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Excuse me, Bryson Tiller, Trap Soul is cool and all and I’ma let you finish, but…. Are fools really out here saying that this was better than Confessions? Lemme learn yall real quick.

There’s so much more in R&B today, that I can’t just let the year go past without giving an official thank you to the artists that have been holding this rapidly declining (or, expanding?) genre down. What I love about R&B in today’s age is how far its stretched beyond the boundaries of its original format. Today’s R&B artists and producers tap into the soulful aspects of every other genre from house to funk to jazz to rock and back to hip hop. What I don’t appreciate is everyone that’s out here spreading filthy lies about how R&B is dying and that our only R&B artists are trap rappers singing over botched melodies. While it may be true that we have an over-abundance of, dare I call call them, “musicians” crooning over bass-heavy beats about being so much of a fuckboy that they lost the love of their life, flippin bricks, and gettin lit with their down bitch, it’s equally true that there is (close to?) enough quality material out to cover for it. With that being said, check out our favorites from the year below.

R&B Projects of 2015 That Were Better Than…

(Click on the cover art to stream each project)

SPZRKT & Sango – Hours Spent Loving You

This collaboration EP from Soulection’s SPZRKT and Sango is full of those bangers you play at the height of your party, right before you get into the lusty set, or while you’re riding home in the rain, contemplating how you’re going to tell your lady you love her for the first time. It’s like if the honeymoon phase were to be captured on instrumentals and smooth vocals. Yup, that’s the analogy I was lookin for for this one. The Audible Honeymoon Phase.

Hiatus Kayote – Choose Your Weapon

This album is a clusterfuck of modern jazz, new age funk, bubbling electronic, and is laced with eccentric acoustic strings and the most wild drum and bass lines. This was easily one of the most unique projects dropped this year, period. What can be thought of as a love letter to Mother Nature of sorts, this is a project that sounds dope on first listen, but will really change your life after you submerge yourself in it and allow yourself to explore it’s depths.

Masego & Medasin – The Pink Polo EP

In this EP from the jazz-trap king, toting his loving saxophone, Masego brings back that jovial and carefree love of music that’s been missing from the game for a minute. What stands out is how Masego doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously, cracking jokes throughout the project’s interludes and adlibs, while never failing to provide jams that will surely make you shut up & groove wherever you are. With the assistance from Medasin, the production on this EP is incredible, and it was one of the most recent times I’ve heard scatting over jazz-trap beats and didn’t want to bust out my ear drums. Thanks guys!

Phony Ppl – Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Boy!!! I remember the first time seeing these cats live for CMJ, and I was fucking blown away. You don’t get that freeform, energetic style performance like that anymore, and thats exactly what Phony Ppl gave me. I rushed home to listen to the album, and was so satisfied by it. Elbee & the band deliver high strung sounds from beginning to end while lyrically remaining potent and serving their fans a very well-rounded listening experience. I’m really excited to see what’s to come from this band.

Thundercat – The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam

Thundercat’s been having a hell of a year. He played an integral part in the production for Kendrick’s album To Pimp A Butterfly and appeared on his buddy’s Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead, leaving listeners thirsty for more from him, and he did not disappoint. This album explores the realms of the unconcious and makes for a spiritual journey that the listener cannot deny. Brace yourself to be thouroughly confused at one man’s ability to blend different sounds together in such an enigmatic way that you managed to get over that depressive slump you were in to get up and move your body, even if it’s only for as long as the record spins. Yes, it’s that good.

Dam Funk – Invite The Light

Take me back to that golden era, why don’t you, Dam Funk?!?!?? Nah fuck that Dam Funk, transport me to 2026 with it, ayeeee!!! Make me feel like I’m the modern day Foxy Brown in this bitch while I’m two steppin, yes boy don’t you stop spinnin that record now! What you call that? What you call that Dam Funk? It feel like funk but it might be house… Feel like house but it might be EDM…. Feel like EDM but it got too much rhythm… Got so much rhythm that it just might be… Just might be… OWW!! DON’T HURT EM DAM FUNK!!! DON’T HURT EM NOW! (yesthatshowifeel)

Kelela – Hallucinogen EP

Kelela held it down in the baby-makin’ music department with this one… Although it’s like, baby-makin’-by-accident-during-a-make-up-session-that-wasn’t-supposed-to-happen-with-that-ex-you-told-all-ya-friends-aint-shit-but-really-still-got-love-for music…. Maybe this is the polar opposite of Trap Soul? Maybe? All jokes aside, this project really sets the mood, if you wanna do something possibly irresponsible tonight, or just do what I do and get off at the thought of it.

Willow – Ardipithecus

I was tripping on acid in the woods in December at the Delaware Water Gap when this album came out. It was like 60 something degrees, mid December. I really was that little girl walking through the forest. And Willow was my spirit guide for the trip. Needless to say, I’m not sure if the way that I would describe this particular project would make sense to my readers because I really saw and felt more than I heard. Willow Smith just knows how to get into those deep, dark corners of your mind, to unlock your innermost thoughts and read them over to you in her smooth, heavy voice over heady beats. How did she get so cerebral? The world may never know, but in the meantime, we can ponder that and lose and find ourselves again in this album.


Mizan – Dark Blue EP

Even though 3 of 6 songs from this EP were released in 2014, Mizan completed the collection in early November. Her voice is like a shy lover, waiting to capture your heart with a single note. She even directed a set of unique DIY visuals to capture the mood each song invoked. It’s melancholy, pensive, and lighthearted all at the same time.


Majid Jordan – [|]

Okay so you got me, this isn’t a full project or EP. It’s technically a 20 minute mix of unreleased Majid Jordan tracks, instrumentals, and some new material chopped up for one vaporwave like journey. It’s groovy as hell, with house tones and it fits any mood; the perfect mix for late night drives, music and chill with bae, and acid trips. This was enough to holdover me until we get a follow up for A Place Like This.


Telana – New Age Soul EP

This was the first project that graced my ears in 2015 and from the first track I knew it would be special. I’m still astonished that she was only 17 when New Age Soul hit the net. But it made more sense once I realized that she had been rolling with Willow [Smith] for a couple years already (talented vocalists stick together). The EP starts off sooper funky and groovy, but finishes on an über chill note. Very coastal Cali feels.


Ah how could I forget about this??? When I heard this I deadass wanted to fly out to Cali and give Telana a hug. She seems like such a sweetheart and has a warm spirit that is undeniably present in this project.


The Internet – Ego Death

Last but not least!!! My personal favorite project of the year, this fucking spectacular album got me through a really rough time last year and thats all the fuck I’m gonna say about this shit right here. Just Sayin/I Tried? That’s all. Goodbye. See ya next time!