R&B Fridays: Episode 97

Lots of slow jams and collaborations in this week’s episode, some of which are certainly noteworthy not only for their lineup, but also as they’re potentially quite prominent singles from upcoming albums.

Recap from this week’s postings: a new Jagged Edge mixtape, Ryan Leslie’s latest video/single, visuals for J*Davey’s fantastic Raincheck, and finally a very unexpected UK-US collab between David Banner, Estelle and Daley.

Click below for the 97th instalment of R&B’s most revered institution.

Estelle-Break My Heart ft. Rick Ross
-There’s a lot to like about this. Really enjoying to smoothed out vibes of the production, making for easy listening right from the off, as well as being Ross’ more favoured style of beat. Can’t complain about him on this one, as he fits the vibe nicely, though I’m not totally convinced about Estelle here: her vocals have a nice raw quality, but the mellow nature of the beat does expose the imperfections in her voice a little too much at times. Still, a very solid lead track from her upcoming album.

-Far from spectacular, but that’s the charm in this easygoing, soulful slice of soul/old school R&B, with a real and rightful focus on Joe’s velvety vocals. Hence, the production is understated but certainly has its own charms, with a ‘proper’ slow jam sensibility that steps the track up at the right points (the hook), and keeps things laidback until then. A very easy listen.

Britney Spears-Till The World Ends Remix ft. Nicki Minaj & Ke$ha

-The official remix to Britney’s latest single, she ropes in two of the leading ladies in mainstream music to lend a hand with the remake. They certainly fit right in on this uptempo, bass-heavy club anthem with Minaj bringing her usual ‘wacky’ raps, and Ke$ha bringing a little dose of energy. Will be very popular with club DJs.

Kevin McCall-Touch Yourself ft. Sade Pittman
-The multi-talented Kevin McCall comes through with a bluntly titled slow jam, and one that’s actually better than the somewhat brash title suggests. Lyrically, it’s fairly obvious what this is about (yep, housework and cheesecake), but it’s delivered well by both artists with sultry vocals and a simple, unobtrusive production. Solid slow jam, if a little lyrically cringeworthy at times.

Chris Brown-She Can Get It

-Really like this sort of slower track. It’s somewhere between slow jam and ‘normal’-style R&B, with soft, quietened synths in the verses alongside a more lively, upbeat production on the hook. Chris duly delivers with the vocals in both sections, and it makes for an enjoyable all-rounder.

Mya-Love Me Some You ft. Marques Houston
-From her upcoming K.I.S.S. album, this is a positive track with a ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’ written all over it. It’s definitely tailored to a younger audience with its feelgood vibe, and combines the vocal sensibility of a slow jam with a lively production to deliver a decent effort. Again, one of those that the youth crowd will probably go for.

Kardinal Offishall-Smash The Club ft. Pitbull, Lil’ Jon & Clinton Sparks
-Not R&B obviously, but with that lineup and title, was this ever going to fit anywhere else?! It’s fairly obvious what sort of track this is going to be, and if you were in any doubt, the first minute will allay any fears you had: Lil’ Jon screams, Kardinal harmonises, bass thuds on and on, and a simple dance-inspired melody runs things on the surface. A club anthem without question, I’d be surprised if Kardi’s newest single didn’t get some serious mainstream love in the next few months.

Akon-Take It Down Low ft. Chris Brown
-Taken from Akon’s upcoming album, this one abandons his more dancey stuff for a hip-hop/R&B crossover style that he was working heavily with prior to his dance stuff. An intense, pounding production drives this track along, and generally has that thick, driving vibe of Polow Da Don’s usual club-targed productions. Nothing groundbreaking, but a welcome change from Akon’s dance phase, and certainly one you’ll nod your head to.

Brian McKnight-Fall 5.0
-Not you Brian. One of the guys you could always rely on for unfiltered, old-school style R&B has succumbed to the Autotune temptation, and it’s a shame to end this episode in this way but there we are. It’s not a bad song by any means, as the Autotune isn’t layered on too thick, the production is solid and the emotion is all still there, but you can’t help feeling it would be better had he left it with a more organic vibe. Probably more accessible to a younger audience than his usual stuff, which I suppose could have been the intention.

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