Jordin Sparks, “Chocolate Brown Eyes”

Jordin Sparks gets sexy and sensual in what sounds like a true classic R&B song; think late 1970s/early ’80s, in the vein of Deniece Williams. The melody is minimal and the music simple, as a breathy Sparks sings about riding with her lovah boy with the “chocolate brown eyes.” (I see you, Jason Derulo). The simplicity of the song’s violin strings, ethereal wind chimes, the mid-tempo beat and Sparks taking a break from her usual powerhouse belting (she doesn’t really even riff here, with the exception of some quick shoobie doos) are what make this song so beautiful. It’s easy, breezy romance.

Listen here.

The Internet, Feel Good

Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martians are more musically sophisticated than their Odd Future affiliates. This duo, known as the Internet, opts for a laid-back, not as dark and sinister approach to their sound that seems more apropos for grown folks and not the angsty tweeners and young adults that probably make up most of their audience. At 21 and 25, respectively, Syd and Matt have created a classic compilation of mellow R&B grooves that are easy to fall in love with. The duo’s lead single “Dontcha” (produced by the Neptunes) is underscored by a bassline reminiscent of ’80s dance grooves, as Syd’s mellifluous soprano and falsettos carry the feel good tune and your feet to the dance floor. However, they do slow it down then speed it up (a little) again in a well-rounded follow-up to last year’s Purple Naked Ladies.

Available at iTunes.

Roger, Listen to Roger

Roger hails from the tiny state of Rhode Island, but over the past few years he’s been amassing quite the buzz. He teamed up with The DJ Booth to stream his digital debut (which is also available for purchase). My favorite thing about Roger is his storytelling flow. While he’s very lyrical, he’s also good at selecting beats with a real musical quality. On Listen to Roger, he offers 12 tracks that provide a glimpse of who he is as an MC and a man. From reflecting on growing up without a father to his plans for lyrical supremacy, it’s clear he’s serious about making a real name for himself via quality hip-hop.

Listen here.

Red Hot, Fela

The not-for-profit Red Hot, probably taking a cue from the success of Fela! The Musical, has followed up their 2002 ode to Fela Kuti with another tribute to the Godfather of AfroBeat. Red Hot’s Fela features artists from all over the world, like Childish Gambino, ?uestlove, Angelique Kidjoe, Baloji & L’Orchestre de la Katuba revamping and revitalizing Fela classics like “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am,” “Lady” and “Buy Africa,” with a hip-hop soul edge. Proceeds go toward helping Red Hot’s cause, fighting HIV/AIDS.

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.