PJ Morton, UMI, Elmiene, And More New R&B That’s Required Listening

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R&B has been knocking these new releases out of the park lately.

As always, this week’s handpicked curation of newness has a fun mix of cemented veterans and blossoming stars with R&B to match varying moods, feels, and otherwise.

PJ Morton is remaining true to his studio-live album duality with the live variation of his 2022 LP, Watch The Sun. Meanwhile, LAYA, Tone Stith, Aÿanna, and Miguel are all teasing their forthcoming full-length projects which will be welcomed additions to the fall roster of new music.

RAAHiiM and Pink Sweat$ both dropped new albums for those who’ve been needing more emotions and accountability from the male perspective in R&B and for one of them, it’s only part of a much bigger story he’s telling through his art. Elmiene has a confession and UMI is in bliss with their respective new singles. So, honestly, just press play and work your way through VIBE’s top new R&B picks.

PJ Morton – Watch The Sun Live: The Mansion Sessions

One thing for sure and two things for certain, PJ Morton is going to release a live album. The Grammy winner released Watch The Sun in April of 2022 and returns with its live companion, Watch The Sun Live: The Mansion Sessions.

The LP is described as a combination of “the orchestral elements of Gumbo Unplugged [and] the intimacy of The Piano Album.” The live edition features his Susan Carol collaboration, “Good Morning,” a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “The Sweetest Thing,” his live show staple, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” and a special rendition of “Better Benediction.”

“Every time I work on an album, go on tour and play it live, it starts to take on a different life,” Morton expressed in a statement. “This time was no different, so for the one-year anniversary of ‘Watch The Sun,’ I invited some family and friends over, and we recorded it all on film.”

Watch The Sun aptly landed at No. 1 on VIBE’s Best R&B Albums of 2022 list and the sonic gumbo still proves to be his magnum opus.

UMI – “happy im”

UMI is a whimsical, enchanting dream personified. With her new single, “happy im,” she kicks off her 2023 in bliss.

“‘happy im’ was written at a time where I felt myself running from love—the type that can be felt in many ways; love for a dream, family, career, a place, or a person,” the songbird shared. “I wrote this song to remind myself, and those who listen, that it’s okay to be happy—it’s what we came here to experience. And oftentimes, when we allow ourselves to stop thinking so hard about it, we let it in.”

The acoustic guitar floats over a soft 808 as she seamlessly lures listeners in with lyrics in Japanese and English, singing, “Happy I’m falling for you/Happy I love myself too.”

Elmiene – “Mama”

We will never stop singing the praises of Elmiene. His newest single, “Mama,” is a confession as he questions, “Would you mourn a sinner mama? Could you love my demons mama?”

Co-written and produced by Sampha, the riveting declaration follows his powerhouse record, “Mad At Fire,” and his delightful debut EP, EL-MEAN.

The UK-based crooner is set to be one of the best things to happen to R&B this year and will headlining his first North American tour this fall with stops in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

It’s no wonder that Elton John, Kehlani, Timbaland, and Justin Timberlake are among his top supporters.


RAAHiiM’s new album, BUT IF iiM HONEST, is bringing back emotions and vocals to R&B’s forefront.

With production by DVSN’s Nineteen85 and Vinylz, this LP is more than just some hype—it’s the real deal. Following prior successful releases like “Spin the Block” and “Outside Freestyle,” the 11-track album is a sonic tale of growth, vulnerability, accountability, and navigating new insight as it pertains to himself and relationships.

“A lot of this album, I explore my displacement with love and life overall, based on the time we’re in and the challenges that come with it as I get older,” RAAHiiM explained.

With this, he continues to be one of the ones to watch.

Aÿanna – “Say You Love Me”

The UK got something to say as newcomer Äyanna announces her debut project, In A Perfect World, along with her new single, “Say You Love Me.”

The lover’s anthem is a fusion of R&B and pop that further soundtracks a modern romantic comedy. Perfectly capturing the “magic of young love,” Aÿanna’s mesmerizing vocals and catchy lyrics have fans eager for her full project, slated for release this September.

“’Say You Love Me’ is my favorite song in the project,” she gushed. “To me, it feels like the perfect stadium love song to sing. I remember when I was creating it with Ari Pensmith, Daoud and Ben Billions, I told them I wanted to know what an R&B ballad would sound like if it was inspired by ‘Sunflower’ by Post Malone, which was one of my favorite songs at the time. Every time I hear or sing this song, it takes me back to where I was when I wrote it — experiencing love for the first time.”

Pink Sweat$ – Volume 3

After joining Marley Bleu on her debut single last week, Pink Sweat$ is back with his own EP, Volume 3.

The acoustic project has previous releases, “Run Through Fire” and “Moments,” paired with new ballads like “Gina” and “Carry On.”

“Volume 3 is my stamp,” he began when speaking with VIBE about the project. “It’s like ‘Volume 1’ was the written letter. ‘Volume 2’ was the envelope that I put that letter in. And ‘Volume 3’ is the stamp. And I believe that ‘Volume 4’ will be the post office.”

He continued, “For me, [this EP] represents independence. The volume series as a whole represents that. It represents independence, freedom of creativity—whether that’s you want to go as big as you want to go or as minimal. It’s the bat signal to all my creatives and all the people in the world who you just get tired of being in a box. And sometimes you just want to do what you want to do and you want to give people the opportunity to appreciate that. And hopefully it inspires the next person to go out and say, ‘You know what? I’m tired of the same cadences. I’m tired of these same beats.’ So, you find your way home for something new.”

Amal Zenab – Safe ‘n Sound

For those who are fans of Cleo Sol and Nick Hakim, meet Amal Zenab. The delightful songbird hailing from Queens, NY presents her new EP, Safe ‘n Sound, that is set to make you feel just as it seems.

“There’s an unshakable yearning for wanting to literally feel seen and safe in love, and we feel that through the stages of this project,” Zenab says. “When creating SNS with producer and co-writer Nathan Bajar, I appreciated the feeling of safety I had throughout her entire creative process, as each song was seamless to write. Though the project is short and sweet, I want you to listen intently and tap into the feeling of each song.”

Though it’s a quick listen, it’s an intentional one that you’ll want to revisit as you enter Zenab’s heart and learn what it means to be safe and sound in love.

Tone Stith – “I Need You”

Tone Stith is gearing up for his highly-anticipated new project, but in the meantime, he’s welcoming listeners back into his embrace with his latest single, “I Need You.”

Coming off the heels of “Girls Like You,” the crooner is still an in-demand sensation with a falsetto that’ll make you swoon in an instant.

With “I Need You,” he shared, “I’m excited for the world to hear this song, mainly because it’s about not being scared to admit that you love someone. My goal is to bring the world together, one love song at a time.“ And trust, he’s doing just that.

Miguel feat. Lil Yatchy – “Number 9”

As Miguel’s classic hit, “Sure Thing,” continues its unexpected resurgence, the singer is prepping for his new album with his new single, “Number 9” featuring Lil Yatchy.

The hypnotic record boasts the best of Miguel and Yatchy. Intent to symbolize the numerological meaning of the number 9—an awakening from life experiences and struggles—the crooner chants “Wash It” in the background of the record.

For Miguel, this song is “about end the old, starting new, and the cylindrical nature of change,” and most of all, a new chapter in his musical journey.

LAYA – “Need 2 Know”

LAYA’s new EP, BET THAT, hits the streets on Sept. 1, but before we get there, she is sharing her new single, “Need 2 Know.” The unfiltered, unapologetic tune follows up her defiant “F’d Up” anthem, but remains just as honesty and irresistible.

Over a juxtaposing beat, LAYA sings of pain while pleading for the truth. “Gettin’ p***y twice a night must be nice/Livin’ other lives in silence because it’s alright/Payin’ twice the price can’t be wise/I ain’t tellin’ you to wear some shoes you can’t fit in/But I’m gonna need the truth, so come with it,” she boasts in the pre-chorus.

Coming from her 2022 LP, Um, Hello, there’s so much promise for her next full project and we can’t wait.

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