R&B lovers, rejoice! The days of sitting around and waiting for repetitive radio stations to introduce you to new artists are over. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to hundreds of songs by artists who want to get their name out there.
SoulTrain.com has compiled a list of ten artists to look out for. While some of these names you may have heard before, they’ve still yet to reach household name status despite making music on par with their more commercially successful peers. Some of them are even behind those famous songs you love, and it’s time to give them their due.
Compton native and former football star Eric Bellinger finally dropped his highly-anticipated album, Cuffing Season, this summer (ironically). After building traction with mildly successful singles “I Don’t Want Her” featuring Problem and “Focused On You” featuring 2 Chainz, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter, who won for his work with Chris Brown, has thrown his hat in the ring to become the next “R&B king.” He’s definitely a contender, but also has some stiff competition.
Hailing from the home of Cassuis Clay, Bryson Tiller has used the power of SoundCloud to spread his music to the masses, gaining one high-profile fan in Jimmy Brooks himself. The 6 God, Drake, even DM’d the Kentucky crooner that he was a fan, and has been playing his biggest song, “Don’t,” for months now. Tiller recently dropped two more fire tracks in “Ease” and “Been That Way,” as well as a Drake-sampling song, “Just Another Interlude.” All have just enough commercial appeal to really get him on the map (if worked properly) while staying true to his “Trap Soul” brand of R&B. Oh, and he can spit too. Let the Drizzy comparisons begin…
Victoria Monet has been on the rise for quite some time, like so many singers, starting off in the now defunct R&B group, Purple Reign. Collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights such as Nas and T.I. now sprinkle her resume, as well as writing credits for everyone from Ariana Grande to Chris Brown. At this point, the soft soprano certainly knows the ins and outs of the business, and if her last EP, Nightmares & Lullabies Act 1 is any indication, she could certainly blow at any moment.
There’s no doubt that the words “Houston” and “R&B” will automatically conjure up images of a certain H-Town diva who’s been running the world for over a decade. Yes, Bey is still the Queen of the city, but up and coming songstress Chay$e is steadily making a name for herself. The ‘Yonce connection goes beyond their hometown, as she was asked to pen a couple of tracks for the “Flawless” singer’s last album. While none of her songs made the cut, she proved she’s a force to be reckoned with on her debut EP, Purple Love. This slept-on gem drips in style, substance and southern sass that is sure to bring fans her way if they care to dig for quality music.
BJ The Chicago Kid
The name is definitely familiar, but Chi-Town singer BJ The Chicago Kid still seems to be flying under the radar. Hopefully that will soon change, as a prominent feature on Dr. Dre’s latest and (reportedly) last album, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre, as well as a spot on tour with R&B queen Jill Scott (one of his earliest supporters), has brought his exposure to another level. BJ is the perfect combination of old-school soul and new-school swagger, his music easily speaking to multiple generations of R&B fans, something those confined to “neo soul” or “contemporary R&B” wish they could pull off. Not to mention, the boy can sang! Do yourself a favor and Google this son of the South Side before you’re too far behind to catch up.
New York native Bianca Raquel was first brought to our attention on Anamanaguchi’s “Prom Night” and is determined to make a name for herself in the biz as well. She describes her sound as a “mixture of R&B and soul with a hip-hop edge” that can even get alternative sometimes. While R&B is her genre of choice, she’s a talented writer who has penned tracks for a diverse array of artists. She’s one singer/songwriter who’s sure to blow.
Jarell Perry’s Soundcloud page is a goldmine of R&B goodness. He also isn’t afraid to switch things up, playing with alternative and electro influences, as demonstrated on his latest body of work, The Shift EP. The Southern California crooner also gained thousands of fans online with Reworks, a group of covers featuring Drake’s “Own It,” Beyoncé’s “Blow,” Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo,” and Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies,” all of which he makes his own, unafraid to leave his mark on this group of fan favorites. His ethereal style has brought on the Frank Ocean comparisons already, but he’s determined to make a name for himself. If the music itself is any indication, he’s well on his way.
Thanks to Dr. Dre’s new Compton album, the masses have been introduced to multitalented singer, rapper and songwriter Anderson .Paak, but diehards have been following the Oxnard, CA native since he went by Breezy Lovejoy. His track “Suede” gained him some pretty high-profile fans, while last year’s Venice album is a fan favorite. He is a part of duo, NxWorries, alongside his partner Knxwledge, and is currently on tour with rapper Earl Sweatshirt. It may be worth the concert tix to see this young man before his prices shoot up; something tells me he’ll be in high demand any second now.
Toronto songstress Rochelle Jordan has perfected the art of letting her soft and sweet voice waft over bass-heavy hip-hop tracks, garnering comparisons to the late Aaliyah for her sexy vocal style. While it’s easy to compare, she’s a talent all her own, releasing the phenomenal body of work, 1021, last fall and teasing fans with her take on Future’s “March Madness” until she’s ready to bless the masses with more.
Eryn Allen Kane
Chicago native Eryn Allen Kane is best known for her work with Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment, but is now stepping out on her own, dropping her first solo record, “Have Mercy,” not long ago to tremendous praise (she is also featured on Prince’s single “Baltimore”). Her name may not be the biggest as of yet, but if her powerful vocals are any indication, her career could be as grand as her impressive pipes. With a voice suitable for R&B, soul or straight up gospel, it will be fun seeing where she takes her sound. No matter what, she’s certainly headed to the top.
—Jessica “Compton” Bennett