RATED NEXT: British Singer J-Sol

j-sol

R&B music possesses strong international appeal and transcends cultural barriers. In the UK, however, their dose of R&B potion seems to be running low. Even though the genre has lost its prominence in the UK, British R&B artist J-Sol is striving to put a change to that. “Honestly, [R&B] is pretty much nonexistent,” he reveals. The emerging young artist is taking the initiative to rekindle the UK population back to the forgotten genre. “There’s not a lot of people doing it anymore and it’s not like it was before, but I think it’s definitely on its way back up and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Good thing J-Sol is equipped for the task at hand in reviving R&B back to his native country. For starters, the musician graduated from one of the top performing arts schools in the UK, The Brit School, with distinguished alumni such as Jessie J, Adele and Amy Winehouse. The training and skills acquired there has had a positive effect on his embarking career. “It’s had a good impact, it’s a very credible place to come from,” says J-Sol. He admits “it can be a lot of pressure at times because of the high standard that has come out of there,” but the “Keep It On The Low” singer is always up for a challenge. “I love pressure and being made to feel like I have to prove myself.”

As a validation of proof, the singer has already earned some bragging rights under his belt. He has opened for notable American acts such as Boyz II Men and Bobby V. and has stacked in his accomplishment basket his performance at the Olympic Stadium in London last summer for over 10,000 fans. The budding artist, just reaching his 20s, marks the experience as unreal and says when he thinks about giving up on music he remembers that exhilarating moment.

The singer by no means has any reason to surface a thought of giving up on his craft. He has a huge task at hand and with the high buzz of his current single “Keep It On The Low,” the Brit displays the elements that will bring R&B back alive in the UK with his catchy music that possesses swag and a british flare. “My songs always have a catchy part that I’m sure most people would know after first listen,” describes the artist about his signature sound. “There’s always some kind of attitude in my vocal performance. I think it’s very important [also] that you can hear where I’m from in my songs.”

J-Sol’s buzzing single “Keep It On The Low” birthed from BET’s hit drama series “Being Mary Jane.” The song stems from the idea of a man and his mistress keeping their side fling a top secret. J-Sol clarifies that the concept of the song is “definitely not a personal experience.” On the track, the British artist has his first collaboration with an American artist who happens to be So So Def’s Dondria Nicole. “I couldn’t wish for the chemistry between us to be any better,” comments J-Sol. “Once we discovered we both loved to eat we became pals,” he says jokingly. The chemistry between the two artists can easily be witnessed in the upbeat steamy video for “Keep It On The Low,” released less than a month ago, with both artists showing off their nice signature dance moves.

J-Sol will soon release his EP titled “Laid Bare.”Even though he kept lips sealed on a few details that couldn’t be prematurely exposed, he did give us some exclusive insight on what to expect for the project. “I worked with a producer called Mokeyz who has produced for artists such as Ariana Grande, Wretch 32, Misha B., Krept & Konan just to name a few. The song we did is called ‘Scream,’ written by Disturbing London artist J Warner.”

With his new music EP, hopefully the British singer can fulfill his mission to revive R&B in the UK. Even though R&B originated in the states, the Brit believes it is important to bring this music back to British land. Support J-Sol’s quest to expand R&B’s boundaries and his genuine passion for the treasured genre.

Follow J-Sol on Twitter @JSolWorld.

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Meet R&B’s New ‘Pretty Girl’ Rhyon Brown

With roles in That’s So RavenLincoln Heights and Get Rich or Die Tryin, Rhyon Brown has made her mark in the film and television industry. Now the millennial entertainer is expanding her entertainment resume in the field of music.

Under the guidance of Grammy-nominated producer Harmony Samuels, the West Coast native is making waves with her debut album, Pretty Girl. Released last month on BOE Music Group/EMPIRE, the project features her catchy tune “California,” as well as her emotional track titled “Gone.” 

In support of her debut album, Rhyon released a short film with the same title. The premiere event attracted plenty of Hollywood influencers including Kofi Siriboe, Megan Good, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Paige Hurd, Tasha Smith, Keith Powers, Niecy Nash, Skye Townsend, Nicki Micheaux and Insecure’s Y’lan Noel, to name a few.

Rated R&B recently chatted with Rhyon about her debut album, working with Harmony Samuels, her short film and more.

Check out our interview below.

What is the inspiration behind your debut album Pretty Girl?

My inspiration initially was simply to be honest. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time but this was my first introduction into the music industry and I knew the only way this would ever work was for me to be honest. People see through an artist not being who they are, fans are smart. Now, my inspiration has changed, and its to encourage people to recognize how great God has made them.

The album surprisingly doesn’t contain any features. Is this by coincidence or something you did purposely?

We didn’t have any features per say as far as my track list is concerned. I wanted to grow my fan base organically, with people finding me, liking my music and enjoying my message. I didn’t want people to like me only because I had another artist on my record that they were fans of. But I can say I have two songs graced with the presence of Andre Troutman, incredible artist and the best person I have ever had the pleasure of seeing work a talk box. No one does it better than him.

Along with your album, you have a short film. Tell us your experience creating that.

It was a rollercoaster. We pulled off a large feat with a group of very talented and dedicated people, but also a very small group. There were a lot of people wearing many different hats. Making this film and seeing how it is affecting people its literally a dream come true, but it took a lot of long days with very little sleep.

What is your definition of a Pretty Girl?

Someone that recognizes that her beauty isn’t found in anything this world can provide, and she shares that inspiring other people to feel and act the same way.

What’s your message to a girl who may not feel like she’s pretty?

The world does a really good job of telling women what they are supposed to look like and how they are supposed to feel, its not on the world to determine that for you. Being pretty is a choice, because everyone defines beauty differently. But when you choose to be pretty others will chose to look at you the same, because your belief makes it undeniable.

You’re signed to Harmony Samuels’ label BOE Music Group. How did you connect with him and is there anything you’ve learned about yourself while being under his wing?

I met him through someone that really believed in me that got Harmony Harmony to take a meeting, and rest was history from there. I’ve learned so much from him, the guy is a genius and one of the hardest working people I know. But its the fact that he’s a risk taker, and when God tells him something he’s willing to put everything on the line to make that happen and he reaps the benefits of that trust. So its made me be more of a risk taker, and more of a believer in my own purpose.

Although you may be new to music, you’re certainly not new to entertainment. Your acting resume continues to grow. Is there anything you’re currently filming that you can share with us?

My episode of Irv Gotti’s new BET show Tales actually just aired on October 24th.

Follow Rhyon on Instagram at @RhyonBrown. Stream Pretty Girl below.

Rated Next: Kevin Ross Talks Signing to Motown Records and Debut Album ‘The Awakening’

Kevin Ross has a voice that any R&B music enthusiast can appreciate. Hailing from Washington, D.C., the classically trained singer studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Not too long after graduating with a degree in songwriting, and landing writing placements for artists such as Trey Songz, Ross inked a deal with Motown Records/Universal Music Group.

“It’s such a prestigious label so I’m very honored to contribute what I have towards the legacy,” Ross told Rated R&B over a phone conversation. “It’s all about the new definition of soul. There’s a string of new artists who signed to the roster that has something different to offer than what people know Motown as. It’s really about redefining it in our generation.”

Ross most recently released his EP, Long Song Away, which is gaining a lot of buzz online — especially the title track. The project is just a taste of what fans can expect on his forthcoming debut album, The Awakening, which is slated to release in March.

Check out our interview with Kevin Ross below.

RATED R&B: How did you get into singing professionally?

KEVIN ROSS: The training started in high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. I didn’t realize I wanted to sing professionally until my sophomore year of high school. I wanted to figure what I wanted out of the music business. I knew that I was very creative, had a lot of ideas and a lot of music stored up in my heart and my soul. I needed a place where I could facilitate it, so I found Berklee College of Music in Boston. I honed my craft there. Once I graduated, I moved out to Atlanta and I started writing — that was back in 2009. That was really the beginning of my career in the music business as a professional. That was eight years of schooling and really just being in that shed and working on my craft.

You landed a recording contract with the legendary Motown Records. How did that come about?

It was a very natural progression for me. When Ethiopia [Habtemariam] — who is president of Motown now — was just stepping into that position, I did a showcase in LA around that same time. It just made sense for us to figure out a situation for me and a great situation ever since.

You may be young but you have an old soul. Who are some artists you look up to?

Stevie Wonder is my all-time favorite…Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Maxwell, Babyface, Usher, Smokey Robinson. I grew up around a lot of that music.

Your single “Long Song Away” reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Adult R&B Chart. Tell us your inspiration behind that track.

I wanted to do a song that felt like what you heard on [the D.C. radio station] WHUR. My parents always played WHUR, so I wanted to feel like home. Of course, the subject matter on top of that was something that I was experiencing as far as patience — understanding that everything that you desire in life takes time. There’s no exception with love and that’s what I kind of wanted to infuse with “Long Song Away.” I wrote it and I produced it, so that’s my baby. I’m very proud of it and I’m just truly humbled. This is my first single out the gate that was sent to radio and for it to be in the Top 10, God is truly the source of it and truly the source for what’s going on.

OK. So let’s talk about the Long Song Away EP…

Long Song Away, the EP, is kind of the prequel to the album. I wanted to create a body of work that reflected on [2016]. It feels good. It vibes really well and gets me really excited to show people the album — let people listen to it and for them to go in and take it in for themselves.

Your debut album The Awakening is set to release this year. What do you hope fans take away from this project?

It comes out around March. I really look forward to people listening to the inspiration that’s on there. This is my first album so I really touched on a lot of things. You have songs like “Be Great,” which is pretty much the introduction. We released that through Grey’s Anatomy earlier last year, so you’ll get a lot more of the “Be Great” and the “Long Song Away” side. It’s a very vulnerable and transparent record that speaks on a lot of issues that’s going on now.

Kevin Ross

What does The Awakening represent?

It’s me waking up as a man. Me waking up as an artist and understanding that my platform means something. I’m held accountable for the things that I say and the things that I think. You never know who’s listening. I think for me it was waking up for that. It was waking up for the God-given responsibilities that I have to the business, to the field of entertainment and to the world — in that I’m necessary, God told me I’m necessary and everybody else is necessary because we’re all made one of one. I just want to spread that message so that everybody can reach their full potential. The world could be a better place because of that.

Who did you work with on the album?

I worked with Babyface on one of the records. That was an awesome experience. I worked with Lecrae, he’s an incredible lyricist. I worked with BJ The Chicago Kid on “Be Great (Remix).” I also worked with a lot of up and coming producers.

Since this is your first album, what would you say you learned about yourself while creating the project?

I learned a lot. One of the biggest things I learned was how necessary I was — not just to the fabric of music but in my life, my family and my community and the world. I think once you understand your purpose and how important you are in the fabric of life in general, you walk with more confidence, pride and reassurance. I don’t believe that people are just here to exist and fill in the blanks.

Follow Kevin Ross on Twitter/Instagram @KevinRossMusic. Download/stream Long Song Away (EP) here.

Rated Next: Singer-Songwriter PJ is ‘RARE’

Photo credit: Jory Cordy
Photo credit: Connor Detko

Singer-songwriter Paris Jones, better known as PJ, is quickly making her mark in the music industry. The Los Angeles based singer started off writing for high-profile artists such as R. Kelly, and Chris Brown. Her songwriting career would eventually help land her a deal with Atlantic Records.

“I was in songwriting first,” PJ tells Rated R&B. “Basically, I had written for Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill and B.o.B. It kind of gave me my own sound. I really wanted to be an artist but I felt like people were overlooking me.

Me and my management went up [to Atlantic Records] with a couple of songs ready. At first they didn’t want to sign us. It wasn’t really until Interscope wanted to sign me that Atlantic gave me a shot.”

Instead of chasing trends, PJ has developed her own unique sound that is quite intoxicating. Her debut album, RARE, is proof. The 11-track offering, which includes her buzzing single “Gangster,” is packed with genre-blending songs that have some sort of encouraging message.

The refreshing body of work isn’t filled with too many features, though. In fact, there’s on three guest appearances: Ty Dolla $ign, G-Eazy and Jevon Doe, which allows listeners to really focus and appreciate PJ’s artistry.

Rated R&B recently caught up with the Atlantic Records signee to talk about how she got started with her career, her debut album and touring with K. Michelle.

Check out our interview with PJ below.

Do you remember the very first song you ever wrote?

I think I was in middle school. I think it was called “After Midnight” or something. It sucked, but that’s the first song I wrote.

What’s the meaning being the title, RARE?

It’s two things: I think that I’m rare myself and then I think the music is rare. I just write what speaks to me about being an underdog and trying to come up. Sometimes the tone of it can change. I’m influenced by everything — hip hop, rock, soul, R&B, all of that. It comes across on the album, which is why it has a sound of its own. It’s kind of like a fairy tale. I think that that’s rare.

pj-rare

The artwork for RARE is pretty interesting. What inspired that?

Killamari is an amazing artist. He lives in Atlanta. At first I just wanted to be animated but then we decided we wanted it to be like a world because I wanted RARE to be a fairy tale. I think it matches me and what goes on in my head — all those things floating around. So, that’s why instead of my brain it’s a steak because I feel like how I think and interact with people is a little different.

How many songs did you record for RARE? How difficult was it to choose the final tracklisting?

I recorded 15 or 16. There’s 11 songs on the album. We kind of switched them out at the last-minute. When I played it the last time it sounded great together. It was very hard because the thing I’ve been dealing with mostly is that my first EP was more on the urban side of things. So they were making sure that I just didn’t step too far in the left field.

Tell us about the title track? We love it!

That was the first song that I wrote for the album. I was just having a bad day and I felt like people didn’t really understand me. That was basically what came out of it. It’s one of my favorite songs from the album.

“Benjamin” is another song we like. What’s the story behind that?

That song is actually a year old. Me and my boyfriend, when we started talking, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to spend. It’s kind of like, for a girl, you have to choose between love and your career. They don’t really make men do the same thing. It’s like you don’t have to choose that. The woman has to find the place to fit in the man’s world. We have to decide are we going to be in love or are we going to have a career. “Benjamin” is about me chasing my dreams and getting this money.

You’re currently on tour with K. Michelle’s. What can fans expect from you on stage?

Definitely give high energy. I feel like my performance is more rapper-like than singer-like because once the lights come on, I’m ready to bounce everywhere [laughs.]

 

Stream RARE here and be sure to cop it on iTunes. Follow PJ on Twitter @justpeej