This Fresh Finds Fridays column curated by Flisadam Pointer features releases from Cleo Sol, Tone Stith, IX Wulf, Kenyon Dixon, Tiffany Gouché, Erykah Officer, Dende, Loony, Keithian, sahn, and Jeffrey the KiDDD.

Check out this week’s roundup and don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to in the comment section below.

Cleo Sol – Heaven

The only things in life that are guaranteed are death, taxes, and a surprise album release from singer Cleo Sol. If you don’t include her tender vocals and impassionate songwriting, the West London native’s enigmatic allure is one of her most redeeming qualities. So, when she took to social media to announce that in a week’s time, she would drop an album titled Heaven,” she immediately grabbed the R&B community’s attention.  

Over two years after the release of her 2021 album Mother, Sol’s return was a shocker. With no lead single for the new project and a focus on the past album, supporters had no clue what was in store for the musician.

“Two years since we released ‘Mother’ into the world, thank you for embracing me and seeing me, writing my truth is sometimes difficult, but it’s freeing, and having you support me pushes me to be brave,” wrote Cleo in a post on X (formerly Twitter). 

But after listening to Heaven, that note was all the public truly needed. With no credited vocal guests, the sole executive producer listed as Inflo, and only a handful of contributing writers, including Dean Josiah Cover, Heaven is yet another deeply personal project for Cleo.

Mother was a testament to her physical, emotional, and spiritual journey into motherhood. But Heaven is Cleo’s examination of herself before the transformative experience. The project’s breakout songs “Airplane,” “Old Friends,” and “Miss Romantic” are bookmarks of different chapters of the time. 

Cleo Sol isn’t an artist with an impressive octave range. Nor does she belt at notes in the highest scales. However, what makes the recording artist so irresistible is her raw relatability and painfully honest storytelling. 

 Cleo Sol’s Heaven is a retrospective return that requires that should require emotional prerequisites before you’re allowed to push play. 

Tone Stith – P.O.V.

R&B’s freshman class has a wealth of outstanding talents. One of those artists proving to have a rich connection with avid listeners is Tone Stith. The Marlton, New Jersey native made a splash with the release of his sophomore project, Still FWM, in 2021. But it’s his latest body of work, P.O.V., that feels like his true breakthrough. 

Since his 2018 debut, Good Company, on RCA Records, Tone has consistently elevated his artistry, and P.O.V. is his sweet spot. Across the project’s 7 songs, the musician steps out of what he thinks people expect of him and embraces all that he is. The past shared singles, “Girls Like You” and “I Need You,” let fans know that P.O.V. was just that, a look at Tone’s point of view as it relates to finding love as a hopeless romantic.

Throughout the project, Tone’s newly developed emotional intelligence is in direct conflict with the societal calls to be non-monogamous as a young man in his prime. Instead, he leans into his battle with the highs and lows that heartbreak forces him down. The only notable shortcoming of P.O.V. is its one-dimensional songwriting. Other than that, Tone checks off every box. 

In a video uploaded to his official Instagram page, Tone recalled the creative process that went into crafting the project’s lead single, “Girls Like You,” which was produced by Kenneth “KP” Paige.  

“That was one of those nights where we needed to be deep,” said Tone. He continued, “So, the question [posed to me] was, ‘Tone, what are you really going through in your life? What are certain things that happened to you? Let’s stop making sh*t up. What’s really happening in your life.’ And so I just told [the team] about the first girl that very broke my heart for real, and then we all kinda got in our bag,”

The project’s breakout songs include “Smoking In The Park (Paradise),” “Girls Like You,” and “Lonely.”

IX Wulf – Heal Yourself First

If you were only allowed one word to describe singer IX Wulf, it would be intentional. The New Jersey native is ever so delicately constructing what his legacy in R&B will be. On his new project, “Heal Yourself First,” along with the supporting short film, Wulf’s attention to detail deserves all the praise. 

The body of work, which features the previously shared singles “Scales Tip My Way,” “Feel Alive,” “Doubtful,” and “To Your Side,” runs the gambit of relationship woes and the steps necessary to repair the wounds left from those emotional entangles. From every angle, Wulf tears down at the weak foundation he formed around the ideology of what love is and then painfully rebuilds with the truth.

Wulf maintains that you can’t heal a bullet wound from love’s gun with a bandage. You must tend to the laceration deeper than just the surface. The pain love has afflicted in the past must be patched up with true care and then attentively monitored to ensure that you recover properly so as not to get infected or infect others you come in contact with. 

Heal Yourself First’s breakout songs “Scales Tip My Way,” “Sage,” and “Sandcastles” all emphasize the moody and reflective theme of the project. The hearty dialogue happening across the project, mixed in with the emphasis on neo-soul, makes Heal Yourself First, Wulf’s career-defining moment. From the interludes of outside conversations to the necessary breaks from the norm heard in the instrumentation choices, it is clear IX Wulf came to make a statement, and all R&B lovers better take heed. 

IX Wulf spoke about the story behind the project in a statement, saying,  “Two broken people will only ever be broken together. This project is a snippet of the journey that taught that lesson. In order to be capable of truly loving someone else, you have to love yourself first. In order to be capable of truly caring for someone else, you have to heal yourself first.”

IX Wulf’s potential was evident on his 2018 album, Hotel Paradise, but Heal Yourself First, is all that artistry and more with a dose of steroids. 

Kenyon Dixon – “98 Vibes (Do You Right)” featuring Tiffany Gouché

R&B music’s fiercest advocate, Kenyon Dixon, is here to give new listeners a history lesson on the genre. On his latest single, “‘98 Vibes (Do You Right),” featuring Tiffany Gouché, the singers shine a light on the sonic stylings of the late 1990s, or 1998 to be exact.

Dixon took to his official Instagram page to explain why that period of time was so important in music.  “We talk about R&B a lot, especially 90s R&B and 2000s R&B. But do we really understand how many bops came out in 1998 especially? I don’t think y’all understand, but I’m going to remind y’all,” he proclaimed while referring to tracks from Usher, Next, and Mya.

With each release, including past singles “Lucky” and “Slow Dancing,” Dixon looks to pay tribute to the genre’s pioneers. But, “‘98 Vibes (Do You Right),” co-produced by Marqus Curtis, Lawrence Jones, Darryl L Howell, and Rogest “Roscoe” Carstarphen, focuses not only on the music but its essence.  As Dixon and Gouché carefully crate their vocal layering, gentle harmonies, and go-with-the-flow songwriting, they accomplished just that. 

“I just wanna dive in it / Run away, hide in it / Give it to you nice and slow / Take my time in it, thrive in it / When I hit it, I make your body my business / Give it to you nice and slow / ’98 vibes in it,” sings Dixon cleverly referencing iconic acts.

In her verse, Gouché lasered in on the sensual nature of the genre, singing, “You know you want me / When I come around, girl, you just freeze / Don’t gotta be next to you, it’s just energy / Oh, I feel you all over me.”

Following the release of the official Hope-directed video to support the track, Dixon shared the news that his forthcoming album, The R&B You Love, will be released on September 29. Find more information here.

Erykah Officer & Dende – “Lowkey Lover”

What’s understood doesn’t have to be explained. Well, that’s the motto of singers Erykah Officer and Dende. The pair’s joint single, “Lowkey Lover,” highlights their standard operating practices when in a romantic relationship. 

In a culture consumed with finding the next #RelationshipGoals couple of entertainers, Erykah Officer and Dende, prefer to keep their intimate status on a need-to-know basis. 

But for clarity, Erykah isn’t advocating for being someone’s second offering but rather guarding what it is that they are building together. In a post uploaded to Instagram, she explained what the term meant. “Having a private but not a secret relationship [is the definition of a] lowkey lover,” penned Erykah. 

“Usually, I put my love on display / But with you I wanna go another way / I wanna be your lowkey love sweet escape / And I don’t care if they don’t know about us babe / Oh baby, I’ll be that lowkey lover / Ain’t nobody gotta know / We be putting on a show / Just for us,” sings Erykah. 

Dende joins in to smoothly add, “No toothbrush for you at my crib ‘cause you ain’t tryna stay / Black silk the sheets your 4C hair made for my pillow case / I lay you down / Explore the sounds you make stimulate me / But when I see you in the streets I don’t know your face / Don’t know your name / We lowkey.”

Produced by Billy Blunt, “Lowkey Lover,” is a sultry soul track spearheaded by R&B’s budding new leading vocalists. The record originally appeared on the collective CXR’s Before The Summer’s Over EP shared last month. But last week, it was reuploaded to Erkyah Officer’s streaming profiles with new cover art as a single for her. 

LOONY – “A Good Night”

Loony isn’t afraid to let her inner drama queen off of the leash when necessary. Although the Scarborough, Ontario native’s career has come a long way since her days in school-based theatre pieces, that doesn’t mean she can’t find a way to inject it into her music. 

On her new single, “A Good Night,” co-produced by Grammy nominees Akeel Henry, Dan Farber, and Aaron Paris, the singer wants to watch the world around her crumble. To say Loony is a woman scorned by love’s relentless torment would be a gross exaggeration. The more appropriate outlook would be that the recording artist is fed up with the emotional regulations placed on women by society. Well, Loony has no interest in furthering demure delegations. 

“You try to tell me how to act right / But I don’t really care right now / You try to tell me keep my voice down / Don’t bother baby they’ll find out / You say I’m ruining a good night / But I don’t really mind at all / You think I’d rather have a good time / No, I don’t really mind at all,” sings Loony. 

“A Good Night” is all about Loony vocalizing how she feels wherever she feels it consequence be damned. In a statement shared with ThisIsRNB, she revealed how the track came to be. 

“I’ve definitely ruined what was supposed to be a good night before because I wasn’t willing to let something go. I had questions that needed answering or feelings I had to get off my chest. It’s not always worth it, you definitely end up being the villain. But I can’t really pretend like everything’s cool if it’s not,” said Loony.

“A Good Night” is the third song shared by Loony. Her previous singles include “Old Friends” and “First Thing Smokin’.”

Keithian – “Missing Out” featuring DJ MuuRaRi

Humility is not a trait of singer Keithian. With many admires fawning over him and knowing what he has to offer emotionally, he isn’t going to settle for anything less. His new OLivR-produced single, “Missing Out,” featuring DJ MuuRaRi, is a testament to that romantic bravado. 

Throughout the record, Keithian is sure to emphasize that his heart, time, effort, and energy are not to be played with. The feeling is highlighted in the stanza where he sings,

“Take your time, until we meet again / Maybe you can ease ya mind, we may be best as friends / Cause I’m not holding out, when I got tons of fans / In a city, not closе to you / What you want me to feel bad for you, or sad for you / I tapped that ass for you, a pass for you / Pulling up to the vеnue / You breaking rules / Oh the more you try, the more you’re gonna lose / See how you wanna be with me now / When I was down, shawty, you did not care / Please now you should’ve figured out / What I’m about, but now I’m just not there”

Each of the musician’s drops is tied to his personal experience, and that remains true for “Missing Out.” 

“This song is very personal to me because it reflects how I felt after the tour. I met someone who I really connected with, but we couldn’t make it work because of our busy schedules and different paths. I wanted to write a song that captured that feeling of missing out on something special. And also let them know that they can still enjoy my music even if they can’t see me in person,” said Keithian.

“Missing Out” is the latest offering in a string of singles shared by Keithian. In May, he released the track “Bullsh*t,” which preceded “Ways” the month prior.

sahn – “angelsxdemons”

The precursor to manifestation is maintaining a true level of understanding on all fronts. For sahn, better known as Simone Ledward Boseman, her debut single “angelsxdemons” is her chance to flex that sense of inner connectivity. In sahn’s teaming up with producer Kayhan Azadi, the singer is able to demonstrate just how much internal work she’s had to do since the tragic passing of her late husband Chadwick Boseman.

With hip-hop production courtesy of Azadi and jazzy vocal arrangements from sahn, “angelsxdemons” isn’t some cut-and-dry sad song it’s a soul-searching conversation meant to help listeners dig behind the surface of themselves. 

“Maybe this is too dark for them / Maybe I’m too honest / I could be real straight-forward / Some may say that I’m obsessed / Though we all got angels / And we all got demons too / They way your life will go depends on what you follow / Who do you trust in? / Who you listening to,” sings sahn.

When discussing what fueled the record, in a statement, sahn said, “[angelsxdemons] is a song about self-awareness and self-control. It’s about coming to the understanding that our thoughts are actually prayers, and by feeding into negative cycles of thinking, we draw more negativity toward us. We have the power to create our own reality based on which thoughts we empower, and which we release.”

This is only the beginning of sahn’s musical journey. This fall, she is gearing up to drop her debut 9-track album, the mornings.

Jeffrey the KiDDD – “Stop It!”

Jeffrey the KiDDD has had enough of the narrative that men are toxic lovers. In his new single, “Stop It!,” the London native wants to set the record straight when it comes to casual relationships. 

As he teams up with songwriter Bobii Lewis, the pair seeks to point out the flawed logic of past lovers hoping to make their entanglement more than what it was ever meant to be. Jeffrey uses his past K-pop songwriting experience (WayV) to craft a record that walks the line of pop and R&B.  

When he sings, “Touching where you like it / You be holding on, I still like my freedom / Frills you get excited / You can’t get enough ‘cause you still here / Stop it, stop it, stop it / Are you going to leave? Or keep fallin’? Autumn / Tell me what I did to make you heartless / Aw sh*t / Now you’re unsure / Where’s my warning,” Jeffrey points out the many contradictions in her past flings actions in comparison to the emotional rants he finds himself at the center of.

Co-producers Ocean and Simon Servida curated the perfect pocket for the track’s energy. The choice of instrumentation and when to insert dramatic flairs keeps the single within the realm of realism. It’s not too climatic, and it’s not overtly fun – it’s just right.

In a statement shared with ThisIsRNB, the musician opened up about the inspiration behind the track, saying, “[Stop It] is about honesty and communication in a non-exclusive relationship. One side has made it clear what their intentions are from the jump, whilst the other is hopeful for it to go on to be something more concrete, which may never be. All in all, it results in being frustrated by saying the same things over and over – hence the title.” 

“Stop It!” is the first offering off of Jeffrey the KiDDD’s upcoming album, Diary of a F*ck Boy, slated to drop sometime next year.



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