R&B from its very beginning has been a genre that has never been a monolith. Its ever-evolving sounds and artists, from the smooth slow jams of Barry White to the powerhouse that is Alicia Keys, have proved that the genre is here to stay and will be until the end of time. There are very few artists who can handle being passed such a legendary torch, but we’ve discovered 10 who you should definitely be on the lookout for when it comes to R&B in 2021.
#10. Kissie Lee
Photo Credit: Tiffany Terrell
Kissie Lee is one female R&B singer-songwriter who should be on all of our radars. Not only was she asked to perform on tour with Keke Wyatt but her single “My Love” has garnered over 1 million streams to date. She has written for Sammie, Tiny Harris, The OMG Girlz, Jacob, and R&B artist Jacquees. Her new track “Sheesh” featuring Lightskin Keisha is about to take R&B in the club scene to a whole new level.
Photo Credit: Francesco Carrozzini /RCA Records
Abigail Elizabeth Smith better known as Yebba is certainly one to watch. She first made her big break backup singing for Chance The Rapper in 2016 on SNL. She has collaborated with superstars such as Drake and Ed Sheeran. But one could argue that her best collaboration came from a duet with P.J. Morton on “How Deep Is Your Love”, a remake of the Bee Gee’s classic, and she steals the show. With her debut release Dawn thatfeatures the infectious single “Boomerang”, Yebba is on her way to making a lasting mark on R&B.
#8. Victoria Monét
Photo Credit: Micaiah Carter
This singer, songwriter, and record producer has been compared to no other than Queen B herself with her style and performance. Ms.Victoria Monét has written songs for several artists including Nas, Ariana Grande, Chris Brown, and Diddy/Dirty Money. Songs like “F.*.C.K (Friend You Can Keep) and “Coastin” are what has propelled this young woman into R&B stardom. We look forward to what the future holds for this superstar in the making.
#7. Sam Drew
Photo Credit: RCA Records
Sam Dew is a singer-songwriter breaking through from Chi-town. He developed his strong songwriting skills by working with hitmakers like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Mary J. Blige. His latest single “NTWFL” is a vibe all to itself. It samples the classic house jam “Now That We’ve Found Love” with a Weeknd-ish vibe. Sam is absolutely someone to watch.
#6. Lazurus Lynch
Photo Credit: Anisha Sisodia
This forward-thinking queer artist is on the rise fast. Not only is he gaining recognition for his contributions to fashion, but also his hard-hitting, drum-shaking single “Black Queer Anthem” sounds like a champion’s song. Other standout tracks include the smooth “In My World” and the heartfelt “I’m Gay”. Lazarus certainly is resurrecting R&B in his own right
#5. Snoh Aalegra
Photo Credit: Twitter via Snoh Aalegra
Snoh Aalegra is a Swedish singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. Her smooth, easy listening songs have garnered her well-deserved attention. Currently signed to Rocnation/Universal Music Group she released her latest single “Dying For Your Love” which is currently climbing the R&B charts. She even featured A-list actor Michael B. Jordan for her “Whoa” music video. Snoh Aalegra is what R&B is all about; an easy vibe with a great bassline.
Photo Credit: Alissa Ashley
This R&B crooner from Los Angles is most certainly one to watch and keep watching for a long time to come. This singer-songwriter has given us hits like “Heartbreak Anniversary”, the second single from When It’s All Said and Done… Take Time, his compilation album, along with collaborations that featured Daniel Caesar on the Justin Bieber on the single “Peaches”, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. We hope Giveon keeps giving us what we need.
#3. Silk Sonic
Photo Credit: Harper Smith
Like peanut butter and jelly, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are a perfect match. The two have come together to collaborate on a project and become a part of the group Silk Sonic. The super duo released their debut single, “Leave the Door Open” earlier this year, and left us wanting more. With their new single “Smokin’ Out The Window” we are bubbled over with anticipation for their debut album An Evening With Silk Sonic due November 12.
#2. Ari Lennox
Photo Credit: Zara Israel
This chanteuse from Washington, D.C. is the first female artist to be signed to J. Cole’s record label, Dreamville Records. With grit and soul in her voice (reminiscent of Ms. Badu) she garnered attention with her hit single “BUSSIT” and now is taking over the charts with her new single “Pressure” which is a nice R&B radio bop. She released her first EP Pho in 2016.
#1. Summer Walker
Photo Credit: Twitter via Summer Walker
Probably one of the greatest R&B songwriters to date is Summer Walker. Her thoughtful and often painful lyrics and melodies have folks throwing out Mary J. Blige comparisons. Hailing from Atlanta (one of the Meccas of R&B), Summer grabbed us with her mixtape Last Day of Summer, which was an underground and commercial hit. With her new album Still Over It, she takes the genre to new heights and gives us a lot more Summer this fall.