BET’s 2023 Soul Train Award ceremony went off without a hitch this weekend. During the event hosted by Keke Palmer, two of R&B’s leading ladies swept the competition. Despite not being present at the taping, both SZA and Victoria Monét took home multiple awards, including Song Of The Year (SZA’s “Snooze”) and Video Of The Year (Victoria Monét’s “On My Mama”). 

In the same thread of celebration, this week the Brooklyn Museum announced that their next featured installment, Giants, set to be displayed in February 2024, will feature works from Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys’ personal collection. The power couple has acquired pieces from famed visual artists such as Gordon Parks, Kehinde Wiley, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lorna Simpson, And Amy Sherald.

That isn’t the only project Keys’ has extended her larger body of work to this week. Keys, along with Usher, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Coco Jones, and more, are set to vocally appear on The Color Purple remake’s soundtrack, The Color Purple (Music From and Inspire By). Keys’ contribution was the body of work’s lead single. Take a listen below. But there’s one movie everyone is raving about, Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé. After weeks of hints online and several trailers, the Renaissance concert movie hits AMC theaters today.

So, what new music dropped? This Fresh Finds Fridays column features releases from Cedric Brazle, anaiis, Senth, Alicia Keys, Raphael Saadiq, Kelli-Leigh, J. Valentine, and Omarion. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to in the comment section below.

Cedric Brazle – …What I Know Now (Deluxe) 

In March, Cedric Brazle took the indie R&B space by storm with the release of his EP …What I Know Now. Well, he’s back to reveal more of what he’s learned in the subsequent nine months. On …What I Know Now (Deluxe), the Jacksonville, Florida native unloads four additional tracks to fill in the emotional gaps in the first installment.  

The lead single “Life Of The Party” has stiff competition with fellow newbies “1st Sight,” “Burning Room,” and even the “Sexy Lady (Remix)” with Jahkoy. On each record, Brazle dives into a different emotional pillar regardless of how painful it is. When the body of work was initially released, shared the inspiration behind the project online. “This new music has been 2.5 years in the making & is a culmination of life lived and lessons learned. […What I Know Now] is all about my own self-reflection, my inner thoughts, trauma, and pure love – all things i’ve had to face in such little time,” penned the vocalist. 

Brazle has been a lover that has inflicted harm but by the same token, he’s felt deep pain. …What I Know Now (Deluxe) is a sonic seesaw of those tumultuous times fueled by heartache.

anaiis – This Is No Longer A Dream (Deluxe)

It’s been two years since the release of anaiis’ debut album This Is No Longer A Dream. Initially, the French-Senegalese singer used the 12-track body of work to explore her battle with isolation and disillusionment. Yesterday (November 30), the Dream Sequence Recordings boss revisited the project, this time, adding two new songs.

On This Is No Longer A Dream Deluxe, anaiis rounded out the first installment’s theme with tracks “Make It Easier (Samm’s interlude)” with Samm Henshaw and “Openhearted.” In addition to the healing tracks, anaiis added several remixes to some of the past popular tracks like “Vanishing” and “Cry In Your Sleep.”

When discussing the original album, in a statement, anaiis said, “I want to share with others a very vulnerable experience that can inspire them to indulge in a process of introspection that will allow them to reconnect with their intuition.” 

The deluxe does just that, adding sonic elements of every genre you could think of, including, of course, R&B.

Senth – Wayyy Saucy 

The continent of Africa is producing some of the world’s biggest music stars. Nigerian alté and R&B singer Senth is looking to be the next most sought-after sonic export. Through his partnership with EMPIRE, the vocalist’s sophomore project, Wayyy Saucy, could be what put him on the map globally. 

From the bottom of my heart I share a piece of me with you all,” wrote the singer in a post on his official Instagram page. The body of work features five tracks in total, which includes singles “On My Mind.” Being that Wayyy Saucy is a quick follow-up to his 2022 EP Senth Of Her, he didn’t take much time to relatively breathe but Senth still manages to sharpen the tools in his arsenal. 

From his storytelling to his mix of sonic elements, Wayyy Saucy is a step up. Senth’s goal to be the next crossover artist could be a reality come 2024. 

Alicia Keys – “Lifeline”

We’re a few short weeks away from The Color Purple remake’s takeover at the theaters. The gut-wrenching story has been a staple for generations and with Fantasia, Halle Bailey, HER, and Taraji P. Henson set to grace the scene this go around, it undoubtedly will happen again. 

With the movie’s beloved original songs, the studios pulled out the big guns for the soundtrack. Alicia Keys’ new song “Lifeline” serves as the first offering from the body of work. 

Without giving too much away or spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical or the 1985 film, on the record, Keys embodies the victorious spirits of the story’s ending. 

“Darling, this world ain’t for the faint of heart / Feel like we were made to fall apart / I can build your heart an army / Don’t gotta do this all by yourself / If you need someone you call me / You got me, you got me / Oh, I can be your lifeline / Stay with you ’til the sunrise / When you’re low, it don’t mean you’re alone,” sings Keys.

The Color Purple (Music From and Inspire By)’s entire soundtrack will be released on December 15. The Color Purple film will hit theaters on December 25. 

Raphael Saadiq & Kelli-Leigh – “Miracle”

R&B legend Raphael Saadiq has built an entire legacy off his ability to make music for the mood. But what his latest single, “Miracle” with Kelli-Leigh he’s focus is on the family room and not the bedroom. 

The songwriter lent his talents to crafting a soulful festive holiday record for Prime Video’s latest film, Candy Cane Lane starring Eddie Murphy and Tracee Ellis Ross. On “Miracle,” Raphael Saadiq and Kelli-Leigh use their R&B roots to compliment that holiday twinkle for an irresistible bop.

In a statement, Saadiq spoke about the inspiration behind the track. “The song ‘Miracle’ is about, of course, a miracle. Once you see the film, you see all these amazing things happening, a little bit of beautiful magic between a family and a mother and father. ‘Miracle’ just comes on and tells that whole story of how a family works,” said the singer.

J. Valentine – “Thank Me For That”

J. Valentine is no stranger to R&B music. The songwriter shares his opinion on the genre’s latest releases and chat with some its biggest artists on the R&B Money podcast with Tank. However, many viewers aren’t as familiar with his discography. But that’s going to change soon. 

His latest Shawn Holmes-produced single “Thank Me For That” is his formal reintroduction to the new generation of R&B lovers. The track shows off his sensual vocals as he thinks about a transformative relationship in his past. Life is all about learning and J. Valentine isn’t above teaching his lover things to make them better on all fronts. “Thank Me For That” is a semi-scorned examination of how his teachings are now working out for the next man’s benefit.

“But I realizeI built youup for somebody else / And I’m the one who had it last / I know I had a big impact / Now she know how to throw that ass back / By the way, you should thank me for that / Cause I’m the one who taught her patience / Told her when & how to say shit / You gotta thank me for that,” sings J. Valentine.

“Thank Me For That” is the lead single for J. Valentine’s upcoming studio album, Conversations With Women.

Omarion – “The Usual”

The internet dubbed Omarion the king of being unbothered, and his latest single is just a glimpse as to why. On his new record, “The Usual,” which was co-produced by MilTone, Greg Curtis, and Sammy Tetzba, is about enforcing boundaries learned through emotional maturity. 

Omarion refuses to get caught up in the toxic back in forth with an ex-lover desperate for casual sexual encounters. Instead of falling victim to temptation, he’s using the block button as needed. 

“Late night text / Why you talkin’ nasty? / Girl, you know what’s next / Yeah, I’m hittin’ delete / I don’t need your stress / Don’t need your energy / ‘Specially if you buzzed / Probably had too much / Because I’m livin’ too proper, poppin’ my collar / Worried ’bout no dollar, call me Big Poppa / Yeah, I’m still unbothered, cool as waters,” sings Omarion.

“The Usual” is Omarion’s follow-up to past songs “Serious” and “Big Vibez.”


*Post Photo Credit: Amos Reece III

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