Singers whose words and sounds help you transcend into another world are worth their weight in gold. With a flooded music market, sifting through to find such artists can be tedious and overwhelming. Increasingly difficult is finding noteworthy R&B/soul music that resonates beyond just a catchy hook or danceable groove. But there are lots of engaging and soulful acts making dope music–if you know where to look.
So we did some of the work for you.
From R&B singers, to electronica bands to eclectic acid-jazz ensembles., we’ve found 10 soulful acts that you may not have known you need to hear.
Xavier Adams a.k.a. SPZRKT (Spazzy Rocket) is a former Christian hip-hop artist who found a new musical ministry in R&B/alternative pop. His syrupy vocals bring songs like “The Motive” and “Blind Man” to life.
Alina Baraz, an L.A. based songstress in her early 20s swept the internet with her 2015 “Urban Flora” EP that perfectly mashed together her sultry vocals and Danish musician Galimatias’ echoing electronic beats.
Their Urban Flora EP is entrenched in soulful tales of infatuation and lust.
Kelela Mizanekristos is an L.A. based singer/songwriter whose “Cut 4 Me” and “Hallucinogen” EPs offer a new approach to R&B. “Bank Head” will make you bounce, “All The Way” down will make you reflect.
You need to know JMSN (Jameson). The multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, producer, R&B singer has graced four of Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, M.A.A.D. City tracks (“Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “The Art Of Peer Pressure”, “Sing About Me/Dying Of Thirst” “Real) and he’s known for honest lyrics and soulful melodies that became so widely popular that his Blue Album got its own “chopped not slopped” treatment from DJ Slim K of Houston’s Chopstars.
The result? Amplified slowed down soul jams.
The Internet’s been labeled as R&B/soul/acid jazz/ but to truly box in the group consisting of Odd Future members Syd tha Kyd and Matt Martian as well as Jameel Bruner, Patrick Paige, Christopher A. Smith, and Steve Lacy, would be doing them a disservice. Just close your eyes and enjoy the easy listening tracks from their “Ego Death” album. Start with “Girl” and go from there.
Abhi Raju and Dijon Duenas better known as Abhi//Dijon are a Maryland duo who made a splash with 2015’s “Stay Up” EP. The vocalist Dijon and his producer Abhi are continuing to blend sounds like 2016’s anthem “Wait” dedicated to a desperate grasp at dwindling love.
L.A.-based singer/songwriter Darryl ‘SiR’ Farris worked with the likes of Jill Scott, Anita Baker and Robert Glasper, pouring out words from his pen before taking on a solo career.
In 2015 he shook up the music world with his “Seven Sundays” project and true soul/R&B music lovers can’t stop raving about it.
Scandinavian soul band Phlake released a standout track “So Faded” in 2015 that peaked interest both in America and overseas. Now the duo, consisting of vocalist Mads Bo and Jonathan Elkær, is capitalizing; fans are attracted to their take on electronica/R&B.
Dornik, the former touring drummer of English songstress Jessie Ware who mbarked on a solo career, has been described as a “delicate” singer with a featherweight Michael Jackson-like voice. Take a dip into Dornik’s world with the funky track “Stand In Your Line” to start.
Mysterious OVO Sound signees dvsn created a stir with the track “The Line” on September 5, 2015. At first a complete mystery there are signs (no pun) that producer Nineteen85 (“Hotline Bling”, “Hold On We’re Going Home”) is involved. The vocals are believed to be that of singer Daniel Daley though the late-night R&B singer’s remained mum on his possible affiliation. Most recently dvsn dropped their debut project “Sept 5th” on April 1 and it’s been reveled for having sexually charged bedroom ballads.
OVO Sound/Warner Bros.