Spring Jams: New R&B From YahZarah, Dondria and Miguel
YahZarah - "Why Dontcha Call Me No More"
Former Little Brother rapper Phonte penned this neo-soul-by-way-of-Prince pop song for his protege, D.C. singer YahZarah. She's a curious fit for the song, perhaps, her voice too friendly to fully sell its bitter sentiment, but that's part of what makes it such a charmer.
Miguel ft. J. Cole - "All I Want Is You"
In part because of his nondescript, search-engine-dwarfed mononym, I don't know too much about Los Angeles alternative soul singer Miguel, but this smooth, downtempo number, shaded with accents of late-'90s underground hip-hop, but this track nicely whets appetites for his forthcoming debut album.
Judging by the decent dose of commercial radio play it's already receiving, this lead single from Donria's debut album is one is already well on its way toward being a bona fide hit, and for good reason. The arrangement has a novel retro—but not too retro—soul vibe to it, which contrasts nicely against the modern, Rihanna-esque tone of Dondria's sweet voice.
Usher - "Fooling Around"
Usher's new Raymond Vs. Raymond is too heavy on oafish club cuts to live up to its early promise of a moving, Confessions-like examination of Usher's divorce, but buried toward the end of the record are a handful of smooth jams with the right amount of emotional burn to them. A nimble rumination on infidelity, "Fooling Around" is poignantly sequenced before the album's deep-cutting centerpiece, "Papers."
Maxwell - "Bad Habits (Remix)"
Mawell's comeback album BlackSummersNight was the epitome of sophistication, but there's nothing subtle about this guilty-pleasure remix of the album's eloquent "Bad Habits." The remix hijacks the song with a lurid, low-riding New Jack Swing groove that complements Maxwell's intricate vocal lines in unexpected ways. It's the ass-shaking highlight BlackSummersNight denied itself.