This ‘Fresh Finds Fridays’ features Hot New R&B Releases for the week of June 16, 2023.

Kiana Ledé doesn’t have any problem admitting to holding ‘Grudges,’ Phabo warns the ladies fawning over him to ‘Don’t Get Too Cozy,’ Ambré wants to know ‘Who’s Loving You?,’ and Chase Shakur finally confesses that ‘It’s Not You, It’s Me.’ These Fresh Finds Fridays R&B releases will hold your playlist over for a good while. 

This Fresh Finds Fridays column features projects from Kiana Ledé, Phabo, Ambré, and Chase Shakur. While SiR, Victoria Monét, Asiahn, Alex Isley, and Alex Vaughn all dropped singles, you should dive into. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to below in the comment section.

Kiana Ledé – Grudges

If there’s one thing Kiana Ledé is going to do on any of her albums is given listeners a seamless concept to follow. Her new album, Grudges, is no different. Lead singles “Deeper” and “Jealous” featuring Ella Mai laid the groundwork to signify that this album was going to be yet another emotional rollercoaster – Kiana’s artistic expertise. 

Although on her 2020 album, KIKI, the singer rehashed the same themes, there’s something more mature about Kiana Ledé’s viewpoint on Grudges. During the album’s rollout, the entertainer shared that going into the album, her mindset was “the first step to finding peace is letting go of the grudges you hold.” 

From the album’s opener, “Bitter B*tch Introlude,” to the closer, “Magic,” Kiana Ledé dives into the good, bad, and ugly parts of healing. Across the 18 tracks, the entertainer isn’t interested in dressing up her truth under the guise of respectability politics. She’s been crazy in love. She’s been immature. But Kiana Ledé is taking accountability for the role she played in the chaos. 

Khalid, Bryson Tiller, and Ella Mai all make a vocal appearance on Grudges. However, as hard as it is to admit, they weren’t necessary for any part of the project’s honest storytelling. Although my personal favorite song on the album is “Where You Go” featuring Khalid, the strongest track on the album is the title track which is carried exclusively by Kiana Ledé. 

Fans never grow tired of Kiana Ledé’s full project because there are embarrassingly related. At some point, you’ve done something foolish because you were emotionally caught up. On Grudges, Kiana Ledé is just brave enough to divulge that with the general public. 


Phabo – Don’t Get Too Cozy

Phabo is far from a one-trick pony, or so that is what his sophomore album, Don’t Get Too Cozy, sought to highlight. As his third project, overall, the singer pulled out the big guns. In just under an hour, the musician is able to get everything off his chest. The album’s emotional fluidity should have been expected, given the stark contrast between lead singles “Casamigos” and “Stay” featuring Arin Ray. Yet, still, each of the 18 songs on Don’t Get Too Cozy manages to never repeat a concept. 

As his formal introduction to the R&B space, Phabo’s 2021 album Soulquarius set the bar dramatically high for the musician. However, Don’t Get Too Cozy, seemingly in no effort at all, props itself ahead of the critically acclaimed project. There are a host of great songs to choose from, but the absolute stand out is now other than “Before I Let Her Go.”

No stranger to pulling in a perfectly paired collaborative partner, on Don’t Get Too Cozy, Phabo keeps in the tradition as fellow entertainers Shaé Universe, Arin Ray, Ambré, and Kalan.FrFr all make appearances. 

The third time is certainly the charm in Phabo’s case. Thanks to Don’t Get Too Cozy, he has successfully skyrocketed out of the newbie conversations. The singer is, without a doubt, ready to enter the big leagues. Phabo’s no longer a big fish in a small pond. He’s a shark confidently exploring the deep blue sea that is R&B music. 


Ambré – Who’s Loving You?

Ambré knows who she is at her core, so a full musical serving from her is highly anticipated. However, in the meantime, fans are just going to have to appreciate the pre-portioned they’re served. Even shorter than her 2022 project, 3000°, on her new EP Who’s Loving You? The musician delivers just enough to quiet the stomach rumblings.  

In just five songs, Ambré unabashedly hops from sound to sound. Prior to the release, no lead single was shared to tease the project. So, fans went into Who’s Loving You? blind but left seeing the singer’s creative vision. Only one other credited vocalist appears on the EP – that honor belongs to Mack Keane, who appears on the track “Elevate.” 

 Contrarily, Ambré enlisted a plethora of producers to shape the project’s sound, including Malik 95, Jay Versace, and more. Who’s Loving You? is a fun sample, but many are growing impatience waiting for the full meal. 


Chase Shakur – It’s Not You, It’s Me

Chase Shakur is quickly rising through the R&B ranks. Just last year, the singer was a promising independent act dropping his album, It’ll Be Fine. Now, he’s making his major label debut with It’s Not You, It’s Me

The album focused squarely on Shakur, sets out to showcase his blends of melodic rap and singing. With no vocal features, the entertainer relies heavily on his own artistry and the guest production of NINETYSVN, Origin, MYNDS, Tiggi, and more to define who he is as a musician. 

Across the project’s 10 songs which includes the lead single, “X’s N O’s,” he’s nearly there. The previously released song “Sink or Swim” found its way onto the album as a bonus track, offering the strongest showing of Chase Shakur’s capabilities. It’s Not You, It’s Me is a solid introduction of Chase Shakur to the mainstream audience, but I know he has more to give. After releasing two albums in two years, it’s safe to say this is only the start. 


D Smoke & SiR – “Work Hard Play Hard”

Legacy is the imprint your life leaves on the world. The pressure only intensifies when you’re a public figure. D Smoke and SiR know this all too well. On their latest collaborative track, “Work Hard Play Hard,” the brother duo lays out how they want to be remembered when it’s all said and done. 

In the opening verse, D Smoke sets the tempo, rapping, “My prayin’ momma proud of her lil’ black boys / We headlinin’ club, ownin’ sneakers, and back doors / Walk through the kitchen, got plenty ink on our passports / And not to mention, our queens, they pushin’ the RAV4s / What you think I rap for? / I’m buildin’ my legacy, texts from my heroes, hey, let us see / Chase bread, my pockets got lettuce-y / Foreign land with my brother, that’s pedigree.”  

SiR keeps the motion going as he sings, “Stay close, take notes, we in the zone / N****, two words, hard work, what we been on / It ain’t no denyin’, this divine timin’ / Been applyin’ pressure, now we buyin’ diamonds.”

Fans are now demanding a collaborative project from the siblings, and if it sounds anything like “Work Hard Play Hard” supporters are going to be in for a treat.


Victoria Monét – “On My Mama”

Victoria Monét is a hot momma for more than one reason. Not only is the singer burning up the R&B space, but with a young child of her own, she makes it all look too easy. On her new single, “On My Mama,” the songwriter penned a track dedicated to all mothers across the world.  

Sampling Chalie Boy’s 2008 southern classic “I Look Good,” Monét reworks the concept to validate the new space that she occupies as a working parent, singing, “When they say, ‘She get it from her mama’ / I’ma say, ‘You f*ckin’ right’ / Body rude, it’s unpolite / Done bein’ the humble type / Tell me, is you down? / ‘Cause I’m tryna go up tonight / H*es and h*ochies left and right.”   

Co-produced by Deputy, Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman, D’Mile, “On My Mama” is proof that sampling, when creatively executed, can give birth to another song to carry on a musical legacy. According to the musician, “On My Mama” is the final single before her forthcoming album, Jaguar II, is slated to drop. So what better way to close the wave of singles than with a song all about restored confidence?  

During an interview with the BBC, the music discussed what motivated her to write the track. “It was the first song I wrote after giving birth that I liked. And that I felt affirmed me and my identity as a beautiful woman. Still valuable. Still worthy,” said Monét.


Asiahn – “Do Bad”

As we are in the thick of Pride Month and Black Music Month, of course, Asiahn had to treat fans to a new single. The proudly queer singer poetic chronicles her quest to find love with her music. However, in her new single “Do Bad,” the songwriter turned her attention to the false ideals of love. 

When someone claims to love you, their actions should be in alignment with their words. If they aren’t, then the entertainer advises listeners to drop their partner like a bad habit. This is driven home in the stanza, “We haven’t been talking long enough / For you to stress me out / For me to have doubts / Who got the time / Then you ain’t even my girl / It’s getting pretty late / It’s time for you to skate / Cuz I can do bad / Bad all by myself.” 

On social media, Asiahn shared the inspiration behind the track as she wrote, f*ck “All the things not in alignment to your ultimate purpose,” and that includes lovers.


Alex Isley & Ernie Isley – “Brown Eyed Girl”

Alex Isley has won over the ears of R&B lovers thanks to her emotionally raw releases heard all throughout her latest project, Marigold. The singer’s talent is God-given but, at the same time, also an inherited perk. Simply put, she gets it from her daddy, the legendary musician Ernie Isley. In her new song, “Brown Eyed Girl,” the pair shows why the Isley name is so revered in any music space.  

Originally released in 1974 on The Isley Brother’s Live it Up album, the father-and-daughter duo flex just how sonically gifted they are. With Ernie on his beloved bass and Alex on vocals, “Brown Eyed Girl” is a soft reminder that everyone is deserving of pure love. 

Just ahead of Father’s Day, Alex took to Instagram to announce the song’s release, writing, “This is the very first time my Dad and I have recorded together. Thank you, Dad, for such beautiful music and lyrics you wrote for you and your brothers years ago. And a very special thank you to my Soulection family for bringing this to life!”


ASTN – “How Soon” feat. Alex Vaughn

Detailing aimless romantic pursuits is the bread and butter of R&B music. Recording artist ASTN does just that on his single “How Soon” but from the man’s perspective. However, a conversation as rich as this one has multiple layers. So, the entertainer brought in singer Alex Vaughn for the women’s side of things on the remix. 

As Vaughn sings, “Did you think that I would make you stay / Especially when things ain’t the way they used to be? / ‘Cause if we talkin honestly, I feel like / Even though it’s scarier to let you go / I’m good, for real, that’s a sign of growth,” the listener hears that splitting from your lover doesn’t always have to be toxic. 

“How Soon” is the musical manifestation of if you love something, let it go, and if it was meant to be, it should come back to you. Overall, the song is a beautiful ballad demonstrating that although growth can be a lonely road, it is always for the best.


*cover photo credit: Eric Williams


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