Neo soul and r’n’b are growing fast, in sympathy within the It Djents team, but also as compelling, versatile, and creative genres. The combination of classic elements and modern ideas, pop appeal, and complex songwriting is what you can expect from todays soul/r’n’b scene, and we are very happy to share some of our favorite efforts of the genre in 2017 here with you!
FKJ – French Kiwi Juice
This might be filed under the soul/r’n’b umbrella, but there’s so much more going on in the music of French Kiwi Juice (best name ever, by the way). The two aforementioned genres meet glimpses of French house, downtempo electronica, instrumental hip hop, jazz, and funk to create a gorgeously laid back sound.
Jordan Rakei – Wallflower
It took me quite some time to really connect to this album, but once I did, it really opened itself up to me, unveiling a myriad of different textures and impeccable grooves. Rakei’s smooth vocals top the individual song off nicely. A warm album for a sunny day!
Moonchild – Voyager
One of the biggest surprises of the year for me personally. I never heard of Moonchild before, so I went into this not knowing what to expect and was blown away rather quickly. The songs, and especially the instrumentals, are highly reminiscent of 60s/70s soul/jazz (with a modern touch of course).
Sinkane – Life & Livin’ It
Where to even begin with this record? Blending soul, funk, Sudanese pop, psychedelic rock, and much, much more in his musical œuvre, Sinkane has made a name for himself as one of the boldest musicians around these days, and Life & Livin’ It only reinforced this impression.
Moses Sumney – Acromanticism
It’s still hard to put into words how good Aromanticism is. Its dreamy, drowned out atmosphere is a great landscape for Sumney’s silky smooth voice to glide into your ears on. This left-of-center take on modern love is just what the jaded aromantic needs at the end of the day.
Thundercat – Drunk
‘It’s ya boy, Thundercat’. Whether he’s crooning about stream-of-consciousness musings, a debaucherous romp through Tokyo, or unrequited affection, the LA artist is always offering up warm tones with his impeccable bass performance. It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, but also affecting and touching when it needs to melt you down.
Vulfpeck – Mr Finish Line
Vulfpeck crafted a bouncy, jaunty piece of neo-soul and funk with Mr. Finish Line. Just listen to “Baby I Don’t Know Oh Oh” with Charles Jones to see what I mean. Danceable rhythms, karaoke-ready vocals, and a little tenderness when it matters make for an extraordinarily fun time.
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman
Long live Sharon Jones; the Brooklyn singer had more soul in her that could reasonably be contained in one person. This posthumous album is a fiery tale of enduring, endearing, and yes, the soul of a woman that will stand the test of time with the genre’s legends.
Nai Palm – Needle Paw
If Hiatus Kaiyote‘s impressive catalogue weren’t enough for you to realize that Nai Palm is one of most distinctive and fascinating voices of the neo soul wave, I’ve got something for you. Needle Paw is her reduced, but evenly intense solo album, focused on the great vocal lines she is able to deliver. And it’s captivating start to finish.
SZA – Ctrl
Definitely one of THE shooting stars in r’n’b of 2017. SZA‘s confident and catchy Ctrl stunned fans and critics alike with her personal and clever lyrics and the impressive compositions. If you wanna check one mainstream r’n’b record in 2017, take this. Or the next entry.
Kelela – Take Me Apart
I’ve been following Kelela ever since she was standing next to Tosin Abasi delivering a stunning performance in AAL‘s song “Behaving Badly”, and she finally took off to greater shores with her album Take Me Apart. It’s sheer incredible how effortless she jumps from dark, urban soundscapes to uplifiting, dancy beats, always guided by her expressive and soulful vocal performance. Fantastic.
Ronald Bruner Jr. – Triumph
JMSN – Whatever Makes U Happy
James Vincent McMorrow – True Care
Slow Dancer – In A Mood
A l l i e – Nightshade
dvsn – Morning After
Syd – Fin
Sampha – Process
Daniel Ceasar – Freudian
Kehlani – SweetSexySavage
Toro y Moi – Boo Boo