Trap soul, post-neosoul, this whole rap/sing thing: these days, it seems as though new musical genres are popping up everywhere, most of them from urban origin and humble beginnings. Alternative R&B, also referred to as indie/hipster R&B, is a contemporary style on the rise, too.
Whether you are in need of a mellow night at home alone, a hype workout playlist or some tunes for your next kickback, this urban boho scene has you covered. Here are five (totally underrated!) alternative R&B musicians worth getting to know.
A St. Louis native, SZA is a raspy voiced singer-songwriter with distinct voice and perspective. While she makes it a point to claim the “girl next door” title, she is far from typical, and if you are into chill vibes, yet meaningful lyrics, she is your girl. Recently, SZA released her new single “Drew Barrymore” off her album “CTRL,” which is set to drop some time this year. In the meantime, catch up on her latest EP, “Z” here.
2. Anderson .Paak
Fusing all types of old-school funk with millennial youth and wild energy, Anderson .Paak is a fast-rising star who snagged two Grammy nominations this year for best new artist and best urban contemporary album. While the Cali singer has been jamming his way to our hearts, he has also been collaborating with some of music’s most popular, including Dr. Dre, Mac Miller and A Tribe Called Quest. Check out his latest album “Malibu” here.
If I ever met a fairy, I am certain it would sing exactly like NAO. The London vocalist has a knack for delivering romantic lyrics through an aethereal lens with a slight retro twist. From the confidently affectionate sound of her song “Adore You” to the sweet, optimism of “Firefly,” a collaboration she made with Mura Masa, NAO is an eclectic artist bringing tons to the table. Check out her newest EP “For All We Know- The Remixes” here.
You have probably seen him featured on super successful tracks such as Drake’s “Too Much” and Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Now the British singer is coming out solo. Dropping singles such as “Timmy’s Prayer” and “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” Sampha delivers powerful indie ballads that stir up all the feels. Check out his debut album “Process” here.
5. Jorja Smith
If you like Adele (and who doesn’t?), you will love Jorja Smith. She is literally only 19 years old, but she sings like she has been put through it. While constantly laying down stripped-down records full of passion, sadness and honesty, Smith speaks to the human experience through feminine eyes and an old-soul approach. Check out her new album “Project 11” here.