September 27, 2023

Don’t hit snooze on this week’s new R&B releases. We are off the grid, falling in love, and fighting demons, all within the perfect world we consider to be paradise.

With the help of Diddy, Cleo Sol, Muni Long, Majid Jordan, SZA, Jamila Woods, and Goapele, these long-awaited albums and songs will have you ready to find yourself or hopelessly fall in the arms of someone else. Chadwick Boseman’s widow—who is releasing music under the pseudonym sahn—has shared her debut single birthed from her therapeutic debut album of healing, introspection, and ultimately solace.

Äyanna and IX Wulf have shared their respective debut visual EPs, Kevin Ross drops the second installment from his Midnight Microdose series, and newcomers Keithian and Cedric Brazle make way for some sensual seduction. Alex Isley and Terrace Martin preview their upcoming joint album and Corinne Bailey Rae shares the art inspired by a particular onset of Black history.

The influx is still in full effect as 2024 GRAMMY eligibility comes to a close. So, check out VIBE’s top new R&B picks, and may the odds be ever in your fave’s favor.

Diddy – The Love Album: Off The Grid

Everyone’s favorite Bad Boy has done it again. Diddy, under his LOVE RECORDS imprint, has released his long-awaited album, The Love Album: Off The Grid. Ask Diddy and he’ll tell you this isn’t a compilation album, but a masterclass in storytelling and an album in every sense to “redefine the boundaries of R&B.”

In a statement, he explains, ”Music is my first love and music has given me a second chance at life, so stepping back into the studio to make this album has been a soulful experience that brought me closer to myself and my purpose. This album wasn’t created to feed an algorithm or be relevant with the trends of the times, it was created to touch souls and freely express my story with the best artists, writers and producers shaping the future of R&B.” 

With the help of Mary J. Blige, Teyana Taylor, Kehlani, Jozzy, Babyface, Summer Walker, John Legend, Jazmine Sullivan, Coco Jones, Dirty Money‘s Dawn Richard and Kalenna, and more, Diddy is ready to confront grief without distraction while he and others immerse themselves in love.

Cleo Sol – Heaven

Cleo Sol is God’s gift to R&B music. Two years after the release of Mother, Sol is back with the surprise arrival of Heaven. It’s reminiscent to a cup of camomile tea, a blanket fresh out of the dryer, a crisp fall breeze, or your lover’s fingers gently grazing across your own. Heaven is soft, reflective, heartwarming, and sacred—not only to listeners, but to Sol herself.

Someone sharing their truth may be difficult, but it can also be cathartic. As the singer shared following the LP’s release, “My Album, ‘Heaven’ is out now, thank you guys for your patience and support, I pour my heart and soul into the music and it is very sacred to me, we don’t play with music, it is a gift that I am grateful to God for. Thank u Flo for loving me through these creative processes, pushing me even when I’m resistant, change and growth is necessary. You are great. I hope you enjoy it love love loooveeeee u guys!”

sahn – “angelsxdemons”

sahn—formally known as Taylor Simone Ledward Boseman, wife of the late Chadwick Boseman—is honoring her light with the release of her debut single, “angelxdemons.” The proclaimed “spiritual alchemist” weaves in jazz, blues, and alternative R&B to create a sound that’s unique and familiar.

After Boseman’s tragic passing, she was called to music and found peace in the creation of her debut album, the mornings. It’s laced with sorrow and strength, similar to the exhale that comes after being burdened, and is a vulnerable display of her navigating love and loss beyond the physical realm.

The Vallejo, Calif. songbird explained in a statement, “the mornings is a story about the most pivotal moments of my life thus far and a few of the important lessons I’ve learned. The title speaks to the hidden lives we live. All that glitters may glow in the light of the evening hour… but who sees you in the mornings?”

Äyanna – In A Perfect World

LVRN‘s Äyanna has unveiled her debut EP, In A Perfect World. A nod to early 2000s romantic comedies, radical self-love, empowering friendships, and the innocence of falling in love, the English-Jamaican songbird is taking over the pop and R&B worlds with her enthralling visuals and captivating vocals.

“My debut EP is a love letter to all hopeful romantics,” Äyanna shared in a statement. “Every song (episode) features a positive spin on experiences that many may deem unpleasant, such as having a crush or experiencing heartbreak. As a person, I believe in the silver lining to my core. I really hope this comes across in the music and the visuals.” 

Muni Long – “Made For Me”

Muni Long’s “Made For Me” was made for R&B purists. The ballad is her first solo release of 2023 and follows the meteoric success of her Grammy-winning hit, “Hrs & Hrs” and the Usher-assisted remix from earlier this year.

Produced by veterans Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, Long flexes her range in the dreamy love song to her twin flame. “Body to body, skin to skin (I’m never gon’ love like this),” she sings. “I’m never gon’ love like this again (Again, yeah)/ You were made for me (Just for me)/ Said you were made for me.”

If this is what the singer-songwriter’s next chapter looks like, then we’re at attention.

Majid Jordan feat. Naomi Sharon – “Waiting For You”

Majid Jordan is back after a two-year hiatus! The Toronto-based R&B duo has joined forces with their OVO Sound sister, Naomi Sharon, for the melodically restorative “Waiting For You.” Together, the three compliment one another in both passion and delivery.

When speaking on the new album where the single stems from, Jordan said in a statement, “Our intention with this album was to make something that felt therapeutic — something where people felt at ease. We strive to create warm music that evokes an emotion of love. It’s something that we practice in our daily lives, from the way we speak to each other to how we engage with the world around us. The music and words are meant to serve as a gentle reminder of where we have come from, and how far we have gone. This album is dedicated to ourselves, our family, and to our fans that have been with us from the very beginning.”

Alex Isley, Terrace Martin – “Paradise”

Alex Isley and Terrace Martin’s cover of Sade’s “Paradise” is a love letter to their hometown of Los Angeles. The single is like a lullaby you can sit with while exploring the city’s rich, layered style and influence. Martin’s poetic production paired with Isley’s ethereal vocals definitely do the original song justice. The song’s Child-directed visual only serves as an extension of what paradise in the heart of L.A. looks like.

“I’ve worked with a lot of people, but none are like Alex Isley, she is the soothing voice of Los Angeles,” said Martin on Instagram. “This song ‘Paradise’ is a representation of where we come from and how we feel about the city of Los Angeles.”

Isley added, “So happy to finally share our version of this timeless Sade record. Everything, from @terracemartin production, to the cover art showing Simply Wholesome, to the short film directed by @childartiste..was carefully built with love and focus. From L.A. to the world. Paradise.”

“Paradise” is the lead single from Isley and Martin’s forthcoming collaborative LP arriving this Fall.

Hennessy – “Forever & A Day”

If Amerie and Kehlani had a musical love child, it’d be Hennessy. The Rhode Island native is a refreshing talent who fully understands the duality of what she represents—a ’90s tone with contemporary tunes.

Her newest single, “Forever & A Day,” is a blissful love song that you’d play when you dance around your home, daydreaming about that person you love. “If you ask me to be yours/I’d be honored/ I wish I could under you forever and a day,” she sings.

“I haven’t dropped in nine months since my first EP, Time Revealed. (Classic.),” she shared about her long-awaited single. “2023 has been the craziest year for me, bro… Health issues, in-out the hospital, moving across the country (shout out Rhode Island; I [love] y’all). S**t, even heartbreak. I’m blessed enough to be able to slow down and come back tenfold. Excited to flood y’all with music. I’m back to the Henny. I’m happy.”

IX Wulf – heal yourself first

IX Wulf’s debut visual EP is finally here. Much like the safety precaution about securing your mask before helping others, heal yourself first serves as a cautionary tale to be whole before seeking refuge in someone else.

“Two broken people will only ever be broken together,” Wulf expressed in a statement. “This project is a snippet of the journey that taught that lesson. In order to be capable of truly loving someone else, you have to love yourself first. In order to be capable of truly caring for someone else, you have to heal yourself first.”

As he breaks away from the toxicity dominating R&B, Wulf opts to chronicle the process of falling in and fighting for love. Each act tackles a different narrative from the chase and projecting insecurities to self-awareness. This is an intentional undertaking, so be prepared. Certain feelings may be triggered.

Cedric Brazle feat. JAHKOY – “Sexy Lady (Remix)”

Cedric Brazle has selected JAHKOY to tag team on the ladies with the remix to Brazle’s “Sexy Lady.” As a play off of Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady” and Usher’s “U Got It Bad,” the alluring ballad is now even more irresistible.

“Every time you kiss me back/ I just want to let go and let you feel me,” Brazle sings before his Canadian comrade adds fuel to the burning flame by cooing, “I’ve been waiting way too long/ The pressure keeps on building up.” The Justin Wiggins production comes on the heels of JAHKOY’s Pretty Conversation and serves as a preview into the deluxe edition of Brazle’s EP.

Keithian – “Missing Out”

Keithian is such a star and if you’re not hip, trust us—you’re missing out.

The Southern native has been making his mark within music and entertainment for quite some time now and his latest single only adds to this résumé. “Missing Out,” his infectious, upbeat jam, reminds us of Silk Sonic, the best parts of summer, skate parties, and Durand Bernarr. Plus, it’s completed with a message for those who need to be reminded that love is worth fighting for.

Kevin Ross – Midnight Microdose, Vol. 2

Kevin Ross is stepping into a new season with the arrival of his EP, Midnight Microdose Vol. 2. Much like its predecessor, listeners are immersed in a world of euphoric riffs, intoxicating vocals, soul-stirring 808s, and a series of emotions.

“If I had to sum up ‘Midnight Microdose Vol. 2’ in one word it would be—DRAMATIC,” Ross teased in a statement. “I love sequencing my projects whether to create a flow, set a vibe, tell a story or all three at once. Excited for people to uncover another layer of my artistry with this project.”

If you loved Midnight Microdose Vol. 1, get ready to swoon over round two.

Corinne Bailey Rae – Black Rainbows

After years in the making, Corinne Bailey Rae’s latest artistic stamp is here. Black Rainbows is her personal story, inspired by a deep part of Black History—the Stony Island Arts Bank, which houses a slew of artifacts like house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles’ unprecedented 5,000 vinyl collection, a library of 15,000 books and magazines from Johnson Publishing Company, and “negrobilia” that includes “postcards depicting lynching and ash trays sculpted in the images of black children.” The LP is a brilliantly cohesive cacophony of varying genres, sounds, and emotions that profoundly represents our vast roots.

For Rae, she explained via Instagram, “The record represents so much to me — the culture, the pain, the beauty, and the artistic presence of the stories that inhabit the #StonyIslandArtsBank. Stories I was never aware of; stories that are deeply a part of black history. I wanted to translate this history sonically and worked to produce this record alongside Steve Brown. A very special thank you to Theaster Gates—who without, I would have never seen some of the objects and photographs that make this record—creating a cathartic and experimental landscape that was pertinent in showing how much the Arts Bank has impacted me and helps in preserving so much history. Thank you to everyone who helped bring ‘Black Rainbows’ to life.”

SZA feat. Justin Bieber – “Snooze (Acoustic)”

Just when you thought SZA’s “Snooze” couldn’t get better; it did. The singer tapped Justin Bieber to breathe new life into the acoustic rendition of the SOS single.

After having starred in the visual for the hit song, R&Bieber bacame a perfect partner for this dreamy, alternative rendition. “Snooze” has accrued nearly 800 millions streams globally and is SZA’s fourth No. 1 single on both Rhythm and Urban Mainstream radio—trailing behind “Kill Bill,” “Shirt,” and “I Hate U.”

There’s no word on if this will appear on Lana, the deluxe version of SOS, that’s set to drop in the coming weeks.

Goapele – “PURPLE”

Goapele’s new single, “PURPLE,” follows the success of her previous release, “Time Heals.”

From her upcoming new album, COLOURS, the Oakland-bred songbird‘s recent offering is not only an apt display of her distinct sound but also seems to channel Prince as she encourages a bout of escapism.

“Feel just like a fool/ For you I’d break the rules,” she sings. “The way my heart is opening/ I’m wondering if you feel it too/ It’s more than just a phase/ ‘Cause I’m lost inside your purple haze.” According to her, the album “promises to be a kaleidoscope of musical experiences, showcasing [her] versatility and innovative spirit.”

Jamila Woods – “Good News”

Jamila Woods has shared the third single, “Good News,” from her third album, Water Made Us.

The track is a soothing albeit sultry reminder of how old endings can always have new beginnings. It’s is inspired by the album’s title. “The title of the album comes from the lyrics, ‘the good news is we were happy once / the good news is water always runs back where it came from / the good news is water made us’,” Woods explained in a statement. “For me the song is a lesson in surrender, a lesson I learn from water over and over again.”

Slated for release on Oct. 13, the LP is described as her most personal and references a Toni Morrison quote: “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

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