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Even as Hip-Hop celebrates its 50th anniversary, R&B is coming at its neck with its own domination.
It was incredibly tough to narrow down this week’s picks, so keep the slander to a minimum. After Usher’s back-to-back releases with “Boyfriend” and “Good Good,” Leon Thomas kicks off the curated selections with his highly-anticipated debut album, Electric Dusk. Jessie Reyez links up with Miguel for a tempting new record, “JEANS.” AMAKA formally leaves her VanJess past behind with her solo debut EP, OASIS as Ciara taps into another side of herself with Ci Ci.
Meanwhile, rising stars like TA Thomas, IX Wulf, Felix Ames, IAMTHELIVING and No Guidnce are giving the mainstream men of R&B a run for their money, alongside CAMP under his rebrand. Shaé Universe is expanding her talents into a global wave with her new single as Mýa closes out summer with an anthem and Jozzy pays homage to the King of R&B.
Whether you need to get over your ex, whine on somebody as a last-minute bashment, heal from inner trauma, or boast how in love you are, there’s something here you’ll enjoy with VIBE’s top new R&B picks.
Leon Thomas – Electric Dusk
This isn’t just a debut; this is Leon Thomas’ reintroduction.
The Grammy-winning songwriter-producer has dropped his long-awaited debut album, Electric Dusk. Named after Los Angeles’ longest-running drive-in theater, the LP is an ode to Thomas’ love of film and his perspective on some personal trials from recent years.
Of the album’s sonic nature, he told VIBE, “There’s been an evolution as an artist and also as a producer. I think I’m really utilizing the knowledge that I’ve acquired over the past six or seven years to really put together a very specific sound for Electric Dusk. I feel like this is really the true representation of everything that I’ve been cultivating for the past six years. I mean, we’ve been hearing it on records for other people for a while now, and it’s just cool to be able to do it for myself finally.”
Adding, “Electric Dusk is definitely different scenes of my love life for the past four years, all put together in a compilation of records. And I think that’s really challenging to do, especially in R&B. I think the way that we talk about love is pretty similar on a lot of the records, but I like the perspective I’ve been approaching these songs with recently. It’s been coming from a very, very, very organic place. I think that vulnerability is going to be really important as people dig in.”
The next single from the LP is “Sneak,” a sultry record that follows previous releases like “Crash and Burn,” “Breaking Point,” and the Victoria Monét remix, “Love Jones” with Ty Dolla $ign, and “X-Rated” with Benny The Butcher.
Jessie Reyez feat. Miguel – “JEANS”
Jessie Reyez tapped Miguel for her new single, “JEANS.” In their first collaboration, Reyez is maturely showcasing a sexier, more vulnerable side of her as the crooner matches her energy immediately.
“You fit/better than a pair of jeans, baby/Fill me up better than a feast, baby/Don’t think I could ever let you leave, baby/You fit/Like your mama made you just for me, baby/Stroke makin’ me forget to breathe, baby/That face lookin’ like a seat, baby,” they sing together on the song’s chorus.
The visual adds to the record’s intimate, amorous nature as Reyez is the one with her full dominance on display. This is her first new offering since 2022’s YESSIE and comes ahead of her debut book, Words Of A Goat Princess, coming this October.
Shaé Universe – “Passenger Princess”
Despite the title, the song itself isn’t solely centered around the narrative you may think it is.
“’Passenger Princess’ was birthed from bittersweet feelings about my ex at the time,” said Shaé. “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. 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.”
With co-signs from Lalah Hathaway, Jorja Smith, and more, this is just a taste of Shaé has to come.
AMAKA – OASIS
AMAKA creates her own peace with OASIS, her first EP as a solo act. Through six, high-tempo tracks, the vocalist invites listeners to dance through life with the confidence to power through life’s intricacies. With six songs, each produced by Kaytranada, the singer describes her sound as afro-futuristic. Borrowing elements of Afrobeats, traditional R&B, electronic and funk music, OASIS introduces AMAKA as a singer and songwriter ready to enter a new and affirming era of her life and career.
With a runtime of just under 20 minutes, OASIS is the perfect soundtrack for a never-ending night of champagne toasts and flirtatious whirls. Aside from the pre-released singles “Cruisin” and “Leave It Behind,” additional standout songs include the title track and “Hold Tight.”
“An Oasis by definition is a place you find and this oasis is one we can all find together; a vibe, an energy, and a place people can escape to and let the music takes them into feeling their most confident, free, and thriving self,” explains AMAKA in a press statement. “I wrote these songs on the journey to finding that place within myself and I hope listening to Oasis brings people to it too.” —DeMicia Inman
IAMTHELIVING – “Can’t Be Replaced”
IAMTHELIVING is a breath of fresh air. The London-born and Vancouver-based crooner is soulful, enchanting, and a gift from the R&B ancestors, especially with his new single, “Can’t Be Replaced.”
“It’s important how we describe ourselves, and IAMTHELIVING goes with my lifestyle, energy, and positivity,” he expressed of his moniker in a statement. “Life is here to be enjoyed and embraced because we never know when our time is up. Music enables me to tap into the frequencies of life and love. IAMTHELIVING is who I am. I want my music to offer light. I want to pull listeners out of dark places and bring them along on my journey. It’s my goal to use music to elevate, and I’m trying to inspire and influence others in the most positive way possible.”
Of the record itself, he adds, “It reflects on self-doubt. At the same time, you’re realizing what you have to offer the world ‘Can’t be replaced’. You must believe and trust in that. For me, ‘Can’t Be Replaced’ is a conversation between oneself and one’s higher self. Neglecting the higher self — compromising authenticity – due to the pressures to fit the mold of what others think you should be.”
Born Rian Peters, he made his debut in 2019 with an EP titled In This Thing Called Life and hasn’t stopped his upward trajectory since.
IX Wulf – “act iv: scales tip my way”
IX Wulf has issued his final act of previews from his forthcoming debut visual EP, Heal Yourself First.
With Act IV, Wulf opens up about his internal fear.
“I feel like I’ve dealt with countless moments where I felt like, everything I dreamed of was about to happen, only for it to fall apart. This song is really me being honest with my fear, but feeling confident that the scales are finally tipping my way.. or are they?,” Wulf shared.
Heal Yourself First is a message of growth and self-love that’s been years in the making. Drawn from personal experiences, the crooner hopes his fans find solace in his music as he has.
Mýa feat. Bounty Killer – “Whine”
As a legacy independent artist, Mýa keeps her ear to the streets and know what music fits her ever-evolving brand. This new joint effort, “Whine,” with Bounty Killer is no exception.
She told Estelle on Apple Music Hits that the single began an a solo endeavor in 2019, but soon the singer realized it needed to be kicked up a notch.
“I went back in 2021 after the pandemic, I reached out to Bounty in the DMs. I was like, ‘Hey, I have a song. I want to send it to you. What’s your email? Let me know how you feel. If you like it and love it, I would love it for you to bless the record,'” she explained. “He loved it, and so he got on it and I said, ‘We have to shoot a video.’ And we went back to the same exact location [as the first video]. I ordered a wig to match my other hair, which was a different color at the time, and finished the video up two years later. And we are here now, two years later after the record, and finally ready to release it. It’s one of those jams.”
We couldn’t agree more, especially as summer starts to wrap up.
Ciara – Ci Ci
Ciara is in a mother, wife, mogul, and loves every minute of it all. Her new EP, Ci Ci, showcases her being deep in her R&B bag, but in an inviting, fun way.
“I wanted this collection of songs to make you feel like you’re at an old school house party vibing to R&B,” said the singer in a statement. Later, she explained of Ciara vs. Ci Ci with Nadeska Alexis of Apple Music 1.
“It’s not an alter ego,” she quickly clarified. “It’s me, but when I get a little more gritty, and I put that stink in that thing, turn up. all my fans over the years, they’d be like, ‘Go CiCi, go CiCi, go.’ And there’s just something about when they start doing that, it’s an attitude and an energy that comes out of me. And it’s me, but it’s like me to the 10th power. But she’s fearless. I always say, Ciara, she’s more unbothered and she keeps it chill. But CiCi, she wants to smoke at times. But I don’t really let CiCi out.”
Samaria – “tight rope”
If Kehlani and Alex Vaughn’s sound could be found in one person, it’d be Samaria. With her soothing new offering, “tight rope,” the Bay Area native takes listeners on a journey of loss as she also uncovers her worth without the need for outside validation.
“Tight rope was a final plea to make something work at the time that was showing me exactly why it absolutely would never work,” Samaria explained in a statement.
She caught our attention with her 2022 EP, Didn’t Start With You, and our love for her didn’t end there at all.
TA Thomas – Pros And Cons
TA Thomas’ “Pros And Cons” is a compelling nod to the checks and balances within a relationship.
“The day we made this record I remember walking in the studio with the notes on my phone open. I didn’t know what the song or beat would sound like but I knew the title would be ‘Pros and Cons,’” said Thomas of the new single’s formation.
Adding, “I was thinking about past relationships and how we sometimes stay in situations past the expiration date. On the other hand, we think the grass is greener on the other side when it really isn’t. Oftentimes, we meet at these crossroads but ultimately doing what’s best for yourself is what’s BEST. Write down the pros and cons, make a decision, and move being confident in that!”
No Guidnce – “If Only You Knew”
No Guidnce is the latest boy band bringing R&B back to its roots. Their latest single, “If Only You Knew,” showcases their effortless range laced with beloved nostalgia enveloped in an upbeat bop.
“We’re bringing R&B back to the clubs with this one,” said the UK-bred group in a statement. “Having written this song with LunchMoney Lewis, Ben Billions and Tracksion out in Miami, we’re covering the uptempo side of R&B and bringing the energy with ‘If Only You Knew.’”
After releasing their debut single back in March, these fellas are one of the new artists with a very bright future ahead.
CAMP – SummerBaby
CAMP, formerly known as Aaron Camper, has released his highly-anticipated EP, SummerBaby, with features from Kevin Ross, BeMyFiasco, and Max Swan.
“FEEL the JOY,” declared CAMP of his project. “Please and by all means, add this classic to your playlists […] Lastly, BIG shouts to all hands involved making this classic, and thank YOU for all your support and patience as we keep good music at the forefront of these playlists & music convos! As we proceed!”
The pop-soul fusion is a reflection of the great things one can gain when branching out on their own. After working with the likes of Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake, Jill Scott, Diddy, Dirty Money, and more, CAMP is now dedicated to giving his listeners his ultimate best.
Felix Ames – “Taxi Driver”
Felix Ames is coming to the crown as a King of Soul. With his newest single, “Taxi Driver,” he continues his reign of diving into the male psyche when it comes to relationships and how he navigates through it.
“If I’ve ever had anything to believe in its this music I’m dropping for the rest of the year,” Ames expressed on Instagram of his recent run of releases. “Hours&hours, sweat, tears, all that. I’m grateful to be a vessel & I got a lot up my sleeve.”
Jozzy – Songs For Women, Free Game For N****s (Deluxe)
The proclaimed “R&B Biggie” strikes again with the deluxe edition of her debut EP, Songs For Women, Free Game For N****s. Jozzy, the first signee of Diddy’s R&B label, Love Records, had released two remixes of hit singles from the project including a homage to Usher’s “Nice & Slow” on the upgraded version of “Commotion.”
Of the initial drop, Jozzy explained, “This project is about sharing the true emotions women feel navigating relationships while giving men honest game at the same time. I understand both sides of the spectrum, because I have both masculine and feminine energy, which is why I believe the world will relate to the entire body of work.”
The deluxe EP also includes two new records, “Like Me” and “Since 21,” which stamp her thriving rep as a pioneer in the modern R&B scene.
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