After months of shows in Europe, Beyoncé’s critically acclaimed Reinassance World Tour has finally kicked off its North American wing. However, the “Break My Soul” singer isn’t the only musician completing another live event extension. The Grammy Award record holder’s protégé Chlöe’s In Piece Tour is cranking up for a second run beginning in August.
In other live programming news, Alicia Keys announced that her musical Hell’s Kitchen with playwright Kristoffer Diaz will premiere at The Public this fall. The piece is described as a coming-of-age story about love, life, family, and of course, music. Following in the spirit of collaboration, Usher and Rémy Martin have extended their partnership as the entertainer teased his forthcoming single, “Comin’ Home,” in the new campaign video.
Speaking of music, tons of new singles and R&B projects were released. This Fresh Finds Fridays column features releases from Mahalia, Coco Jones, Robert Glasper, Sammie, Lekan, and Mike Quill. Check out this week’s roundup curated by our contributor Flisadam Pointer below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to below in the comment section.
Mahalia – IRL
Mahalia has grown up in the music business. However, it’s only now that fans are experiencing the authentic side of the singer. The Leicester, UK native’s new album, IRL, is a candid glimpse into her life in the limelight. Across the project’s 13 tracks which feature appearances by Jojo, Joyce Wrice, Stormzy, Destin Conrad, and Kojey Radical, Mahalia lets go of the pressures of perfection.
While the singles “Ready,” “Cheat” featuring JoJo, and “Terms And Conditions” have a strong emphasis on her love life, the body of work’s title track rounds out the project. As Mahalia sings, “I just wanna see in rеal life / What it is I see when I close my еyes,” she’s transparent about how chasing a viable career in music is hard no matter how much you may want it.
The project’s standout songs are “Lose Lose,” “November,” featuring Stormzy, and “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” featuring Destin Conrad.
IRL is Mahalia’s coming-of-age story. In shedding her senile skin of playing the part of a star, she’s actually unlocked the key element – fearlessness.
Robert Glasper – “Back To Love” feat. SiR and Alex Isley
Robert Glasper is a master musician. So, the Grammy Award-winning producer’s new single “Back To Love” featuring SiR and Alex Isley’s addictive nature shouldn’t serve as a shocker. It’s simply another notch in his belt. The track, co-produced with his son Riley is the latest release from the Starz original series Run The World’s soundtrack (co-composed by Glasper and Derrick Hodge).
Singers SiR and Alex Isley are the ideal co-pilots of the ballad’s sultry journey. Both maintain the mature romantic nature that the song calls for as they harmonized on the chorus, “That’s why I don’t wanna give this up / Not tonight, tonight / Let’s bring it back to love.”
In their solo version, each brings a flare uniquely their own without clashing with the other’s musicality. This could be attributed to their past working relationship on the 2019 “Love On-Demand” off of Isley’s The Beauty Of Everything, Pt. 2, or just their eminence talent either way in the end, listeners come out as the true victors in this scenario.
Coco Jones – “ICU Remix” feat. Justin Timberlake
Coco Jones hit the ground running with her EP What I Didn’t Tell You last year and hasn’t slowed down even in the slightest. Now wearing the 2023 BET Awards’ Best New Artist crown, she has even more fuel to keep pushing. As a nod to the progress she’s made, Coco treated fans to a remix of her standout single, “ICU.”
Tapping fellow Tenneessean Justin Timberlake, the pair’s vocal entanglement is as cozy as a warm pair of fuzzy socks during a snowy winter. Although the song, which was originally produced by DJ Camper, dropped in October 2022, its staying power was proven with JT’s simple assist.
In his verse, the crooner sings, “Since you’ve been gone, everything been a mess / You’ve got a hold on this thing in my chest, babe / But I won’t settle for anything less but you / You know that our chemistry make up the set / So let’s make up, put it to the bed / In the morning, we wake up and do it again.” Timberlake has dappled in other genres, but he’s clearly cut for R&B.
When discussing the original version of the track with SiriusXM’s The Heat, the singer told host Mina SayWhat, “[ICU] is actually about one of my longest one-and-off-again relationships. Basically, me and the guy were messing with each when nothing was popping. Then when things started to pop on both sides, we just didn’t make sense anymore. Our goals, lifestyles, and what we wanted for our lives just did not merge anymore.”
Lekan – “Need Somebody”
Companion is one of the pillars firmly cemented in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Lekan agrees, but he doesn’t mind if he’s not the only one you divvy up that part of yourself with. On the Columbus, Ohio native’s new single, “Need Somebody,” he proclaims that he’s okay playing the sideline.
The track, produced by Bongo ByTheWay, is a follow-up to his song “Familiar,” which was released in May. While both records log the recording artist’s energetic sexual escapades, they are alternate sides of the same player coin.
When Lekan sings, “I can see you ain’t getting what you want, you ain’t getting what you need, no / And I’d be damned if I leave a girl like you sleeping in those sheets alone / You tell me that guys are overrated because the ones you dated left you settling for the bullsh*t / I can tell it ain’t that easy to love you,” he wants to gamble on a high stake flames. Whereas in “Familar,” the entertainer craves the safety of stability.
Lekan deemed it ok to need somebody, and R&B fans needed him.
Mike Quill – “Pressure” feat. Leigh
There’s something magical about when cultures collide, especially when it’s the UK and New York. British recording artist Mike Quill continued in that tradition on his latest single, “Pressure.” The musician has a keen sense of who’s the next artist to pop, given his record of past link-ups, his new song is yet another confirmation.
Pulling in the New Yorkers, vocalist Leigh and producer Blvff, “Pressure” is a cross-pollination of rap, R&B, and dance music. Leigh fits right into the groove of the song as she sings, “Pressure, pressure, put it on me / I know you want us face-to-face when you’re feeling lonely / Keep coming for it / Know you what it / To feel the void with my body it would be an honor to be a problem I hope this solves it,” on its chorus.
“Pressure” applies tons of it, as listeners can’t help but to get up and vibe out to the lovestruck manifesto.