R&B roundup: 4 recent releases you need to hear
August 30, 2015 at 6:00 am
As of late, there has been much conversation about R&B missing clear representation in mainstream music. Many R&B singers seem to assimilate into other genres such as hip-hop and pop. Veteran artist Tyrese has been very vocal about the music industry needing to do more to support black R&B singers. In his comments, he has also stressed the responsibility of singers to help maintain the genre.
His opinions and tactics have been followed up with much reward. Tyrese’s latest album Black Rose debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 77, 000 copies in its first week despite being an independent release. His soulful single “Shame” feat. Jennifer Hudson also continues to perform well on the radio. Tyrese’s success can hopefully lead to more mainstream exposure for the great R&B that often goes unheard. While Tyrese and others have focused on the role of business executives and artists, fans are an important part of R&B’s survival as well. Fans have to seek out new R&B releases that might not be trending topics but still deserve attention. To help such an effort, here are four recent R&B releases that fans can rally around in addition to Tyrese’s album.
Woman by Jill Scott
Jill Scott has already followed up Tyrese with another victory for R&B. Her latest album, Woman, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart as well by selling 57, 000 copies. The album’s commercial success is matched by its quality. It features Jill’s trademark style that fuses R&B, Jazz, and spoken word. “Lighthouse” is one of the standout cuts thanks to its mellow production and Jill’s rich voice. On the song, she speaks of being a source of support for her significant other in the face of life’s storms. This sentiment is quickly countered by the following track “Fool’s Gold,” which conveys disappointment over a lover that failed to be who she dreamed of having in her life. The honesty of her songs makes Woman an album many can relate to and/or learn from.
Shoulda Been There, Pt. 1 by Sevyn Streeter
Following up her very strong debut EP in Call Me Crazy, But…, Sevyn has put out another project to help fans get to know her. The songstress continues to deliver songs with progressive sounds and lyrics that resemble everyday conversations. “Don’t Kill the Fun,” her latest collaboration with Chris Brown, is an obvious stand-out due to how well the singers complement each other’s styles. Yet, there are definitely other gems that fans should pay attention to. “Consistent” is a break from the powerful runs often heard on Sevyn’s songs, but it still has energy that’ll make you dance. On the song, she speaks of a man that constantly plays with her emotions but never loses her attention. She follows it up with the Hit-Boy produced “Boomerang,” which borrows from Halle Berry’s part in the 1992 film of the same name. Sevyn channels a moment where she reached her breaking point in a relationship and it comes across clearly in each line.
Cognac & Conversation by Teedra Moses
Teedra’s latest release is a smooth listen from start to finish. The New Orleans-born singer has a silky voice that mellows out each track whether she speaks of an enjoyable or troubling relationship. On “Only U,” her vocals and the song’s production create a hypnotic vibe as she declares that the person she is with is her sole desire. Teedra later sings about how her past shapes what she wants in a relationship on “That One,” a duet with Anthony Hamilton that is easily one of the album’s highlights. Her lyrics range from blunt to poetic and their instrumental backdrops vary in sound, but the album still proves to be a cohesive body of work.
Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey by The Foreign Exchange
Lastly, there’s the new project from The Foreign Exchange. For those that don’t know, FE is a duo that consists of producer Nicolay and rapper Phonte, who is well-known for his work in the hip-hop group Little Brother. The two have released music together several times since 2004 with contributions from various singers and rappers. They’ve been known for bringing hip-hop and R&B together in a way that differs sonically from most unions of the genres in mainstream music. Phonte played a big role in this identity of theirs by displaying both his rhyming and singing on the projects, allowing him to influence his past collaborator Drake. On Tales from the Land of Milk and Honey, FE pushes its sound forward with a focus on R&B. The album features many vocalists, including Shana Tucker, Tamisha Waden, Carmen Rodgers and Carlitta Durand, but does not feature any rappers. In addition, Phonte only sings on the project. He shows his growth as a vocalist on “Sevenths and Ninths” as he sings over a vibrant, piano-based beat about music that stirs emotion beyond the enjoyment of sounds. With “Body,” he and Nicolay provide a song perfect for two-stepping even though Phonte speaks of a couple enjoying each other more than a club scene. Some songs on the album remind listeners of why the group has often been in conversation with artists of the neo-soul scene, but others resemble the sounds of funk and ‘80s R&B. This balance makes the project a worthy listen for fans whether or not they’re already familiar with FE. These projects illustrate the variety of sounds and perspectives that exist in R&B today. Make sure you give them a listen and spread the word to those in search of new music.
Want more music-related content like this? Sign up for our weekly newsletter below.