Recap: ThisIsRnB Takes Essence Fest 2015


It’s that time again!

Yes, while everyone was out firing off fireworks and enjoying BBQ and family time, we were bracing one of the largest R&B festivals of the summer known as Essence Fest in New Orleans. With record breaking numbers of nearly 500,000 attendees pouring in to see over 80 performing artists and more than 120 speakers, authors, leaders, and celebrities, we can confidently confirm that Essence will always have July on lock in our opinion.

Although this was not our first year covering the event as a site, it was my first year covering it as Assistant Editor and I must say, it was absolutely incredible! To be able to see so many positive events come together behind the scenes and so many people piled in one place to see some of their favorites (and mine too) take the stage at one time was a great feeling. And not to mention, seeing so many positive black people in one building was a feeling like none other.

Now, I’ve been to New Orleans before for Mardi Gras back during my college days, but this was definitely a different experience. While I’ve covered many events on behalf of ThisIsRnB, this was my first time covering an event this large without our Editor close by. That being said, I was a little nervous, but mostly because I’m naturally a scary  person lol.

While we are clearly an R&B site, I decided to take this trip (and every future event I cover) and let our readers experience as much of what we’re doing as possible. So, for Essence Fest, food was definitely included because you can’t go to New Orleans without taking in as much of the culture as you can. In addition, of course you’ll be able to get the details on each one of my nights at the biggest festival of the summer and thoughts on how it was executed.

So, without further adieu, read on for our recap of Essence Fest 2015!

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Event Recap: Miguel Performs ‘Wildheart’ Show for NPR Music First Listen Live

Miguel NPR 1

Miguel is not a R&B artist, he is a full-fledged Rock Star… If this wasn’t abundantly clear before, the opening whales of his bands guitars made it evident upon his first step on stage Tuesday night at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. In conjunction with the release of his well-anticipated third studio album Wildheart, the Grammy Award winning artist teamed up with NPR Music for a special performance as part of their “First Listen Live” series.

Before heading out on tour this summer, the Los Angeles native gave NYC fans an early preview of his upcoming summer tour, performing songs from Wildheart, and hits from his acclaimed catalog.

“If you got a drink right now I suggest you down that muthafucka,” Miguel instructed the packed room of fans, label reps and press. His stadium ready light show only set the tone of soulful rock god even more as he delve in the opening song “The Thrill” blending it perfectly with his unexpected fan favorite single “Simple Things,” from the soundtrack to HBO’s Girls.

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Exclusive: “Just Gotta Make It: The 10 Year Evolution of Trey Songz”


Looking at the climate of today’s music industry it’s hard to believe that any artist has the potential to last a full decade. We’ve witnessed labels invest millions of dollars in artists off a single hit record, but neither party has the means to sustain the success longer than the record’s lifespan. We’re in a space where it’s bigger than just the song — hell, it’s bigger than just the music. A full on connection needs to be made between the artist and the people for any type of sustained success, and honestly, that’s how it always should be. It needs to be authentic, it needs to be real.

Ten years ago, a young emerging R&B singer from Petersburg, Virginia named, Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson, released his debut studio album I Gotta Make It on Atlantic Records, and it by no means shattered sales records in its first week. In fact the record debuted at #20 on the Billboard 200 chart and slipped off the charts soon after, but what really stuck with R&B fans was his dedication to the music and his followers. It’s that support and relationship that pushed Trey to produce successful follow-up albums, each one charting higher than the last, until he finally grabbed that #1 spot on Billboard more than seven years later.

It was his evolution from that scrappy, scrawny singer belting out “Gotta Go” to the confident, successful veteran on “Slow Motion” that the public admired. People were invested in this talented singer’s journey and eventually when he did make it, it was met him with open arms and unwavering support.

The rise of Trey Songz is worth documenting because the genuine support for him is as palpable as it is powerful, with each album adding a new layer and dimension right before our eyes. Peep our dissection of Trey’s rise through each and every album as we celebrate a decade of his work.

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Album Review: Ciara – ‘Jackie’

Ciara Jackie Cover

In recent history, Ciara‘s personal life has superseded her musical career–and for obvious reasons. Nearly a year after announcing her engagement to hip-hop artist, Future, the singer shockingly called off the anticipated wedding, followed by rumors of infidelity on the rapper’s part. She even graced the cover of Brides magazine, donning a wedding dress she would ultimately never get the chance to wear.

As most artists do when met with personal strife, Cici put her public breakup on wax with her first single “I Bet.” It gave listeners a glimpse into what the singer thought of the betrayal from the man she once publicly gushed over. The ballad had all the makings of great artistic expression: raw lyrics, emotive vocals and colorful production. Knowing the real-life inspiration behind the track made it all the more alluring. “I Bet,” at the very least, amassed much curiosity as to what her sixth studio album, Jackie, would offer.

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Album Review: Ne-Yo – ‘Non-Fiction’

Ne-Yo Non-Fiction Album

Ne-Yo has long been lauded as one of the industry’s most successful songwriters. Penning female-centric anthems for the likes of Beyoncé (“Irreplaceable”) and Rihanna (“Take A Bow”) the 32-year-old has illustrated his knack for understanding the point of view of the woman. As a solo artist with hit records of his own, the singer has often used the woman as his lyrical muse, whether mourning how she broke his heart (“So Sick”) or celebrating her independence (“Miss Independent”).

With his sixth studio album, Non-Fiction, Ne-Yo continues this musical trend, touring through the highs and lows of being a man with a healthy appetite for chicks. Characterizing the project as a true story inspired by real people and just so happens to be “complete fiction,” Ne-Yo explores the woman, love and sex through various vantage points.

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ThisisRnB Presents: The Top 20 R&B Albums of 2014

Top 20 R&B Albums of 2014

Better late than never right?? 2014 may be over and done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bask in it a bit more. While the year brought about many disappointments and frustrations, it also brought with it a few blessings in the form of R&B.

Whether you were waiting on your favorite artist to drop another album, or you were introduced to the sounds of someone different, there’s no denying the talent that moved through our ears and speakers last year. From Mary J. Blige’s commendable trip across the pond to K. Michelle’s anticipated sophomore effort to Chris Brown yet again finding favor in the hearts of many for his music, some damn good audible treats surfaced during 2014.

Although the above may be true, unfortunately some artists didn’t receive the shine that they deserved for their obviously noted underrated albums. That however, has never stopped us from giving them their well-deserved props and doing our part to help everyone discover their greatness.

So, even if you preferred to be “Dancing In The Dark” over getting “2 On,” there’s no way that anyone can say that this past year didn’t help with moving R&B back to the top of the charts! Gone are the days of R&B being looked at as “tarnished,” “washed,” or “unappreciated,” because there were truly some classic and timeless pieces of art dropped throughout last year.

So, without further adieu, give yourself one more look back with “The 20 Best R&B Albums of 2014” below!

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ThisisRnB Presents: Top 10 R&B Mixtapes of 2014

 Top 10 R&B Mixtapes of 2014

Y’all thought we forgot, huh? Although a little time has passed since 2014 ended, we couldn’t leave you without a recap of the year’s finest. Indeed, 2015 has already kicked off to a great start, but last year saw some of R&B’s most talented artists drop great pieces of work. While many of the best mixtapes or EPs came from new and growing artists in the genre, that doesn’t mean they didn’t put out work that parallels the veterans. Some, that we are proud to say, produced better material than artists who delivered full length projects last year.

While 2013 had us screaming the praises of Sevyn Streeter and Jhené Aiko, made us fall in love with Maxine Ashley and Tinashe, and let us know that Adrian Marcel was what the industry had been missing, it was last year that really solidified the fact that the new class of R&B artists are playing no games.

Doing our job to keep you up on the music that deserves to be heard, our “Top 10 R&B Mixtapes of 2014” list will either remind you, intrigue you, or wake you the hell up and let you know how much you’ve slept on some of the most talented emerging artists of the year.

So, moonwalk back to last year and press play on the “Top 10 R&B Mixtapes of 2014” below!

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Album Review: Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Reality Show’


Though reality television has procured quite the bad reputation over the years, one can’t deny its ability to mirror some of truths of the human race, no matter how flawed it may be. On any given show you’re sure to recognize recurring themes of vanity, greed and toxic relationships, among other vices. These are just a few of the explored subject matters on Jazmine Sullivan’s third studio album, Reality Show, the first release since her very felt hiatus from the music industry back in 2011.

Four years later, Sullivan takes contemporary television and uses it as her muse in what may be her most ambitious album to date. Proven to have the musical palette of a jukebox, Sullivan is ballsy this time around, going for a more modern sound and lyrical approach. Though at her core, Sullivan is the consummate soul artist, and that shines through and through, on Reality Show she also manifests the grittiness of hip-hop (“Dumb,” “Brand New” and “Silver Lining”), and the heart of jazz (“Stupid Girls”).

Her approach: explicit, unadulterated honesty. But honesty doesn’t always look pretty. Sullivan, the album’s primary songwriter, uses her pen game to paint a critical lens of society’s obsession with money, acceptance and love, and what people will do to achieve or maintain it.

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Welcome to the new ThisIsRnB!

Welcome to the new ThisIsRnB theme!