We probably don’t have to tell you that music matters. It’s a task to find another element with so much of an intangible influence over emotions and environs all at once, and whenever the occasion presents itself, properly exerting control over such a force should not be taken lightly.
Saint Valentine’s Day is officially among us, and while you were scurrying to put together the ultimate ambiance, you may have caught yourself slipping on the ever-essential tunes. While the go-to compilation of Chris Brown and Trey Songz slow jams might just do the trick, we’d like to offer our hand in helping you craft the perfect change of pace this year.
The following fourteen tracks are a handful of carefully selected tracks from some of R&B’s most promising up-and-comers. A thoroughly refreshing take on the genre is the underlying theme here and extends a clear path towards the ultimate playlist for Valentine’s Day and beyond. While far from definitive, this list should be regarded as something more of a guide, as each track chosen will likely introduce you to an artist you may or may not have heard of before, presenting you with a catalog that will definitely leave you and that special someone coming back for more.
ELHAE – “Water”
Atlanta crooner ELHAE has been true to this for some time now, gingerly delivering on pragmatic lyrics. His songs are beautful reality checks, never shying away from baring it all and his “WATER” is yet another alluring look at the flaws that make love so delicate.
In this cut, he’s asking his lady to slow down and enjoy their relationship as it grows, wanting to assure her that things will fall into place. “You complain about the most, but I could never let you go,” he rings out. “3 AM let’s hit the road, let’s talk about our goals / Let’s see how far we go.”
H.E.R. & Daniel Caesar – “Best Part”
Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. have long established a reputation for sculpting sweet nothings, and when the two collided for the former’s “Best Part” single, the result was nothing short of aural ecstasy.
Gentle vocals mark their territory on this one as the two singers trade off on lyrics that epitomize the refuge that we can often find in love as H.E.R. delivers, “You’re the coffee that I need in the morning / You’re my sunshine in the rain when it’s pouring,” where Daniel counters it with, “You’re my water when I’m stuck in the desert / You’re the Tylenol I take when my head hurts.”
Sabrina Claudio – “Frozen”
The saying, “time stands still when I’m with you” gets new meaning in Sabrina Claudio’s “Frozen.” The Miami-bred siren’s About Time debut mixtape arrived in October of last year and doubled as a transparent journey into the delicacy of romance. A highlight of the project, “Frozen” is a powerful directive in which Sabrina’s signature ethereal vocals commands the simplistic track.
What this song does best is convey the idea that nothing else could possibly matter when you’re with that special someone as Sabrina exerts that, “The flowers still are blooming / Then leaves will turn again / But time will be frozen for us.”
K. Forest – “Bout That”
2018 kicked off with Brampton-bred K. Forest giving us something that will likely be playing for the remainder of the year in the form of his When It’s All Said and Done EP. Notably, the project featured a much more bouncy vibe as opposed to previous efforts. One element that remains, however, is K. Forest’s seductive approach, and that tone was immediately set with the opener “Bout That.”
No blurred lines on this one, just an artful proposal as K. unleashes, “Girl I got tricks I can teach you / Don’t use it on nobody but me / What we doin’ ain’t nobody business / Nah girl we can’t let them see.”
Jayla Darden – “Between Us”
Jayla Darden’s a personal favorite. The young singer, coming out of Atlanta, has developed a catalog steeped in clean self-production, an element that makes it so easy for her voice to marry into every beat she touches and her most recent drop, her Ideas EP, is a clear display of such qualities.
“Between Us,” however, precedes the EP, but holds true to all the components that take place in a Jayla Darden creation. On “Between Us,” Darden sings about keeping things under wraps, out of an effort to protect her love not hide it. “Baby just give me all your love, all your love / They don’t need to know what’s going on between us /And I don’t love you any less but / They don’t need to know,” she affirms.
Arin Ray – ” Love Galore (Cover)”
The past few months have been a busy time for the West Coast-based Arin Ray. Coming off a hiatus following the release of his Phases EP and the birth of his first child, the singer made his return with something of a vengeance, ushering things in with his “We Ain’t Homies,” and its YG-assisted remix and has since capped it off with his most recent “Communication” single, featuring D.R.A.M.
In the midst of all this, Ray was also on the road in a supporting run on H.E.R.’s Lights Out tour. While on the road, Ray would gift fans with a cover of SZA’s “Love Galore” during his set, and recently dropped off an official studio recording for our listening pleasure.
ASIAHN – “Waiting”
Asia Bryant, known to listeners as Asiahn, is no stranger to hit records, having been nominated for three Grammys and writing for the likes of Dr. Dre, Miley Cyrus, and Jennifer Lopez. But the singer stepped from out of the shadows when she dropped off her solo Love Train project last year and the result was everything the name implies as she explored every aspect of the emotion.
Asiahn’s “Waiting” is a standout track from Love Train, and in it she details the need to be with someone after an extended amount of time spent apart as she implores that, “It’s been months since I last saw you / Months since I last called you and we made love /But I think it’s time to leave the past behind.”
H.I.M – “Hymn”
Since the debut of the enigmatic H.E.R., a slew of copycat artists have followed in the midst adopting a variety of pronouns to piggy back off the success. One of the more thought out and talented results of such a trend was that of H.I.M. (HER In Mind), crafted as a male response to the catalog crafted by H.E.R.
One of the most successful and artfully curated songs produced by the group to date has to be their “Hymn” ballad. Those familiar with dvsn’s breakout “Too Deep” single will appreciate this cut as it similarly fuses elements of a gospel composition with more suggestive themes to make for one complex and layered plea for love.
Kyle Dion – “Brown”
Please don’t fail to keep your finger on the pulse of all things Kyle Dion after this.
The Los Angeles-based singer is getting ready to debut his forthcoming project sometime in the near future, but before that arrives, he decided to give us his expressive “Brown” track. According to Dion the song is “just a soulful ass song for you to drive to, get your loving in, or just to throw on while you clean your kitchen.” We advise you to do all three and then some today, tomorrow, and the week after next.
dvsn – “Mood”
“Mood” was a single that preceded dvsn’s sophomore Morning After album of last year. On it, Daniel Daley croons on effectively wanting “that old thing back.”
He essentially uncovers the regret of being unattentive in a past relationship and declaring that he’s ready to now give her the consideration that he was unsuccessful at putting forth the first time around as he argues, “Now I’m gonna make a time to make love / I’m gonna make a point to just focus on us / Now I’m gonna make sure you get enough / When I make it all about you, take care of us.”
Sango ft. Xavier Omar – “Sweet Holy Honey”
Sango and Xavier Omar are certainly no strangers to crafting beautiful odes to the women ( and the God) they love as a unit, and their latest “Sweet Holy Honey” changes up the usual message we often get from love songs as Xavier, instead, chooses to serenade his significant other by letting her know that he’s choosing to wait, as he lets outs out, “It’s been hard / Have you ever seen yourself in a mirror / See I’ve been holding back / I’ve been wanting that Sweet holy honey.”
“I wanted him to write about how it may feel when you hold back the urge to have sex with a woman that you’re in love with,” Sango said of the track. “It’s not a typical love song.”
Brent Faiyaz – “Poison”
While Brent Faiyaz’s appearance on Goldlink’s “Crew” and subsequent Sonder Son solo release have shot him into an orbit of elevated success, the Baltimore-bred singer has been pushing out sonic remedies for a while now and did so notably with 2016’s “Poison.” Just as a famous 80s smash of the same name suggested, “Posion” is a cut dedicated to woman who’s no good, but somehow keeps you coming back.
You’ll come to find that Brent Faiyaz’s new age approach to slow jams is what sets him apart in the midst of his contemporaries, and “Poison” is a nostalgic demonstration of that striking trait.
Zeina – “What I Do”
Canadian songstress Zeina dropped off her Odd One Out debut EP at the tail end of last year and the final product was a modern R&B sound heavily doused in Pop influences. On the effort, her “What I Do” track managed to stand out as one of the less experimental cuts with a message that plenty of us can appreciate.
“You won’t ever find someone like me / The shit I do for you is like a dream / Whatever follows up is mediocore,” she lays down on the Josh J.-produced track. It’s a clear reference to either making sure that special someone sticks around or making them regret that they didn’t.
Yo Trane – “Alone”
Yo Trane’s “Alone” is as earnest as it gets.
The Gabon-born, Paris-bred singer bares it all on the cut to explain that his feelings go beyond the physical. Being taken by a woman from the moment he laid eyes on her, Yo Trane is on a mission. “Love is a feeling that’s very hard to describe but I believe in it though,” he previously explained of the single. “Love at first sight etc.. I’m into all that romantic stuff. And when it happens to you, you just can’t control it. That’s what I talked about on [“Alone”].”