Erika De Casier has now released two albums that sound like nothing else out there. Despite wearing their 90s r&b influences proudly on their sleeves, both 2019’s Essentials and the newly released Sensational (how’s that for a pair of chest-beating titles?) manage to forge new paths for the kind of introspective, moody but ultimately easily accessible pop that I am bang into. Make My Day is an early highlight – that haunting little synthy wail at the start of every bar, I mean come ON! – but it’s all ultimately brilliant.
Arriving as the third single from her forthcoming album Man Made which lands next month, Dingaling is about as chill and vibey as R&B gets. As Greentea herself says early on and repeats throughout, “Here in lies your fortune / In the shape of a good tune” and at the moment this is exactly the kind of straightforward simplicity I’m after.
It’s Friday. Which is enough of an excuse for us all to embrace Ray BLK’s breezy new banger Dark Skinned. Not sure I’m going to say anything else about this one, except that it’s the latest in an increasing number of songs making me feel vaguely positive about our ability to have actual fun this summer. Thanks Ray!
Absolutely nothing I write here is going to do justice to how overwhelmingly brilliant this song is, so I’m not going to try, just go and listen to it. Track of the year contender for sure, taken from her new album Second Line. On my fourth straight listen and it just made me cry. Fucking hell, it’s amazing.
The latest single from UK producer L E M F R E C K is markedly different from some of his earlier work. As the grime/r&b artist told Gigsoup earlier this month, “I was deep into nihilism/depression. I had no plan of releasing music after the single ‘Sinners’, and that was it for me.” We’re grateful he stuck with it, as Falling is just brilliant: rooted in melancholy, but with a hopeful yearning that suggests he’s made peace with it. Greatness beckons for this former BBC Introducing artist.
The opening track on Starrah’s debut album The Longest Interlude, Miss This perfectly sets the scene for what followers: namely, 30 minutes or so of woozy, atmospheric r&b ripe for summer nights. Reminiscent of both 070 Shake and Tierra Whack in its finer moment, I expect I’ll be spending quite a lot of time with it over the coming months.
I tried and failed to enjoy serpentwithfeet’s 2018 album soil so many times. It’s clearly really good, but I could just never get into it: it felt too detached and disjointed, like it was trying to trip you up and eject you just as you felt you were finally getting locked in. Since then it’s felt like every release has been a step towards something I would love, and with his new album DEACON, that journey has been fully realised. I REALLY this album, and Old & Fine is everything I wanted but didn’t get from his earlier work: an emotionally-rich record with depth that’s also easy to enjoy and appreciate without having to work too hard. I can’t imagine he’s been tweaking his career with me in mind, but it certainly feels that way.
Dawn Richard continues to assert her position as one of the most arresting, distinctive R&B artists in the world with release of Jaccuzi, the second single from her upcoming second album Second Line which will land in April. 2019’s New Breed was one of my favourite albums from that year, and everything about her latest material suggests Second Line will be equally brilliant.
I am a massive sucker for exactly this kind of stripped-back, dreamy r&b/pop. Aimed at the youth, Things is good enough to transport us all back to those intensely conflicted times, when even the most mundane conversations can send you reeling for days. Similar in tone and subject to a lot of Khalid’s earlier music – of which I am also a big fan – Things is a perfect, infectious blend of the throwaway and the profound.
10 & 2 – the latest single from Ghanaian/American dancer, rapper and singer-songwriter NanaBcool, and directly addresses his own experiences of police oppression and violence. After spending a couple of months performing and writing throughout multiple cities in Europe, the hook for 10 & 2 came to him while walking around Amsterdam. “I was in such a calm mood, but for “10 and 2, 10 and 2 what the fuck a nigga supposed to do” to come up really indicates that regardless of the mood I’m in, I always have to be aware when police are around.” Intricately, soulfully produced, it’s one of the most impressive hip hop cuts I’ve heard so far this year.