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r&b

Music

A&R Factory Present: Cortez

Independent Pop/R&B artist Cortez Shaw today announced his debut single “Burn,” set to be released worldwide on June 6th, 2017.

Written by Shaw, the track features collaborations with producers Jalex and Taji Ausar (Kehlani,Usher, Ne-Yo), Grammy-nominated mix engineer Beau Vallis (Pharrell, Kelly Rowland) and Grammy-winning mastering engineer Randy Merrill (Chris Brown, Mark Ronson, Justin Bieber). “Burn” was inspired by real-life experiences, and tells the relatable story of love, betrayal, and heartbreak – with a twist. It features classic R&B-inspired verses and a soaring, powerful hook, showing off the dynamic vocal
range Shaw is known for.

A two-time finalist on the hit Fox television show “American Idol,” Shaw has earned high praise from around the world, and was recently cast in an upcoming major-network drama. His debut EP RAW is
slated for release later this year.

To learn more about Cortez, visit http://cortezshaw.com

Music

A&R Factory Present: August Twelfth

The passion for music runs through August Twelfth’s blood being the nephew of prolific blues singer Earl Green, so it’s not entirely surprising that August Twelfth is quickly climbing to success. Inspirations from big names such as Neyo, Chris Brown and Trey Songz, August Twelfth’s swift vocals combined with a breezy summery melody is what makes his brand new R&B track ‘Come Make We Go’ a perfect anecdote to his personal sentiment.

August explains how, “I already know what emotions I want to portray in a song, it’s just finding the right words to say [it]. I find it eaiser to create lyrics using instinct rather than sitting with the lyrics on paper wondering ‘what should I say next?’”

‘Come Make We Go’ is built upon warm, harmonious instrumentals which unite alluringly with Augusts’ flowing vocals, which heightens the romance. August produces traditional R&B, similarities to his inspirations; it’s almost comforting to listen to an old school remake of R&B from the 00’s, a track highlighting the fluttery feeling of lust. The melody has a tropical edge which spills Augusts’ carefree words, conclusively expressing a jovial style ahead of the summer season.

‘Come Make We Go’ will be available via all major media providers from 12th May 2017 and more information about August and any upcoming live commitments can be found on his social media pages.

Facebook | Instagram | SoundCloud

Music

A&R Factory Present: Jamie Light

Emerging UK singer Jamie Light is proud to unveil debut single “Lies”, released independently via his own label, Ninth Park Records . The self-penned and produced track immediately stands out with its catchy hook and Jamie’s soulful vocals laid over glitchy electro beats—stemming from the singer’s love of electro music and the R&B/soul he has been influenced by since his early years.

“I always wanted to mix glitch elements with R&B to give my music a unique vibe and the result was ‘Lies’, which I wrote about a previous situation”, Jamie says of the track. “The song is about confronting the demise of a turbulent relationship and moving on when you can no longer gain anything from being in it.”

“Lies” is available to stream now and is the first single to be taken from Jamie Light’s forthcoming debut EP, RITUALS, scheduled for release in June. Keep up to date with all future releases and news by following Jamie and Ninth Park online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamielightt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jamielightt/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/jamielightt

Website: http://ninthparkrecords.co.uk/

Music

A&R Factory Present: Chey

Hailing from South Wales Valleys, the independent singer songwriter Chey has released a new studio endeavor, a track entitled ‘She’s Got You.’ The elegantly produced single is an insight into how Chey is infusing modern pop and R&B elements into a rather sophisticated sound unto herself. ‘She’s Got You’ is streaming now on SoundCloud and doing quite well amongst Chey’s fanbase. Is the praise deserved? Let’s delve into the single and find out!

Aside from Chey, the most vital element of ‘She’s Got You’ is the compelling production design. It’s masterfully scored with light synthesizer sections, a reverberated piano, and tactful beats that don’t overpower the music at all. The most unique factor in the soundscape, however, is a male vocal that’s autotuned in a particularly eclectic fashion, essentially offering a beat-like interlude every time he sings. Outside of select experimental hip hop records, this is an unusual occurrence, but it works so well for Chey.

As for Chey’s performance, her voice is terrific. She hits all of her notes with perfect ease, and it’s clear her voice hasn’t been manipulated or augmented. She’s a natural vocalist for this R&B-tinged pop sound, and her having Amy Winehouse amongst her cited influences isn’t surprising at all. Lyrically, she exhibits herself as a strong songwriter, too. ‘She’s Got You,’ while simplistic, is a haunting, melancholy journey through pining for somebody who already has a significant other. It’s a beautiful, but very sad song.

Chey showcases she has quite strong chops for a relatively new indie artist on the scene. She’s even released a more dance-oriented remix of ‘She’s Got You,’ and that’s a well done track, too. If this single is indicative of her larger output to come, she’s an artist worth keeping close tabs on. ‘She’s Got You’ is pop music done right, and I love the creativity that went into the production and execution of the songwriting.


https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCheyMusic/

Music

A&R Factory Present: Alain Bonus

At its best R&B is slick and succinct, it needs a certain sophistication in its production but a simple and direct contact with the listener. These are exactly the strengths that Last Night, the latest track from L.A. based artist AB plays too. A measured and clean-limbed beat gently moves the song along, whilst cool minimalist sonic enhancements and distant sounds wash through.

But such a song is nothing without the right vocal prowess and AB has this covered, and then some. Without forcing the point his delivery wanders from the understated, hushed and almost conversational to some unexpected highs. And whilst there is some smooth and deft guitar lines exploring the space between the beat and the lyrics, a lot of what this song is built on is atmosphere, as if the music is mainly there to harness emotion, anticipation and a whole host of intangible qualities – a sonic bubble, shimmering, translucent and delicate.

The phrase “less is more” might be a cliché, but clichés are there for a reason and it is a term that is actually very relevant here. Most artists concentrate on what they need to add to enhance a song, AB, I feel is more about knowing what to leave out.

https://www.facebook.com/alainbonus/

Music

A&R Factory Present: Mac Original

Mac Original’s status does not do him justice, as so patently hinted in his name, he asserts originality and musical capability in his debut 13-track album Breathtaker. The album is a takeover of and R&B where there are inspirations and influences from Frank Ocean, Andre 3000 and Pharrell. The masterpiece becomes an adventurous story which is articulated by Mac Original himself, shedding light on the cold hard truths of reality.

The album shifts from high points to low points throughout, with elements of sorrow in ‘Breathtaker’ and ‘Meaning Of It (So Close)’, a damning journey of transformation in ‘Huger St’, whilst ‘Let it Breathe’ is glowing with blithe. However, what makes Mac Original’s prolific creation so audacious is how he presents the underlying issue of race. Rather than constructing the matter into a song of blues, he turns it around into a track of optimism, creating a contingent confidence to an ongoing problem. Mac Original delicately glosses over the plight of apprehension with a soothing melody lead by a piano, which sets the song aside from other tracks in the album as the moment becomes quite sincere. Remarkably, the song is anything but suffering, and becomes the meaning of hope and promise. “I’m just reflecting on some pain for my last name/You know my ancestors, yeah I had several/Every problem settled wasn’t no pulling the metal/More like whips to the back, shit I still feel that”. There is no hostility embodied in between the lyrics, neither is there enclosed in the melody. Mac Original’s primary goal is to focus on the truth, reminding us “don’t be afraid of the dark/because the new sun is a brighter year”.

What makes each track pop is the variety of Mac Original’s own personality. He reveals moments of misery, but shares the original characteristic of the album and that is feel good groove. ‘Let It Breathe’ flies high with aspects of soulful funk and jazz, with the use of brass instruments lifting the auspicious ambience. A string of buoyant beats infuses a cheery quality, completely transforming the summery vibe. What’s most promising about Mac Original’s outlook is how the depth of his material is set on the struggle he bears; however, he refuses to let his own personal troubles obstruct him from his growing success. Mac Original fruitfully articulates this understanding, whilst the song itself is stimulating to our own difficulties and is comforting to us.

Elsewhere, the cracks are earnestly displayed in ‘Huger St’, a soothing melody which heinously turns abruptly half way through the track. The rapid transformation in the song and the faint sound of police sirens in the background is almost damning to the listener and becomes a track thirsty for hope. The beat overlaps the rhythm creating a state of confusion, and where the ripple in the sound becomes ambiguous, the mood fluctuates to solemn disposition.

A recurring theme that flows through Breathtaker is the coming of age notion. Mac Original has experienced things he can’t express, he has seen things he can’t explain, and the method he copes with tragedy is through musical expression. ‘Breathtaker’ is a chilling track which pulls on the heart strings. Mac Original delves deep into his emotions, discussing how he’s been told what he should be and who he should be, but none of that truly matters when his close friend passed away, the only person mattered to him. As the album continues, Mac Original’s authentic narrative is so cohesive in its fundamental meaning. A connection is built between the listener and emotions run high, which is why the album is so easy to comprehend. ‘So Close’ is another example of Mac Original’s heartfelt work. He champions the R&B element of this track, and manages to portray his message across in a slow jam style. There is a trait of loneliness is Mac Original’s detached voice, and perhaps he hits a spot of reservation that his listeners can relate to. Lyrics that many can relate to, “So close so close so close/Yet so far from you”, and despite revealing such delicate emotions, this is when Mac Original is at his strongest.

In an attempt to parade all aspects of human emotion in Breathtaker, Mac Original constructs just that, and more than what he was bargaining for. Efficaciously, he tells a story of affliction, but in some cases, he extracts the goodness from the bad. The combination of alternate genres demonstrates artistic style and enterprise, and what therefore brands Mac Original as an innovative artist unique to American hip-hop.

https://macoriginalsc.com/

Words Aly Mchugh
Music

A&R Factory Present: Big Chris

Every music genre has their big pow wow moment, making an influential turning point in time. For R&B it was the 90s, a music genre us 90s babies can’t get enough of. Big Chris takes his devoted listeners on a journey through time to such a mesmerising era. Big Chris recreates the likes of R Kelly, Mike Posner, The Dream and Usher in one sitting. After a successful release of his last single F The World in summer 2016, Bad Timing is set to release on 13th April 2017. The use of synchronised beats and a combination of auto tune vocals with Big Chris’ own smooth melody is an introduction to a true R&B sound. Elements of soul and pop elements are embodied in each track, with an urban twist the UK singer sets aside an enticing balance between old school and modern R&B.

The opening track “Bad Timing” is short and sweet, completely doing the album justice. Big Chris sways the melody into a quixotic undertone delicately and so effortlessly, and this is the same courtesy for each track that follows. The lyrics flow like sleet, making the melody relaxing and easy to listen to. ‘Get To Know’ builds up the tension with a variety of musical instrumentals, and lands with a high. The light percussion keeps the track positive and steady, and focuses on the cosmic ambience which is thrown into the mix.

Like many R&B productions, Bad Timing centralises around romance and the personal euphoria lust attracts. This is especially presented in ‘Spontaneous’, where the lyrics “Thank God I don’t do drugs/Because if I did this girl would fuck me up” is repeated throughout. Big Chris reiterates the notion that this intimate connection he has is on the same or even higher level as being on drugs. The idyllic attachment he has with this woman is so amorous he describes her as his own personal high. A similar approach is taken on ‘Deeper Than Luv’, where the soothing melody leads the song into a state of tranquillity. The track illustrates sentiment and strives to personify Big Chris’ profound emotions, reflecting on the reality behind romance. The tender nature of R&B reaches new heights where avant-garde orchestral instrumentals are introduced into the speculative track.

Big Chris is fundamentally endearing, and what we find with each euphonious track is how persuasive his catchy harmony becomes. “Shoosh” dominates the album where Big Chris uses a complete 90’s R&B inspired melody. What’s so intriguing about Big Chris’ style of music is how he can transform sexualised music into a sound of tender fascination. Big Chris channels the exhilarating aptitude of lust into smooth R&B, and triumphantly utters affection through his silk like lyrics. His gentle vocals is a testament to a close-knitted chemistry that is seemingly articulated across the album.

The album is set to be released on 13th April 2017 and will be available via all major media providers. More information about the artist can be found on his social media pages and official website.

Music

A&R Factory Present: Alex Rosales

The independent singer, songwriter, producer, and musician Alex Rosales has released his latest studio endeavor, a single entitled ‘High On This Love.’ The California-based performer has previously found notable success in the Spanish rock outfit, Mantra, and through remixing Spanish Top 40 hits for Warner Music. Rosales has been a YouTube sensation, too, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on his work. Is ‘High On This Love’ worth taking a listen to, though? Let’s dig in and find out!

Right out of the gate, it is worth mentioning that ‘High On This Love’ doesn’t do anything new in any capacity. It doesn’t experiment with any sounds you haven’t heard before, Rosales’ songwriting is fairly generic, and the production is exactly what you’ll hear if you tune into your local Top 40 station. With that said, however, it’s not a bad song. In fact, it’s actually quite decent.

‘High On This Love’ is a pop love ballad with stereotypical lines the likes of “I could show you the world,” a lyric that should really best be left in ‘Aladdin.’ It’s also a very charismatic pop song, though, and despite its endless cliches, it’s an enjoyable listen. Rosales’ voice is spectacularly good, and it’s very refreshing to hear a vocalist who hasn’t been noticeably altered in post-production. His passionate performance sells this song.

Instrumentally, it’s a very noninvasive song. You could spin Rosales’ music in the backdrop of just about any activity and it would be perfectly apt. That’s perfect Top 40 music: infectiously catchy, inoffensive, and on occasion, actually intriguing to sit down and listen to. Nobody is going to accuse Rosales of being the voice of a generation or a poet, but he’s not trying to be either. He’s trying to do honest pop music. That’s worth respecting, and bubbly pop tunes like this singles are still worth having around.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that I would like to see Rosales explore more compelling territory in the future. ‘High On This Love’ is all fine and good, but he has a set of vocal chops that could enter the realms of soul, R&B, or just about anything else. Rosales owes it to himself to equip himself with stronger material than this. Hence, this is a song worth adding to your spring break playlist this season. It’s good, clean fun that’s well produced. It’s also indicative of an artist who could probably do even greater things with the right tools.

https://www.facebook.com/alexrosalesofficial

Words By Brett Stewart
Music

A&R Factory Present: Mandi Rose

Hailing from Los Angeles, independent pop music scene newcomer Mandi Rose has recently thrown her hat in the ring with ‘Back for More,’ a seven track EP that explores her reverb-soaked take on the genre.  The 20-year-old singer songwriter’s collection of songs is surprisingly versatile, showcasing her as a talent that could certainly broaden beyond just “pop” if she ever chose to do so.

‘Intro to Back for More,’ the minute-long, aptly-titled introductory track highlights Mandi Rose as an artist who is experimenting with different sonic ideas in a rather unique way. A scratchy radio switches from station to station as the listener hears Mandi Rose approaching a bevy of songs and genres. This is a perfect lead-in to ‘Make It Ours,’ one of the EP’s better songs. The pop ballad perfectly balances infectious pop influence and compelling production. At times, Mandi Rose is reminiscent of a younger Lana Del Rey.

‘Roll One’ has tinges of hip hop influence, especially in relation to the way the beats are orchestrated for the track. True to its subject matter, ‘Roll One’ is an easy-listening, suave pop ballad that’s non-invasive. It doesn’t have an explosive moment, but it doesn’t need one. It’s subtle and methodic. Structurally, ‘Lies’ is very similar, though that track actually delves into R&B and soul territory that’s especially fascinating for Mandi Rose. Her vocals on ‘Lies’ are some of the finest on the EP.

Another track with hints of R&B influence is the lovely ‘Don’t Go Away,’ a song scored by soft finger snapping and elegantly sparse piano and atmospheric synthesizers. “What about trust, what about us?” Rose croons,“what happened to you and me?” It’s a solemn track about the end of a relationship gone awry despite one party still wanting to fix its remnants.

The only feature on ‘Back for More’ is the rapper Destruct, who is spotlighted on ‘Hennessy.’ Frankly, it’s the least imaginative track of the seven. Both lyrically and musically the track pales in contrast to strong predecessors the likes of ‘Lies’ and ‘Don’t Go Away.’ Destruct does accentuate Rose’s sound nicely, though, and his feature is a welcome inclusion.

The best song on ‘Back for More,’ however, is its self-titled finale. ‘Back for More,’ the song, is the perfect culmination of every element that makes the EP as successful and fresh sounding as it is. There’s pop influence, but it’s injected with a heavy dose of R&B and contemporary soul, and Rose’s conviction as a vocalist sells each performance. ‘Back for More’ is a beautiful finale, and ‘Back for More’ is a truly surprisingly indie pop EP. It’s actually good, and that doesn’t happen often.

YouTube.com/mandirosemusic
Facebook.com/mandirosemusic
SoundCloud.com/mandirosemusic

Words By Brett David Stewart

Music

A&R Factory Present: O.G. Blake Owens

O.G Blake Owens introduces a new age contemporary sound to hip hop music, whilst preserving traditional elements of old-school rap, Owens merges a unique quality into hip hop culture. A gifted musician from New Orleans, Owens reinforces an American style of music into his brand new 10 track mix tape ‘The Balcony Music Project’.  Owens embraces both old to new school hip hop, rap and electro-pop/rnb, which have similar style from the likes of Erykah Badu, Kenrick Lamar, FKA Twigs and Jhene Aiko, as well as a dash of Owens’ own personal originality.

Owens starts off the mix tape with ‘Where I’m Coming From’, a funk and jazz backdrop whilst his effortless rapping glides into the track, and this completely dominates the mix tape. You’ll find the smooth vocals of Owens reiterate a silk like sound throughout the mix tape. When combined with the recurring R&B adaption, it is proven that Owens’ sound produces a different stance in hip hop. There is a bustling atmosphere amongst the variety of divergent attributes going on in the track. This however, works surprisingly well where they complement each other nicely.

Throughout the mix tape Owens lifts the mood to new heights, where his rapping is a natural process; the striking edition of dreamy female vocalists enforces an amiable balance. ‘Unfold’ follows the sunny set up of the mix tape, where Owens’ pensive rapping glides naturally with the chilled melody.  Whilst ‘Nobody Different’ shares a parallel composition of a radiant tempo, there is also a faint resonance behind the rhythm. The whole track is meticulously gripping, and whilst Owens’ MCing intensifies the moment, he delves deep into the social issues of youth culture.

Considerably, Owens touches base with the truth of relationships, which ultimately sways the mix tape towards a struggle of romance. Although ‘Playing Games’ leads the mix tape with a seductive stance, Owens sheds light on the lies, emotions and manipulation of a relationship. Proving his lyrical talent through rhythm and wordplay, he portrays this ideal coherently. Owens’ soft and swift rapping flows with the suave background tune, and whilst the female vocals provide the track with a feminine attraction, which inevitably lures the listener into the music.

As the mix tape progresses, Owens remains carefree and cool. ‘Gotta Keep Going’ and ‘Down For You’ retain a positive energy, and whilst the R&B and electronic instrumental produce an elusive character to the mix tape, the depth behind the lyrics is what makes the mix tape truly magical. ‘Gotta Keep Going’ is a clear expression of the hopes and dreams we feel when we’re young. Owens’ rapid rapping combined with GG Pender’s harmonious touch conveys a track of optimism. “This song is pure motivation/Use it accordingly when life takes you bad places.”

Yet, Owens continues to surprise his listeners with ‘Down For You’, which conjures a vivacious ambience with the lustrous tone between both Owens and GG Pender. GG Pender’s spectral voice is what makes the track so enchanting, and the untroubling lyrics smoothly reiterated from Owens on the compelling connection between the two is what makes the track so powerful.

O.G. Blake Owens predominantly is ahead of the game with his new age take on hip hop music. Whilst he dabbles in old school hip hop, he combines electronic-r&b and funk to produce the ultimate summer sound for 2017. ‘The Balcony Music Project’ is a complete session of feel good vibes, youthful ideals and captivation.

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