With Halloween behind us, the holiday season has officially begun. So, in typical fashion, Mariah Carey’s classic track “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has reentered the streaming charts. Brandy’s new song, “Christmas Party For Two,” is looking to be included in the festivity conversation as she’s been added to the performance lineup of the 97th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Both Beyoncé and Chaka Khan announced their specialty fragrances that could make their way to your holiday gift baskets.
At the forefront of communal conversations in R&B is the nomination list for the 2023 BET Soul Train Awards. Leading the pack with nine nominations each is SZA, Usher, and Summer Walker. Although Alex Isley isn’t up for anything at the annual ceremony, she’s still celebrating as her collaborative project, I Left My Heart In Ladera with Terrace Martin, debuted on Billboard music charts, the first time for her.
On the music front, there were a few standout albums, EPs, and singles shared this week. This Fresh Finds Fridays column features released from Mariah The Scientist, Chxrry22, Erykah Officer, Lucky Daye, Solomon, Lendryx, and Aria Lanelle. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to below in the comment section.
Mariah The Scientist – To Be Eaten Alive
If pour into the music was a person, it would be Mariah The Scientist. The singer’s new album, To Be Eaten Alive, culminates the last few tumultuous years she’s endured into song form. Across the ten tracks, which include her past singles “From A Woman” and “Different Pages,” Mariah yet again bares her soul to the listening public. For Mariah, her ego is a none factor in her creative process, as she spills out the emotional hardships she has had to battle in her public relationship with currently imprisoned rapper Young Thug, the objectification by other men in high profile men, and how it all slowly tears away at her sanity.
Before its release, she took to Instagram to tease the project with the body of work, “Project so hard can’t even pick a single,” and after listening to To Be Eaten Alive, she wasn’t kidding. There are several standout songs, including “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” “Good Times,” “Out Of Luck” and “Lovesick.”
To Be Eaten Alive is Mariah’s pledge to be pulled from the quicksands of worry, stress, anxiety, and more. Another emotional whirlwind of a project penned by the recording artists.
Chxrry22 – Siren
The color red is a palette for passion, confidence, courage, and even danger. For recording artist Chxrry22, that was the precise reason behind her stage name. The Ethiopian-Canadian transplant has grabbed the attention of R&B lovers with her sensual music. But her latest project, Siren, has amplified that far beyond her wildest dreams. After uprooting from her hometown (Toronto) to Atlanta, the musician belted out tender notes to entice everyone listening, and that was the goal of the seven-track body of work.
Chxrry’s past songs “Worlds Away” and “Sacrifice” were notably missing, but singles “Never Had This” featuring Vory and “More” did make the final tracklist. Siren holds up a megaphone to amplify Chxrry’s underappreciated musical offerings. Throughout the project, Chxrry digs her heals into the themes of lust, desire, and sensuality without being overly raunchy. Standout tracks “More,” “Favorite Girl” featuring Offset, “Dot It,” and, of course, “Never Had This” are shining examples of this.
On her official Instagram page, Chxrry revealed that the theme was pulled from her belief that: “Every bad b*tch is a siren.”
However, the lure of sirens is that they are malicious, cruel, and devilish creations looking to cause destruction. On this album, Chxrry combats that by reshaping the narrative to examine how feminine energy is to offer pleasure, comfort, and emotional shielding when tended to properly. Chxrry22’s Siren is a potent sonic journey of desire in all facets.
Erykah Officer – Ery’s Diary
New Jersey’s Crossroad Music Group is one of the most promising collectives sprouting out of the Garden State, with musicians such as Dende and Chris Patrick at the forefront, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, the imprint’s leading lady, Erykah Officer, shouldn’t be dismissed. For years, the singer has navigated the independent music scene. Now, she’s in her glow-up stage, having performed on several big stages, including R&B Only Fest. After appearing on her collective’s Before The Summer’s Over EP, Erykah is putting her best solo effort forward. Her new debut EP, Ery’s Diary, is the proper introduction.
Across its nine tracks, Erykah proved that her time is now. A mixture of her powerful neo-soul vocals, tantalizing songwriting, and deliberate production by Billy Blunt, Michael-David, Brandon Phillips-Taylor, and Justin Wiggins, Ery’s Diary shoots the recording artist to the top of the R&B rookie list. Lead singles “Lowkey Lover” with Dende (originally appeared on Before The Summer’s Over), “GLS,” and “Doctors Orders” stressed that Erykah’s not here for filler. Each record serves a purpose. The singles are apparent standouts from the pack in addition to the track “Feelings.” Sadly, her previous record, “Curve Queen,” did not make the cut, but with everything that did, you aren’t too hung up about it.
Ery’s Diary exposed to R&B lovers that genre’s future leading lady has arrived. I would go as far as to say that Erykah Officer and her collective mate Dende are debatably A-side and B-side of the top R&B projects released this year.
Lucky Daye – “That’s You”
Just when you thought the year would wrap up without new music from Lucky Daye, the singer dedicated to surprise fans. While supporters are spinning his Candydrip album, which was released last year, he’s returned with a new single, “That’s You.”
Co-written and produced by Bruno Mars and D’Mile, “That’s You” is the crooning track that you didn’t know you needed. As Lucky sings, “Cocoa butter, Baccarat on covers / I smell it on my sheets / I heard you say that you might love another / It filled up my world with envy / And I can’t stop reminiscing / When we relivin’ the moment when you were meant for me / But all this fame and fortune can’t afford me what I need / Lord knows I try to give up / But all I can see is what was / I tried takin’ chances but chance brought me down to my knees,” he’s not too proud to beg. In fact, his vulnerability is appreciated.
No one makes heartbreak sound as alluring as Lucky Daye. From the inflections of his aching vocals and desperation in the lyrics to the inflections in the instrumentation, “That’s You” is a gutting reminder that the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
Solomon – “Unrequited”
Last month, Solomon hit the road for his first-ever solo tour across the United Kingdom. Immediately after returning home, the London native wasted no time sharing new work with his fans back home and abroad. The singer’s new single, “Unrequited,” is a refreshing peek into the dove-eyed stage of love
Co-produced and written by Al Shux and Solomon, “Unrequited,” is all about the sheer innocence of infatuation. “Do you like me as much as I like you? / Do you wanna run with me into the night? / I’m just as sure about you as I know the sky’s blue / Do you like me too, or do I have to fight you? / Do you want me as much as I want you? / Just your body language implies that you might do / I can’t help but feel like this stage is exciting / Do you want me back or is this unrequited,” sings Solomon.
Solomon’s gentle vocal delivery and Al Shux’s even more delicate production choices evoke a sense of childlike purity before you’re aware of just the kind of devastating blows love can deliver.
“Unrequited” is a follow-up to Solomon’s EP Voice Memos that dropped in September.
Lekan – “Pray For Me”
You can only carry the weight of the world on your shoulder for so long. So what happens when the person that lends themself to the aid of others eventually buckles? On his latest single, “Pray For Me,” singer Lekan offers fans a glimpse of the aftermath of that chaotic breakdown. The Columbus, Ohio native’s music often explores the intersections of emotional vulnerability in challenging times.
“Figure it out is all what they say / Your on your own out here / Pretending too long / Living the life that not my own / Anxiety, society / Had to find solitude inside of me / I pray for everyone but / Who gonna pray for me, pray for me / Pray for everyone but / Who gonna pray for me / I know drowning in these dreams / won’t save me,” sings Lekan.
The track, which was produced by Bongo ByTheWay, is a question we must often refer back to set to music. Have you established a community around you? How is your tribe showing up for you? And are you taking on more than you can handle? If so, are you seeking help rather than retreating into yourself?
“Pray For Me” is the follow-up to Lekan’s past singles “Need Somebody” and “Familiar.”
Lendryx – “Insomnia”
Love can do crazy things. For Montgomery, Alabama native Lendryx, the paralyzing emotion has impacted both his physical and mental well-being. On his new single, “Insomnia,” is croons all about it. The track, co-produced by Yogic and Dionso, demonstrates just how easy it is to keep swept in love’s brisk winds.
“When I am gonna get seconds?” / Or am I second? / Being with you is a blessing / But I’m really not tryna be guessing / We are in two different zones / But where you are is closer to home / Home babe, yea,” sings Lendryx.
Lendryx emotes this infuriating entanglement in his vocal switch-ups. From falsettos to full belly belting, Lendryx leaves it all on the track, and the listener is grateful for it.
“Insomnia” is the follow-up to Lendryx’s past singles “Forces” and “Just My Turn.”
Aria Lanelle – “Of Course”
Sometimes R&B fans need a break from the traditional tales of heartbreak, betrayal, and sorrow. Boston, Massachusetts native Aria Lanelle heard the cries from fans of the genre loud and clear. On her new single, “Of Course,” she traded in the loom and gloom sonic for an uptempo energetic electronic approach.
Aria is no stranger to EDM, having gotten her first big break in the space, yet “Of Course” is a fresh creative undertaking for the singer. As not only the songwriter and arranger but as the track’s primary producer, Aria demonstrated why she should be on music lover’s radar.
With vocal production by Seth Daniel Richardson, “Of Course,” is a record in the vein of Beyoncé’s Renaissance and so many other greats before her. When done correctly, love can be a cosmic exchange of energies, “Of Course” is the result of that revelation.
“You say you never felt this way before / Let me tell you babe it’s mutual / I’m scared to think I found forever / Our bodies are truth tellers / Feels like heaven doesn’t it / A love so pure it’s undefiled and in the darkest hours of the night doesn’t it feel like heaven doesn’t it / A love so pure it’s almost wild you ask me. ‘Am I yours?’ / The answer is of course,” sings Aria.
In a note shared on Instagram, Aria shared the meaning behind the record. “This is not one of those jaded heartbreak songs. This one’s for everybody who heard bell hooks talk about love as an act of radical freedom,” wrote Aria. She continued on X (formerly Twitter), “[Of Course] is all about choice, openness, and personal agency in making decisions for your own happiness in love.”
“Of Course” is Aria Lanelle’s follow-up to past singles “WYM” and “Last Lovers” with Durand Bernarr.
*Post cover image credit: Sara Albuquerque