As we inch towards the twilight of the summer season and prepare to embrace the crisp ambiance of fall, it is impossible to ignore the mellifluous voices that have serenaded us throughout the season. Mercury may still be in retrograde, but the musical cosmos is in perfect alignment, offering us an array of harmonious compositions that perfectly complement the changing seasons. As the sun sets on Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour, we find solace in the new creations by some of R&B’s most talented artists, helping us transition smoothly into the new season.
Among the myriad of voices, one stands out – Jorja Smith. Her long-awaited sophomore album’s title track has been shared, and it’s as emotion-inducing as Ama Lou and Xenia Manasseh’s debut albums. While we patiently wait for Chase Shakur’s debut LP, he ensures his fans are well-fed with the deluxe edition of his EP. Keke Wyatt is making a stealthy re-entry into music with the lead single from her first album in six years. Additionally, male crooners like Eric Roberson, Lendryx, Landon Thomas, and Beharie are guiding us down a soothing path that’s deeply essential.
Jorja Smith – “Falling or Flying”
Jorja Smith, who welcomed the summer with her singles, “Little Things” and “GO GO GO,” has now unveiled the title track from her highly-anticipated sophomore album, “Falling Or Flying.” During a conversation with Zane Lowe from Apple Music, Smith confessed that this track is currently one of her favorites, depending on her mood.
Smith elaborated, “This song always takes me on a journey, so right now it’s one of my favorites. Maybe because it’s coming out. But it’s funny though because that song started out completely different with me and the producers. It’s the first song we actually ever started together but it didn’t have the chorus before, and we moved everything over and did all sorts to it, and then we got this chorus. But the song has nothing to do with the album title. It’s just called that.”
The music video for “Falling or Flying” also marks Smith’s directorial debut. She had always dreamed of shooting a video in space, and this song gave her the perfect opportunity to fulfill that dream. She candidly mentioned that she wanted to journey into space with someone she loved and cherished, but they didn’t reciprocate her enthusiasm.
Smith’s new album is set to release on September 29, and music enthusiasts are eagerly waiting for the release.
Ama Lou – “I Came Home Late”
Ama Lou’s debut album, “I Came Home Late,” is a testament to her profound songwriting skills. With an assortment of 15 tracks, including previously released singles “Silence” and “Caught Me Running,” the album paints a vivid picture of Lou’s artistic range.
Lou began songwriting at a tender age and released her debut single, “TBC,” in 2016, which caught the attention of Drake and heavily influenced his 2018 album, “Scorpion.” She has since dropped three EPs, providing fans with a taste of her depth before unveiling “I Came Home Late.”
Chase Shakur – “It’s not you, it’s me… it’s love”
Chase Shakur continues to tantalize his fans, who are eagerly waiting for his debut album, with the release of his deluxe EP, “It’s not you, it’s me… it’s love.” The EP follows the highs and lows of a tumultuous relationship, providing an insight into the male perspective of an emotionally-charged romance. The captivating follow-up includes three new tracks: “nite,” “exit 65,” and “you’re so lovely.”
Shakur has clarified on his Instagram that “this is NOT the album,” and is looking forward to performing these tracks live on his “It’s Still Love Tour.”
K. Michelle – “Blame Yourself”
K. Michelle is gearing up for the release of her final R&B album, “I’m The Problem,” and has shared the LP’s fourth single, “Blame Yourself.” The introspective track urges women to take some accountability and introspect whether they are the problem in their relationships.
The Memphis native sings, “You’re playing the victim all because he made you look stupid/ ‘Fore you put the blame on everybody else/ Point to the mirror and blame yourself.” Her honest and heartfelt lyrics echo the album’s premise.
Back in May, K. Michelle candidly expressed on Instagram, “I am the problem. Took me so long to solve ’em.” In a recent interview with The Shade Room, she added, “I’m gon’ be the problem regardless. The industry gonna label you. It doesn’t matter. I could try to change; I could be better, [but] no matter what I do, I’m a problem because I still stand for what I stand for and I am how I am. It just is what it is.”
LAYA – “Bet That”
LAYA’s long-awaited new EP, “BET THAT,” is finally here. The seven-track project is a confident flex, proving that LAYA is in charge of her world and isn’t budging one bit on that matter. The unapologetic anthem, “F’d Up,” set the tone for the EP, and the Staten Island, N.Y. native continued that momentum with “I Ain’t Playin’,” title track, “Bet That,” and the manic yet soulful “Psycho Bitch.”
The EP succeeds her debut EP, “Um, Hello.” If you’ve been missing out on this rising star, consider this an alert to wake up.
Raiche – “Big Daddy”
Raiche’s new single, “Big Daddy,” is a breath of fresh air as she addresses an alternative perspective from records like Usher’s “Hey Daddy (Daddy’s Home).” Her soothing, distinct tone captivates listeners as she sings, “You just stepped in/ What you bout to prove/ Big daddy, come take real good care of me/ Say that’s what you can be […] You know what your baby needs/ Just come through.”
The singer, with her soulful roots and alternative pop flair, recently performed at 2023’s Atlanta Funk Fest. Since her debut single in 2018, she has amassed over 20 million international streams and has been featured in Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker and on The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Beharie – “We Never Knew”
Beharie is a dream we never knew we needed. Our introduction to the Norwegian crooner is his latest single, “We Never Knew.” The idyllic production is a somber reflection on a forever love that’s now non-existent.
The singer explains, “In the heat of it all. When you lose yourself in it. How things made sense, and how the bad things were ignored. But little did we know that we would end up being strangers.”
The record stems from his in-depth exploration of varying identities as heard on his upcoming debut album, “Are You There, Boy?,” set to arrive on October 20. Of the album, he explains in a statement, “This album has given me the opportunity to delve into various aspects of my own identity, and in the process, I have explored the complexity inherent in my personality and expression.”
Eric Roberson – “I Apologize”
Eric Roberson is honoring the indie R&B movement with a series of new monthly releases. “I Apologize” is the second single of the series, inspired by what the crooner considers to be his “creative gumbo.”
Co-written and produced by Jairus Mozee, Brett “B Dubb” Baker, Rodney Jones, and Roberson, the latter explains in a statement, “The song is inspired by the creative gumbo that feeds my music. The theatrical musicality of Stevie Wonder, heartfelt word play of urban contemporary gospel group Commissioned, and the unapologetic low-end approach of A Tribe Called Quest.”
Marzz – “In The Morning”
Marzz is back! Two years after the release of their debut EP, Love Letterz, and its subsequent deluxe installment, the singer’s impassioned new single, “In The Morning,” hypnotizes us once more.
“This song represents a feeling of waiting until the morning, getting excited of the unknown,” they explained in a statement. “It’s the wishful understanding of everything within a relationship. Sometimes we need understanding about falling in love when we’re not sure.” Ultimately, Marzz hopes their music encourages listeners to “create their own narratives” but in a magical way.
Landon Thomas – “Anything”
Landon Thomas may be new to us, but R&B is embedded in his DNA. With the lead single, “Anything,” from his forthcoming album, “R U STILL MAD AT ME,” the Pittsburgh, Pa. native is making his mark as a trailblazer with his infectious melodies and unique spin on contemporary R&B.
As he sings “Do you mind/ If I slide on you/ Spend time with you tonight/ Do you mind if I chill with you/ Make it real for you,” we’re drawn into the heartwarming embrace of his sultry tone.
“Anything” irresistibly sets the tone for the LP centered about intricate feelings, relationships, and ultimately, self-discovery.
“R U STILL MAD AT ME” arrives on Sunday, September 3.
Xenia Manasseh – “Love/Hate, PT. 1”
Xenia Manasseh’s debut album, “Love/Hate, Pt. 1,” is an emotional rollercoaster focused on love’s unpredictability. The 11-track LP is for delicate yet powerful women as the Kenyan-born, Los Angeles-based singer fuses her heritage with a sorrowful, intensely honest masterpiece.
After earning songwriting credits on Teyana Taylor’s The Album and singing background vocals for Taylor, Big Sean, and Burna Boy, fans love Xenia’s universal lyricism and earnest personal reflections.
“All the songs are special to me because they all came from me, they’re all my feelings on a page or in a song and the creation of all songs is sentimental to me,” she shared in a statement of the album. “But I will single out GI’s intro that is with my grandfather, Edgar Manasseh, GI is his nickname. That was done this year and was extremely sentimental and emotional because he has influenced so much of my musical journey. I can think of days when I was growing up he would teach me how to play things on the piano and his music collection is incredible.”
The endearing Swahili song was paired with a Luka Tututu composition. The LP wraps up just as strong as it began with the emotive yet hopeful “Love/Hate.”
She explained, “‘Love/Hate’ is also one of the tracks I felt that was the song that encompassed all the feelings that are spoken about in the album–the good, the bad, and in-between. I try to remember that balance as a lifeline. I’m also a Libra which is the sign of the scale, so I try to see the world through that lens and I felt like it’s not just representative of the album but also of me. I feel like everything in the album falls under those two words. It’s like a pendulum swing–you’re in and you’re out.”
Most of all, she hopes listeners take away the understanding of love’s karmic journey while also learning that it’s just the beginning. “This is just part 1 of the album; there’s a part 2 and in all of it, just know that love always comes around and it’s how you approach it the second time that matters.”
Keke Wyatt – “Water Into Wine”
The first offering from Keke Wyatt’s new album–her first in six years–has arrived. “Water Into Wine” showcases the mother of 11’s soulful roots as she gets honest with her lover about some expectations and realities.
“I really feel good about signing with Shanachie!” the singer said of her new team in a statement. “I’m excited and finally ready. I feel like this time we will create magic together and make HISTORY!”
Shanachie General Manager, Randall Grass, chimed in, “At a time when great singers are in short supply, Keke Wyatt continually displays what real singing is all about. Her range, power and intensely felt vocals connect with her audiences on the deepest level. We loved working with her before and are very excited to work with her now to make an epic new album.”
The reality TV star assures fans that her new LP will spotlight “good ole sanging” and will be an honest look into her life as she gears up to bare it all.
Lendryx – “Forces”
Lendryx is channeling two R&B legends with his new single, “Forces.”
Produced by Dionso, OSEI, and Jproof, the slow jam oozes romantic gratification as the crooner also inquires about the tug ‘o war battle of not wanting to fall in love, but also realizing that may be out of his control.
“I don’t wanna be in love/ But you’re so tempting/ When you leave the room, it feels so empty/ I’m trying be tough/ I’m fighting forces,” he sings.
Lendryx feels the ballad is his most “dynamic vocal performance yet” and admits that he challenged himself by using Tyrese’s “Signs Of Love Makin'” and Brandy’s range as the foundational elements of his vocal execution. It follows his previous single from April, “Just My Turn.”
Shae Universe – “Passenger Princess”
Shae Universe is riding the wave of her recent single, “Passenger Princess,” with the premiere of its visual. The song’s video, starring Kojey Radical, hints at the enthralling story being told as the title card reads, “Ever wish you could go back in time?”
Viewers see Shae seated in the backseat during a late-night drive as she reflects on some lingering feelings and bittersweet memories. The song, itself, was birthed by those emotions.
“He’d sent me roses all the way from LA and I still wasn’t over everything we’d been through when I received them, so I put all my mixed emotions into this song,” the UK-bred songbird stated of the record.
“I think ‘Passenger Princess’ is a very special song because not only is the title current and relatable, but the song’s deeper message of not always knowing exactly how to navigate situations is part of being a human with feelings. A part that sometimes frustrates us but hopefully, through this song, people feel seen and confident enough to accept this grey area of life.”