This Fresh Finds Fridays column curated by Flisadam Pointer features releases from Vedo, Journee, Tems, Majid Jordan, Janelle Monae, Arin Ray, Gemaine, Reggie Becton, Kay Cola, and Luna Elle.
Check out this week’s roundup and don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to below in the comment section.
Vedo – 7
Recording artist Vedo is one of the hardest-working singers in the genre of R&B. In the last year or so, the Benton Harbor, Michigan native has released the collaborative project, While You Wait, with OG Parker, his own solo album, Mood Swings, provided background vocal work for Usher’s viral Tiny Desk Concert, and embarked on a headlining nationwide tour. Instead of taking the last quarter of the year to recharge, he has dropped a new studio album to end off his year strong.
Vedo’s latest project, 7, is the quintessential feel-good R&B that lovers of the genre have grown to miss. Over the album’s 15 tracks, Vedo maintained the idea that love, whether it be for self or a romantic partner, doesn’t have to be toxic. This ideology was set with the project’s lead single, “Intentional,” which was produced by Camper. For the second offering, “Split,” which was co-produced by Keyz, Vedo navigated the topic of relationship difficulties with emotional maturity and, of course, sex.
The musician’s delicately sincere lyrical approach to companionship with others and God matched his even softer harmonies. Standout tracks include the single “Split,” as well as the album tracks “I’m Really Him,” “I Need You” featuring Lecrae, and “Floods.” Vedo’s 7 showed that in all areas of his life, he’s ready to be of service, which has translated into his explosive success in R&B.
On his official Instagram profile, Vedo shared a note with followers about the album ahead of its release. “Thank you, God! And to all of my day 1’s, day 2’s, and all new supporters, I love y’all, and I thank y’all for supporting me to make it. So, 7 albums as an independent R&B Artist is crazy! Without y’all, that wouldn’t have been possible,” wrote the vocalist.
Journee – Out Of Reach
Although her documented discography dates back to 2019, singer Journee is still relatively a newbie on the R&B block. The Bay Area native made her first major mark on the scene with It’s Not You, It’s Me Deluxe EP in 2021. Since then, Journee has released a series of singles to highlight her overall growth as a singer, songwriter, and artist. Her new EP, Out Of Reach, is the end result of all of that hard work.
Prior to the release of the project, Journee shared three singles, “Down Bad,” “West Side,” and “Play U Instead.” All three records underscored her melody-centered musical signature. While “Play U Instead” ultimately did not make it onto Out Of Reach’s final tracklist, the body of work did not suffer from its absence. This is where the standout tracks “Selfish” and “Supposed To” played a significant role in rounding out the project.
With no credited outside vocal features, Journee used the creative freedom to provide space for guest producers Larkin Noir, Alex Tone, Baevid, and more to add depth to the EP with hip-hop instrumental choices. Journee’s tender vocals serve as a comfort in her deeply sad stories of longing. Journee’s Out Of Reach is a push towards the next stage of superstardom. By the time Journee’s debate album is released, she’ll be a fully realized artist.
The singer took to Instagram to share insight into the creative process behind the project. “I really don’t wanna be all sappy, but I just wanted to say I’m so f*cking proud of myself for putting this little body of work together. This past year and a half has consisted of many sleepless nights, crazy amounts of prayer, and too much adversity. But God is going to get me through every time. And I’m so grateful for that. There’s always so much that goes on behind the scenes that not many get to witness, but sometimes you have to really isolate yourself to obtain your higher self. I had to become inaccessible to what and who used to have access to me. So, if you’ve wondered where I’ve been, I’ve just been working on me. Out the way. Out of Reach,” wrote Journee.
Tems – “Me & You”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since Tems dropped new music. Not only is the singer’s 2021 EP If Orange Was A Place still in constant rotation across the world, her vocals on the songs “Essence” by WizKid and Future’s “Wait For U” are fixtures across major international radio stations. But, it is indeed true. To put an end to the drought, Tems unveiled her new Guilty Beatz-produced single, “Me & You.”
The track, which was co-written by Tems and Ronald Banful, is a spiritual devotional with an upbeat tempo. As she sings, “For me to come out it must mean I’m at the door / It must mean I’m at the gate / It must mean I’m on your case / For me to come out it means that I’m at the door / I want to show you my world / Give me one break, I need faith / Faith to believe you, faith to receive you / Give me something, I love you / I don’t need nothing, you are my everything,” Tems publicly declares that her massive success is nothing with the constant companionship of God.
Just as Tems’ sultry vocals can lead listeners to the nearest dance floor, she wants to ensure they will pull fans closer to the higher being. During an exchange on X (formerly known as Twitter), Tems confirmed the inspiration behind the track, writing, “Actually, it’s about Jesus Christ teaching me how to walk on water, to trust Him and not in human understanding. He changed my life. And if you seek Him, He will fill you up, too. He is the Lord of Lords. The word of God made flesh. I am His sheep. He is my Shepherd. And I have been forever transformed. I am His forever.”
Majid Jordan – “Hands Tied”
Last month, Canadian duo Majid Jordan (singer Majid Al Maskati and producer Jordan Ullman) shared their highly anticipated single, “Waiting For You,” which featured the OVO Sounds first lady Naomi Sharon. Now the twosome is back with a new record, “Hands Tied.”
On the soothing track, Ullman flexes his musicianship with a lo-fi jazzy instrumental arrangement. While Jordan’s purposefully restrictive vocals serve as a smooth complimentary layering, singing, “Out the window, sneakin’ out of your room / While they all sleep, you gotta find me soon / I’m in my car now / You know what to do, you come and meet me / It’s after dark now / Put your soft hands on me, show me.”
The group took to social media to share the inspiration behind the track, writing, “This is a story about how, in traditional environments, love is a way of connecting. It depicts a young couple whose hands are tied, but they are deeply in love and taking risks to be together. When they are in each other’s presence, everything softens, like sunlight on the water. In private, they reveal more about themselves than they have ever revealed to anyone else in society. The man is happy that he found someone so peaceful, and the woman is happy she found someone that makes her feel safe enough to be herself.”
Majid Jordan’s last studio album, Wildest Dreams, was released in 2021. So, with two singles shared back to back, could this be the beginning of a new album cycle for the duo?
Janelle Monáe – “Champagne Sh*t” featuring Latto & Quavo
Janelle Monáe is deeply embedded in their celebratory era. In June, Monáe dropped one of the most discussed albums of the summer, The Age Of Pleasure. But the party will continue well into the fall season. With several dates remaining on Monáe’s North American tour, the festivities will continue in their music as well, starting with the new track, “Champagne Sh*t ATL Remix.”
The record, co-produced by Monáe and Nate Wonderful, pulled in features from Atlanta’s biggest rap acts, Latto and Quavo. As Monáe sings, “These n****s ’bout to make a whole lot of money / These n****s ’bout to make a whole lot of money / I like all my kisses french / When I’m on my champagne sh*t / Everybody turnin’ ’round takin’ them pics / ‘Cause I’m on my champagne sh*t / And I’m throwin’ them tips / On my champagne sh*t / And she throwin’ them hips / ‘Cause I’m on my champagne sh*t,” both rappers follow Monáe’s high-energy lead.
Around the country, temperatures are dropping, but when you listen to Janelle Monáe’s “Champagne Sh*t ATL Remix,” you are instantly reminded of the summer’s raging energy.
Arin Ray – “Wait So Long”
The summer, Arin Ray locked himself in the studio to bake up some new goodies. Now, the singer is ready to blizzard the winter with his chilly treats. Back in April, Ray linked up with music supergroup Dinner Party for the track “Breathe.” Over two months later, he popped out with Phabo for their collaborative track, “Stay.” Now, he’s standing on his own with the new single, “Wait So Long.”
With the assistance of the record’s co-producers C. “Tricky” Stewart and Big Korey, Ray makes desperation sound so appealing. As he sings, “Look me in my eyes and tell me this don’t mean nothin’ / Say you on my side, but when I try, you always runnin’ / If you don’t want ties, then why we always end up f*ckin’? / If you don’t want ties, then why we always end up f*ckin’? / Hey, hey, don’t play / Don’t change, don’t play / Hey, hey, lovin’ or we hatin’ / I love you anyway / But why would you wait so long? / To say what you want, what you need / And why would take so long,” Ray acknowledges that he’s caught in a never-ending loop of unstable love but he’s too invested to leave.
Despite its short length, co-writers Corey Marlon Lindsay-Keay, Dennis Martin, and Montay Humphrey Desmond nail the sentiments of the track as Ray’s vocals tie it all in. Thanks to an announcement video posted to Ray’s Instagram profile, fans now know that “Wait So Long” is the first taste of the recording artist’s forthcoming EP Phases III, due out near the end of the month.
Gemaine & Reggie Becton – “New Moves”
Today’s dating field requires participants to have a few tricks up their sleeves. Recording artists Gemaine and Reggie Becton’s new single, “New Moves,” talks all about that. The track, c-produced co-produced by Stewart Hidalgo, outlines the importance of redirection. The R&B-pop fusion record stresses that relationships are all about reciprocity, and if you aren’t receiving that, it might just be time to bounce.
As Gemaine sings, “Ain’t nothing personal focus on my growth / I’m getting mine is what I’m working on / Sh*t that used to make me wanna slide / Just don’t work no more / I aint say it’s easy letting go / Had To lose you had to choose me hit the ollie / You still out there catching bodies / Tryna make a mil sh*t I got a different hobby / Tried to do it our way / Now it’s going my way / It’s too much to lose / Oh we can’t just kick it no more / We can’t just kick it no more / I learned some new moves,” he acknowledges that he’s accepted the short end of the stick for far too long. Gemaine is moving on to occupy his time with better things, including self-improvement and wealth-building.
Notorious sad boy, Becton chimes in to share his qualms, singing, “You know what hurts that most / When they switch up, click up, get too busy to pick up the phone / All the acting ficky got me feeling dizzy like vertigo / Don’t be in your feelings if I’m distant it’s not personal / Really I was trying to show love, but now I’m focused on my grind.”
Gemaine and Reggie Becton is an R&B duo that fans wouldn’t mind hearing more from.
Kay Cola – “Wishing Well”
After a two-year hiatus to dig into her entrepreneurial pursuits, Kay Cola returned to music in 2022 with her 7-song project, What Dreams Are Made Of. Since then, the Los Angeles native has managed to keep a steady flow of one-off records. Her latest of which being “Wishing Well,” produced by Don City.
The single, which was co-written by Papa (of the duo Jake & Papa), is a shining display of the musician’s exemplary songwriting abilities. When Kay Cola sings, “I threw a hundred dollar bill in the wishing well / Tears salt the water as I say goodbye and I wish you well / Cause it’s still all love / But it ain’t no more love if that makes sense / I threw a hundred in the wishing well / Wishing for the strength to walk away / Cause I still want you to stay / If that makes sense,” the listen is drenched in her jumbled emotions.
Sometimes, breaking up is hard to do because what the heart wants but the soul desires are two entities entirely. “Wishing Well” highlights those dueling emotional burdens.
Kay Cola took to Instagram to reveal the inspiration behind the track, writing, “[The song was] written about the pain and confusion of letting someone you love go. Forgiving people who aren’t sorry. And freeing yourself by wishing them well.”
“Wishing Well” follows Kay Cola’s past releases “What If,” “Mac N Cheese,” and “Falling Down” with Jake & Papa.
Luna Elle – “Taking Control”
Mississauga, Ontario’s greatest musical export, would have to be hometown hero Luna Elle. The enchanting singer and songwriter has quickly earned co-signs from her entertainer peers, such as IDK and more. Her latest single, “Taking Control,” proves why she’s worth investing in.
The record, produced by Larue Made It, is an unashamed look back on a point in Luna Elle’s life when she was blinded when her then-forever love turned out to be a mirage. “No I can’t stand saying goodbye / And I always knew that I was right / Thinking ‘bout you, but you were what I needed / You had issues, I didn’t see it / Until I remember the messages / Til you showed me there was nothing left / No need for these emotions / You crumbled, and you let me down / No need for no devotion / But you know it’s over / My head tells me baby that I need someone else instead / Leaving you I’m letting go / Don’t want to fight anymore / Moving on taking control / No we don’t ride anymore,” sings Luna Elle.
The key to truly moving R&B records is the skill of emoting. With each release, Luna Elle demonstrates that this is her most tapped-into technical ability. You feel her pain, sorrow, hurt, but most importantly, emotional triumphant.
“Taking Control” follows Luna Elle’s previous singles “Pick Up I’m Alone,” “Tempo,” “9 to 5,” and “3 Days 3 Nights.”