The first month of the year is always a tough one, and it's by no means been a smooth ride, but good music always helps us through, and January has offered up some gems which have truly blown us away. Here we present to you a collection of our favourite, most inspiring releases getting us through the month from here in the UK and across the pond, with the hope you'll find some solace and inspiration of your own amongst the madness.
Mac Ayres has gained a strong following since his debut back in 2017, and his fourth highly-anticipated studio album Magic 8ball did not disappoint. The project is short and sweet at only eight tracks, but these eight tracks are what Ayres describes as his best music yet. There's no room for fillers here.
These are songs about love, loneliness and growth, with slow jams aplenty as can only be expected, plus a funky pick-me-up in the form of 'Where U Goin' Tonight?'. UK beatmaker Conor Albert steps in on production credits for the hypnotic 'Nothing Else'.
"As artists and people we are always changing, growing, and transforming. But at the end of the day, I am just a guy who loves writing songs." It's safe to say, Mac is a man who never misses.
Jazmine Sullivan has been working hard. After a long hiatus, praised highly for her work as a songwriter for Monica, Mary J. Blige and a whole host of other R&B superstars, she's back with a project to call her own. With Heaux Tales, you can feel the confidence and growth in her voice and her material as she truly comes into her own.
Six free-flowing monologues (or 'tales') in between tracks from Sullivan's female friends, including R&B songstress Ari Lennox, provide an interesting movement to the project. As these stories unfold, Sullivan brings no-filter truths accompanied by her impressive trademark runs and jaw-dropping vocal acrobatics (notably: 'Pick Up Your Feelings').
Heaux Tales shines brightly with anthems of female empowerment. A fierce songwriter with a range to die for, Sullivan has done women everywhere a service with her bold expression of feminism, self love and sexuality.
The independent Brooklyn rapper returns exactly a year later with his sequel to last January's Lyrics to GO, Vol. 1. Weighing in at ten songs in just fifteen minutes, Kota describes Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2 like his diary, each track holding down its own special something within the project.
Complete with laidback lo-fi beats and assertive rhymes that are nothing but real, Kota's latest offering is a mellow and much-needed antidote for these winter months, low key and reflective, refreshing in all the right places.
Marie Dahlstrom's ethereal harmonies accompany a soulful take on the trials and tribulations that befall every relationship in her latest link up with producer Dan Diggas and rapper Aligo.
A year before 4inARow's release, the three set themselves a challenge: four hours, four evenings, four songs. The result of this experiment is a collection of lush R&B songs highlighting the trio's collaborative strengths as they navigate a different emotion encountered each consecutive night of writing and recording the EP.
Opening with the sensual 'Sparks', together the three narrate the beginning of a relationship, through to its inevitable disagreements, before eventually growing stronger with slow-burning closing track 'Growth'.
OVO Sound signees dvsn are entering 2021 very strong indeed, with a deluxe release of their late night R&B offering A Muse In Her Feelings, complete with a fresh take on its title and four new tracks in addition to the previous sixteen - and not forgetting a feature from Miguel.
“These records were records that we had while we were… the ideas of the beginnings of while we were creating A Muse in Her Feelings. So some of them just didn’t get done,” Daniel Daley (one half of the Toronto duo) said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music. “We didn’t get that Miguel verse until afterwards. We knew we were saving it for the right collaboration."
With melodies to die for, trademark sexy, slinky beats and honest lyricism, dvsn are undoubtedly masters of their craft, keeping modern R&B at the top of its game as we know it.
Discover more artists with our brand new personalised playlist, updating every week. Enjoy our worldwide selection of fresh hip-hop, jazz, r&b, soul & afrofusion.
Brighton’s future soul mainstays Yakul enlist LA-based Mereba for a beefed up rework of their highest streaming song to date, ‘Company’, co-produced by three-time Grammy winner Sam Barsh whose credits include Tiana Major9, Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar.
The first edition of our new interview section 'Futura Free', with London based creative and model, Funso.
This week's Fringe Film Fridays speaks to a looming issue with the vampire sub-genre and gothic as a whole. There is not enough BIPOC visibility.