Hey R&B family,
been a minute. I had to let you know about this one.
Lyrical flow-a-cist Incisive delivers his follow up to ‘Breathe’ which is set to do big things.
Featuring the sweet vocals of Rukhsana Merrise, the minimalistic beats are laced with Incisive’s unique poetical delivery conveying the idea of your mind playing tricks on you.
This is a musical must!
‘Mind Games’ will be available from all good online vendors 6th October 2014.
In the meantime enjoy the vid.
Love n blessness.
Arguably one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2014 is released today, Jhene Aiko has just dropped her debut album entitled, ‘Souled Out‘.
Jhene Aiko is no stranger to the RnB scene, having started out in the industry in 2002, aged 12 performing backing vocals on B2K tracks. She stormed into the spotlight last year when she featured on Drake’s album, ‘Nothing Was The Same’ and released her acclaimed EP ‘Sail Out‘ later in the year.
This debut album showcases Jhene Aiko’s impressive songwriting skills, with writing credits on all 14 tracks, she also boasts a production credit along with several others including No I.D and Fisticuffs both of whom worked on ‘Sail Out’.
Souled Out stays true to Jhene Aiko’s distinctive style, exploring a more ‘indie’ side to RnB, similar to the sounds of Miguel and SZA. She keeps her hip hop vibe alive on track, ‘Pretty Bird‘ which features Common, she opens up about her personal life with ‘Promises‘, which is dedicated to and features her 5 year old daughter, while the rest of the album flows between the dark and haunting style of previous single, ‘The Worst‘, uplifting melodies and laid back, soulful vibes.
If you are a fan of any of Jhene Aiko’s previous work the album will not dissapoint, if you’re yet to get familiar with this ecletic soulstress go cop the album for a refreshingly unique and soulful experience!
Bold, Beautiful & Boundless: Eric Roberson’s ‘The Box’
August 15th, 2014
The music industry is tough right now, with the landscape of how artists create music and market themselves changing almost daily. Talented artists with proven longevity are rare, independent artists with longevity are even more rare which is why independent singer, songwriter and producer Eric Roberson should be especially proud of the release this week of his 10th studio album ‘The Box.‘
Eric Roberson boasts a music career spanning 15 years, he has an established sound and a dedicated fan base which brings with it high expectations from new album ‘The Box‘ and he does not disappoint. For anyone out there looking for ‘real’ music with soul, instrumental exploration and impeccable songwriting, Erro’s ‘Box‘ contains all of this and more!
Upon first listen two things struck me about the album, the first being how incredible the variation of live instruments on many of the tracks is, so much care has been taken over the production and ‘sound’ of each song with talented musicians blending with Erro’s vocals, each track feels really alive, like they could burst out of your speakers! There has been a lot of criticism of late that music has become too over-produced with an absence of instrumental emphasis, this album fills that void. A great acheivement in production, credit must be given to producers Brett “Bdubb” Baker, Aaron Hardin, Jeff Murrell, Erro himself and more who have created the flawless sound of the album.
The second realisation (as I tried to listen to ‘The Box‘ at work) is that this is not an album for passive listening, Eric Roberson is a storyteller and as much as you might try to use music for ‘background’, his deeply personal and evolving lyrics will steal your attention and embrace you back into the songs. Erro himself describes the album as ‘grown’ and his lyrics are just that with songs like, ‘Lust for Love’ and ‘Im Not Trying To Keep Score No More‘ exploring the rarely talked about challenges of long term relationships. The motivational ‘Don’t Hide Your Wings‘ boasts the knowledge of a man who understands the pressures that women face and the battles many have with self esteem, ‘The Pill‘ explores fears of commitment whilst ‘Do The Same For Me‘ expresses the contentment of a happily married family man (if you reach the end of this track without shedding a tear check your pulse!).
The Box ebbs and flows across different musical styles, from the hip hop vibe of ‘The Cycle‘ which features Pharoahe Monch, to the infectious swing sound of ‘Pill‘, ‘Haunted‘ has a classic jazz flava then Erro brings the funk with help from Dave Hollister on ‘The Box‘. One of the most distinctive tracks on the album is ‘Just Imagine‘ which touches on a more indie style of RnB and features the hauntingly beautiful guest vocals of ‘King‘.
The range of styles on this album could divide fans, but whether or not you think that this is Erro’s best album it is undoubtedly his most confident, it is bold and experimental whilst keeping within the genre which his audiences know and love him for. His vocals are stronger than ever on The Box, we hear him demonstrate a lower range as well as exploring a raspier, funk style to his voice on tracks such as ‘Pill‘.
The Box is bursting with soul and variety, more than an album it is a musical journey through RnB styles and Eric Roberson’s life, it will make you sing, laugh, dance, and cry and have you reaching for ‘repeat’ to experience it all over again! If you’re a Music Fan First you need to get yourself a copy of The Box – it will not disappoint!
Carly – ann (@CarlyMond)
In the past I have not been the biggest Beyonce fan, Destiny’s Child never really did it for me and when the ladies went solo I always preferred Kelly Rowland’s music. However there is no disputing the fact that ‘Queen B‘ is an absolute superstar! Her recent genius move of releasing a suprise visual album on ITunes demonstrated that not only is she on top of her game musically, she is ahead of the game when it comes to marketing herself and understanding the music business.
Things were all going so well; she had smashed another international #1 album, sold out a global arena tour and then came the ‘elevator’ incident with husband Jay Z and sister Solange – which did not look good for anyone involved! However Beyonce handled the fallout like a pro, publicly stating that she is part of a normal family and sometimes people fall out!
In a genius move she has addressed the issue head on in the lyrics to this fresh new remix of ‘Flawless‘ which features Nikki Minaj, where she explains, ‘We escalate up in this bitch like elevators, of course sometimes shit goes down when it’s a billion dollars on the elevator.’. I always think it’s an admirable thing when artists address negative publicity head on and aren’t afraid to talk about it, not only is this a great track, co-produced by Hit Boy and Boots but it shows a ‘human’ side to the international icon.
Exploring the flaws of her recent family feud has definitley propelled Beyonce one step closer to being ‘Flawless’….enjoy!
Straight off the back of his killer feature verse on Ty Dollar Sign’s ‘Oh Nah‘ remix The Weeknd has dropped a new track!
‘Often‘ is true to The Weeknd’s signature smooth style, his vocals sounding as strong and distinctive as ever! Details about the track and the artist’s highly anticipated new album are still sparse at the moment, so until we hear more news you can just enjoy the vibe of ‘Often‘…..
A Soulful Sensation Collaboration: ‘Space’ – Lil John Roberts feat Eric Roberson, Stokely, Anthony David & Musiq Soulchild
June 14th, 2014
This week RnB / soul fans have been blessed with this sensational collaboration of soulful Talent! For those who are unfamiliar – Lil John Roberts is one of the most respected RnB drummers in the industry, he has performed on tracks with Snarky Puppy, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Glasper and Jill Scott to name a few, as well as touring with the likes of Stevie Wonder!
Lil John is currently working on his debut album entitled, ‘Heartbeat‘ which will feature tracks with Mint Condition, The Robert Glasper Experiment, Eric Roberson and a number of new RnB artists. ‘Space’ is the first single from this album and features vocals from Eric Roberson, Stokely (of Mint Condition), Anthony David and Musiq Soulchild whose voices blend beautifully together!
The track is uplifting with a jazzy edge, the collobration is genius – showcasing true RnB finesse and artistry. The standard has been set high for the release of ‘Heartbreak‘ in July and it is nice to see that with the likes of Lil John and Robert Glasper musicians are finally getting the spotlight that they deserve!
In Conversation with D’Angelo: A Rare Insight into the Man and the Music
June 1st, 2014
D’Angelo has always been one of the most elusive and private artists on the RnB / Neo-Soul scene. After dropping two hugely successfully and critically acclaimed albums in the late 90s, ‘Brown Sugar‘ and ‘Voodoo‘, D’Angelo disappeared leaving fans everywhere pining for updates and new material.
Over the past few years he has started to make appearances at festivals and performed a few live concerts teasing audiences with new tracks and the promise of an upcoming album, and this week D’Angelo finally gave an insight into his life and work with an in depth interview for the Red Bull Music Academy Festival.
At nearly 90 minutes long, the interview sees D’angelo talk about his career from the very beginning, he discusses his musical influences, the pressures of fame and details the impressive story of how he wrote and produced the sample album of ‘Brown Sugar‘ from his bedroom!
Questlove (Ahmir Thomspon) also takes the stage at points demonstrating the incredible rapport that the two artists have, he talks about the beginning of the ‘Neo-Soul‘ movement and brings out a more laid-back, funny side to D’Angelo.
The good news for fans is that D’Angelo discussed new material, albeit that he admits he is taking his style in a more funk / rock direction, he also discussed a desire to record a Gospel album. Watching the interview reminds you just how special this artist is, from his talents as a musician to his ability as a writer and a producer, D’Angelo comes across as humble, grounded and articulate and this conversation is a must watch for all RnB and Neo-Soul fans!
Lets hope this rare insight is a step towards the release of that much anticipated new album, but for now enjoy…….
The Return (again) of Mase: ‘Nothing’ feat Eric Bellinger
May 11th, 2014
Who can forget when Mase stormed on the music scene in 1997 with his debut album Harlem World, featuring RnB classics such as ‘Tell Me What You Want‘ and ‘Feels Good’? But despite the success of this album and his second ‘Double Up‘, Mase made a shock announcement live on radio in 1999 that he was retiring from music to answer a ‘call from God’ and become a Pastor.
Subsequent years have seen attempted comebacks with some success and this week Mase dropped a new track featuring Eric Bellinger entitled, ‘Nothing‘ from his forthcoming album ‘Now We Even‘. Mase has teamed up with Chris Brown’s ‘Loyal‘ producer Nic Nac, so what the track lacks in lyrics it makes up in beats, but the question remains – is Mase still relevant?
Decide for yourselves and check out the new track below:
Hot New Essential EP’s from Gallant & Raleigh Ritchie
May 2nd, 2014
Over the past two weeks not one but TWO incredible EP’s have dropped in the world of RnB! Raleigh Ritchie who has been blowing up the UK RnB seen over the past year, has collaborated with American Neo-Soul group The Internet on a new EP entitled, ‘Black and Blue Point 2‘. The EP features hot remixes of tracks from Ritchie’s previous EP as well as a new song, ‘Chased‘ showing his lyrics and vocals are as on point as ever. This is a great collaboration and another fantastic EP for Raleigh Ritchie fans to add to their collection – lets hope to hear more from this team in the future! You can buy ‘Black and Blue Point 2′ now on Itunes.
The second EP comes from unsigned American artist Gallant entitled ‘Zebra’. Gallant has teamed up with producers Felix Snow and Maths Time Joy to release this incredibly unique EP, at first listen I became an instant fan – the style lies somewhere between RnB, Neo-Soul and this new electronica soul coming from artists like Sampha and SZA. Gallant’s vocals are stunningly distinctive and at times haunting (in a good way!). His lyrics are rich and emotive and scream wisdom years beyond his young age of 21, if the music industry has any sense this guy won’t stay unsigned for long! If you are a fan of Maxwell and Frank Ocean or just want to hear something enticingly unique you can buy ‘Zebra‘ from Itunes.
With this level of talent being brought at the start of their careers I can’t wait to hear what Raleigh Ritchie and Gallant will be bringing in the future – these two are definitely ones to watch!!
Remembering Great Records: Terence Trent D’Arby – Introducing the Hardline
April 19th, 2014
In honour of National Record Store Day, I look back at one of the most innovative Soul Records…
Artist Terence Trent D’Arby released his debut album ‘Introducing the Hardline’ In July 1987; a power force which stormed through the UK charts spending nine weeks at the number one album chart spot. The album produced four top 20 singles and earned Terence Trent D’Arby a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and a Brit Award.
The success of The Hardline was hugely influential to the UK RnB scene, as the album was released whilst D’Arby lived in the UK we adopted him as out own! UK RnB whilst thriving in the 1960s and enjoying some success in the 1970’s was struggling in the 1980’s to gain pace above the underground scene with the exception of Sade. Terence Trent D’Arby was the full package, he had a strong iconic image with long dreadlocks, an undefinable golden skin tone, a sultry pout and of course huge shouderpads! He had almost complete artistic control over the album, writing seven out of the eleven tracks and producing the project; a rare amount of artistic licensing for a debut album. Terence Trent D’Arby was making a statement – he was not just a singer, he was an artist.
The album oozed influences from every area of urban music from reggae, blues, the funk of ‘Dance Little Sister’ to the stripped back soul of ‘Sign Your Name’ to the Motown nod in his rendition of ‘Who’s Loving You’. The production of the album is flawless, mature and at times boldly experimental; boasting layered and complex instrumentals on every track and the vocal range that D’Arby demonstrates is second to none.
The Hardline paved the way for many UK soul artists as it grabbed international attention, the couple of years that followed in the UK soul scene saw the arrival of Omar, Soul II Soul and many of the ‘acid jazz’ groups. Influences of this album also became apparent in the 1990’s during the arrival of the ‘Neo – Soul’ movement in the US, when artists such as D’Angelo, Maxwell and Erykah Badu appeared sporting similar sounds, experimental production and even styles as Terence Trent D’Arby.
Most importantly , Introducing the Hardline has retained its credibility and relevance. Dust off your old copy,or listen for the first time, it still sounds innovative and fresh and is in my opinion, a milestone soul album.