Over the weekend, the 2024 NAACP Image Awards brought out R&B’s biggest stars. In addition to taking home the trophy for Best Male Artist, Usher was bestowed the evening’s President’s Award. Other honoraries from the evening included Victoria Monét, Chris Brown, H.E.R., Tems, and more. But the most monumental honor of the night, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Frankie Beverly. 

Luke James is coming to our screens soon. The singer-turned-actor is set to star in season two of Them: The Scare, an original scripted series slated to hit Prime Video on April 25. Speaking of something worth our television screens, Super Freak: The Rick James Story is setting up home. The original theater production starring Stokley (from Mint Condition) has officially hit the road. When it stops across the country, theatergoers will have a deep look into the life of the late musician as never seen before.

For days, Ray J has put a bug out there that Monica and Brandy could come together for a joint tour. Although Monica swiftly shut the report down, she said she wasn’t opposed to it. But if you need something verified, Bryson Tiller’s hitting the road for his namesake tour beginning in May to support his forthcoming album. Listen to the project’s latest single below. Regarding festivals, the 2024 Broccoli City (July 27 and 28) and Lollapalooza Festival (August 1 through 4) have revealed their lineups. For BCF, featured R&B acts include Victoria Monét, Party Next Door, Fridayy, and Jordan Ward. SZA, SiR, RAYE, FLO, and more will hold it down for Lollapalooza.

But what new music dropped this week? This Fresh Finds Fridays column features releases from SiR, Kenya Vaun, Bryson Tiller, Felicia Temple, Sons Of Sonix & Bellah, Bairi, Una Mia & Lekan, and Farr. Check out this week’s roundup below. Don’t forget to let us know who you’re listening to in the comment section below.

SiR – Heavy

Heavy is a head that wears the crown. Although this may be true, societal, relationship, and personal burdens quickly become too much for many to bear. SiR has many flaws, and his latest album, Heavy, shows where those cracks lie.

Following his critically acclaimed 2019 project, Chasing Summer, Heavy is under pressure. However, instead of giving in to it, SiR sets his attention on something much greater–himself. Across its 16 featured songs infused with rock, soul, and funk, SiR aims to heal from the emotional tears straining his personal growth. 

During an interview with Rolling Stone, he spoke about the project’s dark roots of addiction, depression, and more. “I was going through depression like a lot of people and some family issues that I wasn’t talking to anybody about,” he said. “So it just kept building and building until I had a breaking point. I turned to the wrong things for my coping, and not talking to people was my biggest mistake. I translated everything into a song, and it was immensely therapeutic.”

Frankly, the first half of Heavy’s production runs stale (except “No Evil”), most notably the out-of-the-box trap arrangements. However, what keeps the listener locked in is the storytelling. SiR’s demons are unique to him but easily relate to those battling internalized insecurities. But by the latter half of Heavy, things take a turn for the better. With the shifts between acapella pockets and vocal stacking to groovy basslines, Heavy could have had a much more piercing sonic impact as an EP. 

Heavy is an emotional shedding of SiR’s burdens and a melting pot of those sounds and counseling sessions that got him through. Heavy’s standout tracks include “I’m Not Perfect” featuring Ab-Soul, “Only Human,” “Satisfaction,” “Nothing Even Matters,” and “Tryin’ My Hardest.”

Kenya Vaun – The Honeymoon Phase EP

Thanks to her breakout single “Summer,” R&B lovers were eager to warm up to what Kenya Vaun has to offer the genre. Now, that selection is available to the public to soak up through her debut EP, The Honeymoon Phase. Based strictly on the title, you’d think it was solely a project focused on her love life. While love is undoubtedly sprinkled throughout the 13-track body of work, it has much more to offer than that.

With Vaun set to perform at the 2024 Roots Picnic in June and a smooth guest feature from Musiq Soulchild, stories of the Philadelphia native’s upbringing were the most compelling part of The Honeymoon Phase. As Vaun reflects on pure bliss brought forth in the innocence of a kid’s dream and a budding romance, this is a grounding project. Vaun is taking a personal inventory at the launching pad of her career as things are quickly changing. 

Listeners are generously served all parts of Vaun’s life, from her past traumas to her sonic influences. The Honeymoon Phase’s undertones of soul, funk, reggae, and rap establish that Vaun is a melting pot of ideas ready to spill over. “Summer” was the palette-wetting finger food to draw listeners in. However, the thoughtfulness and variety heard across The Honeymoon Phase EP shows that folks will return for more.

The Honeymoon Phase’s standout tracks include “Used To,” “Tell Me,” “Pick Up The Pieces,” and “Butterflies.”

Bryson Tiller – “Calypso”

Is it safe to say that he’s back and better? Well, you can’t answer that until his entire self-titled album is here. For now, we have to go off of Bryson Tiller’s latest single, “Calypso,” which fires on all cylinders. 

On record, co-produced by Black Mic, Che, BassCharity, and Leon, Tiller trades in popular downtempo trap soul blend and gritty rap flows for an uptempo sensual dance pace. As the song’s title pays homage to the rhythmic Caribbean genre, so does the lyrics. 

“Just like magic, they playin’ our song from way back when we fell in love / She put down her jacket and gave me her phone, said, ‘I can’t stay, but just hold up’ / Movin’ through the crowd, almost dropped my drink, girl, we in LA, that sh*t ain’t cheap / She said, ‘You ain’t changed one bit’ / Put my hands on her hips and said, “Just focus on me / Her body like Calypso / Way she throwin’ that back I’ma leave with my feet sore,” sings Bryson.

“Calypso” is Bryson Tiller’s follow-up to “Whatever She Wants.” Both tracks will appear on his upcoming album, The Bryson Tiller Album, due out on April 5. To pre-save, click here.

Sons Of Sonix and Bellah – “Motion Sickness”

Burning bridges isn’t always a bad thing. Sons Of Sonix’s latest single, “Motion Sickness,” with Bellah, provides several healthy examples of when to pull the plug on a connection. The UK production duo isn’t here to sulk about where things went wrong. Instead, as Bellah gets things off her chest, the pair molds a tranquil and celebratory blend of instrumentation to help listeners feel the joy of moving on. 

“Don’t call and ask me if I’m good / Cause if I pick up you ain’t off the hook / Only doing that cause you think you should / If I was the assignment you misunderstood,” sings Bellah. 

In a note shared with ThisIsRnB, Sons Of Sonix provided further insight into the creative scope of the track. “‘Motion Sickness’ tells the story of someone who always prioritizes others over themselves,” said the group. “The lyrics explore the struggle of being a constant people pleaser and the toll it takes. As the song progresses, there’s a powerful shift where the person decides to set boundaries, even if it means losing people. It’s a journey of self-acceptance and acknowledging the sacrifices needed to become one’s best self.”

“Motion Sickness” is Sons Of Sonix’s follow-up to “Trust Yourself” with Shawn Butler.

Felicia Temple – “Party”

Like most of us in colder climate areas, Felicia Temple can’t wait for the weather to break officially. In fact, on the New Jersey native’s new single, “Party,” she’s already given the following warm weather function its own must-play track.

Hailing from the Garden State, Temple is no stranger to electronic dance music (e.g., House and Jersey Club). She’s even contributed to the genre via 2022’s “Touch.” But with the help of producer VINCI, Temple dives headfirst into the intoxicating freedom EDM provides.

“If you ain’t come to party, why you on the dancefloor? / Said, if you ain’t come to boogie all night, what you here with me for?  / What you waiting for,” sings Temple.

Known for her powerful depictions of romance, love, and relationships, just for one record only, Temple is about to break away from contemporary R&B to let her hair down as she cuts a rug officially.

“Party” is Felicia Temple’s follow-up to 2023’s song “Care.” 

Bairi – “Come My Way”

Sometimes, there’s just no denying chemistry–especially if there are sexual undertones. Unlike many shy ladies, Bairi isn’t afraid to verbalize that itch she needs scratched. On the Hershey, Pennsylvania native’s new single, “Come My Way,” she lets her wild side out.

“I’m feeling freaky off that wine / Its bout that time to play / I’m feeling tension ‘tween my thighs / She knows I might let you have your way / Say you want me, but I need that action to feel like you can’t go another day without me for real,” sings Bairi.

As steamy as the track’s lyrics are, the song’s infectious foot-tapping production (credited to Dave Marx and Sian McMullen) ensures Bairi’s message will be heard on a dancefloor near you soon.

In a statement, Bairi discussed the incorporation of electronic elements. “My dad was a Baltimore DJ in his spare time,” she said. And about 40% (making this number up) of his car playlist was dance music. My mom loves to dance to club music, too, and has been impatiently waiting for this release. Because they love it so much, I already know it’s a success.”

“Come My Way” is slated to appear on Bairi’s forthcoming project, Fire Siren

Una Mia & Lekan – “Better Care (Remix)”

Time is of the essence, but not everything should be rushed. For Una Mia, patience is a virtue when falling in love and making it. The Toronto native is back with another installment of her song, “Better Care.”

By tapping Lekan, “Better Care (Remix)” picks right back up where the predecessor left off. The delicate caressing of the string through the tracks paired with Una Mia’s breathy vocals, you can’t resist the lusting yearning brought forth by the record. Co-producer by Ty Leon, Jhyve, Kevin Theodore, Euro, and KyleYouMadeThat servly made sure of that.

“Nobody ever gеts my river flowing to an ocean all night / Better believe I’m getting even with you this time / So tell me how can I take better care of you / How can I make your body go oooh / Is there something other girls won’t do / Making all your fantasies come true,” sings Una Mia.

Lekan adds to the sensual story by singing, “Could you make that journey for it / Would u go that extra mile/ Could you cancel your plans / Just for the chance to run it back one more time / Could you pay attention to it / Promise you’ll look in my eyes / Girl just use both hands / Understand / That’s what’s gone blow my mind,” on his stand-alone verse.

Una Mia’s time in pop music could be over. If so, R&B fits her just well.

FARR – “In Need Of A Friend”

No matter how prickly the public pretends to be, companionship is necessary. Fight it all you want. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, partnership, in some capacity, is an innate desire for most. FARR’s latest single, “In Need Of A Friend,” details the glorious aftermath of finding that person. 

The Los Angeles/London-based duo, consisting of producer Linden Jay and vocalist Roméo, Has found a genuine connection they have professed to the world. The steady rhythm across the track symbolizes the calmness a secure love offers. 

“I feel like time has taken hold / It chills my skin, and it shakes my bones / I know what’s right, I know what’s wrong / But nothing’s real without your arms / I belong with you, baby / I fall in love, again and again, / I was gone, wasted / And heaven knows I’m in need of a friend,” sings Roméo.

Known for their past electronic works, FARR can’t be limited to one genre. As an alt-R&B record, “In Need Of A Friend” demonstrates that.

“In Need Of A Friend” is FARR’s follow-up to “Doom Gloom.”


*Cover Photo Credit: Ro.lexx

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