Spring is just around the river bend. As the season changes and time moves forward, R&B fans are able to get reacquainted with old favorites and discover new ones with this week’s round of New Music Friday releases. Musiq Soulchild finds himself on his Hit-Boy-produced LP, Victims & Villains, while 6LACK teases his highly-anticipated new album with the arrival of its second single, “Talkback.”
Dinner Party—Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, and Robert Glasper—link up with Ant Clemons for their upbeat collab, “Insane,” featuring the ever-recognizable loop from the late Mtume‘s “Juicy Fruit.” Meanwhile, newcomers Elmiene, Khamari, and Yaya Bey prove that desirable soul music exists—you just have to find it.
Check out VIBE’s top new R&B picks of the week below.
Musiq Soulchild – Victims & Villains
This is Musiq’s best project to date simply because for him, it didn’t feel like work. Soulchild was able to have fun creating this new music on his terms. When speaking with VIBE about the LP, the R&B veteran described the project as “serendipitous.” Surprisingly, it only took a few months to create after meeting Hit-Boy late last year. The regarded producer, who has risen to prominence within the Hip-Hop realm, joined forces with Musiq to create conversation pieces over infectious beats.
Whether you’re seeking classic Musiq, as heard on “beat of a slow dance,” or willing to speak love into existence sonically over a distinct hip-hop soul vibe, this LP will have you playing a subtle game of mental gymnastics as you toy with the question: are you a victim or a villain? And yes, both are acceptable answers.
Dinner Party Feat. Ant Clemons – “Insane”
Acclaimed trifecta Dinner Party returns with buzzing crooner Ant Clemons and GRAMMY-winning producer Sounwave for “Insane.” Laced with a drum loop of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit,” this infectious tune fuses jazz, R&B melodies, and Hip-Hop production without any of the genres being overbearing.
The single follows their 2020 self-titled EP with dynamic features including Alex Isley, Tank and the Bangas, Bilal, and Rapsody. The trio is set to perform at Coachella this April before the return of Glasper’s Blue Note Jazz Festival in July.
6LACK – “Talkback”
6LACK’s back. The second single from his new album, Since I Have A Lover, centers around redirecting one’s focus and talking to God in public. Much like the new song, the actual LP will “house conversations about mental health, healing, personal growth, love and his own journey of finding his way—the good and the bad.”
“Talkback” follows the arrival of the album’s title track, which raves about the highs of healthy love. “It’s a note to self, that I’m no longer who I was or where I was, and that there’s a bigger purpose starting to reveal itself in the things I create,” 6LACK said about the song. “We are simply pushing love, because it’s needed. The verses are short and serve as a moment of acknowledgment for how I feel, and the chorus is less of a lyric and more of a feeling. It’s an exhale, it’s relief, it’s trust, it’s happiness, it’s surreal.”
Yaya Bey – “on the pisces moon”
Yaya Bey completely took us by surprise. The New York native teased her forthcoming EP, exodus the north star, with singles “on the pisces moon” and the titular track. The project follows her 2022 album, Remember Your North Star.
Taking to Instagram to explain her intention with this project, she wrote, “‘Exodus the North Star’ is my most vulnerable work to date. This is how I see joy and love in the world and what I aspire to feel and be. I have become an expert at turning my pain and grief as a black woman into music. Black people have a masterful way of telling our stories and sharing pain. But we are also masters of joy and imagination. We have always been in a global conversation about how to alchemize our experiences and reimagine our circumstances. From the ties between Lovers Rock and R&B to Gospel and House. Our joy is a collective effort.”
“I rarely write about what I would like my existence to be in this world,” she added. “This is a new level of vulnerability for me. Proclaiming my desires. What I’ve come to learn I deserve. This is my thank you to my people, my peers, the elders and the ancestors for being in this work with me. Cheers to the future.”
The title track opens in a similar vein as Tamia’s “So Into You,” but evolves into a sexy, playful record that could serve as the soundtrack to swaying your hips against your love under the night sky on somebody’s beach in the tropics. “on the pisces moon” is just as magnetic. It’s a fluid, freeing desire to crave more while also being blissfully aware of the greatness you currently possess. This set-up alone has us ready for more.
Khamari – “On My Way”
Khamari subtly intertwines Al Green’s “Love & Happiness” on his new single, “On My Way,” to romanticize his trek from Boston to Los Angeles.
The cross-country move occurred in the thick of the pandemic; the crooner packed all he had into his car and drove the distance. “’On My Way’ is a song about my move, my confidence in knowing I was making the right decision starting fresh so I could build something from the ground up,” he explained in a statement.
Influenced by Sly Stone, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller, and Stevie Wonder, Khamari took time to prepare for this next chapter in his musical life. We welcome new and old fans to follow his journey as he intersects timeless musicality and the “honest accessibility” that listeners initially gravitated towards.
Elmiene – EL-MEAN
After going viral with his cover of D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” in 2021, UK-based crooner Elmiene has released his highly-anticipated debut EP, EL-MEAN—the phonetic pronunciation of his name.
Despite being new to the scene, the project feels familiar. It emotes genuine vulnerability, remnant of a writer with their heart on their sleeve. Aside from love, he taps into a personal crevice of his life and sings about things many would rather not to say aloud.
His debut single, “Golden,” closed out Virgil Abhol’s final fashion show, leading fans to scour the internet in search of the riveting record. Inspired by the likes of Prince and the aforementioned neo-soul phenom, Elmiene believes his “true identity is found in where one creates, engraved in old wood.” He’s poetic, engulfing, and innately talented.