R&B Ain’t Dead: Kelela/Denitia & Sene/Rahel

Folks far and wide have ruled R&B a dying breed. But others have taken note that the genre began to experience a renaissance of sorts years ago while also arguably reaching a saturation point replete with newcomers just realizing it’s cool. Folks who jammed to their parents’ Stevie records, role played to “That Boy is Mine,” and saved up their lil’ teenage pennies for Who is Jill Scott know better. Though we may not hear much of the new R&B on our radio airwaves, it has made an impact underground and challenges the ill-informed to rethink the meaning of the genre. Each month, Freshphiles will highlight three of the new school offerings that have debuted in the last few years. Now you never have an excuse to say R&B is dead.

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Kelela, “A Message”–  This intoxicating, syrupy joint is trademark Kelela, but she manages to surpass even her most sensual tracks with “A Message.”  It’s smooth. It’s indulgent. And it’s a surefire way to drunk text Do Not Answer in the wee hours of the night.

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bey heading

As one blogger asked, where were you when Beyoncé’s self-titled album was dropped on December 13, 2013? The world was shell-shocked when the Beytomic bomb exploded on the musical landscape. After this initial shock and awe, fans of her music have been able to digest her masterpiece in all its glory. We can surely talk for days about her more explicit sensuality. Or her refined ratchetness. Or how this coincides with her shift in musical expression. I’d like to explore the latter of these two. And what it means for her as a black woman who grew up middle class in the south. They are these intersections of race and class—not to mention gender, which has already been talked about a good bit in feminist spaces—that  make Beyoncé so fascinating and, as one of my homegirls and Melissa Harris Perry (my homegirl in my head) put it, will doubtless be the album that launches a thousand woman’s studies papers.

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