Rated Next: MAJOR.

Meet singer and songwriter, MAJOR. It’s not only his birth name but it’s his mission: “My mom named me that because she prayed that I would make a major impact on the world,” he tells Rated R&B.

Born in Houston, Texas, MAJOR.’s life has revolved around music and entertainment. His musical upbringing included studying at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City and Berkley College of Music in Boston.

“My mom really pushed for us to have music as a part of our reality and I was the one who stuck with it and that’s why I’m here when I’m at now,” MAJOR. explains.

Although MAJOR. — who is signed to Grammy nominated producer Harmony Samuels’ B.O.E. Music Group — is a relatively new artist, his resume proves that he’s not new to the music industry, penning hits for Ariana Grande, Nathan Sykes and Sony Records’ Think Like A Man Too soundtrack, to name a few.

MAJOR.’s sound is the perfect blend of soul and pop, which sets him apart from the many Trap&B artists coming out.

In May, MAJOR. made his official debut with his dual single “Keep On” featuring Kevin McCall and “Why I Love You.”

MAJOR. recently sat down with Rated R&B to talk about his early beginnings, his plans for an EP, how he met Harmony Samuels and his thoughts on artists who don’t write their own songs.

Check out our interview below.

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Rated R&B: Who are some songwriters and singers that inspired you?

MAJOR: From a songwriting perspective, definitely artists like Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, James Taylor and Donnie Hathaway. As far as performers, it would be Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, Rat Pack, Jackie Wilson and Cab Calloway. Some of the artists today who I really enjoy and really would love to collaborate with would include Bruno Mars, Andy Grammer and Kanye West. I love their energy and what they bring to the stage.

Rated R&B: How did you end up signing with Harmony Samuels’ label?

MAJOR: Funny thing enough is when Harmony first made it out here, we actually came to LA around the same time. I was a family friend to Rodney Jerkins, the producer, and Harmony was brought in to work under Rodney. He definitely was one of the standout junior producers working at the time. Rodney used to have me in his studio listening to some of the new music he was working on with several artists. He would get my opinion and when I heard Harmony,  I was like “he’s got next.” Now I’m no Quincy Jones or anything like that but I was like “he’s just got it.” Me and Harmony reconnected a couple years later at church and then we were just like “Yo! Let’s work on some stuff.” He helped me find my sound and it’s been a few years since we’ve been working together. It’s been amazing because it’s just the right mix of everything I am. From the church to the soul to the big band to the jazz, it’s beautiful man.

Rated R&B: What’s the story behind your two singles “Keep On” and “Why I Love You”?

MAJOR: For “Keep On,” we were at Harmony’s home studio. He just started playing a beat and words just started coming. As we were going, we were like “we should get Kevin McCall on the track.” We just came together with the song and it was just it. Everybody that we let hear it, just locked in on the vibe.

“Why I Love You” was a melody that was inspired when I was on set for this web series. I went to Harmony with it and he was like “this is a love song” and that’s when we came with it. [“Why I Love You”] will be the blueprint love song — not just with the melodies and the instrumentation, but the conversation we are having about love.

Rated R&B: What inspired a dual single release?

MAJOR: We wanted to switch it up because a lot of people now are just doing one single at a time. We wanted to make a statement and let the people know that we’re coming strong. Think about back in the day, when artists released singles they used to have the side A and side B — on vinyl records and even on cassettes. That’s when we were like let’s do an homage to the yesteryear and let’s do it with something fresh and real.

Rated R&B: When can we expect the new EP?

MAJOR: Later this year!

Rated R&B: What sets you a part from the other songwriters-turned-singers out there?

MAJOR: I can only make an impact by coming from my truth. I can’t really say that this is just what makes me so different from everybody but I’m going to have a conversation from the experiences that I’ve been through and the understandings that I have. I want to inspire the earth. My music bridges worlds. It’s a conversation that brings everybody to the table for an epic exchange. That’s what my music is: it’s music that makes you feel good, music that makes you think better.

Rated R&B: What are some conversations you’re having on your EP?

MAJOR: It’s 7 songs and three interludes. The conversation that I’m having is about how you will find yourself delivering everything that you ever hoped for. Some of the songs talk about how life is going to hand you a whole bunch of crap that you weren’t expecting to get in your hands but it’s how you choose to act — how you choose to respond will make the difference.

Rated R&B: It seems like some critics will bash an artist for not writing his or her own songs. As a singer-songwriter, how would you address critics?

Some people have the gift of putting words to what they want to truly say. Some people have less of that gift. Nat King Cole didn’t write “The Christmas Song” but he sang it as if it came from his own thoughts. It was one of the biggest songs ever. At the end of the day, stop telling people they gotta do things a certain way in order for it to make sense.

For more information on MAJOR., visit nowthatsmajor.com.

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Interview: Tamar Braxton Talks Happiness, Lesson Learned This Year and Holiday Favorites

Tamar Braxton is an open book, especially in her music. From songs like “Raise the Bar” and “White Candle” to “Broken Record” and “King,” the Grammy-nominated singer knows how to pen the ups and downs of love.

In late September, the Maryland native released her fourth and last album, Bluebird of Happiness. The 11-track set unfolded the private love stories with her estranged husband and former manager, Vincent Herbert.

As a special guest on The Great Xscape Tour, Braxton soothes her wounded love scars by addressing her true feelings on stage. With profound performances of “Blind” and “My Man,” her fans get to witness her being vulnerable, yet buoyant during her healing process.

Rated R&B caught up with Braxton backstage after her 45-minute set at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC to talk about her last album, happiness, her holiday favorites and more.

Check out the interview below.

RATED R&B: You’re currently on The Great Xscape Tour. What’s been your favorite or most memorable moment so far?

TAMAR: I think the most memorable moment was when Kandi and Tiny were in my dressing room in North Carolina while the Alabama game was going on. Of course everyone in the city was gone to that game but we managed to still sell out. We were like, “Oh my God, can you believe that we are here? We really made it. We really did it.” Tiny and I always said we wanted to do this since we were younger. We just didn’t know it would be like this.

RATED R&B: “Blind” is moving up on the urban AC radio chart. Can we expect a visual for the song in the near future?

TAMAR: Well, that’s a long story but I’m going to say yes. There were a lot of obstacles when we put out Bluebird of Happiness that we didn’t expect to happen, but they did and we had to put it out anyway. There was a movie attached to this album but it got detoured. We’re trying to fix it now. We’re playing the waiting game.

RATED R&B: Is there another single choice in mind if the video for “Blind” doesn’t come out?

TAMAR: I don’t know. I always wanted either the Yo Gotti record “Hol’ Up” or “The Makings of You” to be singles. We’ll see.

RATED R&B: Speaking of “The Makings of You,” that record along with “Pick Me Up,” are just some of the many songs on Bluebird of Happiness with incredible samples or interpolations of timeless R&B records. Which record took the longest to get cleared?

TAMAR: I honestly did not have any pushback at all. In the past it does take a long time. I think producers went into this record prepared themselves for it [laughs]. It’s so funny the Gladys Knight record came up though. I’ve been knowing her for a very long time. Her son wanted to take me to the prom back in the day [laughs]. I explained to her what the song meant to me and how Claudine is one of my favorite movies. She was like “Of course, darling.” Curtis Mayfield’s estate was so generous too.

RATED R&B: What makes Tamar Braxton happy?

TAMAR: What makes me happy is being around good people, laughing and smiling — not having any drama because I don’t have time for it. During our show prayer today, I was saying, “God thank you so much for such a great group people” because we have absolutely no drama. Also, being a good mother to my son Logan. I believe co-parenting with Vince and getting along with him to make sure Logan has a stable family environment is important in making me happy.

RATED R&B: On each album, your sound matures and your writing abilities continue to become more superb. How has your evolution as an artist helped you evolve personally and professionally?

TAMAR: I’ve always been a stickler on professionalism [laughs]. But personally, I think I am more honest about my feelings and how I truly feel. I have no problem telling you how I truly feel. It’s something about telling the truth that is liberating. I know now that there’s a way to deliver it [laughs]. The only time you find the truth to be offensive is when you’re not ready for it. You have to be ready for it. You have to be ready for evolving. Honesty is what helps us evolve. That’s what works for me.

RATED R&B: You are very active on social media. With you having such a huge following, how do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?

TAMAR: I take it as an opinion. I don’t know you, so I’m not going to feed into you. The only time that you have real negativity is when you feed into it. Most of the time these people don’t know what they’re talking about. But like I said on stage tonight, “People are always going to have something to say. You just might as well live your best life to the way you want to live it because everyone is going to have a comment.” So however you feel, God bless you but this is what works for me [laughs].

RATED R&B: With 2017 coming to an end, what’s one lesson you’ve learned this year?

TAMAR: For me, not to put yourself down. Don’t beat up on yourself. I remember when I use to beat up on myself constantly. Instead of looking at the things that I did achieve, I looked at the things I didn’t. It took away from the overall pure happiness that I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t get there if I constantly beat myself up. It’s almost like I was my own hater [laughs]. I already have people on social media saying negative things about me, why do I need to add to it? So you have to be your biggest cheerleader and believe in yourself. You have to get to a point where you don’t care and just do you.

RATED R&B: So the holidays are here. I know that you’re a foodie. What’s your favorite holiday dish?

TAMAR: Chitlins [laughs]. My mom pulls the membrane out so the house isn’t stinking. I haven’t had it this year because I haven’t had a Thanksgiving dinner yet.

RATED R&B: Favorite holiday song?

TAMAR: I would have to say “The Christmas Song.” It doesn’t get any better than Nat King Cole, my sister [Toni Braxton’s], Mariah [Carey’s] and Whitney [Houston’s] versions.

RATED R&B: Favorite holiday movie?

TAMAR: Right now it’s Caillou’s Holiday Movie. I’ve seen it a 150,000 times thanks to Logan [laughs].

RATED R&B: Favorite childhood Christmas gift?

TAMAR: The Nintendo Power Pad. It was when Nintendo first came out and they had these little blocks that you could run on and jump over. It was the bomb [laughs]. Everybody is missing out now [laughs].

Make Tamar Braxton’s final album, Bluebird of Happiness, a holiday stocking stuffer this season. The new album is available everywhere.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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BET Premieres New Digital Series ‘State of R&B’

BET has launched a new digital series called State of R&B. The three-episode series features a panel of music influencers including singer/songwriter Sevyn Streeter, singer/songwriter Elijah Blake, singer Rachel Kerr, producer Harmony Samuels and songwriter LaShawn Daniels. The panelists candidly speak on a range of topics including their love for 90’s R&B, how technology has changed the music business and how they’ve been healed through music.

Episode 1: “90’s Back”

In the 1990s, R&B matured in a way a man or woman who has found their stride in life would. Fronted by artists with impeccable vocal abilities, performance technique and star power and backed by major labels, the ’90s saw R&B reign supreme. Music industry influencers LaShawn Daniels, Sevyn Streeter, Elijah Blake, Rachel Kerr and Harmony Samuels discuss the impact of 90’s R&B. The group discusses icons like Brandy while also paying homage to our Soul Train Awards honorees Toni Braxton and SWV.

Episode 2: “What’s Good Now?”

Technology has changed the music business. Now the way music is created, consumed and experienced has changed. Sonically, R&B is more explorative and discovery tools (streaming services) and social media have been key platforms to showcasing the genre’s versatility and influence. We’ll discuss what’s working, what’s interesting and what’s developing. Watch as music industry influencers LaShawn Daniels, Sevyn Streeter, Elijah Blake, Rachel Kerr and Harmony Samuels dish on the new model of R&B.

Episode: “Music Heals the Soul”

What is music’s role in today’s turbulent social and political times and people’s everyday lives? Based on the theme of this year’s Soul Train Awards, “Music heals the soul,” we end the series with an introspective conversation about the transformative power of R&B/soul music. Watch as LaShawn Daniels, Sevyn Streeter, Elijah Blake, Rachel Kerr and Harmony Samuels discuss the powers of R&B music. The conversation takes you on a journey of vulnerability, being authentic and trusting the process.

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Chart Check: Lyrica Anderson and A1 Heat Up Urban Radio, K. Michelle Lands on Urban AC

Lyrica Anderson A1 Bentley K. Michelle

Welcome back to another edition of Chart Check! Each week, Rated R&B provides detailed insight to the chart movements of your favorite R&B artists and R&B songs. In this updated format, we will discuss Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs (Urban AC) and Nielsen’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of November 25, 2017:

Urban Radio

Cassie has officially returned with her new single “Love a Loser.” The song, which features rapper G-Eazy, received 14 adds on urban radio formats in the latest tracking week. This is Cassie’s first single since “The Boys” with Nicki Minaj, which was released in 2012.

Married musicians and Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood” stars Lyrica Anderson and Floyd “A1” Bentley have been working behind the scenes writing and producing songs for other artists for years, but 2017 is looking to be the year for their own work to finally take off. This week, A1’s SWV-sampled single “Always” landed on the official urban radio chart at No. 40. The song, which features Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, gained a 213 spin increase since last week. Meanwhile, Lyrica is floating four spots under with her tune “Don’t Take it Personal,” which is the lead single from her recently released album Adia. The song was spun 496 times and picked up one add at urban radio in the latest tracking week.

N.E.R.D. and Rihanna are two of the music industry’s most elusive acts, but they may have a hit on their hands with their new collaboration “Lemon.” After being released just a few short weeks ago, the bouncy banger has officially landed on the Urban radio chart at No. 39. The song garnered a whopping 420 spin increase at urban formats, the third-most in the latest tracking week.

Urban AC Radio

dvsn is ready to multiply their recent success by sending their first single to radio. That’s right: “Mood” has been selected as the first radio single from their latest album Morning After, which was released on Oct. 13. The single received eight adds on R&B radio formats, which is the most for the latest tracking week.

MAJOR. has returned to the R&B scene with his new single “Honest,” which leapt onto the Urban AC chart at No. 17 last week. The momentum continues this week as the piano driven ballad skips 17-16, garnering a 60 spin increase since last week. The song also received six more adds at R&B radio formats.

With her first charting single, K. Michelle’s new era has officially begun! This week, “Make This Song Cry” landed at No. 27 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart, thanks to a 51 spin increase since last week. This is the first radio single from the Memphis-bred singer’s upcoming fourth studio album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, which is set for a Dec. 8 release date.

Quick Notes

And in quick notes: Miguel’s War & Leisure lead single “Sky Walker” is picking up speed as it rises 16-14 on this week’s Urban radio chart. The single received a 282 spin increase and has crossed the 10 million mark in urban radio audience; Rapper DeJ Loaf and singer Jacquees’ new single “At The Club” continues to rise on urban radio, sitting just 3 spots below the official chart. The song received four adds in the latest tracking week; John Legend’s newest Darkness & Light single “Penthouse Floor” debuts at No. 26 on this week’s Urban AC chart. The song, which features Chance the Rapper, was the highest debut of the week; and finally, Kenny Lattimore has finally made a “Push” right onto the Urban AC chart, as he is the last of the three debuts this week. His new single, from his new album Vulnerable, landed at No. 28 with a total of 211 spins at R&B radio and formats.

What about you? Are you feeling Lyrica and A1’s new singles? How well do you think Cassie’s new song will do? Did you enjoy this week’s Chart Check? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below!

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