive throughout. Tank seems to largely work on background vocals here, but his contribution is huge as it’s those drifty vocals that really make the hook special.

Nicole Scherzinger-Don’t Hold Your Breath
-Switching the volume up here, Nicole comes through with a defiant and motivational effort that could make some serious mainstream moves. She always brings powerful vocals to her tracks and this is no exception as she manages to steal the show, despite the efforts of a driving pop production. As with most mainstream music, this is one that is anchored by a very singalong, memorable hook that will serve the track well.

Mario-Change It Up
-A sort of apt title, as Mario drops off an unusual hybrid track. There are elements of slow jam, pop, and even some more tribal-style influences that come together to deliver a unique and slightly off-beat sound. It works to some extent, especially the production in isolation (listen to the last 10-15 seconds) which sounds rather good. However, Mario’s delivery takes some getting used to, predominantly because he switches his own style throughout that requires some keeping up.

Bobby Valentino-I Like
-A little more positive and upbeat than his recent efforts. Over what can only be described as a ‘happier’ production, Bobby brings his searching vocal style to accompany it, resulting in a summery track that makes a nice change of pace from his slow jam style. Could have maybe done with switching the lyrical style up a little, but that’s probably nitpicking.

Santell-Dance Floor ft. Jermaine Dupri
-No idea who or what Santell is. As far as pop efforts go though, this isn’t too bad and doesn’t overdo it with the dance-pop style, instead going with a more deliberate style that is simpler and far easier on the ear. It’s pretty much mainstream pop before the dance-electro phase kicked in, and hence makes for refreshing listening.

Dirty Money-Tomorrow Tonight ft. Ludacris
-A track that didn’t make Last Train To Paris, this is a pretty off-beat track that is strangely captivating. There’s that atmospheric feel most of their tracks have, but it’s built up of odd techno samples and pop sensibility which throws in a slightly different, more European vibe. Very unusual on paper but in being held together by that Dirty Money style, it works as a rather good potential club banger.

Sterling Simms-Game Over
-What is it with these unusual productions this week? This is another one, though in this case the cause of confusion is slightly clearer: there’s an additional synth in here that pulls this song away from the slow jam it was meant to be, and into a more rounded effort. It’s a smart move to widen its appeal, and the synth itself becomes a crucial part of the track. Sterling’s one of the more underrated vocalists around, and he comes through here with a solid, consistent approach on the vocals and lyrics that contasts nicely with the beat.

Trey Songz-Spray
-Alright, a disclaimer: if you haven’t had ‘the talk’ with your parents, you’re not of an age to listen to/understand this. Trey does not hold back with the lyrics here, coming through about as explicit and upfront as I’ve heard from him, with the spray in question being…well, yeah. You get the idea. Production is solid, with a hypnotising drum loop holding the track together solidly. A good track, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE OF AGE. I don’t want complaints from angry parents.

Corinne Bailey Rae-I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince Cover)
-You know you’ve got a soothing voice when you make a spiky Prince track sound as buttery as this. Very good stab at the Prince classic here, as the perenially-slept on Corinne Bailey Rae flexes her bountiful gifts on this track from an upcoming covers EP. Definitely worth a listen for a modern refresh of the track.

Casely-Neva Fall
-I’m never sure what’s happening with this guy: one minute he’s the most active R&B singer in the game, and then he completely disappears. It seems he’s aiming for consistency now, with a debut album due in the near future, and this track is set for said project. It’s an atmospheric dance-influenced number that segregates itself from most dance-pop by virtue of Casely’s more relaxed vocal style, which descends into a more R&B-esque delivery for the verses. Strong choice for a single.

Natasha Bedingfield-Bring Me Back
-Produced by the hitmaker that is Danja, this is a very interesting track that blends their respective styles well. Her vocals are undeniably on the alternative-pop side of things, and Danja’s style tends to be across the urban platform: the fusion manifests itself with a slower percussion loop (that could easily back a hip-hop track) laced with light melodies that play off Natasha’s raw, coarse vocals nicely. Decent effort for sure.

Pitbull-Mr. Right Now ft. Akon
-Two of the biggest hitmakers in the game come together once again for a track that will absolutely clean up at the clubs this year. Very strong electro vibe in the verse makes this a surefire dancefloor filler, whilst Akon’s anthemic hook gives that catchy, singalong feel that makes it perfect for radio play. Same old formula, but certainly upscaled from their previous work as the production is very commendable for its diversity here.

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