Jesse Boykins III - Plain

Unquestionably, JB3 is one of my favourite upcoming R&B/soul acts. Arguably, he was one of the early pioneers behind the alt-R&B sound that’s penetrating the mainstream bit-by-bit, though in the intervening years he’s added many more strings to his bow, and arguably now thrives when in a more positive, livelier soundscape.

That’s precisely what we get from the lead single from his anticipated Love Apparatus LP (landing on 22nd April). The production is built on vibrant percussion, adding a quick (but not intimidating) speed to proceedings, tempered by the gentle melodies floating above it, with the soft synths and samples being almost lullaby-esque when isolated away from the collected piece. It’s a good combination of soulful melodies and a more modern style; it’s a testament to good craft (and mastering) when such divergent layers fit seamlessly together. That unique backdrop sets Jesse up perfectly, as his vocals move beautifully between his trademark drifty, airy style and a more energetic, extroverted delivery. His vocal gifts have never been questioned, and it’s another strong performance from one of the most naturally gifted acts on the scene today.

He’s even demonstrating new tricks in the video, with a fun, high-energy visual of Jesse breaking out some slick dance moves from start to finish. His carefree nature makes for an infectious positivity, and definitely makes this a good watch. Hopefully, this single is the one that breaks him through that next barrier. Available now.

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MeLo-X-GOD: Pièce de Résistance (Full Album Stream)

After a few short years of releasing mixtapes, EP’s, instrumental albums, collaborations, and traveling around the world, MeLo has finally released an official solo LP for sale. This year has been filled with amazing visuals and a EP series leading up to November 5th. Watch the shift occur.

So, there were several big album releases this week, but in truth, I’ll probably be giving this one priority over most. MeLo’s work over the last 18 months has been representative of a man at the top of his craft, having not only matured as a producer, but also growing as a rapper. Throw his enjoyable pack of videos into that, and you’ve got an artist who has developed every aspect of his game, and that appears to culminate with this release.

The 12 track LP features plenty of new material alongside choice cuts from the preceding three EPs released this year (LoFi, HiFi and WiFi), and features previous collaborators Jesse Boykins III and Cheri Coke, amongst others. Given his excellent work with both in the past, it’s fair to expect big things from those tracks, whilst I’m sure the rest will be thoroughly enjoyable too. Very excited about this one- you can stream it in the accompanying widget below, and be sure to follow that up with a purchase.

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Jesse Boykins III-P.O.P. (Purpose or People) EP

Longtime OTU favourite Jesse Boykins III returns to the spotlight with his latest EP release, an extensive 13-track project that packs in a variety of covers, remixes and original material.

It’s a mixture of new and old material, and whilst long term fans will see 1 or 2 familiar tracks amongst the list, it’s mostly fresh work that has plenty of potential. Artists covered include Coldplay, Lana Del Rey, Drake and Chris Brown, and should provide a nice platform for JB3′s superb vocals to flourish in different sound environments; whilst he’s primarily praised for his more laidback work, there are some tracks on here that will undoubtedly require a heavier, more emotional approach, and I fully expect the talented upcomer to prove his worth once more. Stream only for now, but fear not as a download is due to follow soon, and will come packaged ‘with unheard goodies’. Improve your evening and check that stream out now.

For a little accompanying reading, check out his interview with RBMA here, where he speaks on both this EP and his upcoming solo LP.

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Paris 96 (Jesse Boykins III and Theophilus London)-Afternoon

Introducing a new super group made up of the two long-time friends. Together, Theophilus London and Jesse Boykins III are PARIS 96. Theophilus and Jesse wrote songs together early on in their careers (“Cold Pillow,” “Humdrum Town”) when they were both coming up.

Nice to see two great upcomers (re)connect here, and grabbing the talented Xaphoon Jones to helm the beat makes this a combination of acts with plenty of promise. They all certainly deliver too, with the latter’s production being a great blend of laidback and progressive, starting minimally with soft melodies and light percussion, before evolving into soft soul for the hook, and coming out electro synth-driven. True dynamism throughout the beat, and that’s matched by the diversity of TL and JB3, with the former’s two verses adopting two distinct flows that each take the production on well, whilst Jesse’s hook is arguably the highlight courtesy of his increasingly-passionate vocals blending beautifully with the soft backdrop. A duo with plenty of promise.

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Jesse Boykins III and MeLo-X-Black Orpheus (Video)

Considering I’m a big fan of both acts, you’d be well within your rights to assume I’d checked out their collaborative Zulu Guru album. Yet, I haven’t and not only that, I had to skip their album release show recently. Mum, if you disown me, I’ll understand.

Jesse’s soulful yet ever-experimental style seems a natural fit for MeLo, a producer who blends and transcends genres seemingly with ease. It’s that category-bending style that comes to the fore here, mostly provided by an offbeat production that’ll throw you initially, before gathering more solidity as the track progresses-the clunky percussion is first joined by Jesse’s whispery voice, before keys, synths and plenty more are added to the mix. It never loses that unusual aspect, but the latter additions add just enough regularity to keep this one listenable, even if it does become quite hard work after the full 4 minutes or so. Surprising to hear Melo rap on this one too, and he does a good job of keeping his delivery consistent over a production that would frighten most rappers. One that’s worth a couple of plays, but with the abilities these two possess you’d be forgiven for expecting something as eclectic but slightly more polished.

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Zodiac-Come ft. Jesse Boykins III

Zodiac, or Jeremy Rose, is said to be one of the producers behind The Weeknd’s House of Balloons but failed to recieve credit for his work on early versions of The Morning and What You Need. As two of that project’s best tracks, it’s with great excitement that I gave this a go, with the feature of one of the finer upcoming vocalists being another very good reason to do so.

That gloomy, winter feeling that cascaded through the aforementioned album is driven right through this one, fusing haunting synths with soft, barely-there percussion for verses that feel pulled straight from a dream sequence. The hook throws in a dulled tambourine for an injection of comparative liveliness, and the soundscape ends up being one that competes with any ‘downbeat R&B’ of this nature. JB3′s never disappoints vocally and his performance is tailored skilfully to the production, delivering a whispery and almost fragile performance that throws forth plenty of emotion without resorting to ‘passion’ to do so. A superb track with some great subtleties, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for the full 5-track EP on 24th September.

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Jesse Boykins III-The Perfect Blues Video

Zulu Guru is the first full-length collaboration from singer/songwriter Jesse Boykins III and producer/MC MeLo-X. With Zulu Guru, they bring together a collection of songs that reflect and define a new direction in Hip Hop and R&B.

This track was originally released around 6 months ago to rapturous applause, and JB3 comes through with some visuals to help promote the above annoucement. That collabo project sound frankly awesome, and it’ll be great seeing one of the best soul vocalists on the rise joining up with a massively underrated beatmaker for a whole album.

Visually, this one’s an interesting blend of simplicity with a little messaging, as scenes shot in front of a serene temple are juxtaposed with those of cityscapes and trains, before slowly unravelling into a more freedom-driven clip with nature, live shows and a dancer on the beach. It’s an easy watch that matches the style of the audio well, and I’d recommend giving it a watch and a listen if you haven’t already.

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Jesse Boykins III-B4 The Night Is Thru Video

Over a year after its release, it’s looking likely that this excellent effort from Jesse has all the hallmarks of being his real breakout single. Having been selected for the 106 and Park countdown (if I’m not mistaken), the exposure he’ll now get is a much-deserved reward for his consistently enjoyable output over the last couple of years. His naturally artistic nature stands him in good stead for both future progression and widespread appeal, and I genuinely hope this comes off for him.

The video captures that cool bounce of the audio throughout, whilst breaking it up quite nicely with a light ‘story’ that interjects halfway through and also towards the end, both giving a little context to what would otherwise have been a generic party set. The sequencing and pacing of the video are key features throughout, as the injection of such scenes remove it from the confines of the classic music video, and into a more film-music blend that is considerably more captivating, even if the storyline itself isn’t particularly complicated. Definitely worth a look for R&B and soul heads, and a fine example of how to make an engaging video.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 136

Apologies for the lateness here, but spending most of your weekend travelling isn’t conducive to the satisfactory scheduling of your favourite weekly series.

A couple of good efforts to recap on, with a short but sweet official blast from Frank Ocean, and enjoyable visuals for Eric Turner’s collaboration with Lupe Fiasco and Tinie Tempah.

Click on for this week’s tasty treats.
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Jesse Boykins III-Zoner (Demo) Video

Relaxing soul vibes to warm you up this cold evening, with the latest visuals from the talented Jesse Boykins III.

Certainly one of my favourite songs from his back catalogue, Zoner has an easygoing vibe that is deliciously addictive, courtesy of a light string melody pretty much being the lone piece of production, with Jesse’s wispy, naturally hushed vocals blending beautifully with those plucks.

The video is trippy and choppy, switching from scene to scene quickly and combining a mostly calm colour palette with bright lighting for an interesting mix of relaxation and vibrancy. The actions in the scenes are more simple, with a combination of JB3 enjoying some introspection and also spending time with a couple of models. A solid video to fit a very easy listening song.

Pick the track up on his excellent Way of A Wayfarer EP now.

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Jesse Boykins III-I Can't Stay Video

Probably the second best track on his Way of a Wayfarer EP, but that’s certainly no criticism as it’s a fantastic R&B/soul crossover that makes for an enjoyably positive listen.

It’s one of the bouncier, more lively productions I’ve heard JB3 on, making for a welcome departure from his slower, more soulful style. An infectious effervesence surrounds the track, derived from the strong synergy between the vocals and summery synth work, and it’s a vibe that carries into the video. Full of bright colours, sunny scenes and a general air of fun, the video exhibits both Jesse’s charisma and represents the track well, with each female encounter in the lyrics visualised in brief interactions that make for entertaining microcosms of the relationship.

Worth a watch, and certainly worth a listen. Grab this on the free EP here.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 121

A shorter episode this time around, but more than counterbalanced by the glut of R&B, pop and soul material released throughout the week.

Two doses of The Weeknd were made available, the first an official collaboration with Florence + The Machine, and the second some brand new material expected to find a home on his Echoes of Silence project. In addition, Marsha Ambrosius released a new mixtape of rarities and remixes, upcoming UK producers Star One dropped off their new EP, and finally a great slice of soul from the talented Rob Murat.

Click below for the rest of this week’s R&B and pop provisions.

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R&B Fridays: Episode 118

Bags of talent in this week’s episode, with five artists involved that can all count themselves amongst the favourites of the R&B Fridays followers.

Just one post to recap on from the week gone by, with the official video for Frank Ocean’s Thinking About You being released, and they’re certainly worth a watch.

Click below for this week’s scheduled programming.
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R&B Fridays: Episode 111

Very exciting episode this week, with some of my favourite artists making appearances, as well as a couple of fresh new names. Pretty much strong material all the way through, making this one of the more essential episodes of recent weeks.

Just the two relevant posts to catch up on from the week gone by: Chris Brown teamed up with Game for the latter’s latest video, and Modestep dropped off a monster dubstep/alternative hybrid that’s sure to be a huge hit this summer.

Click below for 21 minutes and 24 seconds of R&B/pop therapy.
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Jesse Boykins III-Way of A Wayfarer EP

After my last release “The Beauty Created” 3years ago, I took some time to truly discover my art, my spirit, my voice, my style, my love for life and its mysteries. That journey has taken me around the world, exposed me to various cultures and people, and enlightened and influenced me along the way. “Way Of A Wayfarer” is me sharing with you those moments and those lessons, in hopes that I can inspire you to share your moments and lessons with the rest of the World. That is the only way, the universal way.

I have an unhealthy addiction with Jesse’s smooth yet husky voice, and I’ve got no doubts that this project will be thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve heard one track thus far; not because of a lack of time, but because it’s that good I keep replaying it (Back Home in case you wondered). Certainly, he’s one of the current stars of the soul genre, and you’d be foolish to miss out on this. Free grab below.

Jesse Boykins III-Way of A Wayfarer EP

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Jesse Boykins III-Prototype 3010 Video

I couldn’t praise Jesse’s cover of the Andre 3000 track enough when it was released (so much so that I ruined the format of the post!), and here we get a really imaginative set of visuals that have an engaging combination of openness, honesty and freedom that encapsulates this song without solely following its ‘lyrical storyline’.

It’s a good move, as instead of going with the obvious option, we’re treated to a video that opts to appreciate the art and atmosphere of the track, whilst still paying some attention to the lyrical subject. Arguably, the finest soul song of 2010 and certainly a very enjoyable video to accompany it. Audio is here.

In a time where life is often guided by misconception and tainted love its hard to truly find someone who is there for you for all the right reasons. No matter how you deliver your heart to a person, you still have to wait for them to open it up. I came up with this concept to inspire honesty. I’ve learned through life, communication is everything when you’re in a relationship. Take these visuals as an example of how something could be if there is no truth between two parties. She/He is your prototype and could be so much more if you allow it. Never Take The Love Of Your Believer For Granted. Much Thanks to Andre 3000

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Jesse Boykins III-B4 The Night Is Thru Acapella

Only a short performance of part of the song, but a nice little video nonetheless, and one that does justice to Jesse’s recent, (and very good) single.

Good to hear he does have some vocal skills outside of the studio environment, and if you already grabbed this track (which hopefully you did!), this will certainly refresh it for you. Worth a watch, and definitely worth checking out the audio.

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Jesse Boykins III-B4 The Night Is Thru

B4 The Night Is Thru is about looking for someone to share love in rhythm. When producer Machine Drum and I created this tune it started as conversation on how you go out just to party and dance the night away; but how hard it is to find that someone to move with because of culture of the time we’ve living in. The song is merely reminiscent of those times when you could dance with someone you didn’t know all night with no pressure, no expectations… just the rhythm and movement.” -Jesse Boykins III

A great quote to set this song up. The production is a thumping combination of R&B and soul, with a retro sensibility that throws in a real addictive quality. Jesse’s vocals are as smooth, drifty and relaxed as ever, juxtaposing brilliantly with the power and drive of the production. Superb track, definitely worth checking out.

Jesse Boykins III-B4 The Night Is Thru

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Theophilus London, Blu and Jesse Boykins III-Life of A Lover

A collabo to set the ‘modern-day’ underground heads (I really don’t want to use the word hipster!) off, this is undoubtedly a collection of some of the best young acts around.

Theophilus and Blu come through with two great verses on this track, with Theophilus definitely impressing with one of his strongest verses to date. Huge fan of this soulful, vintage jazz-inspired beat, with the prominent horn melody blending effortlessly with the hip-hop sensibility in the percussion. Boykins comes through with a typically smooth hook, rolling out some whispery vocals to strengthen the soul aspect of the track.

Theophilus London-Life of a Lover Remix ft. Blu and Jesse Boykins III

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Jesse Boykins III and Smoke DZA-Runaway Remix

After that unbelievable Prototype cover, I highly doubt I’m alone in looking forward to another remix/cover from JBIII, and hence I’ll let this go before R&B Friday.

This time he takes on Kanye’s fantastic Runaway beat, lacing the track with his great vocals. Crucially, he changes the entire feel of the song by switching the lyrical content to focus on a relationship/love aspect, and adding a softer, more subtle delivery (come on, Kanye does repeatedly shout ‘douchebags’ in the original!).

Smoke DZA comes through with a guest verse too, rounding off the track nicely with some strong bars that are full of sharp honesty. Great remix all-round.

Jesse Boykins III-Runaway (4rm A G.O.O.D. Man) ft. Smoke DZA

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Remember Outkast/Andre 3000's Prototype?

You should do, because it was the standout song from The Love Below. It really shot to prominence (if I recall correctly) when Andre performed it on an MTV awards show, and upon that performance the legendary track built its reputation. It’s upon a new version that it may cement its legacy.

I wanted to leave this for R&B Friday, but caved in. Understandably, Jesse Boykins III may not be a familiar name: my only exposure to him was through Mickey Factz mixtapes, as they’ve collaborated several times to good effect. He takes a swing at this track, and does a monumentally good job in not only retaining the beauty of the original, but stamping his own indelible mark on the song. Vocally, the work is very different to the original, being a lot more relaxed and rooted in vintage soul, whilst the production follows suit and drops the sharp guitar notes of the original in favour of a lighter, vocal-boosting sound.

They’re differences that allow this version to stand alongside the original without being hindered by direct comparisons due to the nature of the changes: it’s not about which ones better, but being able to enjoy them both for their respective merits. For me this absolutely consitutes unmissable music, and makes you truly appreciate how there are very few things better than a perfect soul track.
Jesse Boykins III-Prototype ft. MeLo-X and Trae Harris

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