You ever just need to sit in your feelings? With the heaviness of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever looming in the air, these new releases remind listeners that it’s okay to process the complexities of romance, grief, mental health, and more.
Yuna culminates her five-part release of new music while DRAM resorts back to his soulful persona to prove whether he’s Shelley or DRAM, the two are interchangeable. Jordin Sparks issues the lead single of her new pop&B era, as Khamari returned to fans with a raw reflection. With that and more, here are VIBE’s top new R&B selections this week as 11/11/22 welcomes new energy and high vibrations.
Yuna — Y5
Yuna is back with the arrival of her newest musical offering, Y5—a collection of work created during the 2020 quarantine until October 2022. It serves as the final installment of EPs released this year to make her new music more “easily digestible.”
“I wanted to make it possible so that the songs have equal attention on them,” Yuna explained in a statement. “There is a certain connection on each EP and a theme that’s going on. My goal for each EP is to bring something specific to life. Y1 is very soul, very R&B, but also throwback-y and lo-fi. Y2 is more straight R&B. On [Y3], I was inspired by growing up listening to The Cardigans and wanted to do something where I was playing guitar. It all goes back to me doing something I enjoy, instead feeling forced into something that’s a single. I wanted to try just writing from the heart and making something that is 100 percent mine. Every song represents something I love that I want to share with the world.”
Y5 features all the music from the previous releases and added the enchanting “Can’t Get Over You,” the softly familiar “Kiss The Moon,” and the introspective closer “Enough.”
With her new album, the Malaysian phenom reflected, “Making this album takes me back to that time when I was an independent artist making music in my bedroom in Malaysia. I want to focus on making things that make me happy, instead of the things that make me stressed out. I want to find that balance. With this new album, I feel reborn as an artist.”
DRAM — What Had Happened Was
Shelley FKA DRAM has returned to his musical persona with the release of his new album, What Had Happened Was…. under his newly minted indie label, WAVER Records. The honest LP dives into mental health, the woes and wins of fame, processing grief, and how he’s used his trauma as a stepping stone for evolution.
With this return to DRAM, the crooner proves his moniker doesn’t define or fully encompass himself or his sound.
Mahalia — “Bag Of You”
Mahalia’s beautifully endearing new record, “Bag Of You” is an ode to healthy, romantic attachment. Produced by JD Reid and Max Pope, Mahalia hones in on her signature style as she writes about the nitty gritty of everyday life, managing to make the unremarkable remarkable as she illuminates the mundane.
Of this touching musing, the British sensation shared, “This song is one of my favourites so far. ‘Bag Of You’ is all about that sweet spot in a relationship when everything is just lovely. where the idea of being without that person – even just for a second – is too much to bare. I love everything about this record. It’s definitely the start of what’s to come next year.”
Destin Conrad — SATIN
Destin Conrad has evolved into such a force within the R&B space. Before the SoCal-bred star joins Kehlani for the European leg of the Blue Water Road Trip tour, he debuts SATIN. His latest LP is an alluring embrace that weaves through emotions and pieces together the inner working of a broken soul. It’s a comforting listen without falling flat; not to mention, its titular track featuring Jean Deaux has in a complete chokehold.
Jordin Sparks — “Stop The Feeling”
When pressing play on Jordin Sparks’ first solo release in over a year, we immediately hit a Michael Jackson, “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” type of groove. The uptempo jam is the lead single from the American Idol alum’s forthcoming albeit untitled new album—her first since 2020’s Cider & Hennessy. When speaking on her new song, Sparks shared via Instagram, “I’m so proud of this one—Time to feel and dance again! I hope you enjoy and feel all the love, energy and excitement that’s in this song!”
Khamari — “Tell Me”
Rising star, Khamari’s captivating new single, “Tell Me” speaks to the emotions one feels are a relationship begins to fail. He expressed, “[The record is about] that feeling of insecurity you get in a relationship while watching it deteriorate from the inside. Dealing with the vacuum of doubt and confusion that bad communication leaves, but not acting on it because you’re hopeful it’ll work itself out.”
After taking fans by storm with his 2020 EP, Eldorado, and solo releases, “Drifting” and “Doctor, My Eyes,” the Dorchester-bred crooner is one to watch when it comes to the men of R&B.
SZA — “PSA”
It appears we’re getting closer to the release of SZA’s long-awaited sophomore album. The TDE songbird released a teaser titled “PSA” earlier this week and it’s as abstract, alluring, and full of mystique as one would expect. In the nearly two-minute preview—that follows the drop of her latest single, “Shirt”—SZA sings, “I don’t want nobody calling me anything but No. 1/Know I got problems, I don’t know how to take losses/Even when, even when they are lost causes.”
Towards the end of the visual, the screen reads “…—…” which some are trying to translate, but the Morse code replica seemingly means nothing. It also could loosely translate to a March release.
Toosii — Boys Don’t Cry: Men Do
We know what you’re thinking. In no way is this a R&B album, but we are granting one outlier this week for the sake of vulnerability. Toosii’s new album, Boys Don’t Cry: Men Do, is the extended version of his acclaimed EP, Boys Don’t Cry. Further breaking down the stigma that men who express their emotions equate to weakness, the melodic rapper uses his past as impetus for strength, guidance, and clarity as he navigates his present and future.
“I’m just trying to learn to be the best person I can be for the people I love and for myself,” said Toosii in a statement. “Growing up as a man, we were always taught to be tough, not to have emotions, and that boys don’t cry. But it’s just not true. It’s alright as a man to tap into that emotional side.” We couldn’t agree more.