Jorja Smith, Chase Shakur, Ama Lou, And More New R&B For Summer’s Final Days

Labor Day weekend is approaching, fall is around the corner, and yes, mercury is still in retrograde. As we start to bid summer adieu and catch the final days of Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour, these new offerings from some of R&B’s finest will help with the seasonal transition.

Jorja Smith has shared the title track for her long-awaited sophomore album while emotions run heavy with Ama Lou and Xenia Manasseh’s debut albums. Chase Shakur is still working on his respective debut LP, but in the meantime is keeping fans fed with the deluxe edition of his EP, it’s not you, it’s me. Keke Wyatt is tip-toeing her way back into music with the lead single from her first album in six years as some male crooners—namely Eric Roberson, Lendryx, Landon Thomas, and Beharie—take us down a soothing path that’s deeply necessary.

Marzz ends their two-year hiatus with the return single, “In The Morning.” K. Michelle drops the latest single from her final R&B album and LAYA kicks down the hypothetical door with her daring EP, BET THAT. Newcomer Raiche’s “Big Daddy” has us in a chokehold and Shaé Universe shares the visual for her recent drop, “Passenger Princess.”

There are a lot of feels and a lot of things in flux, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Check out VIBE’s top new R&B selects of the week and find the pairing befitting of your current mood.

Jorja Smith – “Falling or flying”

After welcoming the summer with her singles, “Little Things” and “GO GO GO,” Jorja Smith has unveiled the title track from her highly-anticipated sophomore album, Falling Or Flying. When speaking on her new record with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, the UK-bred songbird revealed that it was one of her favorite songs—terms and conditions may apply.

“It just depends what mood I’m in,” explained the 26-year-old. “I feel like this song always takes me on a journey, so right now it’s one of my favorites. Also, maybe because it’s coming out. No, but it’s funny though because that song started out completely different with me and Dan Dan and the producers. It’s the first song we actually ever started together but it didn’t have the chorus before and it also started on the intro, and we moved everything over and did all sorts to it, and then we got this chorus. But the song has nothing to do with the album title. It’s just called that.”

The visual for the “Falling or flying” also marks Smith’s directorial debut. She shared in a statement that she always wanted to shoot a video in space and the song made her think of that. “I wanted to go up into space with someone I love and cherish, but they didn’t want to come with me,” she added.

Stay tuned for the singer’s new LP coming on Sept. 29.

Ama Lou – I Came Home Late

Ama Lou feels her debut album was a necessity on the deepest level. She got to the root of her songwriting origins and pieced together an impressive work of art that aptly depicts her range as an artist and as a person.

The 15-track LP includes previously released singles, “Silence” and “Caught Me Running.” With new tracks like the utterly vulnerable “Be Well,” the magnetic jam “Played Me,” and the grappling “Winter,” this album is a breathtaking masterclass in understanding human complexities.

Lou began songwriting at the tender age of 11 and released her 2016 debut single, “TBC,” which caught Drake’s attention and heavily influenced his 2018 album, Scorpion. She went on to drop three EPs that allowed fans to get a sense of her depth before landing here with I Came Home Late.

Chase Shakur – it’s not you, it’s me… it’s love

Chase Shakur is mercilessly teasing fans—who are eagerly waiting for his debut album—with the release of his deluxe EP, it’s not you, it’s me…it’s love.

Although his fan-favorite 2021 EP followed the highs and lows of an explosive relationship, it’s not you, it’s me chronicles the subsequent breakup as Shakur displays the male perspective of an emotionally-charged romance. The riveting follow-up includes three new tracks: “nite,” “exit 65,” and “you’re so lovely.”

He’s made it very clear that “this is NOT the album” on Instagram and is excited to perform these tracks live on his domestic It’s Still Love Tour.

K. Michelle – “Blame Yourself”

K. Michelle is just weeks away from the release of her final R&B album, I’m The Problem, and has shared the LP’s fourth single, “Blame Yourself.” The introspective track is one of guidance; she urges the ladies to look inward and take some accountability that maybe—just maybe—they are the problem.

“You playin’ victim all because he made you look stupid/ ‘Fore you put the blame on everybody else/ Point to the mirror and blame yourself,” sings the Memphis native.

The intimate record succinctly echoes the album’s premise. Back in May, K. Michelle explained on Instagram, “I am the problem. Took me so long to solve ’em.” In a recent interview with The Shade Room, she added about the album, “I’m gon’ be the problem regardless. The industry gonna label you. It doesn’t matter. I could try to change; I could be better, [but] no matter what I do, I’m a problem because I still stand for what I stand for and I am how I am. It just is what it is.”


LAYA’s long-awaited new EP, BET THAT, is finally here.

The seven-track project is a confident flex that proves LAYA is in charge of her world and isn’t budging one bit on that matter. The unapologetic anthem, “F’d Up,” set the tone for the EP and the Staten Island, N.Y. native continued that momentum with “I Ain’t Playin’,” title track, “Bet That,” and the manically soulful “Psycho Bi**h.”

BET THAT rightfully succeeds her debut EP, Um, Hello. If you’ve been sleep on this star, consider this the blaring alert that you need to wake up.

Raiche – “Big Daddy”

Raiche is a breath of fresh air as proven on her new single, “Big Daddy.” Her soothing, distinct tone captivates listeners as she addresses an alternative perspective from records like Usher’s “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home).”

“You just stepped in/ What you bout to prove/ Big daddy, come take real good care of me/ Say that’s what you can be […] You know what your baby needs/ Just come through,” she sings.

The singer, with her soulful roots and alternative pop flair, recently performed at 2023’s Atlanta Funk Fest. She’s amassed over 20 million international streams since her debut single in 2018 and has since been featured in Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker and on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Beharie – “We Never Knew”

Beharie is a dream we never knew we needed. Our introduction to the Norwegian crooner is his latest single, “We Never Knew.” The idyllic production is actually a somber reflection on a forever love that’s now non-existent.

For the singer, he explains, “In the heat of it all. When you lose yourself in it. How things made sense, and how the bad things were ignored. But little did we know that we would end up being strangers.”

The record stems from his in-depth exploration of varying identities as heard on his upcoming debut album, Are You There, Boy?, set to arrive on Oct. 20. Of the album, he explains in a statement, “This album has given me the opportunity to delve into various aspects of my own identity, and in the process, I have explored the complexity inherent in my personality and expression.”

Eric Roberson – “I Apologize”

Eric Roberson is honoring the indie R&B movement with an outpouring of forthcoming tunes. “I Apologize” is the second single of a series of new monthly releases from him that was inspired by what the crooner considers to be his “creative gumbo.”

Co-written and produced by Jairus Mozee, Brett “B Dubb” Baker, Rodney Jones, and Roberson, the latter explains in a statement, “The song is inspired by the creative gumbo that feeds my music. The theatrical musicality of Stevie Wonder, heartfelt word play of [urban contemporary gospel group] Commissioned and the unapologetic low end approach of A Tribe Called Quest.”

Marzz – “In The Morning”

Marzz is back! Two years after the release of their debut EP, Love Letterz, and its subsequent deluxe installment, the singer’s impassioned new single, “In The Morning,” hypnotizes us once more.

“This song represents a feeling of waiting until the morning, getting excited of the unknown,” they explained in a statement. “It’s the wishful understanding of everything within a relationship. Sometimes we need understanding about falling in love when we’re not sure.” Ultimately, Marzz hopes their music encourages listeners to “create their own narratives” but in a magical way.

Landon Thomas – “Anything”

Landon Thomas may be new to us, but R&B is embedded in his DNA. With the lead single, “Anything,” from his forthcoming album, R U STILL MAD AT ME, the Pittsburgh, Pa. native is making his mark as a trailblazer with his infectious melodies and unique spin on contemporary R&B.

As he sings “Do you mind/ If I slide on you/ Spend time with you tonight/ Do you mind if I chill with you/ Make it real for you,” we’re drawn into the heartwarming embrace of his sultry tone.

“Anything” irresistibly sets the tone for the LP centered about intricate feelings, relationships, and ultimately, self-discovery.

R U STILL MAD AT ME arrives on Sunday, Sept. 3.

Xenia Manasseh – Love/Hate, PT. 1

Xenia Manasseh’s debut album, Love/Hate, Pt. 1, is an emotional rollercoaster focused on love’s unpredictability. The 11-track LP is for delicate yet powerful women as the Kenyan-born, Los Angeles-based singer fuses her heritage with a sorrowful, intensely honest masterpiece.

After earning songwriting credits on Teyana Taylor‘s The Album and singing background vocals for Taylor, Big Sean, and Burna Boy, fans love Xenia’s universal lyricism and earnest personal reflections.

“All the songs are special to me because they all came from me, they’re all my feelings on a page or in a song and the creation of all songs is sentimental to me,” she shared in a statement of the album. “But I will single out GI’s intro that is with my grandfather, Edgar Manasseh, GI is his nickname. That was done this year and was extremely sentimental and emotional because he has influenced so much of my musical journey. I can think of days when I was growing up he would teach me how to play things on the piano and his music collection is incredible.”

The endearing Swahili song was paired with a Luka Tututu composition. The LP wraps up just as strong as it began with the emotive yet hopeful “Love/Hate.”

She explained, “’Love/Hate’ is also one of the tracks I felt that was the song that encompassed all the feelings that are spoken about in the album—the good, the bad, and in-between. I try to remember that balance as [a lifeline]. I’m also a Libra which is the sign of the scale, so I try to see the world through that lens and I felt like it’s not just representative of the album but also of me. I feel like everything in the album falls under those two words. It’s like a pendulum swing—you’re in and you’re out.”

Most of all, she hopes listeners take away the understanding of love’s karmic journey while also learning that it’s just the beginning. “This is just part 1 of the album; there’s a part 2 and in all of it, just know that love always comes around and it’s how you approach it the second time that matters.”

Keke Wyatt – “Water Into Wine”

The first offering from Keke Wyatt’s new album—her first in six years—has arrived. “Water Into Wine” showcases the mother of 11’s soulful roots as she gets honest with her lover about some expectations and realities.

“I really feel good about signing with Shanachie!” the singer said of her new team in a statement. “I’m excited and finally ready. I feel like this time we will create magic together and make HISTORY!”

Shanachie General Manager, Randall Grass, chimed in, “At a time when great singers are in short supply, Keke Wyatt continually displays what real singing is all about. Her range, power and intensely felt vocals connect with her audiences on the deepest level. We loved working with her before and are very excited to work with her now to make an epic new album.”

The reality TV star assures fans that her new LP will spotlight “good ole sanging” and will be an honest look into her life as she gears up to bare it all.

Lendryx – “Forces”

Lendryx is channeling two R&B legends with his new single, “Forces.”

Produced by Dionso, OSEI, and Jproof, the slow jam oozes romantic gratification as the crooner also inquires about the tug ‘o war battle of not wanting to fall in love, but also realizing that may be out of his control.

“I don’t wanna be in love/ But you’re so tempting/ When you leave the room, it feels so empty/ I’m trying be tough/ I’m fighting forces,” he sings.

Lendryx feels the ballad is his most “dynamic vocal performance yet” and admits that he challenged himself by using Tyrese’s “Signs Of Love Makin'” and Brandy’s range as the foundational elements of his vocal execution. It follows his previous single from April, “Just My Turn.”

Shaé Universe – “Passenger Princess”

Shaé Universe is riding the wave of her recent single, “Passenger Princess,” with the premiere of its visual. The song’s video, starring Kojey Radical, hints at the enthralling story being told as the title card reads, “Ever wish you could go back in time?”

Viewers see Shaé seated in the backseat during a late-night drive as she reflects on some lingering feelings and bittersweet memories. The song, itself, was birthed by those emotions.

“He’d sent me roses all the way from LA and I still wasn’t over everything we’d been through when I received them, so I put all my mixed emotions into this song,” the UK-bred songbird stated of the record.

“I think ‘Passenger Princess’ is a very special song because not only is the title current and relatable, but the song’s deeper message of not always knowing exactly how to navigate situations is part of being a human with feelings. A part that sometimes frustrates us but hopefully, through this song, people feel seen and confident enough to accept this grey area of life.”

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