NLE Choppa returns with his new single “Ain’t Gonna Answer. ” The song is a collaboration with fellow rapper Lil Wayne. The new single brings an intense display of wordplay and audio energy ahead of NLE Choppa’s album “Cottonwood 2”, which will be released on April 14. Earlier this month, NLE Choppa made a comeback with the single “Mo Up Front.” The anthem is the most recent single from the rapper’s eagerly anticipated album “Cottonwood 2.” It’s quick, aggressive, and immediately catchy. The rising rapper builds an evocative image of life in the fast lane. Listen to “Ain’t Gonna Answer” below.
He was one of the great male vocalists of the 80s and 90s, and he has a permanent spot in many of our playlists. But now the great Alexander O’Neal is ready to end his touring days over the course of the next year, beginning with a multi-city UK tour. He made the announcement via social media.
Alexander O’Neal had the distinction of being perhaps the best pure singer to come from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ 80s production stable, and working with them released a number of memorable tracks that clearly bear the heavily synthesized sound of their era but still hold up relatively well today. But while he has continued to perform around the world for three decades now, his commercial success as a singer was almost exclusively tied to his work with Jam and Lewis, and his departure from their production and songwriting machine in the early 90s marked an abrupt pause in a noteworthy and popular recording career.
Born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1953, O’Neal moved North at age 20 and took odd jobs in Chicago and Philadelphia during the day, while singing in a number of bands at night. He ultimately would up in Minneapolis and became the lead singer of the group Flyte Tyme, which also included future stars Jam, Lewis and Jesse Johnson (of course, Jam and Lewis later named their famed production company Flyte Tyme). The emergence of singer Morris Day combined with personal issues led to O’Neal’s dismissal from the group when it was renamed the Time and was mentored to success by Prince.
After briefly forming his own rock group Alexander and releasing an independent solo album in the early 80s, O’Neal, with the help of old friends Jam and Lewis, signed with Tabu Records and recorded a legitimate national solo debut that focused largely on his powerful vocals fronting a basketful of rhythmic ballads and midtempos written by the production duo. The marvelous single “If You Were Here Tonight” became a soul smash and, with the solid follow-up “A Broken Heart Can Mend,” led the album to the Soul Top 20. Between albums, O’Neal scored even bigger with his duet with Cherelle (another Jam/Lewis singer), “Saturday Love.”
O’Neal hit his personal peak on his second Tabu album, Hearsay, a monster disc that included his biggest solo hit, the jumpy dance number “Fake,” as well as the hits “Criticize” and the duet with Cherelle “Never Knew Love Like This.” O’Neal followed in 1988 with a relatively unsuccessful Christmas album, but shot back to the top of the Soul charts in 1991 with All True Man, which yielded big hits with the title cut and “What’s This Thing Called Love.”
O’Neal parted ways with Jam and Lewis for 1993’s Love Makes No Sense, and the fallout was swift, as the album failed to hit the top 10 or yield a significant single. He then left Tabu for Motown, but languished for three years with nothing from his recording sessions being released by the label.
While O’Neal’s popularity in the US waned, he continued to have a solid following in the UK, where he spent much of the next several years touring. That also led him to sign with EMI’s UK division for 1997’s Lovers Again (later released in the US on the independent Ichiban label). He then dropped from sight for several years before independently releasing Saga of a Married Man in 2002. He subsequently issued a live album in Europe titled Live at the Hammersmith Apollo.
In 2010, after an eight year absence from the studio, O’Neal issued Five Questions the New Journey on the CC Entertainment label. Working with longtime musical director Billy Osborne, O’Neal recorded a good combination of new material and some remakes very much in the Minneapolis R&B style of his biggest hits. And he has continued to record with some frequency since then, most recently issuing “Roses,” a song with Christopher Williams and Gregg Jackson that was nominated for a SoulTracks Readers’ Choice Award in 2020.
We look forward to seeing Alexander O’Neal do his thing for his fans on this final tour but hope it won’t be the end of his recording career.
Migos fans should be pleased to know that Offset has a new record with Icewear Vezzo and his late bandmate/cousin Takeoff potentially on the way.
Earlier this week, Set teased the trunk-rattling track on his Instagram Stories, which drew elation from fans on social media. The 56-second snippet finds Vezzo and Takeoff exchanging bars before Offset bursts through the song with fiery lines of his own.
The path to Set’s sophomore album has been arduous. Last August, he sued his former label Quality Control to reclaim ownership of his solo material. Then, in November, he lost his cousin Takeoff, who was shot and killed in Houston, further delaying the album. He was also involved in a fistful of skirmishes, including a verbal spat online with J. Prince and allegedly feuding with his Migos bandmate Quavo at this year’s Grammy Awards.
Musically, Offset has released several one-off singles to keep fans intrigued. Last August, he released “5 4 3 2 1” before following up with “CODE” featuring MoneyBagg Yo. Offset’s 2019 debut album Father of 4 netted a top-five entry on the Billboard 200 with 89,000 album-equivalent units. The offering also spawned his triple-platinum single “Clout” featuring his wife, Cardi B.
On the posthumous side, this is the latest offering from Takeoff after fans first heard The Last Rocket MC on Metro Boomin’s Heroes and Villians standout “Feel the Fiyaaaah” featuring him and A$AP Rocky.
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Jarrod Lawson has made a name for himself in R&B music. His covers of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” and The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps In The Dark” are just two examples of how Lawson’s talents have but put on display thus far. He returns with a remake of the Prince classic “I Would Die 4 U.” Lawson debuted his version of the song during a livestreamed concert at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Listen to “I Would Die 4 U” below.
In my view, an R&B vocal group renaissance took place during the 1990s. Trios, quartets and quintets rose to prominence giving fans timeless music that still resonates to this day. Listed below are some of my favorite male R&B groups of the 1990s.
Spring has sprung, and as temperatures heat up, so does the music, and I’m going to save you the sifting, by handpicking the hottest tracks by rising R&B/hip hop artists. This week, I’ve highlighted an array of easy listening from Lo Village and Veeze to Ric Wilson, 6lack and more. Enjoy.
Ric Wilson, Chromeo, & A-Trak have joined forces for the uber-wavy collaborative project, CLUSTERFUNK. Ahead of the nine-track set arriving March 31 via EMPIRE, the trio released the tantalizing single “Clusterfunk.” On it, Wilson delivers a number of unique flows, effortlessly melding the old and the new in a sonic ode to his hometown of Chicago.
Lo Village, “On Your Way”
After years of healing and growing, Maryland trio Lo Village has returned with “On Your Way.” For the group, the robust single “exists as a reminder that the journey doesn’t begin until you look within and bet on yourself. You will run in circles until this is understood,” the group says in a statement.
“Honeysuckle Neckbone” tells the story of a remorseful man who has lost his first love. The recurring phrase “sweet like candy“ references the intimate, addicting times the lovers shared, but also the bittersweet taste candy leaves when over-indulging. BLK ODYSSY linked with bassist Bootsy Collins to capture his ability to fuse jazz instrumentation with R&B/hip-hop melodies.
“If I had a dollar for every time these n—as hate, I’d be rich like Jay and Ye,” Veeze opens on his new single “GOMD.” The Detroit rapper declares that he “got rich with Babyface [Ray]” as the two came up “making plays.” On “GOMD,” Veeze expands on his calculated wordplay using woozy metaphors and similes to compare his success to that of other artists and public figures.
Rory feat. Jay Electronica and reggie, “Enough”
Rory recruits Jay Electronica and reggie for his new single, “Enough.” The single’s alt-soul rhythm is paired with a cinematic visual that sees Rory and his dog aimlessly roaming around a couple’s house. “Enough” is a single from his upcoming album, which he’s been curating for the last three years with new talent in the R&B space.
Donald Glover’s new thriller Swarm has been all the rage since premiering last Friday (March 17). Alongside the show, which stars actress Dominique Fishback, the creators also released a Swarm EP via RCA, featuring (of course) Childish Gambino, KIRBY and the series’ central fictional pop star, Ni’jah. “Agatha” is a bold rap anthem from Ni’jah, who is played by Nirine S. Brown.
Alex Vaughn & Ari Lennox, “Demon Time”
Alex Vaughn has quite the crew of homegirls. On her latest offering, HOMEGIRL PACK, she enlists R&B queens Ari Lennox, Summer Walker and Muni Long across three tracks. “Demon Time” proves to be a standout moment, as Lennox and Vaughn harmonize like honey, outlining their sexual conquests unapologetically.
Princess Nokia, “angels & demons”
On her latest break-up-centric EP i love you but this is goodbye, Princess Nokia goes the softer route — save for on “demons & angels.” “I would cover us in blood/ With a knife to a dove/ ‘Cause forever is my angle,” she yells passionately over the somber chorus.
6lack, “fatal attraction”
6lack has irresistible singles down to a science. On “fatal attraction,” the East Atlanta mainstay sticks to his foolproof formula, delivering vulnerable verses overtop romantic pianos and trap drums. The track arrives ahead of 6lack’s upcoming album, Since I Have A Lover, set to arrive March 24.
Amaarae, “Reckless & Sweet”
Amaarae is bringing all the sensual energy on “Reckless & Sweet.” The Ghanaian singer’s whispery tone pulls listeners in, while the delectable visual and body-swaying production keeps us all eyes and ears for the two-and-a-half-minute ride.