Top 4 Deep Cuts from Amerie’s Debut Album ‘All I Have’

Oh, how time flies! It’s been fifteen years since Amerie (now stylized as Ameriie) released her debut album All I Have on July 30, 2002.

While the project was led with singles “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” and “Talkin’ to Me,” there are a host of jams on this criminally-underrated body of work. What producer Rich Harrison and Amerie created was nothing short of blissful R&B magic.

In celebration of Amerie’s 15th anniversary of All I Have, we came up with a short and sweet list of our favorite deep cuts from the album.

“I Just Died”

After a night of lovemaking and passion, Amerie finally knows what it feels like to be in love. “I know you probably think that I’m so strange/Stuttering on every word when you look my way, why?/And maybe it’s all in my mind/But when we hugged goodbye I had butterflies,” she sings. Although Amerie’s voice is always full of light, it’s the pairing of Rich Harrison’s pounding bass line and twinkling synths that allow her voice to flutter so pleasantly and effortlessly.

“Got To Be There”

Amerie’s giving her lover one last chance before she walks away for good on this jumpin’ jam. “It would be so sad to me/To be the one that got away (One that got away)/And it hurts just as much to see/To see the feelings we have decayed,” she sings. What’s interesting is that this song has a very similar rhythm and cadence as “Why Don’t We Fall in Love,” which is a peek inside what would become part of Rich Harrison’s signature production. Amerie’s background vocals also shine on this track.

“Hatin’ On You”

Amerie is determined to fight the feeling of love, to no avail, on this groovy tune. “I don’t wanna believe/That we could live the life I’m dreaming of/Cause I don’t wanna be in love/So I’m fightin all the tenderness/And the moment that I can’t forget/Oh it’s irrelevant/Cause it’s just a matter of time,” she sings. This song provides us with early signs of some grit and growl in Amerie’s voice, which would be the driving force behind a later hit: “1 Thing.”

“Nothing Like Loving You”

Amerie contemplates the inexplicable feeling of not being able to let someone go on this sultry track. “Every single touch/Every on my mind/Cross my heart/Don’t know why/It’s nothing like loving you/It’s nothing like loving you,” she sings. Not only are her vocals solid, but it’s the vulnerability in her voice that really sells this song, and makes it one of the standout tracks.

What is your favorite song from All I Have? Let us know in the comment section below.

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5 R&B Artists Who Should’ve Been Nominated for a 2018 Grammy

Nominations for the 60th Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday morning, and as predicted Bruno Mars led the R&B pack with six nods including Best R&B Album for 24k Magic. Childish Gambino, Khalid and SZA followed with five nominations each.

As artists thanked the Recording Academy for their consideration, some fans and critics called out the Academy for snubbing certain artists. Many fans were in shock when artists like Mary J. Blige and Tamar Braxton did not receive any nominations.

Although nothing can be changed at this point, here are five artists who should’ve been nominated for a 2018 Grammy.

Best R&B Performance
(For new vocal or instrumental R&B recordings.)

“Before I Do” — Sevyn Streeter

It is safe to say the Recording Academy missed the mark by not nominating “Before I Do” by Sevyn Streeter. Lifted from her long-overdue debut album, Girl Disrupted, the guitar-led tune helped Sevyn claim her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart. The slow jam had the singer-songwriter proclaiming her readiness for love. Feeling considered that her man of interest is already taken, she asked valid questions before she made a decision with her heart. Along with daunting lyrics, Streeter’s silky voice meshed well behind the elements of “At Your Best (You Are Love)” by the Isley Brothers and covered by the late Aaliyah.

Best Traditional R&B Performance
(For new vocal or instrumental traditional R&B recordings.)

“Blind” by Tamar Braxton

It is obvious that Tamar Braxton’s team and other music industry leaders overlooked the Bluebird of Happiness ballad “Blind” for this ideal category. Containing an interpolation of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, the emotionally charged song includes the needed qualities – instrumental traditional R&B recordings – to justify a worthy nomination.

Best R&B Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

“U + Me (Love Lesson)” — Brandon “B.A.M.” Hodge, Charles “Prince Charlez” Hinshaw and David D. Brown & Mary J. Blige, songwriters (Mary J. Blige)

Even though Mary J. Blige’s “Thick of It” remained atop the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart for 16 weeks, it was her follow-up single “U + Me (Love Lesson)” that caused a frenzy. Co-written by Blige, Brandon “B.A.M.” Hodge, Charles “Prince Charlez” Hinshaw and David D. Brown, the honest tune is arguably one of the most underrated R&B songs of the year. The well-composed jam recounts Blige’s gut feelings after filing for divorce from her manager-husband of 12 years. Must’ve been crazy to think that you loved me / I saw all the signs but I just couldn’t say nothing,” she sings.

Best Urban Contemporary Album
(For albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded contemporary vocal tracks derivative of R&B.)

Savage — Tank

Tank’s music deserves more love from the Grammys – especially his newly released album, Savage. With eight solo projects – dating back to 2001’s Force of Nature – under his belt, it is a shame that his 2007 Sex, Love & Pain release is his only full-length project nominated for Grammy. Tank’s latest single “When We” is currently commanding urban adult contemporary radio. It also cracked the Billboard Hot 100 chart at No. 92 this week, making him one of the first solo R&B artists to achieve this feat this year.

Best R&B Album
(For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new R&B recordings.)

Back 2 Life — LeToya Luckett

After a six-year hiatus from music, LeToya Luckett made a comeback with her third album, Back 2 Life.The singer-actress blessed fans with a 13-track LP filled with fresh quality material. From the album’s introductory track “I’m Ready” to its lead single “B2L,” which reached No. 6 on urban adult contemporary radio, the modern release warranted more RESPECK.

The 60th Grammy Awards will air live from New York City’s Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 on CBS.

Tell us your thoughts on the Grammy nominations below! 

Top 5 Tracks from Rihanna’s ‘Unapologetic’ Album

Rihanna Unapologetic album

Rihanna has been, is, and will always be a hit maker; There’s a reason why she has fourteen No. 1 singles spanning all the way back to her second album (and just for the record, her debut single “Pon de Replay” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) Coming off her Talk That Talk album in 2011, which featured international hits “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been,” it was time for Rihanna to take it up another notch when it came to her next album. Working with fresh blood in producers Mike-Will-Made-IT and Labyrinth while enlisting pop mainstays David Guetta and Stargate, the result was Unapologetic: an eclectic mix of EDM, trap, dance, R&B, and pop songs that scaled the musical and lyrical landscape. If this album was an avatar, it’d be “The Last Genre-Bender.”

Unapologetic marked two things: Rihanna’s first artistically complete album and first No. 1 album. While Rated R and Talk That Talk had some “woah” moments, this album found Rihanna elevating her musical core to new heights. She’s still Bad Gal RiRi, but with more wisdom, more vocal strength, and with a newfound sense of artistic confidence. It’s no wonder why it won a Grammy award for “Best Urban Contemporary Album.”

Here at Rated R&B, we’ve compiled what we consider as the best tracks from Rihanna’s seventh studio album. Check out the list below:

“Loveeeeeee Song” (feat. Future)

Future always shines when paired with female artists, but his “Loveeeeeee Song” collaboration with Rihanna might be his best duet to date. The Luney Tunez-produced cut finds the two artists flirting with idea commitment, but being temporarily satisfied with the current arrangement of keeping things purely physical. “I don’t wanna give you the wrong impression / I need love and affection / And I hope I’m not sounding too desperate / I need love and affection,” they sing. On this album full of hard-hitting choruses and club-ready bass drops, this smooth late-night thumper stands out in the best way. Rihanna’s verses and Future’s bridge eventually explodes into a lush, beautifully crafted final chorus between the two of them. If you think “Kiss it Better” is Rihanna’s best bedroom banger, then “Loveeeeeee Song” definitely gives it a run for its money.

“Get It Over With”

While the album spotlights an array of emotional lows and insecurities, there’s a silver lining thanks to this instrument-laden track. Written by Ms. Fenty, Brian Kennedy, and the ever-talented James Fauntleroy, “Get It Over With” is the ballad of broken dreams, but also a song of hope. “It’s dark in the day / I’ll say now don’t complain / Look up the sun is just a cloud away / You’re so afraid to cry / But your heart be feeling dry / It’s time to change,” Rihanna sings in the first verse. Fauntleroy is a master of stacking vocals, so it’s no surprise that we find Rihanna’s background vocals more than on point here. Paired with snaps and solemn violins, this song is the perfect mixture of resilience, strength, and sadness, which is why it makes this list.

“What Now”

Rihanna has mastered the art of emoting over the years, and “What Now” is just one flash of brilliance in her extensive discography. Co-written by fellow Bajan Livvi Franc and British producers Nathan Cassells and Parker Ighile, the song explores the dissatisfaction one feels when they’ve settled, whether that be in love, career, or life in general. “Whatever it is/It feels like it’s laughing at me through the glass of a two-sided mirror/Whatever it is/It’s just laughing at me/And I just wanna scream,” she sings. The lyrics cut just as deep as its smashing chorus, but what really elevates this song is its climax where Rihanna repeats the cadence “I don’t know where to go/I don’t know what to feel/I don’t know how to cry/I don’t know, oh-oh, why!” The winding guitar, raw emotion, and pounding bass culminates into one of the best musical moments on the album.

“Nobody’s Business” (feat. Chris Brown)

Although this collaboration didn’t make as much of a splash as their “Birthday Cake” remix, Chris Brown and Rihanna still shocked fans by linking up on this groovy duet. Co-written by Rihanna and long-time collaborator The-Dream, the song finds the ex-lovers proclaiming their love for each other, and telling off nay-sayers in the process. “You’ll always be mine / Sing it to the world / You’ll always be my boy / I’ll always be your girl / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / But mine and my baby,” they sing. It’s no surprise that this track contains an interpolation from “The Way You Make Me Feel,” because this euro-dance joint feels like a new-age Michael Jackson record. Breezy and Rih trade parts effortlessly; their natural chemistry is apparent. Even five years later, this song feels fresh, yet timeless, which is why it lands on this list.

“Stay” (feat. Mikky Ekko)

There’s always something special about an artist’s voice over a grand piano, which is more than clear on this tender ballad. Written largely in part by featured artist Mikky Ekko, “Stay” is almost like the continuation of “Loveeeeeee Song,” except with more feelings and time invested. “Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay,” Rihanna sings. Even though the song is obviously brilliant, the reason it makes this list is because of Rihanna’s vocal showing. While her voice holds the same type of raw emotion as “What Now,” Rih wields it quite differently, drawing the audience in and pulling away with each sharp breath, vocal crack and sustained note. This all lends itself to the push-and-pull of the actual relationship that the song speaks of, which really speaks to her growth artistically and dedication to the edgier, tougher vision for Unapologetic. Major props go to Kuk Harrell, who is the vocal engineer and producer on this song as well as the entire album.

Stream Unapologetic on Spotify below.

What’s your favorite song on Unapologetic? Let us know in the comment section below!

Top 4 Deep Cuts from Brandy’s ‘Two Eleven’ Album

 

The “Vocal Bible” nickname has been bestowed upon Brandy for her vocal acrobatics and inexplicable natural ability to sing. However, Brandy Norwood is much more than her voice. In fact, her most redeeming quality is her nuanced storytelling as an artist. Every album that has been graced with those hypnotic eyes of hers has been complete from top to bottom, both vocally and thematically.

While some may argue that Never Say Never and Full Moon are artistic perfection, Two Eleven is too, but with a twist. The beauty of Two Eleven is the multi-edge edge sword of sound that it wields. The album is noticeably handled by hip-hop producers, but thanks to its host of R&B writers, the songs on the album are able to catch the spirit of the R&B genre today — a whole five years ahead of schedule.

If you take a listen to “Hardly Breathing,” do you not hear shades of Dawn Richard? Or maybe if you paid close enough attention to the vocal layering on “Wish Your Love Away,” you would hear the same on Tamar’s latest album. You can even compare “Put It Down” to K. Michelle’s “Either Way.” Aside from boasting the same feature, the candor and aggression in the lyrical content is almost uncanny. This album is for the Sabrina Claudio’s just as much as it is for the Sevyn Streeter’s and even the reaches the artistic bubble of a more established artist like Tamia. In short, Two Eleven, as a whole, is THAT album.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best deep cuts from the five-year-old body of work. Check  it out:

“Paint This House”

Brandy’s smoky vocals take center stage, backed by her airy background vocals and hauntingly pulsing production from Rico Love, Eric Goudy III and Pierre Moody. On the song, Brandy is in the mood for love-making and some “room redecorating” with her new lover. “And I want these stairs, those walls/Kitchen counters, and those chairs/To remind you of how good it feels/And all of these floors and ceilings/And every hallway, yeah/Not and inch will go untouched/Let’s paint this house with our love,” she sings. With lyrics so obviously sexual, Ms. Norwood brings her signature tender tone to song, creating a sensual jam for any bedroom-thumping situation.

“Slower”

Following a similar narrative as “Paint This House,” Brandy decides to take control this time when it comes to the moment of love-making and passion. “My baby got a lot to learn/Come here let mama bring you up to speed/A couple of changes/A couple of things I want to go over/Couple of hours is all I need/So let’s get it started,” she sings. The genius house production from Dave Taylor both compliments and juxtaposes Brandy’s vocals and lyrics extremely well.

“Without You”

Brandy’s voice takes full flight on this apologetic anthem. “Boy somewhere along the line I lost my way/And I made you pay for the mistakes he made/And I’m sorry baby, cause it shouldn’t be that way/Oh Boy, I really need you, I need you in my life/Cause oh boy I’m nothing, oh no I’m nothing without you,” she sings. Seeing the grave error in bringing baggage from the past into a current relationship, Brandy showcases her vocal power and grit to win her man back. And although we’d love just a piano behind her, the kick-snare and cymbal give this almost-but-not-quite-a-single the touch of bounce that it needs.

“Wish Your Love Away”

Brandy is trying to get over the one that should have been the one on this somber ballad. “I wish that there was no more sleepless nights for me/You can look inside my heart and see/How I’m feelin, baby/Or maybe you just don’t give a damn/Could I be foolish to give a damn, baby?/’Cause I’m to the point where I wish/Boy, I wish that I didn’t love you,” she sings. The track is just so sonically vivid-imagine rain softly falling on your windowpane as this song plays in the background-that it didn’t even need her vocals to be impactful. But, that’s not to say that her vocals aren’t appreciated, especially at the end of the song where the music fades out to just her immaculate vocal layering. Brandy’s resonance both in voice and artistry is perfectly encapsulated by this tune, and hints at how this album will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

What’s your favorite song from “Two Eleven?” Let us know in the comment section below.

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