Thisisrnb Fresh Finds Fridays: Some of the hottest new R&B music releases of the week


This week was all about recovering from the musical magic Essence Festival had to offer, bringing out legacy and newer acts alike. For those who opted out of the voyage to New Orleans, Usher’s My Way Las Vegas residency was a fitting alternate. Even Keke Palmer couldn’t resist the charm of the “There Goes My Baby” singer. 

As we enter the full swing of summer, R&B fans are eager for more mood music to set off rooftop parties, brunches, ride along to soundtracks, and more to help bring out the summertime romance energy. That’s where this week of new releases comes into play.

This Fresh Finds Fridays column curated by our contributor Flisadam Pointer features released from Monica, FLO, Solomon, Sekou, Jordan Hawkins, Elmiene, and Brady. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to below in the comment section.

Monica – “Letters”

Although Monica has affectionately been dubbed Goonica for her take-no-slack demeanor, the singer is a hopeless romantic at heart. Since her major label debut in 1996, Monica has undeniably made R&B history. Now, with the release of her new single “Letters,” she’s looking to continue her historic streak via her own label MonDeenise Music Inc.

On the track, Monica showcases her softer side as she yearns for an unobtainable love. The track, co-written by Monica, Alicia Renee Williams, Brian “Killah B” Bates, Ciara, and Tasha Catour, you can’t help but root for the Atlanta native to win. This is drilled home, especially as Monica sings, “They see you and see a thug / I see you and see my love / You roll up they running scared / But me I’m running to you with my fears / Ain’t found no one that can measure up to you / This feeling I feel I’ve only felt with you / You got these hittas so intimidated / With just a hit it ain’t no hesitating / I see things in you I can’t see in nobody / It breaks my heart that you can’t be beside me.”

Following the song’s release, social media users quickly began to speculate that the record was about her long-time love, No Limit Records rapper C-Murder (real name Corey Miller). Although Monica hasn’t commented on the rumor, if it is, this wouldn’t be the first time she penned a track for Miller. Her 2002 single, “U Should’ve Known Better,” holds that crown. 

Shortly after “Letters” release, the entertainer took to Instagram to thank fans for their support in pushing the track to the top of Apple Music R&B charts, a huge accomplishment for her new label. “Letters” is said to be Monica’s lead single for her forthcoming album, Trenches is expected to drop sometime this year.

FLO – 3 Of Us

Everyone’s favorite new girl group FLO has given in to fans’ demands for a project. The British natives hit the American radar with the release of their 2022 single “Cardboard Box.” However, it wasn’t until they teamed up with music titan Missy Elliott on “Fly Girl” in March that their spot was solidified stateside. 

In an attempt to hold over their rapidly expanding supporters but home and across the pond, the trio dropped a new EP, 3 Of Us. “Fly Girl” and past single “Losing You” wasn’t included in the three-track project’s tracklist. Instead, FLO decided to gift listeners with entirely new records, including “Control Freak,” “Change,” and the title track “3 Of Us.” Their sniper-like harmonic precision floods the EP as their amazing collaborative partnerships shine by way of their featured producers and songwriters. 

While their full-length project is still a long while away, the group took to Instagram to share a message with followers regarding their new EP, writing, “This is] a gift to the FLO Lifers who have been waiting so patiently for new music, we hope this will keep you fed whilst we finish off the album – made with love.”

Slow and steady wins the race. 3 Of Us, just as the angelic number in which it is seemingly named, represents true potential and overall harmony for FLO.

Solomon – For Starters

Britain has been the stomping ground for some of music’s boldest vocalists. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Solomon. The London native is the face of the country’s lo-fi music scene. Don’t let the singer’s mild-mannered tone mislead you, as each of his songs is packed with lyrical gut punches that’ll take the wind out of you. Solomon’s debut EP For Starters, takes this creative practice to a new artistic peep. 

Throughout the project’s eight songs, Solomon contrasts his monotoned vocal style with crashing waves of emotional strife. With guest production by Timbaland, GRADES, and Al Shux, amongst others, the musician laid out one continuous story of impassioned encounters with a partner that, without end, misused and abused him at every turn.

For Starters is a romance novel readers’ sonic wet-dream as singles “Sore Loser,” “Listen Up,” “Dehydrate,” and “Phases” featuring Kojey Radical had already previously established. Although the body of work lacks a title track, “Phases” served as the ideal anchor, while the true breakout song was “Fingerprints.”

In a statement shared with ThisIsRnB, Solomon opened up about the EP, saying, “I tend to use music as an escape and to encourage others to let it [music] take you elsewhere. For Starters marks the start of an incredible journey; this compilation of songs really sums up all the madness that the past few years have consisted of,” adding, “It’s packed full of undeniably raw and honest music for anyone listening to take their first steps into my world.”

Solomon’s For Starters has all the required elements to crystalize his place in the race for R&B Rookie of the Year. In a few years’ time, don’t be surprised when he’s being compared to ambient superstars like Jhene Aiko.

Sekou – Out Of Mind

An artist’s first impression on the greater music community is crucial. So far, Sekou has done a stellar job in sticking the land. Thanks to the release of his debut EP, Out Of Mind, the 18-year-old singer has managed to be compared to heavy hitters such as Sam Smith and Labrinth due to his rich tenor range. 

To be so young, the Leicester, England native is already proven to be a wealth of talent. His singles “Better Man” and “Forgiving Myself” highlight the vast musical field Sekou can explore. Although it’s songs “You And I” and “Too Young” that truly underscore the depth of his abilities. 

Across the project’s five tracks, Sekou managed to secure writing credits from the likes of Theron Thomas, Sam Dew, and DIXSON, as well as production work by Sounwave and Al Shux. After listening to Out Of Mind a few times, that’s the last thing I want to do as it pertains to Sekou. The outer dimension is the limit for this musician. 

Clearly, there’s something in the water abroad because, without fail, a new British recording artist steals the heart of the American market. I’m guessing the next entertainer slated to take that post will be Sekou.

Jordan Hawkins – “Can’t Fake What You Feel” feat. Duckwrth

Nicknamed the Neo-Jimi Hendrix, Jordan Hawkins has, over the course of three years, weaved between genre boundaries. As a trained multi-instrumentalist, his adept understanding of musicology has pushed Hawkins to the forefront of budding entertainers. In his new song “Can’t Fake What You Feel” featuring Duckwrth, that knowledge leaps off of each note.

Co-written by Hawkins, Duckwrth, and Mack Keane, “Can’t Fake What You Feel” is a peppy fusion of R&B, rock, jazz, and dance. Produced by ESTA, Stari, Mauricio, and King Oliver on the track, Hawkins is ready to dive headfirst into love without any fear of what could go wrong. As he sings, “You tell me spinnin’ ain’t all bad / I think we just moved too fast / I want some of your lovin’ / Why you tryna guard that? / Know some things in my past / Will make you think this won’t last / We don’t gotta rehash, rebash, relive,” Hawkins exposed that relationships shouldn’t be a battlefield filled with trauma landmines when the mile-high club is always accepting applications. 

Hawkins wants love to work, and while he works on achieving that goal, he’s going to sneak in a few two steps in the process. Not that Jordan Hawkins’ EP 4Play, which was shared with the public in April, needed such a speedy turnaround, but I’m glad “Can’t Fake What You Feel” found its way on streaming services.

Elmiene – “Mad At Fire”

After reaching viral success, Elmiene has thoughtfully numbered his steps which have continued to serve him well. The Oxford, England native hasn’t had any interest in discovering the cheat code to virtuality. Instead, the singer has given himself and his music time to marinate within his pot of creative stew.  His EP El-Mean shared in March was the by-product of that fermentation period. Now, his new single, “Mad At Fire,” is a demonstration of its mastery. 

The song serves as his major label debut, thanks to his signing to Def Jam/Polydor. Co-written with Syd and produced by Lil Silva, “Mad At Fire” shows precisely why the internet fell in love with Elmiene. Between his moody pockets, dreamy vocal tone, and mature songwriting, Elmiene is in the sweet middle ground of gentleman and F-boy.   

As he sings, “Would you be mad at fire / When you know it will burn away / Would you be mad at water for flowing endlessly / Don’t you be mad at me when I loved you every day / I’m just being me girl don’t push me away,” you can’t help but respect his honesty. However, quickly after, you find yourself infuriated after realizing all the time you wasted could up into the fantasy that was your relationship. Cue up Donnell Jones’ 1999 classic “Where I Wanna Be.”

 Even in his short time in the big leagues, Elmiene has covered a lot of ground, and so has “Mad At Fire.” When talking about the record’s creative process on Instagram, Elmiene said, “[Mad At Fire] started with the sister Syd in Los Angeles,” referring to the track’s lyrics. He continued by saying, “[Mad At Fire] finished it with the brother Silva down in London.” 

I’m predicting a long healthy career for Elmiene if he continues to produce a final product of this quality. 

Brady – “Special”

The state of Ohio has a rich history of birthing R&B legends such as The Isley Brothers, Bobby Womack, Gerald Lavert, Roger Troutman, and Avant, to name a few. Columbus-based recording artist Brady is looking to have his name etched alongside these icons. The singer’s new single “Special” is laying the first brick for the long road he will have to travel to accomplish that. 

As a follow-up to his rap song “Vibe Check,” uploaded to streaming platforms in March, the entertainer demonstrated his versatility on his latest release. Spread across a rippled bassline, Brady uses pockets of autotuned and natural harmonies to create a contrast emphasizing his conflicting feelings around his newly found love. 

As he sings, “The love you give is indicative of something that’s special / I’m digging deep within every time we linking / We reaching a new level / You got me breaking my rules / Mistaking my rules for limits / As I countdown the days, hours, and minutes ‘til I get to spend it with you,” Brady exposes his vulnerability.

In a statement shared with ThisIsRNB, Brady discussed the inspiration behind the track. “The song explains keeping an open mind to an unfamiliar type of love from an unsuspecting place,” said the musician. “Special” is a tenacious song to help substantiate Brady’s run for Ohio’s next breakout act.



*Cover photo credit: Cyndi Brown

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