Usher, “Good Kisser”
Grownup ’90s kids rejoice! Usher is back. His newest song is funk-inspired sexy R&B about being a good kisser (of course)! It’s a new sound for Usher that also seems to channel Prince kinda sorta, but in a laid-back kind of way, as he gets all up in his falsettos over this catchy groove. “Good Kisser” is the first seductive single from his forthcoming album with Jermaine Dupri, Diplo, Pharrell and others, plus there’s a flirty video to match. Purchase here.
Michael Jackson ft. Justin Timberlake, “Love Never Felt so Good”
Listen to this song and see if it doesn’t channel “Rock With You” just a little bit. Here, MJ and JT have teamed up for a pop driven ode to love. It’s a two-step inducing, feel-good tune that’s bittersweet considering that MJ is no longer here. That probably would have been a dope video though. “Love Never Felt So Good” is from Michael Jackson’s forthcoming posthumous release Xscape, due out May 13.
Elle Varner, “F*ck it All”
We all have our moods where we don’t want to bother with anything or anyone. That’s usually not a good thing, but hearing Elle Varner sing it somehow makes it seem better. This mellow, melancholy song is beautiful despite the fact that it’s about being broken, and the credit goes to Varner’s beautiful raspy voice intertwining with the strings and drums of the emotional music. Her next album, 4 Letter Words, will be out later this year.
Brooke Candy, Opulence EP
Brooke Candy is an emerging artist who’s been Internet-famous for a while. She built up a fanbase via Tumblr, where she’d post photos of herself in over-the-top costumes with various celebrities and socialites. Now let’s get to the music. Candy, who is releasing her Opulence EP in conjunction with RCA records today, is the product of pop-hop inspired by the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna and Diplo, who produced the EP’s eponymous lead track. “Opulence” is set to a club friendly beat, and it’s about being over the top and flashy (of course). It’s catchy and cute, just like radio likes it.
Somi, The Lagos Music Salon
Somi is what it would sound like if Cassandra Wilson, Fela Kuti, Abbey Lincoln and Miles Davis’s respective sounds were thrown into a pot and blended to create an expertly crafted soup. The Nigerian songstress, who’s mastered Afrobeat and jazz fusion, is preparing to release a new album, The Lagos Music Salon at the end of May, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to hear it now. The 18-track collection features beautiful tunes about life and love.
Ky-mani Marley, “Get High”
Ky-mani Marley’s “Get High” is a genre mashup where Marley’s chanting taps into his reggae roots, but with dancehall flair. And the beat takes on a more pop sound. It’s a low-key song about, of course, getting high and “big body gyals whining.” This is the latest tune from Ky-Mani’s forthcoming, yet to be titled album dropping later this year.
Natalie Imani, “Bad Dream”
Natalie Imani, who’s toured for years as a backup singer for some of R&B’s biggest stars, presents yet another solo song featuring her lovely alto voice. “Bad Dream” is a rueful ballad where Imani sings her sorrows about a relationship that isn’t in a good place. Things are so frustrating that she hopes it’s all just a bad dream, and that she’ll eventually wake up to things being back on track. Now this is how you sing a ballad.
Skyzoo and Torae, “Blue Yankee Fitted”
Skyzoo and Torae have created a nice nod to the music that inspired their respective rap careers. The Brooklyn representatives trade bars back and forth over this gritty Illmind-produced beat about how dope they are, and their affinity for rocking blue Yankee fitteds as a tribute to their city. Skyzoo and Torae’s gritty boom-bap sound channels the ’90s, and if this is evidence of what’s to come from their forthcoming album, Barrel Brothers, then all will be well in head-nodville.