In today’s age of R&B music, much of the sound of the genre for the past few years have been most of the trap-ridden type beats with artist like Bryson Tiller, The Weeknd, and Ty Dolla Sign taking advantage of it and evolving the sound. This Ultimately has lead people to say that the original sound of R&B has died off with the genre evolving into new sounds and claims nobody is talking about love anymore. Thanks to Playlist curators like R&B Radar a multifaceted platform by CEO Tommy Banks that broadcast a lot of indies and rising R&B acts through various playlist, radio show, and artist spotlight that’ll assure you that R&B is just fine. R&B Radar make it easier to find artists who’re now bridging the gap between Old School and the New Era of R&B with this new resurgence of the genre. So with the courtesy of R&B Radars blessing, we present to you 12 Emerging Artist from R&B Radars 2019 Freshman R&B List.
A singer, songwriter, and producer, Summer Walker is R&B’s most anticipated rising acts. The Atlanta, Georgia-based artist is known for her elemental contemporary R&B that reflects off her inspiration drawing from highly praised artists Erykah Badu, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse. Her ability to arrange her distinct brand of R&B which is very present in her smash single “Girl’s Need Love” which caught steam over the latter half of 2018 and later in 2019 getting a remix feature with Drake. Also in her latest projects “Last Day of Summer” she displays her raw thoughts, confidence, doubt, love, and everything that comes with womanhood. The four-track EP “CLEAR” we see Summer Walker merging her vulnerability with a Neo-jazz set. Sign to Atlanta based label-collective LVRN who has introduced us to talented acts 6lack, and DRAM, so judging off their respective success Summer Walker is greatness walking upon us and we’re here for it.
Formerly known as David Brown for his songwriting ability when he used to co-write for R&B stars Keith Sweat, Ne-Yo, Ella Mai, and Mary J. Blige. Lucky Daye is a singer with a solid sound that’s full of live funk, strings, and bass that’s drawing a similar comparison to R&B counterparts William DeVaughn, BJ The Chicago Kid, Daniel Caesar, and Frank Ocean. He is part of the new R&B contemporary wave of artist that’s testing the sound by merging it with other genres. Signing with RCA imprint Keep Cool he released two latest project’s “I” and “II”. The standout tracks “Roll Some Mo”, and “Real Games” give a colorful inviting soundstage that comes with “Rap-Talk” cadence that elevates him beyond your normal R&B singer. It’s clear Lucky Daye isn’t looking to fit into today’s sound of R&B but as many other artists are doing he is blending in new sounds to help keep the genre alive!
Not first known for her singing but you may have seen her as Zoe Vaughn from her brief stint on MTV’s horror series “Scream”. The multi-talented Kiana Lede is making waves onto the R&B scene with her breakout song “EX” where you’re able to hear her buttery vocals. The Arizona Native now based in Los Angeles first busted onto the scene with her #SoulFoodSessions in 2016 doing popular covers acoustically generating over 50 million-plus views. This would eventually catch the eye of Republic Records who would eventually sign her. Since then she would go on to contribute to “Big Spender” off the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack and release her debut EP “Selfless”. Her lyrics are filled with confessional and catchy emotions that’s very present on her single “Fairplay” which has amassed more than 10 million streams. Kiana Lede is destined to break out as her anticipated album is due to drop this year expect it to be charged with a raging fusion of R&B, Pop, Alternative, and Indie sound.
Quickly becoming the one to watch in her hometown of Toronto the talented songstress is poised for a Big 2019. Within the past few months she has opened for the legendary Lauryn Hill, performing alongside Kehlani’s DJ Noodles, and at the end of the year performed for the annual New Year’s Eve show at city hall which there were 50,000 people in attendance for the event. Thanks to her early success Liza’s growing fanbase is eagerly awaiting her sophomore project which is due in the spring. For now, while we wait for her project her latest single “Morning Glory” produced by Akeel Henry who is known for his work with Jeremih, Ty Dolla Sign, and DVSN is an ode to the perfect moment of peace you feel after waking up to the one you love.
Virginia-born R&B artist has quietly risen to the forefront of R&B’s new wave of brilliant talent. Growing up in a religious household listening to gospel music was the norm throughout his youth. That was until he would get a hold of his sister’s old mp3 player which had a load of songs on it. He recalls “She had everything from Puff Daddy and Chris Brown to Keisha Cole, Alicia Keys, and Ne-Yo. I was obsessed!”. Marco McKinnis holds true to his gospel roots but also reflects his parents’ extensive jazz collection. His latest single “Another Love” off his debut EP “Underground” you can clearly hear the influence of the jazz arrangement with the deep soulfulness we love in R&B that sounds like it comes straight out of a Sunday service. Coming from under the Republic Records umbrella we expect Marco to preach his soul out into the mainstream of R&B.
Pink Sweat$ singing career grew into existence merely as an act of urgency and “The universe [giving] me a reason to sing again” as he states in an interview with Billboard. Before taking up singing seriously the Philly Native now residing in NYC was happy with just songwriting and being behind the scenes as he had written songs for Florida Georgia Line, MAX, and Tierra Whack. The motivation for the uplift in his singing career was his peers around him recognizing his talent and then came “achalasia” a rare disease that deteriorates the nerves in your esophagus and from that point on, he knew his mission as a singer. Pink’s music is rooted in R&B and Soul, but he strips genre-specific production to blend more of his ever-fresh melodies and introspective lyrics into the song. Signing a publishing deal with Artist Publishing Group and then signing with Atlantic Records due to his astounding songwriting he would go on to release “Volume 1” and “Volume 2” which has racked up tens of millions of streams. The difference between Pink Sweat$ and a lot of R&B acts is the soft acoustic ballad sound he brings to his music as most of his tracks are drum-less and focus more on instruments one notably being the guitar which you can hear on standout tracks “Honesty”, and “Drama”. This is not the usual approach R&B artist are taking today as trap-drums have been a heavy influence in the genre today. Pink Sweat$ is geared up for a great 2019 as he’ll be touring the US and UK sharing his newfound beloved soothing ballads lullabies.
Rising in the ranks of R&B newcomer Tone Stith has built quite the resume. From endless cover’s, providing songwriting material for Chris Brown, earning co-signs from Drake and Justin Bieber, performing alongside H.E.R. for her “I Use to know her Tour”, to inking a deal with RCA to further implement his talent. Coming out of Southern New Jersey he was brought into the music scene at a young age with his parents keeping a sound diet of healthy R&B acts on his plate with musical legends like James Taylor, Michael Jackson, Prince, The Beatles, and The Bee Gee-a classic on repeat. The influence is quite apparent in his projects “Can We Talk” and “Good Company” which embrace his contemporary au courant R&B style and vibrate vocals which can be felt in standout tracks like “Doin It for Me” and “Let Me”. In 2019 looks to continue his romantic R&B gospel and further rise the stake in his music career with more projects to drop.
“Being a musician is the most fulfilling passion in the entire world. Making music enhances my self-awareness because it allows me to better understand my own feelings and express those emotions/thoughts to those around me in a very authentic way.” Very Raw words from the 19-year old Seattle born artist but that is exactly what you get from her music. Umi’s sound is a mixture of lo-fi, alternative, and laid-back R&B style that molds well with her warm yet pure voice. Her music reminds you of days spent at the beach and carefree summers with tracks like “This Universe”, “Remember Me”, and “Butterfly” these also showcase the vocal talent as her voice effortlessly cruises over the melodies. Currently operating as an independent artist and a student currently enrolled at University of Southern California Umi is looking to break out in 2019 with more music, projects, shows, collaborations, tours, and festivals.
Houston born now LA-based Artist C.S. Armstrong is another artist on the list who is bridging the gap in blending the sound of R&B. If you were to take a walk inside the artist shoes, you’re sure to hear Legendary Artists like Buddy Holly, John Lee Hooker, Sarah Vaughan, Paul McCartney, and Ray Charles flow by his mainstream of music intake. In his recently released 10-song EP Project “Truth Be Told” these influences make perfect sense on why his sound is so special as he bends the R&B genre by combining Hip-Hop, Blues, and Rock while also staying true to his gospel roots in his delivery. Food for thought C.S. Armstrong is a jambalaya of sound you may not heard of before but oddly enough sound too familiar to ignore especially in stand out track “Still Can” which sounds like it came out of the ’60s or ’70s from your Grandmother or Grandfathers cassette player. Gaining the attention of COLORS Studio, Red Bull Sound Select Artist, and Air Jordan by Nike his stance in the industry is only going above and beyond in 2019 with his unique sound.
Sunshine State native but now residing in LA Symphani Soto’s beauty and charm is undeniable and her smooth, sultry, soulful R&B is a perfect match. The 25-Year-Old singer/songwriter is a Beauty and Fashion Connoisseur before she got into creating music as she models and has a Vlog series for makeup tutorials and beauty advice on her Youtube Channel. Symphani Soto feels as though “[She] fits perfectly” in this realm of R&B & Hip-Hop as she is in the corner of most people of the Millennial Generation who are searching for that 90’s R&B to be brought back. “I am” her latest project embodies that persona of old school R&B by keeping that Neo-Soul, and Jazz inspiration through her emotional vulnerability which she states is “inspired by personal relationships and experiences” which we all can relate to. On standout track “All I know” you can feel her sing from the heart, building off the trails and tribulations of her reality. Whether it’s her being a beauty guru or music maven Symphani Soto is looking to skyrocket to the top and surprise everyone with her endeavors in 2019.
If there’s one way to describe Kyle Dion I would have to say his sound is Miguel Meets Maxwell for a funk fuel R&B drive out the 90’s. The formerly South Floridian now LA-based artist is sure to have your mom insert him into her Old School R&B playlist and he would fit just perfectly as his timeless lush, funk, and soulful groove is sure to get them to bop. Standout tracks like “Brown”, “Cool Side of The Pillow”, and “On Fire” off his latest project “SUGA” display why he compares to R&B legend’s Maxwell and Usher as Kyle Dion’s airy and buttery vocals hold an impressive emotional gravity. His artistic, adventures and hyper-seriousness for his craft should push for a big 2019 after his sophomore project “SUGA” is sounding like one of the best R&B albums of the year so far.
The Nigerian born sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike form the dynamic contemporary R&B duo VanJess who have a 90’s-inspired spinoff on their soulful sound. Taking inspiration from memorable 90s act like SWV, Jodeci, and Brandy, but also incorporating elements from artist like Da Brat, Jill Scott, and early TLC make there sound that much more lovable. The two sisters know how to play off one another with there cohesive sound as if they can read each other’s mind. Usually singing the lead Ivana has a deep well-rounded voice that “can cut across a song like a thunderclap” according to a Pitchfork article on the artist. Jessica comes in as the lighter voice that’s a bit scratchy that brings flair to all their tracks for support. Creating a singular bond over the years the two first started off doing cover’s on Youtube catching their break off a Drake “Headlines” cover that went viral. From there on they would go on to release their own work with a five-track EP “00 Till Escape” in 2015 than dropping their debut project “Silk Canvas” in 2018 that was well received. Standout tracks like “HoneyWheat”, “Control Me“ and “Addicted” are perfect examples of what they bring to R&B with there blend of a contemporary electronic touch with an effervescent bounce and vocal synergy. With all the success VanJess accumulated in 2018 with their “Silk Canvas” release, they look to build on that success in 2019.
Southside Chicago’s own Ravyn Lenae laminates energy that is wise beyond her years as she’s only 20 years of age. Her soft, composed falsetto is the signature to her futuristic soul that’s reminiscent of the great Erykah Badu. Her artistic breakthrough would come in 2015 working with Classick Studio with Producer Monte Booker and rapper Smino under their collective “Zero Fatigue” and releasing her first project with them “Moon Shoes” which would lead to her signing with Atlantic Records in 2016 and releasing her 2nd project “Midnight Moonlight”. Due to the success of her projects this would garner features from artist like Noname, Mick Jenkins, Saba, and getting opportunity to open up for SZA, and Noname on their respective tours. Crazy to think she accomplished all this while still in High School, but it goes to show how special her talent is and potential growth which peak in her latest project “Crush EP” which she exclusively worked with Steve Lacy to produce the project. The standout track “Sticky” is destined to be a fan favorite as the strutting guitar and jazzy coo’s usher her in like water to a sunflower blossoming in the sun with her unshakable falsetto to set the tone. Growing a rapid fanbase the artist who labels her sound for the R&B genre as “dreaming” due to her being able to channel blend R&B, Jazz, and pop to produce her eclectic sound is on the rise and doesn’t look to stop in 2019.
Let us know if there are Artist on the rise on the list you feel could’ve been deserving on the list or did R&B Radar hit it on the nail. For More of R&B Radar’s Content be sure to visit there website RnbRadar.com to listen to all there curated playlist and make sure to follow them on there on there social media accounts to see their latest content.