Hola amigos! It’s me, Sean P. Darr you’re favorite hip white guy! I’m like an uh-oh oreo, white on the outside, but I’ve got that nice chocolate inside. Anyway, I’m here today to tell you all about the alternative R&B scene that’s been popping up lately. On the song “0 To 100/ The Catch Up”, Drake samples indie darling James Blake, who was relatively unknown until a year or two ago. If you weren’t familiar with James Blake before, his music is very cold, a mixture of dark electronic music and R&B beats. The use of his sample on Drake’s song is leading me to believe that a lot of artists from this alternative music scene will start cropping up on more famous artists work. Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you about these people before they get super famous, that way you look cool!
I made a playlist for a friend (and now for you) of this music, and he described it as the kind of music you would play for a girl to let her know “I want to have sex with you… but it means something”. Electronic music is usually quite dark, focusing on breakups or the end of the world, and R&B music usually focuses on how much you want to be intimate with your lady. This new trend mixes both, and somehow it works.
So without further adieu, here are some sample works from artists in this scene. Warning: It’s good shit.
Quadron – Better Off
To start things off easy, here is a track that features Kendrick Lamar. Quadron is a danish duo comprised of singer CoCo O and Producer Robin Hannibal. Hannibal has worked with artists like Raphael Saadiq, The Internet, and Pharrell Williams. The duet crafts mostly pop with a R&B hint, but some songs are just oh so smooth, much like the one above.
Ta-Ku – “We Were In Love”
Alright this is another easy one, Ta-Ku is an accomplished DJ and music producer, who is probably most famous for his instrumental album called A Tribute to J-Dilla. Ta-Ku recently released a new album of original beats, featuring light vocals that are just begging to be sampled by hip hop artists.
Toro Y Moi – So Many Details
I cannot believe Toro has not been sampled yet! I listed his album Anything In Return on my top albums of 2013, and as time goes on, I love this album more and more. Combining Jazz and hip hop, Toro creates some delicious beats that deserve a prominent place in the R&B world.
Jai Paul – Jasmine
There are two Jai Paul songs. Not just two you should listen to, I mean there are only TWO Jai Paul songs. He’s been on the scene since 2007, yet he’s only ever released TWO SONGS. He had an album of unfinished work get leaked illegally, but that doesn’t count. I’d be more upset, if his one song “Jasmine” wasn’t so incredibly good. If he does ever release an album, “Jasmine” makes me think it will be worth the wait.
How To Dress Well – Running Back
In my opinion, How to Dress Well is the epitome of this new genre that seems to be forming. Mixing classic R&B vocals (that range from falsetto to a low and sexy tone) with moody string quartets and atmospheric electronic music, he creates gorgeous yet haunting R&B that sticks in your head day after day. Here is a great live version of this man doing his awkward white guy thing. (Skip to 0:30 on the video)
I’d love to tell you more about this band, but uh… I don’t really know anything. In fact the website that the band lists as their “official” website on Facebook, is just a series of strange black and white photos. Seriously, here is the link, there are photos ranging from octopus, broken cd platers, all the way to plates of mashed potatoes. It’s weird. Like maybe tell your fans when you are playing a show? Anyway, although I can’t claim to know much about the band, I can claim that this song is very sexy.
Kindness – House
From behind you might mistake Kindness singer Adam Bainbridge for a beautiful woman, from the front you… well you still might. It’s weird, I can’t explain it. But the one thing I can tell you is that he makes very interesting music. Whereas some artists make music that sounds reminiscent of late 80’s early 90’s R&B, Kindness literally makes music from then. It sounds like it literally could have been recorded then, but don’t take my word, check it out for yourself. (The particular song I posted doesn’t sound that way, but his song “That’s alright” definitely does)
Rhye – Shed Some Blood
I mean the cover of this album just screams sex, look at it! Oh ambiguous black and white mystery lady, I LOVE YOU! Rhye is a band once again produced by Robin Hannibal, who i mentioned above. Continuing the trend of Quadron, Rhye is music you might here in the back of a dimly lit wine bar, tempos rarely break a breezy pace, and the songs are stuffed (But never overstuffed) with horns, strings, harps etc. But make no mistake, this is bedroom listening!
Jessie Ware – Tough Love
Hailed as the missing link between Sade and Adele, Jessie Ware has been all the rage lately. An english R&B singer reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, Jessie ware takes run of the mill broken heart songs you might here from adele, and puts a darker, moodier tone on them. She’s already collaborated with tons of artists like Disclosure, Joker, and SBTRKT.
Blood Orange – Sutphin Boulevard
Born in Houston, Raised in London, and currently living in Brooklyn, (You can’t make that stuff up!) Lead Singer Dev Hynes has written for bands like the Chemical Brothers and Florence and the machine. In 2013, he released his second solo album called Cupid Deluxe, (which I wrote about on this site!) filled with sexy R&B that has a somewhat tropical infusion, this a song from his earlier work that is named after, you guessed it, a street in Brooklyn.
D’angelo – Untitled (How Does It Feel)
I know this song is more mainstream (and older) than the rest, but my boo is coming over in a few minutes and I’m trying to get her in the mood tonight.