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R&B Picks 2016
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R&B Picks December 5
CHILDISH GAMBINO Redbone
On songs like ‘Redbone’, “Riot” and “Me And Your Mama” actor Donald Glover’s alter-ego seems to be channeling Prince and maybe a little Lenny Kravitz. He was a regular in the sitcom Community and has been cast in the upcoming Hans Solo Star Wars movie.
MURA MASA What If I Go
Electronic producer and songwriter who grew up on Geurnsey, one of the Channel islands between England and France. Much of his output so far is R&B influenced including “Love$ick” and “Love For That”.
CRAIG DAVID & SIGALA Ain’t Giving Up
This is the current single from the British hitmaker who has had 12 top 10 singles there since 2000, his first 2 hitting #1 including “Fill Me In”. Other recent singles “Change My Love” and “One More Time” are 2 more of the 7 singles released from his most recent album “Following My Intuition”
LAURA MVULA Ready Or Not
Another Brit with her latest single release. She incorporates jazz and classical influences into her brand of R&B. 2013’s “Green Garden” and this year’s “Phenomenal Woman” definitely employ the former. On “Overcome” she collaborates with Nile Rodgers.
K. MICHELLE Time
Classic R&B styling on this sultry song from the singer-songwriter and reality TV personality. Her show K. Michelle: My Life has been on VH1 since 2014 with the third season starting later this month. Her 2016 album “More Issues Than Vogue” contains the singles “Not A Little Bit” and “Ain’t You” and a lot her music seems to stay on a similar, evening with wine in front of a fireplace, style.
R&B Picks November 14
ALICIA KEYS Back To Life
ALICIA KEYS In Common
ALICIA KEYS Holy War
ALICIA KEYS f/ A$AP ROCKY Blended Family
JORDAN FISHER Lookin’ Like That
JORDAN FISHER All About Us
JORDAN FISHER All I Wanna Do
KOOL & THE GANG Sexy
NICK JONAS Champagne Problems
SAMPHA Blood On Me
SEVYN STREETER f/ THE-DREAM D4L
SOLANGE Cranes In The Sky
SOLANGE f/ SAMPHA Don’t Touch My Hair
R&B Picks Oct. 25
This 2014 song from the album “Food” was featured on a recent episode of How To Get Away With Murder. It is a slinky horn trenched retro soul tune. She is best known for her 2003 Grammy nominated song “Milkshake”, an international smash that reached #2 in the UK and #3 in the US.
Jerk Ribs/Friday Fish Fry/Acapella
Her most recent product had veered more towards classic R&B as evidenced by ‘Jerk’ & ‘Friday’. “Acapella” from 2010 has a classic club feel and hit #5 in the UK. The Harlem raised singer has had 10 top 10 hits there.
SNBRN f/ NATE DOGG Gangsta Walk
L.A. DJ and musician Kevin Andrews Chapman coins his style of dance music as Sunset House. Here he uses a previously unreleased vocal from Nate Dogg, who died in 2011.
SNBRN f/ MARVIN GAYE Sexual Healing
A trend of working with dead people?
WRETCH 32 f/ EMELI SANDE IOU
As if everyone needs to go by a stage name, English rapper Jermaine Scott Sinclair is Wretch 32. His Guyanan mother nicknamed him Wretch as a child (in that country it means slim or skinny) and 32 is his lucky number.
All A Dream/6 Words
‘Dream’ is another single from his current album “Growing Over Life” while the 2014 ‘Words’ is one of his 5 top 10 singles in the UK although also featured on the current album.
DAWIN f/ R. CITY Bikini Body
Best known for last year’s song “Dessert” with Silento, Dawin is a Brooklyn native.
ARIANA GRANDE Problem (DAWIN REMIX)
He is also a record producer and remixer, having lent his talents to Ariana Grande & Bebe Rexha, among others.
Throwback/Just Girly Things
Another single from 2016 and his fist single that was previewed on Vine with a Carlton dance clip.
KEITH SWEAT Just The Two of Us
While this list has been decidedly dancey it’s time to bring the beat down. Sweat has had 14 top 10 R&B singles in the US since his debut in 1987, starting with the #1 song “I Want Her”, one of the 1st major songs from the Nu Jack Swing era. This song has the classic R&B bedroom duet sound of the 70’s & 80’s.
Both of these songs are from his 12th album released this past July, “Dress To Impress”. This is another retro-soul ditty. As the video shows this is meant for unwinding by the fire with wine and your shapely significant other.
SINEAD HARNETT Rather Be With You
We seem to be going back and forth between the US and the UK on this list. This British singer of Thai and Irish descent plays in a slinky chill arena.
If You Let Me/Do It Anyway
Billboard Magazine wrote in 2013 that her music is “ a jazz-tinged version of modern electronic pop reminiscent of Jessie Ware and Jhene Aiko.
JESSIE WARE Tough Love
JHENE AIKO Eternal Sunshine
You be the judge.
SPENCER LUDWIG Diggy
We’ll finish where we started, the use of a song in media. This time it is the current Target commercials. Of course there has to be another connection, that being Southeast Asia. He is part Filipino and part Russian Canadian but grew up in Los Angeles.
Right Into U
He started playing saxophone in the 4th grade, took up French horn in high school and ended up settling on the trumpet as his main instrument. He toured with Capital Cities for 4 years and is featured on their debut album and the massive single “Safe and Sound”.
CAPITAL CITIES Chartreuse
There is an R&B vibe underneath many of this electronic bands alt pop songs.
R&B Picks Oct. 4
Listen to/Watch all the songs featured on this week’s list on
MAC MILLER 100 Grandkids
Rapper from Pittsburgh whose real name is Malcolm James McCormick. One of his first charting singles was “Donald Trump” back in 2011.
MAC MILLER f/ ANDERSON.PAAK Dang!
Like the previous song this one has a nice easy groove to it.
JORJA SMITH Where Did I Go?
Speaking of easy going, this young UK singer/songwriter is one to watch. She brings an eclectic aesthetic to her music. She feels like a bit of a modern day Sade.
A Prince/Blue Lights
“A Prince” has a haunting jazzy vibe while “Blue Lights” while still having a some jazz elements but sounding more contemporary.
REBECCA FERGUSON Bones
Another UK singer/songwriter has a distinctively different sound, one more steeped in traditional r&b balladry as evidenced on this, her latest single.
Too Good To Lose/Glitter & Gold
2 of the 6 singles that charted from her fisr album from 2011. She had been the runner up in the 7th season of the UK version of X Factor
PARTYNEXTDOOR Not Nice
This Canadian electronic hip hop artist from Toronto has been compared to The Weeknd and Drake. Actually Drake has assisted him (real name Jahron Anthony Brathwaite) on 2 top 10 R&B singles, “Recognize” in 2014 and “Come And See Me” this year.
Totally like The Weeknd’s durgy/sexy side.
THE WEEKND f/ DAFT PUNK Starboy
Speaking of, here’s his new single if you haven’t heard it yet.
British Ghanaian singer/songwriter. He had a European hit last year with the song “Walk” although it was only had a short chart presence in his homeland. This is a sultry showcase for his rich baritone.
Make You Mine/Love + War
2 upbeat songs from his debut album “Love + War”
London songwriter, producer and multi instrumentalist that has worked with artists like Mary J. Blige & John Legend. He has released a number of singles and EP’s in the last 2 years, with his full length album scheduled for later this year.
DANEX Put Your Hands On My Body
Dutch artist whose heritage is Serbian and Cape Verdian. Her got her start on “Serbia’s Got Talent” (does every place in the world have this now?).
ZARA LARSSON Ain’t My Fault
OK so this Swedish vocalist got her start in 2008 on Talang Sverige the regional version of “Got Talent”, which she won. I swear I did not plan this! She recently a pop top 10 in the U.S. with her collaboration with MNEK “Never Forget You”. That and her song “Lush Life” were both international mega hits.
Here on her first single from 2013, and first #1, she’s sounds very Rihanna-like.
MICHAEL KIWANUKA Black Man In A White World
JANELLE MONAE Hum Along And Dance (Gotta Get Down)
LEON BRIDGES Ball of Confusion
These songs are featured on the soundtrack of the HBO series “The Get Down”.
MICHAEL KIWANUKA One More Night
British soul singer who is currently in the adult alternative top 10 with this. The bass line rules the song and totally gets under your skin.
JANELLE MONAE f/ SOLANGE Electric Lady
Best known for her presence on Fun’s smash “We Are Young” this psychedelic r&b artist and actress is more known visually than for her music. This is the smooth, upbeat title track from her 2013 album, featuring Beyonce’s sister Solange. This spent a number of months on my personal chart in 2014 but failed to reach the top 100 (my chart often has between 200-250 songs on it weekly).
LEON BRIDGES Better Man
Like Kiwanuka, Bridges has received his radio success on adult alternative where he has had a #1, a top 10 and this top 20 from earlier this year. His style is vintage 50’s/60’s soul.
JASON DERULO Kiss The Sky
First single from his greatest hits package and also featured on the “Storks” soundtrack. This has a fun Bruno Mars feel to it. Co-written by prolific songwriter Bonnie McKee, who was c0-written of 6 of of Katy Perry’s hits among others.
The follow up single to his huge “Want You To Want Me” from last year. This song failed to ignite and petered out at #18 on the pop chart. This was also compared to Mars and I felt it really was an adult pop song but was not promoted to that genre in the right way.
BONNIE MCKEE Somebody
McKee has had more success as a songwriter than artist but her 2004 debut was awesome. 5 of the songs made my personal chart, starting with this gospel-tinged song that spent 4 weeks at #1 and was my #6 song of the year.
Second of 3 #1’s on my chart, totally funky single from that album. Never understood why no follow up album.
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