Saturday, June 15, 2024

SZA, Jorja Smith, Josh Levi, And More Deliver New R&B To Get Lost In

First things first, Doja Cat and SZA are an undefeated duo and there’s a reason these two earned their first GRAMMY wins together. Just after 4 p.m. PT on Thursday (April 13), Doja tweeted, “@sza sis… I did something bad.” To which the SOS star replied, “Jesus.. what is it.” After the Planet Her artist responded with a date and time, fans already clocked that we were about to receive the remix to SZA’s “Kill Bill.”

In addition to the surprise drop, Jorja Smith ended her two-year hiatus with her new single, “Try Me.” Rising sensations, Khamari, Josh Levi, and Casper Sage’s latest offerings ensure their names remain among the new class of male crooners taking R&B fans by storm. Meanwhile, Jai’Len Josey’s new EP is an absolute delight and Daniel Caesar’s latest album’s bonus edition includes a collaboration with Summer Walker that ranks up there with his previous duets with H.E.R., Brandy, and Kali Uchis.

This week, R&B understood the assignment, so get into VIBE’s top new picks.

SZA Feat. Doja Cat – “Kill Bill (Remix)”

This release did not disappoint in the slightest. Doja came in swinging on her opening verse, rapping, “She grabbed the kitchen knife, so I pulled out the blick/ Ain’t got it all the time, thank God I did for this/ ‘Cause she was seein’ red, and all I saw was you…” With SZA chiming in, “…try to ration with you, no murders, no crime of passion/But, damn, you was out of reach…”

The original record garnered SZA her first solo No. 1 hit on Top 40 radio, broke Mary J. Blige’s record of topping the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart after 16 consecutive weeks, became 3x certified platinum, and peaked No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200. 

Jai’Len Josey – Southern Delicacy

After wrapping her time supporting Ari Lennox on her Age/Sex/Location Tour, Jai’Len Josey has dropped her sophomore EP, Southern Delicacy. While on the road, she teased its lead single, “Good Soup,” but that barely encompassed what to expect from this project.

Southern Delicacy is charmingly nourishing, unmatched hospitality, and seductively sweet. Between the jazzy “Take Me Higher,” the sentimental “Behave,” the passionate “Pay For My Drink,” and touching advice sprinkled on interludes like “Drink Water” and “Lineage,” this EP is just as playful and captivating as it is vulnerable and familiar.

Jorja Smith – “Try Me”

With her first solo release since 2021’s Be Right Back, Smith is coming back into her own.

“I like this world that I’ve just come into and I’m still figuring things out. Always figuring things out. This is the first time I’m putting stuff out there that I can connect with right now,” she expressed in a statement. “’Be Right Back’ did exactly what I wanted it to do. It was a little waiting room so people knew I was coming back.”

Like all great artists, she took a necessary step back to unlock new depths of herself and her creativity and if “Try Me” is her taking fans by the hand into what’s next, we’re excited to follow her into the unknown.

Ciara Feat. Lola Brooke and Lady London – “Da Girls (Girls Mix)”

Don’t play with Ciara. In this era of her career, she’s having fun and her singles “JUMP,” “Better Thangs” with Summer Walker, and “Da Girls” are all indicative of this. CiCi has now released a remix of the latter track with Lola Brooke and Lady London.

Looking good and cuttin’ up, the three women join forces for a carefree day-in-the-life much like the original single’s Sara Lacombe-directed visual.

“Lola and Lady London are special!” said Ciara in a statement. “They each bring a unique star quality to everything they do. From the tone of their voices to the fire verses, they spoke life into this record for all da girls around the world.”

As Brooke and London issue standout mantras like “Fitted in Fenty, I’m bad like Rih/ I’m thee, I’m she, I don’t need no he” and “More than just suitable I am a conqueror/ Worthy of love that is whole & complete/ And that’s on me,” the “Girls Mix” is a perfect follow-up to the self-love anthem.

Jade Novah – “Butterfly”

Jade Novah is basking in her growth. With her new record, “Butterfly,” the ethereal songbird sings of someone whose insecurities tried to thwart her evolution, but these days, she’s giving herself the space to be free to evolve past that. “I had to go inside mysеlf to find a way out/ I’m more beautiful and I’m much lighter without you,” she sings.

This is Novah’s first release of 2023. Despite her busying herself with NBC’s That’s My Jam, we anticipate this is a teaser of what’s to come from the multi-hyphenate.

Josh Levi – “EGO”

Josh Levi is one of them ones. He’s been described as an artist who “captivates [his audience] with each inhale of experience and exhale of emotion.” The budding phenom has unveiled his new single, “EGO.”

“EGO” quite literally induced goosebumps as the illustrious Raedio signee sings, “Of course I want you, won’t hear it from me though/ I’m not other people, messin’ with your ego/ Now I got you hooked on that placebo/ You can’t tell what’s real, messin’ with your ego…” It’s flirty and hypnotizing. If this is a taste of what’s to come, we’re ready for more.

Khamari – “Right My Wrongs”

We once called Khamari “one to watch when it comes to the men of R&B.” That sentiment still rings true as the crooner shares the new single, “Right My Wrongs” from his debut album, A Brief Nirvana.

The reflective track is laced with an air of refreshing nostalgia—thanks to the use of Darondo’s 1972 hit, “Didn’t I”—and serves a personal open letter to a past relationship.

Regarding his debut album, Khamari shared in a statement, “This album is a story about uncomfortable growth. Recording this gave me perspective and made me realize the search for clarity and nirvana is a lifelong one. Maybe I was asking for a lot in the beginning stages, but that doesn’t change the fact that peace is ultimately what we all want.” The LP is slated to release in late May.

Omarion – “Serious”

Omarion has been getting a lot of criticism lately, but with his new single, “Serious,” it’s clear that none of the unwarranted commentary has affected his music.

With his second release of 2023, “Serious” is a concrete example that he isn’t playing games with his lover. He sings, “I was on the run, I wasn’t committed/ Now you got control, girl, I must admit it/ Damn, I use to think love was just a feeling/ I guess that’s how it feels when you ain’t done healing.”

Though there’s no indication that this record is for anyone specific, it’s relatable for cynical lovers everywhere who need to get in touch with their emotions. The new single will appear on his upcoming sixth studio album, Full Circle: Sonic Book One, coming this May.

Dinner Party – Enigmatic Society

Ahead of their Coachella debut, the trio comprised of Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and Robert Glasper has released their new album, Enigmatic Society—the group’s first follow-up since premiering their self-titled album in 2020 and its Grammy-nominated deluxe successor, Dessert.

The nine-track LP includes features from Arin Ray, Phoelix, Tank, 9th Wonder, and Ant Clemons. The project has already garnered attention through previous releases “Insane” and “For Granted.” However, of the new records, Ray’s inclusions on the soothing albeit magnetic “Breathe” and the romantic “Love Love” have us in a chokehold.

Daniel Caesar – NEVER ENOUGH (Bonus Version)

Just a week after Daniel Caesar issued his third studio album, NEVER ENOUGH, the Canadian crooner has rereleased the LP with three bonus tracks. He remixed “Valentina” and enlisted Rick Ross to assist. Caesar also added his 2022 hit single, “Please Do Not Lean” featuring BADBADNOTGOOD to the LP, but it’s the “Always” remix featuring Summer Walker that has fans reminiscing on the power of his duets.

Thus far, each of his albums has had a standout collaboration. On Freudian, it was “Best Part” with H.E.R. and on CASE STUDY 01, it was “LOVE AGAIN” with Brandy. This time, the addition of Walker simply makes sense. “And I still remember the fussin’, thе fightin’, the f**kin’, the lyin’/ It’s all fine, you’ll always bе mine,” they sing on the emotional ballad about still pining for a love despite a failed romance. Just when you thought this LP couldn’t get better, it did.

Casper Sage – Pseudo

Casper Sage is another newcomer with something to prove. The indie alt-R&B talent has unveiled his new EP, Pseudo, with elements of trap soul and contemporary melodies—think if Miguel had a protégé.

Sage describes the project as “an encapsulation of a moment in time that was filled with purposeful loneliness, chaotic emotional turmoil, and vices trying to cover it all up.” It’s an internal conflict presenting itself across the three tracks, “Pseudo,” “FML,” and “Spinnin.” Though the title breeds a literal definition of an insincere sham, Sage considered the EP to be “a good exhale that allows you to feel heard, understood intimately, and still leaves you room to shed some leaves for the newest season’s blossoming” We concur.


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