Words by Vince Lee
R&B is going through something of a renaissance at the moment. It took a minute for the genre to recover from its affair with commercial pop and EDM a few years ago, but slowly and surely a new generation of artists have emerged, putting their hearts and souls on tracks, experimenting with different productions to create new styles, reinterpreting classics, and more. With 2015 on the horizon, here’s five artists poised to make waves next year.
Kali Uchis is a household name in the making. The Columbian born, LA based songstress released her debut project Drunken Babble in 2013, encapsulating the lowrider culture and soulful sounds of the 60’s. Kali Uchis crafts ultra-smooth songs, with soulful melodies over throwback styled instrumentals, exuding feelings of LA sunsets, rockabilly fashion and classic leather interiors. After a collaboration with Snoop Dogg, co-signs from Odd Future, Diplo and others, things can only get bigger and better for the 21 year old who not only writes her own songs, but directs her own videos and is her own stylist and image consultant.
Every single person who listens to Doja Cat’s So High is immediately drawn in by the seductive, smoky vocals, and that infectious Evil Needle production. Many listeners only stumbled across the single by accident on Youtube, Soundcloud or Spotify, although 2014 saw the LA singer and emcee gain traction with the release of her debut EP Purrr! It’s a display of her warm singing and attitude-laced raps, paired perfectly with hazy, bass-driven experimental production from the likes of Dream Koala, Iman Omari and Yeti Beats.
Anderson Paak aka Breezy Lovejoy is another one of LA’s up and coming amazing talents. The vocalist and producer has been busy establishing a name for himself as a collaborator and producer for artists including Ta-Ku and TOKiMONSTA, but there’s so much going on within his solo work too. His melodies, storytelling and production stylings are experimental yet extra smooth and easy on the ears.
In addition to a few singles and EPs, he recently put out Venice, arguably one of the best albums of 2014, displaying his unbridled abilities nailing so many different styles and sounds. He is currently supporting Jhene Aiko on her Enter The Void tour along with SZA, which will set him up to start 2015 strong. Do yourself a favor and listen to Venice from start to finish (Track 5, Miss Right, is that jam!)
Originally from Toronto but now based in Houston, rapper and vocalist Tory Lanez credits Drake for being the main influence of his style. Tory’s music, however, is a little more street-influenced and gangsta themed. What really shines is his unique delivery, and the fact that the guy can actually sing. Still perfecting his craft and fine-tuning the balance between rapping and singing, Tory has released projects focusing on each. His Chixtape mixtape series is worth checking out, as he reinterprets R&B classics, giving them his “Swavey” touch. He’s been gaining a strong following over the past couple years and has recently been experimenting with different sounds and producers including Noah Breakfast, Ryan Hemsworth and RL Grime.
Hailing from Eastpointe, Michigan but now residing in LA is singer and songwriter JMSN (pronounced Jameson). JMSN’s music which he describes as “Hippy R&B” (note that he does have long hair and a beard to match) is ultra smooth and utilises a lot of live instrumentation. His voice is often compared to Justin Timberlake, while the dark undertones ave been likened to The Weeknd – but his unique, carefully crafted style really shows throughout his recent release, Blue Album. The lead single Street Sweeper highlights his vocal and production abilities, as well as his style, opting for 90’s electric guitar plucks and hi-hats instead of contemporary instrumentals. JMSN writes, produces and performs his own songs, as well as directs his own videos. Things can only get better for the whiskey loving hippy!