Twenty years ago, Ruben Studdard beamed into our living rooms on season two of American Idol and wowed audiences with his soulful crooning and smooth vocal textures highly reminiscent of Luther Vandross. That year, he was dubbed the “Velvet Teddy Bear” by R&B goddess Gladys Knight, soared up the pop charts with a gold certified Flying Without Wings and captured the win on his season, beating a very strong and formidable runner-up, Clay Aiken. Currently the R&B singer is co-headlining an enthusiastic national tour with Aiken while also dropping The Way I Remember It, his first album of original music in almost ten years.
And all ears are now on “Masterpiece,” the official lead single from the anticipated album via Legend Tribe, RCS and the SoNo Recording Group (SRG-ILS). The melody, vibes and cozy arrangement trace the footsteps of Silk Sonic’s love ballad “Leave the Door Open,” continuing the heartfelt homage to the late Thom Bell. There’s even some of that slick Bruno Mars-y bedroom humor dropped into the verses (“she’s so damn fine/it’s a shame…going bananas/orangutan”) before sunsetting each time into a charming chorus: “‘Cause baby, you’re a masterpiece, you don’t really need a filter/You’re a centerpiece, a perfect figure”).
At first listen, Ruben felt the song was right for him to record. “‘Masterpiece’ is a song that I instantly fell in love with in the studio,” the “Sorry 2004” singer proclaims. “The lyrics fully describe how special one’s significant other is. It’s one of those, ‘yes, that’s it’ songs.”
After releasing his new album, The Love Album: Off The Grid, last month, Diddy is upping the ante with his forthcoming film, Off The Grid.
The first trailer for the film — powered by the sonics off The Love Album — dropped on Monday morning (Oct. 30) and features Diddy and budding actress Eva Apio in a romantic whirlwind anchored by passion and drama. The chemistry between the two is entrancing as they share moments of vulnerability, endure a high-speed car chase with the cops, and more.
“Working with Eva Apio was an incredible experience. Her talent and energy brought my vision to life,” Diddy said in a press release.
The Love Album: Off The Grid features appearances by Justin Bieber, Abel Tesfaye (formerly known as The Weeknd), Mary J. Blige, Summer Walker, H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan, and more. Touted as Diddy’s comeback effort, The Love Album became his sixth top 10 project on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums last month and debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard 200. It also peaked at No. 2 on the Top R&B Albums chart.
“This isn’t just an R&B album; it’s an R&B movie [about love],” he said of his project during his cover story conversation with Billboard last month. “It’s probably one of the biggest collections of talent ever, all unified on one album. And I happen to be blessed to have The Weeknd’s last feature. The song talks about being unique, in a sense — telling your ex-girl that another one of me won’t come around.”
The Off The Grid film has yet to have a release date but will hit theaters soon. Watch the trailer below.
This trailer is the property of Sean “Diddy” Combs
Between a rare in-depth Jay Z interview, a new Brent Faiyaz album, and an announcement confirming new music from Megan Thee Stallion, the major players across R&B and hip hop kept the scene busy this past week, but some left-of-center artists also had their own worthy contributions to the conversation. New Music Friday treated DSPs to a new tidal wave of tracks across hip hop and R&B to populate playlist ahead of Q4’s major holiday parties and celebrations. The Fresh Picks listed below highlight some of the best and most interesting new sounds across R&B and hip hop; from Destin Conrad and Masego’s blistering duet, to Azealia Banks’ long teased drill anthem. Check out this week’s Fresh Picks below.
For the lead single for his forthcoming Grip LP, experimental R&B auteur serpentwithfeet dips his toe into house music influences with “Dam Gloves.” Assisted by frequent collaborator Ty Dolla $ign and South African artist Yanga YaYa, serpentwithfeet utilizes production reminiscent of Travis Scott and Beyoncé’s “Delresto (Echoes)” for a dark, sensual paean to slow-grinding and wining. “I don’t need no weed, I don’t need no liquor/ I just wanna keep grind-grindin’ on my n—a / Whatever’s on his leg, good God, it’s gettin’ thicker,” he teases.
Shordie Shordie feat. Baby B, “First Kiss”
Taken from the back half of his melodic Murda Beatz-helmed Memory Lane 2 project, “First Kiss” finds Baltimore rapper Shordie Shordie linking up with rising R&B singer Baby B for a tender guitar-inflected ode to the dream of your first kiss also being your last. It’s a surprisingly warm and heartfelt duet that incorporated elements of A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Juice WRLD’s sing-songy flow with Shordie’s intimate grasp of emotive hooks. “Do you remember your first kiss?/ Not the fake one, but the one with some purpose,” he questions.
Destin Conrad & Masego, “Super Paradise”
Last week (Oct. 27), R&B crooner Destin Conrad dropped off Submissive, his third full-length project. The sensual set finds its closer in the Masego-assisted “Super Paradise,” a breezy, string-laden number that makes subtle nods to dembow as the pair trade verses about submitting to their lover out of desire, not desperation. It’s a very carnal affair.
Skylar Blatt feat. Lola Brooke, “F–k Fame, Pt. 2”
In the lead-up to her forthcoming Dennis Daughter project, Brooklyn rapper Lola Brooke has put out her fair share of pop-leaning radio-ready singles to keep her name on the mind of both consumers and radio programmers post-“Don’t Play With It.” On this new collaboration with Cincinnati rapper Skylar Blatt, Lola doubles down on the menacing snarl that garnered her name recognition. The two female rappers trade punchline-packed bars about the frivolity of fame — a smart choice of topic given hip-hop’s currently tenuous relationship with the apex of the mainstream music scene. Lola effortlessly embodies the gruffness of Skylar’s chorus, resulting in the (unfortunately) rare collaboration in which both artists are genuinely informing the other’s approach to the song.
Masego feat. Wale & ENNY, “You Never Visit Me (Remix)”
The original solo version of “You Never Visit Me” has been out for nearly a year, but that didn’t stop Masego from calling in some reinforcements for the song’s new remix. Featuring Wale and English rapper ENNY, the song’s remix opens up the breadth of perspectives regarding abandoned relationships. Wale joins Masego in wallowing over a lover walking out on him, but ENNY flips the song’s hazy, jazz-informed arrangement to soundtrack the snarky apathy she feels towards her former partner. “But, now I got you on a need to know bases/ If I keep it real/ I seen the truth and now I can’t face it,” she coos.
42 Dugg, “Go Again”
For his first single post-prison release, Atlanta rapper 42 Dugg opts for a biting stream-of-consciousness flow that combines his natural knack for catchy hooks with a single gargantuan verse that finds him doubling down on his braggadocio in all areas of his life. “Catch you slippin’, I’m slidin’, tell me I’m good at rappin’/ Y’all good at hidin’, n—a, come out and get active/ My chopper shoot backwards (B–ch), my b–ches gets pampered / You probably didn’t have her, doggie, she callin’ me daddy,” he spits.
Azealia Banks, “Dilemma”
In typical Azealia fashion, the controversial New York rapper has finally unveiled an official version of “Dilemma” after first teasing the song over four years ago. On the new track, the “212” rapper retreats from her trademark house and ballroom influences, and, instead, opts to dip her toe into another segment of New York’s music scene: drill. While a large number of drill rappers tend to favor animatedly gruff growls, Banks plays with the dynamics of her timbre to retain a sense of individuality. This is most clear in the song’s final chorus — which arrives after one breathless and impressive rap verse — where she whispers the lyrics with a priceless sense of brooding humor.
Amala Ratna Zandile Diamini, known professionally as Doja Cat, is an American rapper/singer from Los Angeles, CA. She began her career by making and releasing music on Soundcloud as a teenager. Her single “So High” caught the attention of Kemosable and RCA Records, with whom she signed a recording contract prior to the release of her EP “Prrr!.” Since then, she has released four studio albums, the latest being “Scarlet.”
Singer/actress Keke Palmer has been having a phenomenal year in film, fashion, and music. In May, Palmer released her first studio album in three years. Now, she’s doubled back with “Big Boss Deluxe” version. The initial album featured ten tracks. The deluxe version features four additional tracks, including “Ungorgeous”, “Serious”, “Assets” and “Crazy Things.” Another standout track on the deluxe version of the album is “Love Like This.” Enjoy.
NPG Records, in collaboration with Paisley Park Enterprises, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Records, has unveiled a spectacular reissue of Prince’s iconic album, Diamonds And Pearls. This timeless work of art, the thirteenth studio album by the musical genius, is being remastered for the very first time and comes with a treasure trove of 47 previously unreleased tracks. In addition, fans can relish over 2 hours of never-before-seen video concert performances from Prince’s legendary vault.
Diamonds And Pearls was the debut album with Prince’s new backing band, The New Power Generation, and boasted six international hits, including “Gett Off,” “Cream,” and the unforgettable title track. It achieved multi-platinum status in both the USA and the UK, where it still holds the distinction of being his best-selling album.
The reissue comes in various formats, including a Super Deluxe Edition with 75 audio tracks across 7 CDs and 12 vinyl records, a Deluxe Edition with 2 CDs and 4 LPs, and a Remastered album with multiple vinyl variations and audiophile Blu-ray. The Super Deluxe Edition includes newly remastered tracks, remixes, and an array of previously unreleased studio gems.
Notably, the Blu-ray included in the Super Deluxe Edition features a thrilling 2K video of a live concert performance, offering a glimpse into Prince & The NPG’s “Diamonds And Pearls Tour.” The Blu-ray also showcases the band’s performance at The Special Olympics in 1991 and the rare Diamonds And Pearls Video Collection.
Accompanying the Super Deluxe Edition is a 120-page hardback book featuring rare photos, Prince’s handwritten lyrics, and essays by experts in the field, providing a comprehensive look at this extraordinary era in Prince’s career. Additionally, there is a standalone audiophile Blu-ray with a brand-new Dolby ATMOS mix of “Diamonds And Pearls,” marking a groundbreaking audio experience.
The Diamonds And Pearls Super Deluxe Edition immerses fans in Prince’s prolific output and offers a glimpse into his incredible creative journey during the 1990s. This reissue is a testament to the enduring legacy of the artist and his continual influence on music and culture.
Multi-platinum recording artist Shordie Shordie and Grammy-nominated producer Murda Beatz are back with the highly anticipated sequel to their 2021 collaborative project, Memory Lane. Memory Lane 2 arrives with a bang, featuring previously released singles “Contacts” and “On You,” showcasing Shordie’s lyrical finesse and Murda Beatz’s searing production.
The 15-track mixtape takes listeners on a journey through Shordie’s complex emotions and life experiences. The opening track, “A Lot Of Miles,” sets the tone for the Baltimore rapper’s sonic exploration. “Ride With Shordie Pt. 2” continues the momentum, delivering gritty lyricism that fans have come to love.
Standout performances on the project include “Enjoy The Ride,” featuring Mozzy, and the mixtape’s outro, “Bigger In Texas,” which ends on a note reminiscent of the chopped and screwed style.
Memory Lane 2 is now available, extending Shordie and Murda’s successful collaboration in the hip-hop genre. Their undeniable chemistry will captivate fans from all walks of life, making this mixtape a must-listen for music enthusiasts.
Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Joyner Lucas has unveiled his latest single, “24 Hours to Live,” a compelling addition to his forthcoming album, Not Now, I’m Busy.
In this track, Joyner Lucas delves into a thought-provoking scenario where he has just one day left to live. Through his lyrics, he paints a vivid picture of what he would do in his final hours, with lines like “take all his sh*t and then steal his identity” and “slap any hater that showed any jealousy.”
As the song progresses, he rides the beat while questioning what others might do in a similar predicament. With his signature style, he asks, “would you go crazy because of it? Kill every n***a you holdin’ a grudge against?” The track concludes with audio of a doctor delivering the same grim news, only for it to be revealed as a misdiagnosis, injecting a touch of humor.
“24 Hours to Live” is the latest in a series of releases from Joyner, including standout songs like “Seventeen,” “Broski,” “Cut U Off (feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again),” “What’s That?,” and “Devil’s Work Part 2.”
Joyner Lucas’s previous album, “ADHD,” made a significant impact, debuting in the Top-10 of the Billboard 200, earning RIAA gold certification, and sparking vital discussions about mental health while setting a new benchmark for success among independent artists. Listen to “24 Hours To Live” below.