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Tag: R&B (1-10 of 483)

Teen-pop veteran Tinashe grows up and out on 'Aquarius'

Tinashe

Aquarius, released this week, may be Tinashe’s first proper album, but she’s far from a rookie in the entertainment game. The 21-year-old singer got her start early as an actor, appearing in Robert Zemeckis’s CGI Christmas flick The Polar Express and the Bob Dylan-starring surrealist sci-fi project Masked and Anonymous before being recruited at age 14 to join a manufactured teen-pop group. That may not sound like a very auspicious start for a serious music career, but she says it was valuable nonetheless. “I think I learned a lot being in a situation where I wasn’t necessarily able to create music that was totally true to who I was or to present the person who I was,” she says over the phone from her home in Los Angeles.

If anything, her time in The Stunners helped give Tinashe a good idea of what she didn’t want to do when she struck out on her own. After the group split up in 2011 she started working on solo material in her home studio, sans record contract. “When you’re part a group,” she says, “it’s definitely a group effort, creatively. When I wasn’t signed to a record label I was free to make my own decisions. I definitely felt the need to create stuff on my own and just do things and make my own decisions and just put things out there. It was a really important step for me because it really opened the door so that now I have so much creative control in my art.”

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London Richards is the next big thing in R&B

“I’m just happy that I’ve been able to take my time to release this first single,” London Richards says. Actually, only about a year passed between London deciding to pursue a singing career and the release of his debut single “Will You Wait,” but Richards is only 17, and considering his age—and the fact that these days artists can make or break a career in a matter of weeks—he can be forgiven for thinking that’s a long time.

Richards may be new, but on “Will You Wait” and his upcoming EP love, London (out Oct. 27), he emerges as a seemingly full-formed artist with crafty songwriting skills, a supple voice, and a compelling, of-the-moment aesthetic that sets highly accessible pop hooks in a bed of darkly textured electronic instrumentation. This formula has already starting to pay dividends–soon after its release, ”Will You Wait” appeared on Billboard’s Emerging Artists and Trending 140 charts, and it’s starting to gain enough critical mass to make a run at the pop charts seem entirely possible. “There are almost no words to describe how amazing it’s been,” he says. “It’s all positivity.”

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Nabiha's 'Animals' is the best turn-up anthem you'll hear today

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Scandinavia has had a strong presence on the pop charts this year, first with Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz’s out-of-nowhere smash “Am I Wrong,” followed by Tove Lo‘s “Habits (Stay High),” which spent the summer steadily climbing the Hot 100. Next up is Nabiha, a Danish artist who splits the difference between hip-hop, R&B, dance music, and straight-up pop. Considering how closely this combination of genres resembles the makeup of the American pop charts these days, it seems likely that she might be able to find more success here with her newly released EP Mind the Gap than her 2011 track “Never Played the Bass,” which made it to No. 37 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart despite the fact that it wasn’t officially promoted as a single.

Mind‘s second single could be the break she’s been looking for. “Animals” is a beast of a turn-up anthem, alternating between noisily minimal rap verses that sound like the hybrid offspring of Yeezus and Major Lazer’s “Pon Di Floor” and a sweeping, jumbo-sized melodic hook that probably has Rihanna biting her fist with envy. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to it on repeat.

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Hear Estelle's club-poppy new single 'Something Good'

There are two basic sorts of breakup records: the heartbroken, mopey kind, and the kind where the writer digs through the wreckage of their relationship to find whatever lesson it has to offer and uses it as an opportunity to grow as a person. Estelle’s upcoming fourth album, True Romance (out Nov. 4) is firmly of the latter type.

“Something Good,” the album’s second single behind the anthemic “Conqueror,” pairs lyrics about picking up the pieces after a split with a piano-heavy house beat that synchronizes nicely with the current revival of ’90s club pop.

“‘Something Good’ is a feel-good song,” Estelle writes in an email. “A reminder that you’re dope and have something wonderful to offer life and yourself and the world.”

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Janet Jackson's 'Rhythm Nation 1814': Still dancing and dreaming 25 years later

Like serialized television and comic-book movies, R&B is in the midst of a golden age. As ambivalent as I am about Beyoncé’s work, her influence cannot be overstated, and her sequined coattails have been long enough to support an incredible wave of exceptionally provocative albums from next-in-line voices both female (Jhené Aiko, FKA Twigs, Tinashe) and male (Frank Ocean, Miguel, the Weeknd).

The roots of this form of modern R&B can be traced back to Janet Jackson’s landmark album Rhythm Nation 1814, which turns 25 years old today. Though it’s a quarter century old, Rhythm Nation has barely aged—it sounds as rich and vital as it did when it was first released, and stylistically as contemporary as anything on the Billboard charts. READ FULL STORY

Music supervisor for 'Revenge,' 'Arrow,' and 'The Fault In Our Stars' makes us a fall TV playlist

season-kent

The most important movie soundtrack this year was undoubtedly the top-shelf compilation put together by Season Kent for The Fault In Our Stars, and not just because it gave us Charli XCX’s inimitable “Boom Clap.” Kent has quickly become one of the go-to names in music supervision, and though she’s working on more and more film projects (she just got started working on the Magic Mike sequel), she has primarily made her bones on television.

This season, she returns to both Arrow and Revenge, and adds the brand new Arrow spin-off The Flash to her portfolio. In an effort to give our Shazam apps a rest during the forthcoming TV season, we asked Kent to make us a playlist of songs that we’ll eventually be hearing under our favorite dramatic moments and montages. Check out her picks and listen to the Spotify playlist below.

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Christian Gregory's 'Won't Get Nowhere' video: a soul-drenched slugfest

Christian-Gregory

The number of new artists working in the style of classic soul musicians like Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers has reached the point where we can safely call it a deluge, but British singer Christian Gregory sets himself apart with a knack for graceful, clean-lined melodies that’s considerably tougher to learn than how to dial in a convincingly vintage-sounding electric piano part. His new single “Won’t Get Nowhere” is chicly minimalist, but some bold application of delay effects gives it an intriguingly spacey quality and a slightly chilly feel that contrasts with its comforting soul hooks. For such a mellow song, the pugilistic theme of its video might seem jarring, but Gregory—an avid muay thai fighter—is adept at finding compelling contrasts.

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Lauryn Hill releases song dedicated to Ferguson

Protestors in Ferguson, Missouri have depended on social media to bypass the gatekeepers of mass media organizations and turn what in another era might have been a local news story into an event that’s unfolding in front of a global audience. As musicians have begun composing reactions to the situation, it’s fitting that they’re broadcasting them through the same platforms.

The latest is Lauryn Hill, who last night tweeted a link to a recording she posted on her SoundCloud page. “Black Rage” isn’t a new song—Hill’s been performing it live for years—but its lyrics about life on the receiving end of institutionalized racism feel incredibly timely.

According a short description, the song’s “an old sketch” that Hill recorded in her living room, and the roughness around the edges, as well as what sound like manipulated field recordings, only add to its immediacy. In the past Hill’s been compared—by herself as well as others—to Nina Simone, and by flipping “My Favorite Things” into a sardonic, unflinching indictment of systematic oppression she more than lives up to it.


Kelela and Le1f team up for the spacey slow jam 'OICU'

oicu

Kelela and Le1f are two independent artists teetering on the verge of serious pop stardom. Kelela is part of a new wave of R&B artists forging connections with the leading edge of electronic dance music who’s made a fan of, among others, Solange Knowles, who put her on the avant-R&B compilation, Saint Heron, that she released on her Saint Records label last year. Le1f, meanwhile, is doing something similar with rap and the underground club scene, and the raw energy he brought to his Letterman performance earlier this year gave him an unexpected foothold in the mainstream.

Neither of the two are content to just wait around for their seemingly inevitable breaks to come through. Both are busy at work on their next big moves. But in the meantime, while those projects are coming together, they’ve paired up to record “OICU.” Produced by beat-maker P. Morris, the track showcases their mutual talents for creating a vibe that’s spacey, sexy, and effortlessly chill. It’s a match made in stoner-avant-pop heaven.

Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj team up for the fiery 'Bang Bang'

If you notice your computer or smartphone running hot recently, it may be because the internet is currently on fire after the release of “Bang Bang,” an en fuego team-up between Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and British pop star Jessie J. Written and produced by much of the creative team behind Grande’s “Problem,” including Swedish pop warlock Max Martin, “Bang Bang” is a floor-shaking pileup of soulful horn stabs and detuned kick drums. It sounds like the hyperactive love child of Amy Winehouse and DJ Mustard with a three-way battle between the vocalists to see who can go the hardest. It’s tempting to call the contest for Nicki just on general principle—bonus points for her “Queen Nicki dominant, prominent” line—but Grande’s performance, which feels like she’s determined to jump through your headphones and physically tackle your eardrums, offers some serious competition. READ FULL STORY

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