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Tag: R&B (1-10 of 489)

Let BJ the Chicago Kid help you forget about that terrible Aaliyah biopic

Even as she’s grown into one of the most influential forces in modern pop music (just check the number of people walking around with baby hair and a SoundCloud full of atmospheric future-funk beats), Aaliyah’s suffered a depressing number of indignities since her death in 2001, from less-than-stellar posthumous albums to being press-ganged into a Chris Brown song. But the worst so far is the biopic that Lifetime just aired, which ignored her artistry in favor of focusing on her romantic relationships and portrayed her illegal underage marriage to R. Kelly as a Romeo and Juliet story rather than statutory rape.

Aaliyah fans are intensely upset about the movie, and they haven’t been shy about expressing it. Which is why it’s a good time for rising crooner BJ the Chicago Kid to release his own version of the Baby Girl classic “One in a Million” where he doesn’t try to do anything fancy or weird with it but simply sings a very good song the way it was meant to be sung. It’s an effective way of washing the Lifetime movie’s bad vibes out of your brain.

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Experimental R&B duo Pony Bwoy share 'Creature Comforts'

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Producer Hunter Morley and vocalist Jeremy Nutzman, the two Minneapolitans behind the experimental electronic group Pony Bwoy, cite contemporary R&B acts like The Weeknd and Warp Records-style IDM as their primary influences, but a better point of comparison might be early Ween. Like Gene and Dean in their early days, Morley and Nutzman deconstruct a genre into its tiniest constituent parts and reassembling it according to their own warped blueprints.

Their upcoming album när-kə, which they’ll self-release on Dec. 9, is a disorientingly fractured and woozily psychedelic spin on R&B that sounds like The Weeknd filtered through a prism of store-brand cough syrup. Get on their trip with the weirdly catchy slow jam “Creature Comforts.”

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Inside Light in the Attic Records, the vinyl-loving crate-digger's favorite label

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In 1968, Barbara Lynn was riding high. A gifted young blues guitarist and songwriter whose compositions had already been covered by Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones, the Beaumont, Tex., native had just signed with Atlantic Records to release her major-label debut, Here Is Barbara Lynn. Though it spawned the radio hit “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” and landed her an extended tour with B.B. King, it wasn’t the success Atlantic had hoped for. By the mid-1970s, a disillusioned Lynn had mostly withdrawn from the industry to raise her family—and Here was essentially lost to history.

Fast-forward four decades, and cue the entrance of Matt Sullivan. In 2002 the then-26-year-old founded Light in the Attic Records, a label whose raison d’être is resurrecting forgotten classics for a new generation of vinyl fetishists and crate diggers. “When they called, I was amazed,” says Lynn, now 72, via phone from her Beaumont home. “I feel so good about these songs. I didn’t think anybody was still thinking about me.”

Here Is Barbara Lynn is the latest in a series of some 150 eclectic reissues put out by the Seattle-bred boutique label. READ FULL STORY

You should listen to Danity Kane's surprisingly weird 'DK3'

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Danity Kane’s DK3 has a lot going against it.

It had the bad luck to be released the same week as Taylor Swift’s zeitgeist-devouring 1989. The group, which broke up during its recording nearly three months ago, aren’t around to promote it. Its Clipse-sampling lead single “Lemonade” didn’t make as much of a splash on radio as it may have deserved. And at a time where R&B is overrun with insurgent post-Weeknd artists who are crazy about grimy sounds, ennui, and ambiguous eroticism, Danity Kane remains steadfastly straightforward and high-polish.

So it’s not surprising that the record’s kind of falling through the cracks. What’s surprising is that that’s kind of a shame.

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T-Pain's Auto-Tune-free Tiny Desk Concert will blow your mind

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On the surface, T-Pain may seem like an exceedingly odd choice for one of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, not only because the series usually focuses on rootsy singer-songwriters and indie rockers, but because his Auto-Tune-drenched signature sound seems wildly incompatible with the type of stripped-down intimacy the whole premise is founded on. But two things a lot of people don’t realize about T-Pain are that 1. behind the top hats and stripper lyrics he’s actually an incredibly talented musician, and 2. perhaps even more surprisingly, behind all that Auto-Tune he’s a phenomenally talented singer. READ FULL STORY

FKA Twigs gets severely creepy in her 'Video Girl' video

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Last week, avant-R&B cosmonaut FKA Twigs released a video she directed for Google Glass that used a reworked version of “Video Girl” from her recent, EW-beloved LP1 as the soundtrack (along with the song “Glass & Patron”) for a hallucinatory dance-off between multiples Twigses. It served as a showcase for both her impressive dance moves and her equally refined sense of the surreal, but that wasn’t the end of the song’s video presence.

Wednesday morning, Twigs released the official “Video Girl” video, and it’s a whole world apart from the comparably conventional Google Glass clip and its white-room choreography. Directed by Kahlil Joseph, it trades in the lush, color-drenched psychedelia of her “Two Weeks” visual for harsh black-and-white, with the singer playing some kind of otherworldly presence haunting a prison and a man who’s being executed there. It’s an unsettling viewing experience that combines the most disturbing aspects of J-horror and Mulholland Drive, and it climaxes with Twigs straddling a dying man strapped down to a table with a tube of poison running into his arm. All in all, it delivers about 10 times as much creepiness as any horror movie this year in just a fraction of the time.

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

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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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