R&B Fridays: Episode 99

When it matters, I’ll come through for you: 1 episode away from breaking all kinds of R&B records, and I’ve finally turned up on time. With this miracle taking place, what could I possibly serve up in next week’s edition to trump this? (great, I’ve just hyped something I haven’t come up with yet).

A few posts from the week gone by that will be of note: Skylar Grey’s superb live performance of Love The Way You Lie, Chris Brown’s latest set of energetic visuals, Diggy Simmons working with Bruno Mars for his mainstream single, an enormous 30-track official mixtape from T-Pain, and finally some fantastic visuals for The Foreign Exchange’s newest single.

Click below to be one step closer to greatness.

Omarion-Luke Skywalker (Bullshit) ft. Method Man

-A confusing title, a surprising feature and an oddly enjoyable track. Realistically, this isn’t R&B as I don’t really hear any singing, but this sharp electronic production is extremely catchy, with a hip-hop sensibility that works very well with Meth’s verse. Omarion isn’t actually entirely terrible either, though he probably should have flexed his vocal chords for a stronger hook to really round this off.

Rico Love-Wanna Hear U Say
-Something a little more ‘regular’ as far as R&B goes, though there’s a nice injection of an atmospheric quality that seperates this from the pack a little. The minimalism of the production works superbly to create an organic vibe to the track, utilising hollow percussion to both spotlight Rico’s vocals, and supplement them with depth and character. It’s almost a Lykke Li-esque beat choice, and with Rico’s pop/R&B sensibility shining through on the vocals, this combines both the aforementioned regularity with something a little original.

Enrique Iglesias-Dirty Dancer Remix ft. Usher, Lil’ Wayne & Nayer
-Energy, and lots of it. Pretty much the standard pop formula, with the dancey production, catchy hook and hints of Autotune, and hence it’ll be nothing new to anyone’s ears. Naturally however, most will be after this for the features, with Usher definitely taking the win as he grabs the track’s intensity and gives it a little shot of refinement. Not my thing overall, but one the mainstream crowd will love.

2005 Throwback: Dwele-I Think I Love You
-The very first Dwele song I’d ever heard, and still one of his best. From his Some Kinda… album, this track blends together a contemporary (even now) style with an old-school sensibility to deliver one of more rounded tracks in recent soul history. The production works at midtempo, blending thick synth work with simple percussion work to provide a rich, head-nodding production, which Dwele services with typically smooth, buttery vocal work. Capped off by a memorable hook, it’s a great all-rounder that certainly should be in your collection.

New Boyz-Better With The Lights Off ft. Chris Brown
-Another one the pop/mainstream fans will enjoy, this is one of those blends between pop and hip-hop that almost feels like an American N-Dubz song. Not half as annoying though, with Chris Brown keeping things fairly tolerable and the rappers from New Boyz clearly not taking themselves too seriously. The beat is pretty lively, and though it gets a little intrusive at times, the mainstream fans will definitely find their heads nodding along to this.

Rocki Evans-Better Dreams
-Always a pleasure hearing from Rocki, with his eclectic and unpredictable style being a very refreshing and unformulaic listen. This certainly fits that mould, with a production that feels like it’s stolen from an underground rapper, and an offbeat delivery in the vocals that make for interesting listening. Very different, though I’d say he ‘oversings’ at times, going for a reaching, emotional style over a fairly mellow, muted production: it’s generally a good song, but that singing does occassionally feel a bit excessive.

Akon-Burn the Bridge
-Looks like the road to Stadium is well and truly underway, as Akon comes through with that ‘emotional lyrical message’ track he tends to put on every album. This one tackles the subject of bad/lack of parenting, and in fairness to Akon, he tends to do these tracks very well, with this being no exception. Nice storytelling, a simple piano-laced production and a catchy, rousing hook to tie it all together. He’s one of the few mainstream acts to test these ‘meaningful’ waters, and once again it’s hard to deny him credit here.

Range-Beautiful You Are ft. Wale
-Great production. One of those hip-hop style beats that Amerie used to do a superb job on, and Range comes through with the same sort of sing-rap hybrid flow that she adapted brilliantly to these productions, though maybe not quite the same engaging vocal quality. Decent effort from him nonetheless, especially as a relative newcomer, with Wale doing a good job on the assist too.

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