R&B Fridays: Episode 96

Plenty of new material this week, in what has been a very active week for the R&B and pop scene. Well, that’s probably a half-truth as there’s only really the one post to recap on from this week’s posts, with the official visuals for Nikki & Rich’s breakout single with Fabolous surfacing.

Very interesting lineup in this week’s episode, with man-of-the-moment Frank Ocean lining up alongside such current luminaries as Chris Brown, Trey Songz and many more. No throwback this week as there has been quite a chunk of new material to get through, but there’s lots of good stuff to get into regardless. Click below to collect your winnings.

Will.I.Am-Nature of the World ft. Justin Timberlake
-This will sound a little familiar to Talib Kweli fans: one of the samples in this beat is used in his own collab with Timberlake from back in 2007, as well as having a very similar hook. Clearly, this is an early demo version of the Talib version and I have to say I much prefer the beat and hook on this version. Really smooth hip-hop vibes, and whilst it’s not R&B, I’d be surprised if the R&B heads didn’t enjoy this.

Taio Cruz-Believe In Me Now
-Produced by Swedish House Mafia, it’s no surprise that this is an energetic pop-dance track that doesn’t exactly break the mould, and hence will be eagerly gobbled up by the mainstream fans. Big anthemic chorus supplemented by lively synth work: it’s pretty much the same as most pop-dance tracks, and hence it’ll do well.

Jill Scott-So In Love ft. Anthony Hamilton
-Very enjoyable collaboration from Jill’s upcoming album, Light of the Sun. A mellow, summery production makes for very easy listening, whilst Jill and Anthony supplement that with some soulful work on the vocals. Perfect summer music, and one that’ll slide right into any playlist smoothly.

Trey Songz-Daddy Want You
-Still trying to figure this one out. I like Trey’s delivery here, as whilst his lyrics are pretty simplistic, they’re clear and tell the ‘story’ quite well. The production is decent enough for this style of track, but I can’t help feeling there’s something really missing here. Whether it’s the minimal production or the simplistic lyricism I’m not sure, but it doesn’t feel totally finished. Mainstream heads will enjoy it, longtime Trey fans may not.

Frank Ocean-Static
-Another winner for Frank. Chanelling the old-school styles of Ginuwine and Tyrese, Frank comes through with a hugely enjoyable slow jam that brings some superb vocal work to the table. Simple slow jam production of claps and light melodies, allowing the vocal and lyrical work to push forwards, and rightfully so as Frank really delivers here. Much more ‘typical’ R&B style than Frank’s other stuff, this is a great show of diversity and proves he can do the simple stuff in addition to the eclectic work. Slow jam fans will love this.

Diddy-Dirty Money-No Ordinary Love (Coming Home Tour Version)
-Interesting ‘homage’ to Sade here. Borrowing lyrics from both her classic hit No Ordinary Love and the more recent Soldier of Love, they’ve actually meshed the two together into a surprisingly workable track. The production is a nice blend of electronic notes and atmospheric synths, which creates a futuristic yet ambient vibe to the track that makes for a very modern take on the Sade style. Worth a listen for sure, I was pleasantly surprised here, not least because Diddy doesn’t do much and it’s left to the two ladies.

Chris Brown-Treading Water
-Having not listened to F.A.M.E. yet, I can’t say whether this was worthy of inclusion on the album, but independently it’s undoubtedly a very good track that could make any album. The production is superbly put together, sampling some classical elements alongside lively and busy percussion work, as well as the small additions of guitar, synths and so on. Lots of detail in the beat, and Chris supplies admirably with some rousing and emotional vocals that capitalise on the energy of the percussion.

Boyz II Men-If I Had One
-Throw some vintage vocals on a modern production and you’re likely to come away with a decent all-round effort. That’s precisely the case here, as the group deliver a dose of that old-school sensibility alongside a pacey production that nails the ever-difficult middle ground of being both fairly relaxing and quick enough to get your head nodding. Good all-rounder, and a quick, easy listen that’ll rack up some plays without you really noticing.

Jamie Foxx-Fly Love
-From the Rio OST, this is a really laidback track that oozes a summer day, beach and cocktails vibe. Comprised of just vocals, a soft guitar and whistles, it’s difficult to not enjoy this easygoing track with its all-round chillout style. Much like the above track, it’s one of those that is a quick, easy-listening track that is nice to have for some background music.

Will.I.Am-Going Crazy ft. Justin Timberlake
-Unlike the track posted earlier from this duo, I don’t know the origins of this one, but the production style and simultaneous emergence of the tracks leads me to believe its from the same era as The Nature. Much more uptempo than the above, a rapid-fire percussion sample adds energy and intensity, whilst the vocals and melodies play off that feel in a simple and effective manner. Nice blend of hip-hop, R&B and pop here.

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