R&B Fridays: Episode 100

Centenaries are a rare thing in many walks of life, so I speak for both past and present, writing and non-writing members of the OTU team when I thank you sincerely for your dedication to our online presence. Whilst various weekly serials have come and gone, this has stood strong for 100 weeks, so we genuinely thank you for your support here in R&B Fridays. Having been introduced in our very first week, this also marks our 100th week online, so thanks again for all of your support in getting us this far.

As it’s a milestone episode, it felt like the right decision to award Frank Ocean the honour of representing this occasion. I can hear your outrage: ‘why not a staple of the episodes, like Lloyd or Usher?’. Well, we like to look forward, and frankly (sorry) I feel he’s really going to dominate this series for the next 100 episodes, and deservedly so.

Click below for your regular weekly instalment: two days late, in keeping with tradition! I’ve also got a little extra something to celebrate the occasion coming shortly after this…

Didn’t really have room for a recap above, so here’s a quick one from the week gone by: Mickey Factz added some great verses to Chris Brown’s ubiquitous Beautiful People, I handed in my late pass on a truly fantastic soul/R&B free EP from Tyler Woods, UK upcomer Cleo Sol flexed her vocals acoustically, Murray got his throwback on with Joe and G-Unit, R. Kelly proved he’s still the master of his craft with a live performance, Mayer Hawthorne dropped off a free EP for the soul heads, and finally Calvin Harris and Kelis collaborated for his new single.

Lonny Bereal-Favor ft. Kelly Rowland
-He’s an odd guy is Lonny: his last song sounded like a Jason Derulo rip-off, and here he sounds like a pretty good tribute act to Usher. Understandably, it’s far more critically beneficial to be the latter, and those vocals really do make for enjoyable listening alongside a solid contribution from Kelly. The production will gain some real plaudits, combining a slow tempo with a very lively, intense production that blends a slow jam vibe with a more energetic mentality. Good material.

Jamie Foxx-Sexy
-When he puts down the Autotune and gets back to making smoothed out R&B jams, Jamie Foxx is a great listen. This is a mellow, positive slow jam with a deep, understated production that allows the vocals to really dictate the vibe and style of the song. Hence, it doesn’t stay within its R&B confines and bleeds over into the soul area a little, a crossover that never fails to entertain. Won’t revolutionise anything, but enjoyable in its simplicity.

Miguel-Sure Thing (Brook D’Leau Remix)
-The other half of the J*Davey duo produces some solo material (go here for Jack’s track), remixing Miguel’s latest single, the original of which is gaining some real popularity out in the USA. Rightfully so, with a solid vocal performance and a vintage production that compliments his vocals. Brook takes that production and flips into a futuristic, synth-heavy production that makes for incredibly captivating listening, and arguably makes this more appealing to pop/mainstream audiences. It’s a testament to the versatility of Mig’s vocals that the contrasting productions work equally well with his voice, and this is certainly worth a look.

Tank-Celebration Remix ft. Chris Brown & Trey Songz
-Veteran Tank grabs two of the better artists from the youth section for an official remix, and though he’s been pretty much upstaging them all in the last year with his smooth tracks, here they prove they can stand side-by-side and really deliver the goods. The easygoing, diverse production suits all three artists just fine, with Trey Songz coming through as the ‘winner’ with some fantastically melodic, captivating vocals that suggest he really needs to drop the pseudo hip-hop routine and get back to this material. Top remix.

R. Kelly-Ghost
-Feels like slow jam central today, with Kelly throwing his hat in the ring. It’s a well-delivered effort as you’d expect, foregoing Kels’ usual ‘loud’ emotion and epic soundscapes for a more measured, relaxed vocal style and production choice. It’s a very enjoyable hit of diversity, and comes equipped with a hugely memorable hook that gives this quiet, mellow track a good payoff. Solid track, and one that would have done a fantastic job for him a few years back.

Frank Ocean-U Got It
-Wasting no time, this midtempo track will grab you by the ears from the very first second, delivering a sharp, edgy melody with a thumping percussion that captures your attention immediately. Frank comes through with a raw vocal delivery, synergising with this production perfectly, and building toward a very catchy and head-nodding hook. It’s one of those superbly rounded R&B tracks that really doesn’t disappoint in any department, and makes for one of his strongest tracks to date.

Chris Brown-Fools With You

-Closing off with a solid R&B/pop crossover from Chris, flexing his often-forgotten ability on slow jams and delivering a very emotional performance that gives this slow jam a nice slice of differentiation from many others. Solid production that relies on a booming production to drive it forwards, with Chris adjusting his vocals throughout to keep up with the dynamism of the beat. Enjoyable track, and one of his better slow jams.

The big reveal: keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming R&B Friday centenary special: The Top 30 Tracks from R&B Fridays 1-100.

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