R&B Fridays: Episode 92

A pretty short episode this week, but with good reason. Recently, it’s become a bit annoying (for me, probably not for many of you) that most episodes are comprised primarily of pop music, and not R&B. This week, I wanted to avoid that, and hence I can say I’m genuinely a fan of this week’s episode, which I’ve not been able to say for a while.

Couple of big singles this week, including the first single from Ryan Leslie’s upcoming third abum Les Is More. Only really the two relevant posts from the week gone by, with the superb Jhene Aiko releasing her new album/mixtape for free, and Odd Future’s Frank Ocean dropping off a great piece of R&B with Dave Raps. Be sure to check both out, as whilst they may not be familiar names, they’re very much worth a look. Click below for the rest of the goods.

Trey Songz-I Refuse
-Sounds like an older, unreleased cut and hence it’s very refreshing to hear Trey back on his more soul-driven R&B game here. Simple, classic slow jam production here with soothing synth work and light bass hits doing most of the work in that respect, with Trey’s vocals and lyricism being the real focal point of the track. Both are very much on point, and I hope to see Trey back on this tip again soon.

Lloyd-Don’t You Wanna Know
-I came to the realisation recently that Lloyd may well be my favourite in the R&B scene over the last 5 years or so. He’s just so damn consistent! Here he grabs an uptempo, pulsating production (by Streetlove, who is/are suppliers of some of Lloyd’s best stuff) and applies his smoothed out vocals to prevent it becoming too ‘pop’, and keeps it in the realm of uptempo R&B. Addictive vocals throughout as always, encapsulated in a catchy and memorable hook that really rounds this song off. Would be a huge mistake not having this on King of Hearts, this is that real classic Lloyd sound.

Musiq Soulchild-Alphabet
-The second single from his upcoming album (the superb first can be found here), this one has a great little concept with Musiq running through the alphabet to describe the lady of his affections using every letter of the alphabet. Very smart yet simple idea, and it’s backed by a very lively, uplifting production that enhances the hugely positive vibe of the lyrics.

Jennifer Hudson-Angel
-Interesting production duo behind this one, as Alicia Keys teams up with her husband, Mr. Swizz Beatz, to deliver a solid production for Jennifer Hudson’s new album. There’s a huge Alicia Keys vibe about the track too, with the key-driven melody and progressive nature of the vocals combining to replicate that trademark Keys sound (I think she may even be on backing vocals). Hudson doesn’t disappoint with passionate, exciting vocals of her own and this is a solid effort all-round.

Ryan Leslie-Joan of Arc
-Interesting one here. The first single from Ryan’s upcoming album is markedly different to almost anything we’ve heard from him to date, as he goes with a crossover spoken word/rap style for his verses that has a darker, more intense vibe than his usual lighter, relaxed style. The hook is more melodic, offering a contrast to the verses that compliments and enhances the lyricism of both. Production is enjoyable too, with a multi-instrumental approach giving a very organic yet understated feel to the track. Very different approach for R-Les which whilst good, will only work in one-off occasions like this.

Trey Songz-When I See You
-Another one that’s probably from the vaults, and another one that’s very enjoyable. Combining the soulful nature of his (original) vocal style with a positively-tinged production that compliments Trey’s voice very well. It’s nothing particularly unique, and the style was prevalent a couple of years ago, but this sort of (comparatively) nonsynthetic R&B is such a welcome listen these days. Very enjoyable summer’s day listen.

Keri Hilson-Shades
-The concept of the track annoys me (wearing sunglasses in a club), but can’t deny the production and vocals are pretty well done. The driving percussion is supplemented by light synths and keys, giving the beat some real depth and a real adaptability that lends itself to either a club or chillout environment. Vocally, Keri switches it up throughout and is solid throughout. If the lyrical content was changed, I’d be championing this song as one of her best.

Lloyd-Is It You
-When a singer can make the fairly annoying ‘eenie meenie minie mo’ bearable, you know they’ve got some ability. Lloyd does just that on the hook here, applying his airy vocals to the nursery rhyme to catchy effect, whilst bringing his usual quality to the verses. A chilled out, perfect-for-summer production offers a nice backdrop, with winding synth work compliment Lloyd’s work. Could do with some slightly better work lyrically, but it’s solid material nonetheless.

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