She grew up listening to ’70s soul and ’80s hip-hop, but Erykah Badu drew more comparisons to Billie Holiday upon her breakout in 1997, after the release of her first album, Baduizm. The grooves and production on the album are bass-heavy R&B, but Badu’s languorous, occasionally tortured vocals and delicate phrasing immediately removed her from the legion of cookie-cutter female R&B singers. A singer/songwriter responsible for all … more>>> Apple Music
Before War & Leisure’s release, its carefree lead single, “Sky Walker,” was a revelation that there’d been a Miguel-sized hole in R&B for the two years since Wildheart. War & Leisure as a title is a metaphor for the singer’s affection, Miguel singing, “No matter where I go on the map/You got my protection” on “Banana Clip.” His love for fuzzy guitars is clear throughout, and “Told You So” recalls Prince at his most danceable. Add to this the off-kilter bounce and multilingual verses of “Caramelo Duro (featuring Kali Uchis),” and War & Leisure is geared to propel Miguel to even greater heights.
It wasn’t long ago that Chief Keef took the rap game by storm, influencing a generation of rappers with the minimalistic, emotive rap style that put his native Chicago back on the map. Dedication is the result of Keef’s successors wearing that same style thin, forcing him to innovate once again. The album is Keef at his most lyrical, eschewing the nasally melody he’d also tried on for a period, relying here on well-enunciated bars. The bass, too, is subdued, Keef’s raps carrying the brunt of the load, and doing so with grace and ease on the double-time “Less Speed.” Tucked deep at the end is “Be Back,” a song that boasts a cheeky production nod to “Faneto,” Keef’s last bona fide smash.
Like that of his OVO label mates, the career gestation of Brampton, Ontario-born singer Roy Woods has been paced, if not masterfully calculated. His official debut album comes after a demand built on singles like 2015’s hard rock-and-R&B-splitting “Get You Good” and the following year’s patois-rich “Gwan Big Up Urself.” Say Less is loyal to the rich and varied Caribbean influence of Toronto, with “Take Time” in particular melding two of his most cherished influences: Michael Jackson and dancehall culture. The soundscapes here are diverse and rewarding: “Little Bit of Lovin” stands out as bubbly, glam R&B, and the album’s finale, “Undivided,” is a ballad at once hot, heavy, and hazy.
King Sunny Ade is the undisputed king of juju music, the dance-inspiring hybrid of western pop and traditional African music with roots in the guitar tradition of Nigeria. Although he’s yet to equal the success that he enjoyed with his early-’80s albums and American tours, Ade and his band, His African Beats, continue to weave an infectious blend of electric guitars, synthesizers and multi-layered percussion. Born to a family of Nigerian royalty, Ade left school to pursue a career in music. In the m…
The son of reggae legend Bob Marley and Lucy Pounder, Julian Marley grew up away from his half-brothers Ziggy and Damian, having been raised in England with his mother. He still visited his father and Rita Marley in Jamaica, and by 1989 became involved in Ziggy and Stephen Marley’s production company Ghetto Youth International. Stephen executive produced Julian’s debut album Lion in the Morning, released by Tuff Gong in 1996. In 2003 he dropped A Time & Place, and then in 2009 he released Awake, which featured tracks with both Stephen and Damian. ~ David Jeffries | iTunes
Damian Marley was only two when his father died, but the youngest of the Marley sons had music deeply imprinted in his DNA. At the age of 13, he formed his first band, the Shepherds, which also included the son of Third World’s Cat Coore and the daughter of Freddie McGregor; the group even opened up the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash festival. His debut solo release ‘S… More @ iTunes