R&B's Secret Society: 26 Acts You Should Be Listening To
The face and sound of R&B are always evolving. These days, if it's not Beyoncé, it's the mellow tempos of artists like Jhené Aiko and Tinashe getting millennials all in their feelings. Meanwhile, radio staples like Chris Brown and Trey Songz help keep the VIP libations flowing. And traditional artists (Miguel, John Legend) bless us with timeless records.
But there’s another hidden blanket of talent that isn’t seen or heard as much as those familiar faces. Call it R&B's secret society. Fill up your playlists with music from these 26 gifted acts who not only offer soulful and eclectic sounds, but also much-needed variety.
Origin: Atlanta, Georgia
Raury's sweet mix of gospel and soul was a well-kept secret until he released his debut album, Indigo Child, for free in August. While the singer already has a dedicated following, he's also found fans in Kanye West and Outkast. Raury will take part in the duo's homecoming concert in Atlanta on September 27.
Origin: Stockholm, Sweden
Mapei originally started her career as a rapper, but found more joy in singing. One listen to her breakout song, “Don’t Wait,” and you'll find the perfect balance of modern soul and blues. The songwriter is working on her debut album Hey Hey, slated for a September release.
Origin: Toronto, Canada
Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman, the production duo behind Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” shared more of their talents with fans this summer with the EP, A Place Like This. The OVO Sound signees have an upbeat sound that evokes the feels of the '80s but with a modern twist.
Origin: New York City
New York natives Jillian Hervey and producer Lucas Goodman released their single “Treat Me Like Fire” in 2012, as well as an unforgettable music video. Hervey, the daughter of Vanessa Williams, has a voice that recalls the neo-soul days. Since their debut, Lion Babe has stayed busy with festival performances, harmonizing with Childish Gambino and working on new music for this fall.
Marlee In The Mixx
Origin: Washington D.C
The eight-part collective led by singer/rapper Marlee D came together in 2011 and has been making a creative mix of progressive R&B focused on live instrumentation. The band once opened up for Big K.R.I.T. and debuted its EP 10,000 Hours in June.
Origin: Toronto Canada
Toronto songbird Rochelle Jordan has been churning out music since her 2011 debut EP,ROJO. Her consistency and creative approach to R&B made her a soulful gleam in Canada’s music scene. Aside from her solo projects, she's also worked with PartyNextDoor and Childish Gambino and released her single “Lowkey” with frequent collaborator KLSH.
Origin: Chicago, Illinois
Tink is a favorite among Hollyweirds like Kylie Jenner. The youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan sang Tink’s breakout single, “Treat Me Like Somebody,” and opened her up to new fans via Instagram. Tink, a Chicago native and member of Mosley Music Group, has been taken under Timbaland’s wing as he works with her on her debut album.