Contemporary r&b music is an underappreciated genre; it always confuses me when people say r&b is dead/not the same. Yes, early 2000s r&b provided us all with great tunes , but respect should be paid to the current stream of r&b artists about. Besides the growing status of artists such as SZA and Khalid etc., there are artists who perhaps do not have the privilege of the spotlight being shone on them, but possess the talent to push for it.
Below, I will speak on 5 of my favourite r&b/soul artists; hopefully, you can check them out.
I came across Ojerime’s music quite late last year. I was doing my daily browse of Soundcloud, whilst hopelessly procrastinating from starting my dissertation, and her song ‘Turn You Off’ came up as a suggested track. I gave it a listen and I was astounded. She has a very unique voice; I honestly can’t even compare it to any other artists I listen to. Going from that single, I decided to give her EP, ‘Ojerime: The Silhouette’, a listen, and I was mesmerised by her music.
If I could describe her music in 3 words, they would be ‘woozy, snazzy and electronic’. These aren’t words which you would not normally associate with r&b or soul music, which is a testament to her unique branch of music. Her most recent EP, fang2001, was probably her most impressive piece of work. It was truly the definition of ‘smooth’, as the songs flowed perfectly into each other, whilst being very easy on the ear. My favourite song on that EP was R U Sure, because it showed a more passionate Ojerime, bursting through with her explosive vocals. She really knows how to use her distinctive vocals to ride any sort of beat, and I hope she drops something new soon because she’s left us without music for too long.
Listen to fang2001 here: https://soundcloud.com/ojerime/sets/fang2001
4. REVA DEVITO
Normally, I don’t tend to listen to covers. And when I do listen to covers, it is rare that I will listen to that artist beyond the cover. But when I heard Reva DeVito’s rendition of Sweetest Taboo by Sade, I went against my morals and found myself listening to her songs. I do not regret this decision in the slightest, because Reva DeVito has HITS.
Please go and listen to her EP, The Move. Why, you ask? You should know by now to trust my judgement. The EP contains both r&b and neo-soul elements, and is a very well put together piece of work. As I said earlier, it is rare for cover artists to actually produce their own good music, which is a testament to how talented this individual is.
Her music is really easy on the ear, and its groovy and jazzy feel always puts me in a great mood when it’s on on the speakers.
Check out her EP, The Move, here: https://soundcloud.com/reva-devito/sets/the-move-ep
3. CHE ECRU
Che Ecru is the guy. And when you listen to his music, you can understand why.
His debut tape, Buries, was one of the standout r&b tapes I heard this year. When I heard his songs for the first time, I instantly assumed he was from Toronto, because his sound slightly reminded me of TYuS. But don’t get me wrong, Che Ecru is in his own lane. Track number 3 on Buries, Body, actually left me with my mouth open. In fact, the whole tape just had me in shock and awe. I think what made this tape so good for me was because he combined so many different sounds and elements to his songs, that no song on the tape sounded similar to another one. He has the slow songs like Body and 2AM, and then he has tracks with loud and bassy beats such as Up. But in all the different sounds he incorporated into this tape, it never lost its r&b feel, and was a very solid project.
Seasoned r&b artists like Bryson Tiller (no shade intended here) are guilty of just using and maintaining one sound throughout their tapes, which has made some of their music sound quite boring and dull; Che Ecru is unique in the sense that he can incorporate a different sound on every track, which is rare for R&B artists nowadays. I mean, listen to the track, Luckily, off his Buries tape, and tell me what mainsteam r&B artist can produce that sort of song, using that sound, without it sounding forced. There isn’t a lot that can if we’re being honest.
Oh, and just to make it better, he produces his own beats!
Check out Buries here: https://soundcloud.com/cheecru/sets/buries
2. TAY WALKER
Most people know Tay Walker from his collabs with the Internet, but I promise, this man is a genius in his own right. He produces such good music, that it makes me wonder why his star isn’t as big as it should be. Like honestly, this man is good. I just wish he dropped music more regularly.
I first heard of him after the song You Don’t Even Know, by the Internet, and his verse mesmerised me. His wonderful voice and perfect adlibs for Syd’s hook helped me to identify that song as one of the standout tunes on the Internet’s album, Feel Good. He starred heavily on that album as a feature artist/writer, and is a contributing factor to its great success.
His debut EP, the Tay Walker EP, contained some of the best soul music I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. It is rare in contemporary r&b/soul music for artists to have the ability to sing falsetto, but he really takes the p*ss with it; he effortlessly reaches high notes in his songs, and he couples that with a raw ability to spit bars. Beyond his debut EP, he continued to impress me more and more with each song or album he dropped, and he slowly became one of my favourite artists.
P.S he has a song called Porsche, which is a solid 10/10
Check out his debut album, 25HAD, using this link: https://soundcloud.com/taywalker/sets/25had-official-album
Number 1 is my favourite artist probably in the world, Alexandria. Her music is a blend of so much, I can’t even begin to describe it. She is a part of Atlanta’s Awful Records, and in my opinion, is one of, if not the most, talented artist within the group. I don’t want to risk sounding like a broken record here, but she is literally a class apart to any r&b artist I currently listen to.
I did not know much about her before; when I first started listening to her, she didn’t have a lot of music out, and she was, and still remains to be, quite a lowkey artist, it was hard to gather information on her. I went to an Awful Records show in Waterloo in June, and my sole motivating factor for buying the ticket was on the off-chance that she would be performing. Unfortunately she wasn’t, but the dream of her performing in London is still alive lol.
My favourite album/tape of hers has to be her most recent one, Cut of Cloth, because it brought together some great songs off her old tapes, such as Complement and Problem, but also gave us new ballads and anthems, such as Time Will Tell. With her Awful Records background, and close relationship with Ethereal, you can already tell that her brand of music is going to be very different. As I said in my first post on this blog, Ethereal is as good a producer as he is a rapper, and he has provided some crazy beats for Alexandria’s songs, on which she never disappoints.
Alexandria’s versatility within her songs, from singing soulfully on some tracks, to even spraying bars sometimes (check out Switch, by her and Ethereal) will let you know how talented she is. And as if I didn’t like her music enough, I read in an interview she had with Fact Magazine, that her debut album, Rebirth, was her response to an abusive relationship. To see her go from that difficult period of her life to now, and still managing to continually produce quality music, is a commendable achievement, and is why I can confidently call her my favourite artist.
I made a playlist a couple of months ago dedicated to her best songs, so you can check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/dimeji_96/sets/best-of-alexandria
Thanks for reading.