Omar, The Man

Just so we’re clear, I think Omar is one of the GOAT. For those who may not be familiar, Omar Lye-Fook is highly regarded as the British godfather of neo-soul. Prince Charles is such a fan that he awarded the revered musician with an MBE. Over the past 20+ years, Omar has made music, toured the world and collaborated with the likes of Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Common and Stevie Wonder (who actively sought out Omar to write him a song). Yes, it’s that deep.

Today, Omar is back with The Man (Senachie Entertainment), his first album in seven years, and it marks his evolution as the title suggests. I featured his single of the same title here a couple months ago, and if you dig that, then you’re a shoe-in for the full album. The Man continues Omar’s tradition of fusing Latin, jazz, funk, R&B and all the good stuff. This is definitely one to bump for the summer. I didn’t skip one song on the album.  

Available where music is sold.

Wale, The Gifted

We’ve noticed by now that Wale often grasps at maintaining equilibrium between the self-conscious and the braggadocio-materialistic. That becomes evident on The Gifted, as her well represents both spectrums. On one hand, he rhymes a verse like “The status got me trippin’/I like my b!+ch but I like these b!+ches on my d!¢k be spittin’/Tell that you feelin’ different, knowin’ you the breadwinner,” on “The Gifted.” But then on tracks like “Black Heroes” and “88,” he offers more introspection and social commentary. And in the case of the latter two songs, you might want to rewind the lyrics to make sure you digest.

The album’s soulful sound can be credited to Just Blaze, No Credit, Lee Majors and Cardiak; the balanced content is thanks to Wale and collaborators like Rihanna, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Sam Dew and more. Wale came correct for his third official album, which reflects more maturity. While it’s not all a hit (the lackluster “Clappers,” for example), The Gifted is worth a few spins… or more.

Available where music is sold.

Michelle Williams, “If We Had Your Eyes”

Amidst the drama—because some of y’all know how bad you dog out Michelle Williams (side eye)—the former Destiny’s Child is moving forward with her brand of contemporary gospel. “If We Had Your Eyes” is a Harmony Samuels-produced tune from her forthcoming, fourth solo album due out later this year. The concept behind the song is pretty transparent, as Williams sings about trying to make positive changes in how we treat each other by seeing the world through other people’s eyes, even in the case of the homeless person on the street. The song sounds like your typical 1990s-influenced R&B, and Williams’s signature raspy voice is hard to ignore.

Listen here.

Donnell Jones, “Beautiful”

While sex, sex and more sex dominate the R&B landscape, there are sometimes those rare grooves that manage to be sexy without being too overt. Such is the case with Donnell Jones’s latest song, “Beautiful.” Here he’s professing his affection for the love of his life, but making sure she understands his love and appreciation for her go much deeper than her looks.

“Beautiful as you are don’t mean a thing to me/Beautiful as you are, your beauty’s just skin deep/I want you for your love, your love/That’s the beautiful that I need/No one can come between us, that type of beauty don’t come cheap,” he sings over the slow and sensual tune.

It’s a nice refreshing spin on things, and I am sold. “Beautiful” is from his forthcoming album, Forever, due out July 9.

Listen here.

Starrene Rhett Rocque is a pop culture junky who often fantasizes about becoming a shotgun toting B-movie heroine, and aspires to save the world from the impending #ZombieApocolypse… In reality she’s a freelance entertainment journalist/blogger who muses about music, TV, movies and love. Follow her on Twitter @GangStarrGirl.