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Tag: R&B (1-10 of 479)

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

T.I. and Tiny are fighting and writing songs about it

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.

PartyNextDoor drops Drake-featuring single 'Recognize'

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 TWOout 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.

In other OVO news, according to Billboardthe title of Drake’s as yet unrecorded fourth album will be Views From the 6.

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Video: Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens' soulful 'Sinner'

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.

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BBC Radio names Ed Sheeran most important singer of 'black' music, faces backlash

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.”

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