Jhene Aiko-Bed Peace ft. Childish Gambino (Video)

Having enjoyed this song on its release, it’s good to see Jhene give the fun single a further push with this easygoing, simple visual that pays homage to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Bed Ins For Peace’.

A gentle, relaxing track of this nature doesn’t need too much complexity to be fully utilised visually, and they’ve got it just right here with a laidback video but with enough subtly happening to keep your interest. The parallels with the Lennon/Ono events are pretty clear, with the inclusion of not only the “media”, but also the little slogans above their heads on the hotel window- it’s a fun throwback concept, but clearly done in a more modern way that doesn’t make it feel overly outdated. The mostly-white colour palette throughout adds further calm to each scene, whilst also enhancing the more ‘innocent’ aspects of the song and much like the production, almost hiding some of Jhene’s more risque lyrical sections.

There are some neat touches and subtleties with the duo’s body language and expressions, with Gambino remaining almost completely serious throughout, whilst Jhene is much more animated and friendly, clearly giving her the video’s focus and a sense of power in the relationship. The occasional shared glances and light-hearted moments make for quite fun watching too- look out for Gambino miming Jhene’s vocals at around 4:20. Worth a watch and obviously worth a listen (I have developed an unhealthy fixation with her voice).

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Jhene Aiko-Bed Peace ft. Childish Gambino

Several images of the two working together surfaced in recent weeks, and one of the products from those sessions has emerged, as the first single from Jhene’s upcoming Sail Out EP.

Laidback doesn’t even begin to describe this one. Opening with gentle guitar strums (that remind me of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, the name of which has eluded me), Jhene enters the fray with her ever-relaxing vocals, with that delivery actually masking what are quite brash, honest lyrics from start to finish. It’s almost surprising just how smoothly her soft voice can cover some of the forthcoming lyricism, from encouraging the object of her affections to get wasted instead of working and to indulge in some adultery, and credit to Jhene for that deceptive delicateness- it’s clearly an intentional feature, making the lyricism sound ‘acceptable’, and hence convincing her male company of the very same thing. Gambino’s appearance is enjoyable, as he tones down the cadence to deliver a sombre yet satisfied performance, which smartly comes off as rather more conversational and responsive than as an isolated verse in the middle of a gentle Jhene song. It’s a good adjustment that makes the guest verse entirely seamless in the context of the track, and this is a very good start ahead of an anticipated EP.

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Cocaine 80s-The Flower of Life EP

flower of life
Of all the R&B, pop and soul releases we’ve had this year, this is the project that trumps them all in terms of my pre-listening excitement, and that’s having heard 3 of the 7 tracks prior to this free release.

Fauntleroy, No I.D. and the other constituent members of this group (including Common, for one track at least) come together once more for a collection that thus far is excellently put together. Diverse styles of instrumentation, from the raw, acoustic styling of Lucid through to the smooth, more hip-hop driven beat of the Fly Ass Pisces, there’s a lot of diversity packed into here, with James Fauntleroy’s vocals being the consistent factor by virtue of their sheer command over melody. He’s one of the most sought-after songwriters in the R&B and pop world, and here he’s taken centre stage with his own performances and doesn’t disappoint, with good vocals and likeable writing supplementing the No I.D. beat work superbly. Worth a go for any music fan.

Cocaine 80s-The Flower of Life EP

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13 for '13

2013 v3(2)

Year after year, we change the format of the end-of-year OTU round-up (routine is boring), and this year I’ve opted for a forward-looking feature rather than reflecting on what was a rather disappointing year in the music world. Many are desperate to have their tastes for 2013 dictated to them by either the BBC Sound of 2013 or MTV’s Brand New for 2013, but the interesting thing is we’ve been championing some of the acts they’ve thrust upon you this past week for quite some time. The rest of them we probably don’t care about.

So, here’s a chance to get clued up with some genuine upcoming talents that I expect to release more fantastic material this year and break through that next barrier of success, whether it’s into mainstream consciousness or slightly wider underground appreciation. Note that I didn’t say commercial success. Whilst some will certainly find that and it is a facet of their potential growth this year, it’s far from essential, and each selection here deserves to be so on quality and potential more than anything. Regular reader or not, you’ll have heard of several of these selections before and be assured those acts are here on merit, not because a label asked us to do so; something the aforementioned 2013 ‘predictions’ from the mainstream outlets can’t honestly claim. Let’s go. → Continue Reading

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Wale-Folarin (Mixtape)

One of a whole host of projects that got released over these past few days, but arguably the most anticipated in more mainstream circles. There’s nothing like a bit of mixtape Wale, and whilst it’s a shame that the division exists between the album and mixtape work, the sheer depth in quantity of his mixtapes makes his lesser work a bit easier to ignore.

This one comes in at a huge 21 tracks, with over half of them featuring some rather notable names: look out for contributions from Jhene Aiko, 2 Chainz, man of the moment Trinidad James, labelmates Rick Ross and French Montana, and many more. The diversity of the features suggests that this will be packed with a good variety of styles, and that’s also evident in the producer lineup, featuring Nottz, Diplo, Apple Juice Kid and Key Wane amongst others. Plenty to suggest this will be worth a go, and the grab is free below.


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Jhene Aiko-Wrap Me Up ft. James Fauntleroy

Something with a slight Christmas theme from Jhene, but without sacrificing the supremely atmospheric vibe that makes her music ever-replayable. The Fauntleroy feature doesn’t hurt either.

The production throws airy synths, a slowed-down percussion, superb string work and a couple of festive touches for a beat with plenty of depth, and with enough going on to support the delicate vocals of Jhene. It’s much more positive than her more downcast recent work, with the warming lyricism being complemeneted excellently by the aforementioned vocals: her gentle approach is the perfect accompaniment to that beat style, whilst James’ own softened delivery works equally well with the backdrop. The end product is a lovely little R&B/pop jam that’s probably about as Christmassy as I’ll allow my iTunes sessions to ever get.

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Jhene Aiko-Mirrors (Video)

Always a pleasure to cover Jhene’s material, and it’s only a matter of time before she’s one of R&B’s leading ladies. Dark, atmospheric and unashamedly attitudinal where required, she brings something unique to supplement her addictive vocals and popstar good looks.

This one’s right out of the Aiko textbook. The production is considerably wintery and full of an uneasy aura, which interchanges with a sense of grandeur via the intermittent inclusion of bright synth work. As a result, it captures both aspects of Jhene’s lyricism: the downbeat side is wrapped into the more sombre sections, whilst the more positive elements are taken into the synth heavy portions. Wrapping it all into a tidy package are Jhene’s gentle, whispery vocals that enhance the introspective lyrics, whilst being restrained enough to allow the production to breathe and expand into every corner of the soundscape.

The video captures the audio’s duality in a simple and effective manner, portraying Jhene as a ballerina in both black and white, both differentiated by a series of subtle facial expressions and more overt mannerisms, whilst the grainy, monochrome filter add to the unease of the entire clip and give it a near-ghostly feel. Props to directors Topshelf Junior (who are quietly churning out some great videos) and Jhene for this audiovisual, and that official Def Jam debut isn’t far away now.

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Big Sean-Detroit (Mixtape)

One of the most anticipated releases in recent weeks, Big Sean drops off his first project since his mainstream breakout debut LP, Finally Famous.

We’ve caught three tracks from this so far, each with their own very different charms, displaying that Sean’s newly-gained popularity hasn’t affected his versatility or desire for hip-hop. The tracklist honestly reads like an album, with huge features in the shape of Kendrick Lamar, close friend Mike Posner, Chris Brown and fellow Detroit native Royce Da 5’9″ amongst several others, whilst Snoop Lion (Dogg), Common and Young Jeezy feature on their own interlude sections, each titled Story. That sort of detail is always appreciated on an album, let alone a mixtape, and I’m sure it’ll all contribute to what’s set up to be an excellent all-round project. Free grab available below.

Big Sean-Detroit

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Jhene Aiko-3:16am Video

It’s only a matter of time before Jhene Aiko breaks into mainstream consciousness, and the first single from her upcoming Souled Out album is going to go some way in helping her achieve that.

Her delicate vocals and beat selection have long been strong facets of her game and they’re on point again, with the connection between lyrics, vocals and production being extremely tight throughout. The vocals remain soft and feminine, though there’s a progressive addition of intensity in keeping with the lyrics, culminating in a strong finish to the track. These changes are reflected well in the production, which maintains a quiet, ominous quality and adds bulky percussion in where required to increase the urgency, ensuring the vocals and lyrics are both supported and embellished in the right manner. It seems like simple stuff, but it’s rare that those three factors are synergised properly, and credit goes to both Jhene and Fisticuffs for the work here.

Topshelf Junior capture the aesthetically-pleasing (to say the least) Jhene’s emotional crumble well, whilst playing off the moody production with a dark colour palette for most of the video. An excellent R&B audiovisual, and let’s hope the audio is released soon.

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Jhene Aiko-For My Brother

I wrote and recorded this myself on my laptop, for my brother… Miyagi. this song was really just intended for him to hear…but i thought it would be nice to share…i was so nervous to play it for him myself, so when i left to San Francisco on Thursday I had my TT play it for him…She said his breath got calm as he listened and i know he heard every word.

Firstly, Jhene Aiko lost her brother late last week, and of course our condolences go out to Jhene and her family. This song was penned for her late brother prior to his passing, and the short anecdote above really adds a touching context to this track, one which is already packed with a tenderness and emotion that makes it a great listen anyway. I’ll not disrespect this incredibly personal track by getting into the usual details of production etc., and instead I’ll say this is one we can all find a common bond with and should definitely be heard.

Jhene Aiko-For My Brother

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R&B Fridays: Episode 125

A nice, summery picture to further brighten up your surprisingly sunny winter day.

A decent number of posts to catch up on from the week gone by: very enjoyable new visuals from Cherri Prince, an excellent blend of jazz, soul and more from the ReGeneration project, a review of Florence + The Machine’s latest album, and finally two mixtapes from Trey Songz, the first a more hip-hop styled effort, and the other the sequel to his excellent Anticipation R&B mixtape.

Click below for this week’s box of healthy, nutritious musical snacks.
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Jhene Aiko-My Mine Video

You could do an awful lot worse than to wake up to this mellow effort from the excellent Jhene Aiko’s sailing.soul(s).

Jhene’s smooth, naturally laidback voice blends extremely well with the strong songwriting here, packed with back-and-forth, undecided emotion and plenty of reminiscing, and it’s the unique brand of vocals she has that really makes the most of the lyrics. The soft production certainly helps, with light, airy synths adding to the wistfulness, whilst a sharp production adds a little dynamism and strength to the track, preventing it from slipping past relaxation to boredom.

The video is relatively uncomplicated, with plenty of hazy scenes representing the rough attempts at memory recollection, whilst some of the more unusual scenes (such as laying on the stairs) will resonate with viewers as those moments of unexplainable actions that many don’t admit to occurring when emotions come in to play. Generally solid, and represents the audio well. Grab this track on the free album/mixtape here.

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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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R&B Fridays: Episode 109

He’s not in the episode, but I saw this picture and just had to use it. R. Kelly looks so content there doesn’t he?  You just know he’s not wearing any trousers either.

No recap or unnecessary additional bluster up here today. We’ve got a slightly longer episode this week thanks to a range of solid content, with a decent mix of acts stepping up to the plate.

Click below to have some R&B/pop delivered directly to your home or place of business.
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Jhene Aiko-Stranger Video

It’s nice to finally get some visuals from Jhene’s sailing soul(s) album/mixtape, and as one of R&B’s more talented rising stars, this will certainly do her cause no harm.

The track is mellow with a slightly dark vibe that adds a little depth and diversity, enhancing the atmosphere created by both the uneasy production and Jhene’s solid vocal work. Verses are strong with nice bursts of emotion emanating from the otherwise relaxing vocals, whilst the hook is very enjoyable with its elongated melodies and synergy with the production.

The video fits in very well with the mellow yet troubled audio, particularly the grainy and dim filming style which injects a disquieting, unstable texture into otherwise regular, positive scenery (beaches, nature etc.). Enjoyable watch and listen, and be sure to grab the album/mixtape for free here.

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Jhene Aiko-sailing soul(s) (Free Album)

I’ve become quite a big fan of Jhene. I’ve only heard 3 or 4 songs, but more than enough to know she’s got huge ability, and is definitely one of those voices that you can listen to over and over.

Her smooth, sultry and ultimately soulful style has really won me over, so I was delighted to find that this album (originally announced as an album, but now referred to as a mixtape) has actually been made available for free. I’ve got no doubts that this will be solid material from top to bottom, and with some very solid features including Drake, Miguel and more (I also think I saw Kanye’s name on the tracklist?! May just be a remix), she’s got some big names backing her. Don’t sleep on this.

Jhene Aiko-sailing soul(s)

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R&B Fridays: Episode 90

Genuinely tried to get this out yesterday, but once again we suffered from a lack of material. I’ve managed to half fix that problem, though this is still a shorter episode than you’re probably used to.

However, there’s been lots of pop/R&B posted in the last week that may help fill that void: new Bruno Mars visuals, Willow Smith’s latest single, the announcement of an awesome 90s hip-hop and R&B night in Camden, a strong introduction to UK upcomer CleoSol, J.Lo and Pitbull’s latest collab, and finally some new Timbaland and Brandy.

Click below for the 90th instalment of the longest running weekly episodic ever.
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ScHoolBoy Q and Jhene Aiko-Fantasy

Not familiar with the works of Schoolboy Q, but I’ll be getting more familiar after catching this very good track. Grabbing the edgy yet sultry vocals of Jhene Aiko for the hook, she certainly impresses with an atmospheric quality that anchors this song nicely.

Schoolboy comes through with a laidback, confident style on his verses that evokes a real late 90′s sort of feel, with his smooth lyricism and lazy flows being a great match with Jhene’s own relaxed vocals. Each of his verses acts as a great introduction to the talent he possesses, and he’s definitely one too look out for.

The video fits the song perfectly, going with a minimalist approach that bth compliments and emphasises the laidback nature and subject matter of the track. Audio can be grabbed here, and the entire album Setbacks is on iTunes now.

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Drake and Jhene Aiko-July

First a great video, and now some new audio from Drake. This is right on that hip-hop/R&B borderline, crossing into the two at various points as only Drake does. The beat is pretty smooth, and Drake’s alright on this. Haven’t heard of Jhene Aiko before, but she does a great job with soulful vocals throughout, particularly on the hook.

This is unlikely to be on Thank Me Later, but as ever things could change between now and then. Updated: This is an unreleased track that actually belongs to Aiko. If you like Drake’s more chilled stuff, you’ll like this.

Jhene Aiko-July ft. Drake

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