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R&B’s New Wave — a primer

10 Jul 2015

The ‘now’ sound if not the new sound - summer 2015 is about the new wave of R&B.

There was enough hype about 20 year-old Abel Tesfaye’s Youtube uploads in December 2010. Under the moniker ‘The Weeknd’, Tesfaye had been taken under the wing of fellow Toronto-born artist, Drake and, a few collaborations and almost two years later, The Weeknd’s ‘Trilogy’, a compilation of previous mixtapes was released. Meanwhile way out west in Los Angeles, Miguel Pimental was quietly building a head of steam in his own time whilst erstwhile Odd Future collaborator and songwriter for John Legend, Justin Bieber and Brandy, Frank Ocean was working up to the release of his monster debut, Channel Orange, released to critical acclaim in 2012.

But it’s the second phase of this trio’s collaborations that have really caught our ears and in 2015, nearly 5 years after The Weeknd first popped up, this darker, more sonically creative new wave of R&B has caught fire in the mainstream.

Within just a few weeks, Miguel’s incredible third album has confounded critics with a move from the leftfield, ‘Wildheart’ a sort of ode slash mourn for Los Angeles has beaten The Weeknd’s first proper album at the gates, and Frank Ocean has announced his new record (and accompanying magazine) will be released shortly. Here’s a primer to some of the sounds that have inspired the summer.

Miguel — Hollywood Dreams (2015)

The Weeknd — Can’t Feel My Face (2015)

Frank Ocean — Thinkin Bout You (Live on SNL 2012)

Accompanying this are countless other artists, all drawing upon similar influences — Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, The Smiths, The Beatles and Phil Collins are all cited as references by various members of this scene, but one — Prince, ties them all together.

Elle Varner — Birthday, feat. 50 Cent (2015)

Years and Years — Shine (2015)

Evan Mellows — Jupiter (2014)

The Weeknd’s new album ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ — is out soon, with Frank Ocean’s album to follow in the year. Until then you can enjoy Miguel’s LA concept ‘Wildheart’, it’s full of the slickest rhythms and the darkest hues of blue you’ll need, all summer long.

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Cross posted from: https://medium.com/synkio-music/r-b-s-new-wave-a-primer-903a2b437790

Ben Perreau

@perreau

Ben loves R&B


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