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The New Soul of R&B

with eleven 'hipster R&B' tracks carefully soulected

[skip to the music]

Ever since I started up Silence, I’ve always wanted to discover the next big thing in R&B, mainly because of my disliking for its mainstream counterpart over the past few decades. The problem with finding this underground soul that’s about to reinvent R&B is that they’re not easy to dig up online, but I managed to do it, eventually.

GAYNGsI got my first taste of neo soul, or so I liked to call it, when I heard the super-group out of Minneapolis, Gayngs, play ‘The Gaudy Side of Town.’ The group gained a decent following, but never enough to start a movement, even in light of all the names behind the project. Six months later, however, a duo out of Toronto created one soulful tune that set the spark for soul & R&B’s reunion, their name was The Weekend.

I knew it the first time I listened to ‘What You Need’ back in October of 2010. Abel had the voice and his producer back then, zodiac, had the sound. I had finally found the soulful side of R&B again, but now wondered if it’d ever take off and start a movement.

As some of you know, about a year back Abel dropped the last E in The Weekend (making it the more well known, The Weeknd) & unfortunately his producer, and became Drake’s latest protege. Since then, he’s undoubtedly been one of the major introducers to this next step in R&B, although, a few others appear to be laying out bigger steps for the future. But before we get to them, there’s one nagging question I need answered about this evolution in soul, what the hell is it called?

For some reason I thought for the longest time that this was the next neo soul, the neo neo soul. But after some research, none of these soulsters seem to be linked up to that style. So I tried thinking up my own term, ‘electro soul,’ but of course the electro scene had already taken that. After a little more research, however, I found out what critics were calling it and my first impression wasn’t too positive. ‘Hipster R&B,’ as it’s being called, just brings too many preconceived notions. But thinking over that, I realized that’s exactly what a hipster would think. So I guess my hipster ass likes hipster R&B… or I’ll call it ‘hipster soul’ just to stay up on the hipsterness…

Let us know what we should replace ‘hipster R&B’ with?
Josh Jakq has the best one so far: hypnotic soul

And now…

Red Sky Lullaby · Magic In Your Eyes
This was the tipping point. Once I heard Red Sky Lullaby’s ‘Magic In Your Eyes’ with Frank H Carter III’s vocals, I knew I had enough music to compile a mix of what’s about to revive R&B.

Frank Ocean - Pyramids

Frank Ocean · Pyramids
Ocean’s got the whole package. He has personality behind his voice, he tells a story so vividly that it rivals even the best storytellers of today and he knows what producers to hook up with. The Weeknd may have been my introduction to hipster R&B, but Ocean is the next chapter.

Jaybeatz · Trust Issues (Drake & The Weeknd Mashup)
Jaybeatz’s mashup more than anything for me made Drake for once actually pleasant to listen to (not usually a fan), but more importantly made his own OVOXO collab work far better than any of the two’s official ones. “fuck everybody”

Skeleton Indian

Madeaux · Song #2
Ray J’s ‘One Wish’ vocals were chopped & skewed quite nicely on here, but the real soul lies in the sound. Madeaux lays out such a melodic piano melody, with an equally strange bass, that few producers could ever come close to something like ‘Song #2.’ It’s so good in fact that I’m still a bit skeptical about how much Madeaux played a role in creating it (it’s honestly just that good).

Birdy · People Help The People (TIP’s Rework)
Who would’ve thought a teenage girl from Lymington, England would be the only woman soulful enough to make it on this modern R&B mix (recommend me more). Though TIP did have a crafty hand in making her sound so.damn.soulful. Some parts may sound a bit squirrely or strange at times, but when he brings it all together, there’s something very deep inside this track that’s like no other I’ve ever heard.

Jakqs and JMSN

JOSH JAKQ · See You Later
If Timberlake was still hustlin, he may not have the production up to this level, but the vocals would be right on point. JOSH JAKQ’s high falsetto may not be my 1st choice in R&B vocals, but it’s in the top 2. + that chorus & melody are heavenly!

JMSN · Alone (Kno Remix)
If you thought JAKQ got high, wait for JMSN. Kno puts a nasty curdle on JMSN’s ‘Alone’ and supports those higher pitches ever so slightlier (I made it up).

The Weeknd · What You Need
The song that inspired it all. Still get chills. Now we just gotta get Abel back making music with zodiac! (who produced ‘The Morning’ as well)

The Weeknd (banner)

Gayngs · The Gaudy Side of Town
Gayngs is the only live band …with around 24 members. Still waiting on these guys & gals to go global, they’ve got the talent to back it up.

bonus (two actual ‘electro soul’ tracks)
only difference seems to be that ‘electro soul’ is producer-based, rather than vocal-based ‘hipster R&B.’

xxyyxx · About You
forget the audio, the video’s half the fun.

[vimeo width=”638″ height=”359″][/vimeo]

DROPxLIFE runs with The Weeknd (just read it), which makes a lot of sense given ‘KINGSxCROSS.’

Remember, if you ‘like’ the music, ‘share’ it with yo friends!
and we just might compile these for a mixtape