REVIEWS

Celebrating Maxwell’s Grammy-Nominated Debut Album ‘Urban Hang Suite’ 20 Years Later!

Maxwell Urban Hang Suite

Maxwell.

When we hear or see that name, our interest is piqued, eager to experience euphoric grooves and mellifluous vocals. We adore him because he is a master at curating soundscapes of insatiable desire. And it’s been that way for the past 20 years.

When the Brooklyn bred singer/songwriter’s seminal debut, Urban Hang Suite dropped on April 2, 1996, the R&B game was solid, but the Neo-Soul movement—of which Maxwell is a pioneer—introduced a brave new world.  Like a quiet storm, Urban Hang Suite initially went unnoticed, but eventually, it went platinum and earned a Grammy nomination, fulfilling its rightful place as a R&B classic.

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Jaheim Releases New Album ‘Struggle Love’ (Review & Stream)

Jaheim Struggle Love

On his seventh studio album, Struggle Love, Jaheim reminds us that real R&B cats still exist, as he delivers his signature sound of mature ballads, and sexy grooves. In stores today, Struggle Love is Jaheim’s first release, since 2013’s Appreciation Day, on his new label, BMG Primary Wave. It features production by Charles Amos, Notzz, Vidal Davis and Sheldon (COZ) Ellerby among others.

With over 15 years in the game, the Grammy nominated, platinum selling singer/songwriter remains relevant and he doesn’t hesitate to flex his confidence. On the opening track, “My Shoes,” Jaheim boasts, “I never have to hate on another brotha man / And I’m never worried ’cause he can’t do what I can.”

Struggle Love features some of Jaheim’s best work with a perfect mix of R&B and soul with a touch of smooth jazz. Ever since his debut album, Ghetto Love, the suave crooner has shown his ability to master multiple personas. On “Nights Like This,” “Songs To Have Sex To” and “Back In My Arms” he’s a passionate lover. He morphs into our favorite R&B thug on “Aholic” and “Side Piece.” While the title track is reminiscent of a back in the day good luvin’ jam. Proving that he isn’t focused solely on love and his lifestyle, Mr. Hoagland summons his stay woke-intellectual side on “One By One” and “Speak Up.”

Jaheim has said that, “Creating this album has been a powerful journey for my soul.” Indeed, Jaheim, our souls are loving the journey.

Struggle Love is available on iTunes, Amazon and in all stores now! Stream it below via Spotify.

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ThisIsRnB Presents: The Top 20 R&B Albums of 2015

Top 20 R&B Albums of 2015

2015 was the best year in R&B since the ’90s … Go ahead, fight us on that…

Ok, maybe not exactly, but it was damn near close and we’ve been reveling in it all year long.  So, with 2016 upon us and the same question – Where did the year go? – we spent the last month of 2015 re-listening, debating, writing, enjoying, and celebrating all of the amazing albums that hit our desks from a very wide range of artists.

Great R&B ruled in it’s current arena, which is Urban AC radio and independent labels, but it also slowly began to slide back into the mainstream.  Veteran artists took strong stands for their beloved style, while young acts only born in the 90s just did what felt natural and real to them.  Truth and authenticity ruled as the overall theme, even when it came in the form of a 60s soul revivalist or dark R&B protagonist taking over pop radio.

With open arms we welcomed the return of powerhouse female vocalists Jazmine Sulllivan and Tamia, and saluted male R&B lotharios Tyrese, Ne-Yo and Raheem DeVaughn.  The legendary Janet Jackson surprised everyone and reminded us why she is Unbreakable.  Newcomer Bryson Tiller stole the underground king trophy, and Miguel reminded us to let our Wildhearts run free.

The only thing that might have made it better would have been if Maxwell got off the beach and finally gave us the oft-delayed follow-up to BLACKsummers’night.  Anyways, let’s toast to what’s to come in 2016, and flashback with us to 2015’s most notable albums with “The Top 20 R&B Albums of 2015” below!

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Recap: ThisIsRnB Takes Essence Fest 2015

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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”

Trey-Songz-Evolution

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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Welcome to the new ThisIsRnB!

Welcome to the new ThisIsRnB theme!

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