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
Tag: R&B (1-10 of 474)
On a good day, rapper T.I. and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris have enough drama going on in their lives to test the very limits of the reality show they’ve inhabited since 2011 on T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, and the past few months have been particularly dramatic—even by their standards.
Never ones to handle things anything close to quietly, Tip and Tiny have apparently decided to address the situation through a pair of songs about their relationship. Yesterday, T.I. released a new single, “Stay,” a slow jam with an early-Kanye-style chipmunk soul sample and nostalgia-drenched lyrics that profess undying devotion to a woman with the clumsily earnest hyperbole of a New Edition song. (“Girl, together or apart / But you’ll be forever in my heart, I swear.”)
T.I. and boxer Floyd Mayweather have been beefing recently, and back in May the situation escalated when Mayweather seemingly claimed during a press conference to have slept with Tiny. (Mayweather says he was misheard.) At the same time, the runaway success of T.I.’s protege Iggy Azalea has reignited longstanding rumors that their relationship extends beyond business.
At nearly the same time “Stay” went online, Tiny was posting a new video for “What You Gon Do?” which offers a much different take, and as its combative title suggests (the dirty version is actually called “What The F@#K You Gon Do?”), it doesn’t share “Stay”‘s optimistic perspective. The co-writer of “No Scrubs,” Harris is an expert at airing out men who don’t meet her standards, and the lyrics run down a long list of a partner’s shortcomings, interspersed with threats to up and leave him. The combination of unflinching frankness and a beat that consists of little more than a fantastically deep bass line is enough to blow the sappy “Stay” out of the water. If Tiny and T.I. are entering a full-blown feud with one another (whether actual, scripted or somewhere in between), she’s taking an early lead.
When Drake first started promoting his OVO label signee PartyNextDoor the Toronto-based R&B singer was widely dismissed as a less compelling replacement for the Weeknd, who had by that point outgrown his early role as Drizzy’s pet project. Following up a shout out on his boss’s recent motivational anthem “0-100,” PND returns with the new single “Recognize,” that moves a little further away from Weeknd-esque atmospheric R&B to explore a harder-edged sound that combines the rhythms of Southern trap rap with rock’s aggressively distorted tones. As for PND’s vocal game, he seems to have picked up a few new tricks from Future and Young Thug.
“Recognize” also features a verse from Drake, the only guest appearance on the track listing for PND’s next full-length, PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO, out July 22. According to the impromptu OVO Sound shareholder report in the coda to “0-100,” the singer is also scheduled to release something next spring, suggesting that the new record is more like a mixtape, and that his official debut album is still to come.
Naomi Shelton has been singing professionally for over five decades, beginning in the midst of the early-’60s soul-music explosion, where she was inspired by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, and later expanding into gospel. Since 1999, she’s been fronting the long-running vocal group the Queens, which has since been rechristened Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens.
Backed by a band that includes former side men for Pickett, Sam Cooke, and James Brown, Shelton and the Queens have just recorded their sophomore record for leading soul revivalists Daptone Records. Cold World walks the blurry line between gospel and classic R&B that artists and ideas have been crossing back and forth for ages, with a rich, warm-blooded sound that comes in part from having tracked the songs live to analog tape. Shelton’s voice remains an impressive instrument, and the pleading vocal part on the album’s lead single, “Sinner,” is an ideal setting to show it off.
BBC Radio station 1Xtra has voted British crooner Ed Sheeran the most important British artist in urban music—and in the process, has sparked an online debate about a “power list” that predominantly features white artists in a genre of music created by black artists.
1Xtra—which describes itself as “the UK’s leading black music station”—released its list of the most “important UK artists in the scene” on Friday. Sheeran topped the list of approximately 20 artists, submitted by radio listeners and chosen by 1Xtra DJs on variables such as “sales statistics, plus more subjective areas like the quality of music and impact across the wider industry.”
Near the end of Blood Orange’s outstanding 2013 album Cupid Deluxe, the psychic tension that’s been building up over its course finally has a moment of release as project mastermind Dev Hynes veers sharply away from the retro-tinged funk that makes up most of the record. The result is “High Street,” a gentle, meditative ballad where he takes a secondary role providing hooks for British rapper Skepta’s verses.
Despite the novelty value of the its Parade-era-Prince-meets-UK-grime approach, it’s a subtle composition that finds a steady balance between its two sides. With Skepta’s introspective lyrics, Hynes’s echo-soaked vocals, and the weightless flourishes of piano and synth pads that prop it all up, it sounds like a song made for contemplative late-night walks.
Fittingly, its video is heavy on atmospheric shots of Hynes wandering the nocturnal streets of London, and it also features a visually impressive setup with Skepta rapping in front of an array of unmanned double-decker buses. While there are significantly fewer of Hynes’s fantastic dance moves in “High Street” than there were in Cupid Deluxe‘s first three videos, it’s still pretty great.
Last week, R&B god the-Dream released a video for his single “Black” that underlined the song’s triumphant political message–inspired by the life of Nelson Mandela–with a staged protest pulling together representatives from a diverse range of causes, from Ukrainian sovereignty to the epidemic of gun violence in Chicago. It was a remarkably solemn moment from a performer who’s biggest moment of mainstream exposure in recent memory was when he got clowned by Jay-Z for the outfit he wore to the Grammys.
At 7 p.m. last night, the-Dream that his cult of devotees know and love—the one who writes songs about things like buying women expensive handbags in order to get off the hook for doggish behavior or getting drunk on tequila and crashing an ex’s wedding—came bouncing giddily back with the surprise release of a free seven-song EP called Royalty – The Prequel. It is, thankfully, a far less serious record than “Black,” or even most of last year’s IV Play, which even his hardcore fans had a hard time finding much pleasure in.
The-Dream is an R&B artist, but he’s always had a rapper’s spirit, and Royalty is, on one level, a playful tribute to the rap music that he loves. “Pimp C Lives” transmutes Houston’s syrupy hip-hop sound into future soul with a chorus that shouts out the late UGK rapper. “Cold” samples Mobb Deep’s classic NYC thug anthem “Shook Ones, Pt. II.” On “Outkast” he compares true love to the feeling he got from listening to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik for the first time.
Getting to goof around and indulge his geekily obsessive rap-fan side is one of the benefits of the mixtape form. It also removes much of the pressure to produce radio hits, which seems to have begun having a detrimental effect on his work. Where IV Play feels constrained and lifeless, Royalty (and the free online album 1977 that he released in 2012 under his given name, Terius Nash) is vibrant and mischievous, the qualities that made his fans fall in love with him in the first place, and ones that help sink his hooks into you even when they’re not particularly sharp. Royalty‘s supposed to be the first release on a new “Designer and Culture Label” he’s starting called Contra Paris. Hopefully he won’t go back to a traditional label—he’s much better when he’s off his leash.
Earlier this week, Robin Thicke released his seventh LP, Paula, just shy of a year after his last album, Blurred Lines. It’s been an eventful year for Thicke: “Blurred Lines” finally broke him with the mainstream American audience he had been courting relentlessly for a decade, his image has grown more salacious (helped out by his breakout single’s nudity-filled video and his on-stage freaking of Miley Cyrus at last year’s VMAs), and his wife of nearly nine years, Paula Patton, left him, apparently for reasons stemming from these developments.
As its title suggests, Paula is an album-length examination of their estrangement, as well as a pitch to convince Patton to reconcile. It’s the kind of flop-sweaty grand gesture that men have long been making when their partners finally get fed up with their nonsense, on an epic scale. A forgiving critic might call it “deeply personal,” but so far it’s mostly been called creepy and invasive, not to mention fundamentally flawed and misguided.
After the jump we’ll dig through this mess and figure out what it’s made from. READ FULL STORY
For 35 years, “Weird Al” Yankovic has been music’s most reliable satirist, sending up the biggest pop hits and the most iconic artists for the sake of belly laughs. He’s about to release a brand new album called Mandatory Fun on July 15, so to prepare for a fresh batch of tunes we caught up with Yankovic to get the stories behind hits both big and small. READ FULL STORY
While many of his contemporaries work to cultivate an air of mystery through secret identities and un-Google-able stage names, Tunde Olaniran is generating a more intriguingly ambiguous vibe with a fraction of the effort. A native of Flint, Michigan, better known as Detroit’s less quaint sibling, Olaniran works in the gaps between hip-hop, R&B, dance music, and punk, weaving together aggressive beats, noisy electronics, and an intuitive knack for melody into a seamless, surprisingly pop-friendly whole. His recent five-song EP Yung Archetype sounds like Yeezus as a soul record, or if The-Dream made a record with TV on the Radio.
Last week Olaniran released a video for the brooding, spacious Yung Archetype track “Critical,” which he wrote for a family member who was diagnosed with cancer. It’s an emotionally intense four-and-a-half-minute ride, but I’ve had it on heavy rotation nonetheless. Hit the jump to get hooked. READ FULL STORY
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