music, review

R&B, Hip-Hop & Soul

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but I’ve got some great stuff this week. Some are catchy, some are brilliant and some are a blend of both. What connects all these artists together outside their genre(s) is the fact they deserve way more attention than what they’re getting. Let’s share some of this goodness around!

Check out my last Sharing The Goodness where I reviewed folk, soul and lounge!

some say darci

1. “Some Say” by Darci

Sometimes (often, always, every single time) a song has me conjuring up a mental music video. There’s something about it, something that digs right into my brain and starts tugging at all the little creative strings like fingers on a harp. If you’re an artist of any stripe you can likely relate to this (and if you can’t, well, it’s a hobby I highly recommend).

Darci‘s flow is fantastic. It’s almost stream-of-consciousness, with his vocals ricocheting back and forth as much as the instrumentation does. It’s addictive and a little surreal, filled with mood even as the lyrics are nothing I’d write home about. They go about exploring the standard gossip that comes with a party lifestyle. Been there, done that. The echoing backbeat, though, transforms the mundane subject matter into something almost mysterious.

People say this, people say that. What does the singer actually do? Probably something far more interesting than whatever lies gossips spin up to keep themselves entertained. This song makes me wish I knew how to play piano, because an instrumental would sound incredible. For now, I’ll press repeat.

Some say that we run these nights

Some say that we went too high

darci arts and crafts

2. “Arts And Crafts” by Darci

Double-feature time! While ‘Some Say’ is a very modern R&B piece with a brilliant flow, ‘Arts And Crafts’ lives up to its name by going for something just a touch more artsy. An elegant vocal sample starts off a rather enchanting song, sometimes leaning toward more hip-hop stylings only to go right back to something smoother.

A little bit of piano here, some vocal samples there, a touch of audio distortion to keep things lively. It’s a real collage of sound (and yes, I am going to go as far as I can with this title). All in all, Darci‘s style is a real treat and I’m glad I stumbled upon this guy while flicking through Youtube recommendations. Don’t let this artist fall into obscurity. This is stuff that needs to be played on the radio, pronto. Check him out on his Soundcloud in the meantime.

Make it explode, these are my chords

Hop into somethin’, sippin’ on somethin’

ex calling

3. “Ex Calling” by 6lack

It was damn hard figuring out which song to put at the top of the list. The stylistic limbo between R&B and soul has a lot to love lately. Even if it didn’t, up-and-coming artist 6lack would be the perfect choice to pick up the slack (that sounded much more clever in my head).

A good song should do its best to capture the mood of its subject matter. Now, this doesn’t always translate to conventional means. I’ve heard sultry songs with heavy guitar backing and happy songs with slow, contemplative instrumentals. It’s a tricky result to pin down, but when the right notes combine with the right tone it’s truly a form of magic. ‘Ex Calling’ is a stellar example of a classic approach to classic subject matter, an almost empty song about a man walking through old emotions when his ex contacts him again.

The piano is pitch perfect here and does everything to carry the irritation, regret and confusion of the singer through the bridge, chorus and back again.

Don’t know why my ex calling

Why the fuck my ex calling

dvsn with-me

4. “With Me” by dvsn

What ties a song together better than a good bassline (besides, I don’t know, Beyonce‘s mere presence)? ‘With Me’s backing guitar is sultry as hell, which is only the beginning of a song that goes straight for the throat. Or, rather, the crotch.

Hailing from some of Drake‘s producers (and still harboring a whole lot of mystery), this song is heated and raring to go, its blunt songwriting contrasting nicely with its chill, summer-y approach. Clocking in at nearly seven minutes you could be tempted to brush it off as boring or overstaying its welcome, but the addicting bassline and pleasant monotony is played up to the nth degree. It knows what it wants to be and comes out with its best on display. Not all lyrics or compositions need to be poetic or unique. Sometimes they just need to get across a good mood in fine form.

Tonight I got the time

So come, fuck with me now

noname yesterday

5. “Yesterday” by Noname

I saved the best for last. Kind of. I love all of the above, obviously, but this one already has a special place in my heart despite my having discovered it only weeks ago.

This song is rambling, introspective, chill, pleasant and all sorts of wonderful little adjectives rolled up in one. With a classic keyboard, a gentle beat and one of the most lovable hooks I’ve heard in a while, ‘Yesterday’ is a song that belongs on the soundtrack to my life and probably yours. That is, if you like songs with vulnerable, chain-of-thought lyrics that sound exactly what the inner musings of someone’s mind would sound like.

Her entire album ‘Telefone’ is a real treasure and this is the one I keep coming back to. Check out her live performance at Tiny Desk if you like what you hear — it’s a music corner that hosts all sorts of fantastic (and lesser-known!) artists by having them play three live songs.

When the sun is going down, when the dark is out to stay

I picture your smile like it was yesterday 

Like what you hear? Got any suggestions? Stay tuned for the next Sharing The Goodness where I’ll be finally dipping into some disco, funk and house!

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