Even with the R&B genre in musical purgatory, there’s valiant effort to revive a genre that’s perceived to be lifeless.
Although most of these new artists aren’t traditionally R&B in the sense of the genre’s conventional guidelines, there are four young ladies who are taking R&B to new heights by incorporating synth-pop and electro influences.
SZA, Kelela, FKA Twigs, and Jessy Lanza are four rising female artists who have already garnered internet notoriety for their new EPs. Some may think these young women are similar due to their floating vocals and clouded delivery, but each songstress possesses a vastly different narrative.
They’re all musically peculiar and hypnotic, which makes a perfect soundtrack for the looming sadness winter intermittently delivers.
Take a few minutes out of your day and get familiar with SZA, Kelela, Jessy Lanza, and FKA Twigs.
Hometown: Maplewood, New Jersey
Why She’s Hot: Deemed the first lady of TDE, SZA’s smoky vocals will bait listeners to explore her inner workings off first listen. The self-proclaimed ‘awkward black girl” channels her bereaved teenage years through her music, which translates into a collection of relatable tracks that are dark, yet glittery. SZA’s ability to intertwine deep metaphors with her hypnotic vocals make for a mesmerizing musical experience. Tracks like “Bed,” “Teen Spirit” and “Ice Moon” are notable standouts for the bellowing songstress. Not only will listeners get the chance to see SZA run, but they’ll also experience SZA raw and SZA real.
Recent Projects: Cut 4 Me
Why She’s Hot: Is it possible to be R&B, gritty, and intergalactic? If your name is Kelela, then the answer is yes. The DC-bred/LA-based singer/songwriter has managed to capture the mood of ’90s R&B and incorporate new aged sounds of synth-pop and dubstep without creating a contrived collection of poorly assembled music we’ve heard one too many times. Her goal of capturing “Brandy but weirder” is working in her favor, especially with revered tracks like “Enemy” and “Bank Head.”
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario
Recent Projects: Pull My Hair Back
Why She’s Hot: Influenced by R&B artists like SWV, Bobby Brown, New Edition, and oddly Cam’ron and the Dipset family, Canadian singer/songwriter Jessy Lanza offers up a musical adventure on her debut album, Pull My Hair Back. Educated in jazz performance, Jessy captures the essence of jazz’s fundamental characteristics, but adds her own flair by incorporating sweet melodies over R&B-inspired synth tracks. Jessy’s writing ability is clever, but at times her airy soprano vocals come off as distorted, hindering the listener’s ability to internalize the Canadian singer’s sentiment. Jessy’s sometimes distorted vocals may not be for everyone, but she’s definitely worth a listen.
Why She’s Hot: This London-based singer/songwriter possesses delicate vocals reminiscent of Janet Jackson in her prime. Twigs’ music is a menacing mixture between R&B and synth-pop with numbing hip-hop undertones. FKA Twigs often explores her sexuality in her music videos, especially in “Papi Pacify,” which is a visualization of her serene dark vocals. Her music is moody, but if you’re willing to explore Twigs’ intrinsic qualities, she’ll be your perfect pairing.