ESTA., RAYE, KAYTRANADA, And More New R&B Of The Alternative Variety

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R&B isn’t just about baby-making love songs and tear-jerking break-up songs. So, this week in R&B, we’re showing love to the alternative underdogs.

Yes, we still have some traditional picks from Ye Ali, Samm Henshaw and KIRBY, Jaz Karis, and Amanda Reifer, but we’re also introducing you to budding stars Jazlyn Martin and Jon Muq. At the same time, the likes of RAYE, ESTA., KAYTRANADA, Robert Glasper, and Tems released full-length albums that will tug on your heartstrings, make you want to dance at a day party, or simply sit with your thoughts and feelings.

Per usual, we’rfe giving a little bit of everything with our top new selects within R&B.

RAYE – Genesis.

RAYE’s Genesis. is a musical disruption in all the best ways. Produced by Darkchild, the three-act project is jazz, R&B, and contemporary pop all rolled into one. It is a call to action from the British phenom that demands your attention, with emotionally-driven lyrics and triumphant musicality.

For the historic BRIT Award winner, she is embodying Nina Simone’s quote, “It is an artist’s duty to reflect the times.” In a statement, RAYE explained, “I wanted to create something both as deeply personal and as raw as I could find myself to be about my own mind and the world I see around me. The song is a 7-minute piece that I have crafted and scrutinized over the last year and a half, experimenting with different genres and sonic expressions, beneath all the layers and the lyrics, the underlying message is ‘Let There Be Light’. It is a prayer and a plea and a cry for help and I really hope this song will be able to bring some hope, the way this music does for me, to those who need it most.”

ESTA. – FRANCIS

ESTA.’s debut album is one for R&B lovers. He enlisted Tone Stith, Leon Thomas, Kenyon Dixon, Arin Ray, PHABO, Ambré, Joyce Wrice, and more to help create a 10-track LP that feels like a soulful dream come to life.

The project was led by Wrice and DUCKWRTH’s funky collab, “too fast.” So far, we’re loving “konnekt,” which feels like a record you just cruise to, and the sultry nature of “dangerous game.” There is no bad record on the album because each artist brings own flair to ESTA.’s production and creates something uniquely special.

KAYTRANADA – TIMELESS

KAYTRANADA is giving us a summer full of jams as he unveils his long-awaited new album, TIMELESS. The eclectic sonic journey includes guest appearances from Childish Gambino, Durand Bernarr, Dawn Richard, Anderson .Paak, SiR, Ravyn Lenae, and more. KAYTRANADA’s production is always a winner and we foresee this album being a staple at day parties all season long.

Ye Ali – “EST Or PST”

Not only is Ye Ali’s latest single with UnoTheActivist a soundtrack for heated, late summer nights but there was also a special VIBE shoutout that we couldn’t ignore. The one-off follows the release of his critically acclaimed project Private Suite 5 and Ye Ali & Chill 3. As he merges hints of ’90s R&B with contemporary trapsoul on “EST or PST,” Ye reminds fans that even though he is making moves with others, he’s never going to leave his day ones hanging.

Robert Glasper – Let Go

As part of Apple Music’s jazz-centered Black Music Month initiative, Robert Glasper has released his newest album exclusively on that platform. Let Go was created with “the express intention of helping listeners recalibrate mentally.” With only two features from Meshell Ndegeocello and Burniss Travis, Glasper describes the stripped-down album as one to help listeners “find their center.” It isn’t like Black Radio and isn’t a meditation album, but it’s rather “something that quiets the world and allows you to see what’s within.”

Tems – Born In The Wild

Tems’ debut album is finally here.

Born in the Wild is a “story of transformation, from a cocoon to a butterfly,” according to Tems. “It speaks on surviving mental wilderness and coming to a place where one can thrive. It’s about finally accepting oneself and embodying the woman I was born to be. It shows the different dimensions of who I am, from a cub to a lioness.”

With two powerhouse features from J. Cole and Asake, the LP is really more of Tems on full display as she proudly trusts her own talent to shine. Born in the Wild includes the hit lead single, “Love Me JeJe,” the vulnerable title track, the fun jam “Wickedest,” and the sensual ballad, “Ready.”

Jazlyn Martin – “Perfect”

Bel-Air‘s Jazlyn Martin is branching out on her own in the music world with her soul-stirring debut, “Perfect.” The heart-wrenching ballad speaks on the pressures of perfectionism and the struggle to live up to that idealized self-image.

“It’s the burden of living up to unrealistic expectations that ultimately robs us of our humanity—the freedom to fail, to mess up, and to be authentically flawed,” she explains. As she sings of that internal conflict, she realizes that perfection is a limited cage and she’d prefer freedom. As she sings about her own imperfections, her pure aura shines bright marking a beautiful music debut for the actress.

Jaz Karis feat. Reekado Banks – “Tequila”

Jaz Karis’ “Tequila” has had us in a chokehold since the first moment we pressed play. The musical marriage between the beat’s jazzy foundation and uptempo 808s makes it a sexy record for the summer. The single is dedicated to the honeymoon stage of a lover’s experience. As Jaz sings about the butterflies that come with being smitten in a new romance, Reekado meets her seductive energy perfectly. Together, they have a summertime hit on their hands.

Amanda Reifer – “Colonize”

Amanda Reifer is making her formal debut with “Colonize.” The anthem pays homage to Rupee’s timeless hit, “Tempted To Touch,” but with a modern, softer upgrade.

Of the record, Reifer explained, “Don’t try to impose, discredit, and colonize. Let’s enjoy and see each other for who we are and embrace it. No one should be under the restrictions of someone else’s view of who they should be in love, business, creativity, or friendships. I needed to put my voice and pen to express this because this idea, that anyone thinks they should have a right to impose their way of being on another, is a view that doesn’t align with me.” 

“Colonize” also honors Reifer’s celebration of her Bajan roots.

Samm Henshaw feat. KIRBY – “Fade”

Samm Henshaw’s next musical era is such a personal one. As he lays the breadcrumbs to its deeper meaning, the crooner returns with his new single, “Fade” featuring songstress KIRBY. Over a moody melody, the two sing about “the repercussions of not confronting underlying issues and clinging to what no longer nurtures you.” It’s a theme that many singles and couples can relate to and the song helps you figure out if it’s better to fade to black or cut your losses much sooner.

Jon Muq – Flying Away

Ugandan singer-songwriter Jon Muq’s debut album, Flying Away, feels like an album that’s set in the past and present. It has elements of funk, soul, and diaspora influences.

Produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, it details Jon’s journey from Uganda to Austin, Texas, and how he learned to speak English with the help of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie. The album has a yearning innocence and feels like Jon has lived such an optimistic and storied life. The stand-outs that won us over include “One You Love,” “Bend,” and “Hello Sunshine.”

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