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Friends, we are officially in awards season! Sunday night (November 19), Board The winners of the 2023 Billboard Music Awards were announced, with Beyoncé, Drake, The Weeknd, SZA, 21 Savage, Nicki Minaj and Metro Boomin winning in the rap and R&B categories. The 2023 Soul Train Music Awards also taped last night; Keke Palmer will host the R&B-focused awards ceremony, which is set to air Sunday, November 26 at 8PM ET/PT on BET and BET Her. SZA, Summer Walker and Usher lead the nominations with nine nods each.
Amidst all the celebratory festivities, New Music Friday (November 17) continued to be business as usual, offering plenty of new tracks to listen to during the holidays. With fresh taste, Board Its goal is to highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds in R&B and hip-hop – from Scarlip’s booming new hits to Inayah’s gentle, Fantasia-nodding R&B jams.
Be sure to check out this week’s latest picks in our Spotify playlist below.
Most Recent Search: Inayah, “For the Streets”
Since its release in 2007, Fantasia’s “When I See You” has become a certified R&B classic – the kind of song everyone covers for fun but no one actually tries to make their own. Would not dare to do. Enter Inayah, a rising R&B star who interpolates song lyrics and facilitates the no-holds-barred takedown of non-human males. “There was your picture on my mirror / I took it down / Finally saw that you were a clown / Holding us down when you were king round,” she begins to sing. Inayah smartly delivers each line with a cryptic wink, pointing to the exquisite blend of the unmistakable iconic aura of Fantasia’s original and the tongue-in-cheek gems of truth sprinkled throughout her own tracks.
41 and Jane Carter, “Problems”
One of the new tracks from 41’s “11-track EP” 41 World: No Album, “Problems” is Jen Carter’s solo cut that’s another reminder that she’s one of the hottest voices coming out of the Brooklyn drill scene at the moment. She gets a little introspective in the Touchmill-produced track as she waxes poetic about a tumultuous relationship. In a lane similar to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Lil TJ’s most beloved snap-laden ballads, “Problems” proves just how versatile Zayn is. “Waste all my energy, tryin’ to keep you with me / We’ve been through the worst, but I know you want the best for me / Why do you keep testing me? / Like, do you know That this bitch is sending me messages? She spits.
Jai Rock feat. Bongos by the Way, “Still That Way”
It’s been five years redemption, but Jay Rock has been compensating for the long waits between studio albums with a steady stream of new music this year. Their latest offering is the Bongo Byadwe-directed “Still That Way,” a ballad that walks the familiar ground of celebrating success while maintaining the foundation and authenticity of your roots. Triumphant brass and sporadic hi-hats provide the background for most of the instrumental while Jay Rock’s commanding voice provides the momentum.
Since becoming one of the biggest new stars of the year with her upbeat summer song “This Is New York.” Scarlip has maintained a consistent musical and online presence. Last week (Nov. 15), the Bronx rapper released her catchy new single “Blick,” which combines the raw intensity of her DMX-nodding breakout hit with the dance-facing rhythmic qualities of Jersey club-inflected drill. Already soundtracking a TikTok dance challenge, “Blik” is hoping to become a big hit – one that deftly reveals the different shades of her artistic ethos.
Manivelz, “Stay Well”
appearing on your new Mr. Aulala EP, “Be Alright” from Manivelz is a no-frills guitar ballad that proclaims peace and security with the knowledge that everything will eventually work out as it should. With a sweeping melody to add some weight to the simple lyrics in the chorus (“It’ll Be Okay”), Manny relies on the warmth of his tone and the specifics of his diction and phrasing to add some dynamism to the song.
Terrace Martin and Gallant, “Tandem”
In this subtly funky slow jam, Terrace and Gallant use the extended metaphor of a tandem bike to convey how they and their respective lovers fit together perfectly. “We’re together like a bike, why don’t you sit down? / You’ll ride all night, I’ll dance in sync / We can fuss, we can fight, never lose the chemistry / We’re like a bike, Why don’t you take a seat?” Veer sings. Terrace’s lush production, incorporating notes of funk and doo-wop, provides a sensual backdrop for Gallant’s comings and goings, but it’s the restraint in his vocal performance that is most impressive.
No guidance, “long walk”
Rising British R&B boy group No Guidance continues their rise with a contemplative new cut called “Long Walk.” Sitting at the opposite end of the hip-hop-influenced R&B spectrum to “Spicy”, Quarter opted for a soulful drum-heavy beat courtesy of Ben Billions and Terrence Rowley. It’s a simple story about meeting someone new for the first time, but the contrast between the pounding drums and the notes of their longing makes for a particularly mesmerizing listening experience.