R&B Blog

Contemporary R&B recommendations and commentary

live-love-libra asked: There is NOTHING wrong with Jhene Aikos music and to put her in a sentence with a "runway model" that doesnt make a bit of sense. but of course you like Beyonce so I wouldn't expect you to understand what is sounds like when someone write their own music. I guess you're not used to genuine emotions.

Tumblr doesn’t notify me when I get these messages, so I’m responding to some pretty old letters today. This one is referring to a comment I made in early June about Jhene Aiko’s air of runway-model detachment.

Thanks for the feedback. I’ve come around to Jhene a bit, and have posted favorable-ish writeups about a couple of her recent tracks.

Lloyd ft. Wale - “All of Me”

This is pretty good, but just imagine if that Wale verse was an Andre verse. What could have been…

I haven’t written anything about the new Trey Songz album yet

because it is really bad. I had high hopes for this one, too.

Bridget Kelly - “Special Delivery”

Bridget Kelly is a talented singer in serious need of a hit. She almost had one in “Thinking About Forever,” which Frank Ocean wrote for her before an Internet leak persuaded him to claim the song as his own. “Special Delivery,” apparently the first single from Kelly’s upcoming album, is a poor replacement, a no-frills homage to the Mr. Postman soul songs of yore, but taken on its own it’s a sweet and likable enough track, very much in the spirit of R. Kelly’s recent snail-mail-minded soul albums.

Timothy Bloom - “Live Without Her”

Hopefully Timothy Bloom’s upcoming full-length will drum up some excitement for this eminently deserving songwriter. He’s absolutely fantastic; probably my favorite of all the R&B acts riding this old-school soul/classic rock ‘n’ roll ballad fusion train.

Antonique Smith - “Take a Chance”

A really delightful extended sigh of a song from Antonique Smith, the actress who played Faith Evans in Notorious, which one of these days I will really get around to seeing.

Can we please stop using the term PBR&B?

It’s a funny term, of course, and a witty way of grouping the strand of R&B that’s tickled the ears of listeners otherwise disinclined toward the genre, but it really does marginalize the artists unlucky enough to have been grouped under this umbrella, suggesting they’re somehow less than legitimate R&B acts, or that they’re targeting hipster audiences to the exclusion of traditional, urban R&B fanbases, which really isn’t the case.


Potholes In My Blog

Exclusive: Watch Miguel Perform “Adorn” for a largely disinterested crowd that is not facing him

Via Pitchfork.

I love that the site is going to bat for this really deserving artist, but yesterday’s People’s List poll results almost make me wonder why Pitchfork even bothers. This recommendations can’t carry too much weight among a readership that vastly prefers Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief to D’Angelo’s Voodoo, and barely even recognizes the existence of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Confessions.

Brandy - “Wildest Dreams”

Lindsay Zoladz: Don't Blame Us: Four Women Talk About Why They Didn't Make People's Lists


Friend #2: “My issue is that I don’t listen to a ton of new music. So whenever men are like, “What are you listening to these days?” (and ONLY men ever ask that as an ice breaker), I’m like, ‘Um this album that came out in 1983.’

And then they quiz you on the artist’s entire catalog. For instance, I really like this one Mission of Burma album, but I am hesitant to bring that up to a man, because I don’t listen to ALL of their albums.

This hit close to home, because I’ve been guilty of this. Ten years ago a friend shared with me that she had bought a Built to Spill album, and I got carried away with my enthusiasm, and began rattling on about the Halo Benders and other Built to Spill side projects. I wasn’t trying to one-up her, at least not consciously, but without meaning to I completely shut her out of a conversation she initiated, and rather than listening to her share her excitement for this Built to Spill album (one I didn’t even have at the time), I just made her feel shitty and inferior. I didn’t blame her for not talking about music more with me after that.

I like to think I’ve gotten better about this now that I write about music for a living, since people come up to me all the time and want to talk about new albums, some of them music geeks, others much more casual listeners who just want to weigh in on whatever album everybody else is weighing in at the moment. And instead of talking over them, I listen to them. Funny how I usually take away more from the casual listeners than the music geeks now: Their thumbs-up/thumbs-down take on new albums and their earnest recommendations tell me way more about how people engage with music than the guy at the party whose trying to wow me by rattling off lists of new mixtapes ever could.