Chart Check: SZA, Tamar Braxton and Demetria McKinney Score Top 10 Hits

Welcome back to another edition of Chart Check! Each Friday, Rated R&B provides detailed insight to the weekly 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 Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of August 12, 2017:

Double Duty: SZA and Tamar Braxton

SZA and Tamar Braxton are holding it down for the ladies of R&B on both Urban and Urban AC radio. On the Urban radio chart, SZA scores her first Top 10 as “Love Galore” lifts 11-9. Serving as the lead single for her Ctrl album, the Travis Scott-assisted hit gained 353 spins on urban radio in the latest tracking week. Tamar Braxton also got some love for her single “My Man,” as it received two adds and 387 radio spins this week. The song is No.4 on Urban AC radio.

On the Urban AC chart, “My Man” remains at the No. 5 spot, but gains a 121 spin increase at Adult R&B radio, the second most for the week. Meanwhile, “Love Galore” is gearing up to impact the Urban AC radio format with six radio adds this week. 

Chart Update: “Set Me Free” and “Wild Thoughts”


Mary J. Blige poses for a portrait to promote the film, “Mudbound”, at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Mary J. Blige continues to find success from her latest album, Strength of a Woman, as “Set Me Free” soars on the Adult R&B chart. The rising single had the most increase in radio spins and was the second most added song on Adult R&B radio in the latest tracking week. Billboard deemed it the “Greatest Gainer” on this week’s chart.

On the mainstream side, DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” is officially the No. 1 song on Urban radio as it rises 3-1 this week. The saucy single, which features hitmaker Rihanna and leading R&B artist Bryson Tiller, is up 532 spins on urban radio, and hold an audience of almost 33 million people. It remains at the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

New Developments: Demetria McKinney and After 7

Demetria McKinney Album Cover

After weeks of flirting with the Top 10 spot the past few weeks, Demetria McKinney finally earns her first Urban AC Top 10 this week as “Easy” rises 12-10. The slow-burning single saw a 56 spin increase at Adult R&B radio this week. McKinney also unveiled the cover art and details to her upcoming debut album Officially Yours this week, which is slated for an Oct. 6 release.

After 7 is also on the move this week; they’ve selected “Too Late” as their new single from their latest album Timeless. The song got 12 adds on Urban AC radio, which is tied for most adds this week. Their current single “Runnin’ Out” firmly holds at the No. 4 spot this week.

Quick Notes: Will Downing, Le’Andria Johnson, and Vivian Green

In quick notes: Will Downing has released his new single “I’m Feeling the Love” featuring Avery*Sunshine. Receiving 4 adds on Urban AC radio, It will serve as the lead single for his upcoming 20th studio album Soul Survivor, due on September 22. LeAndria Johnson is all set to land onto the Adult R&B chart next week with her inspirational tune “All I Got,” as it sits at No. 31 this week. The single is lifted from the gospel singer’s newly released album Bigger Than Me, which was executively produced by R&B heavyweights and dynamic production duo Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly. Vivian Green is back on the R&B scene with her new single “I Don’t Know.” The first offering from her upcoming sixth studio album, the track gained 12 adds at adult R&B radio this week.

Enjoyed this week’s Chart Check? How well do you think Tamar’s “My Man” will do on Urban radio? What’s new R&B singles are on your playlists? Any R&B specific questions? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Bruno Mars, Mary J. Blige and others Win at 49th NAACP Image Awards

The winners of the 49th NAACP Image Awards were announced on Monday night during the live broadcast from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, which aired on TV One.

The two-hour live special was hosted by Anthony Anderson and opened with a powerful moment in support of #TIMESUP featuring Angela Robinson, Kerry Washington, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe and Tracee Ellis Ross. There was a live pre-show from the red carpet hosted by Terrence J with special correspondent, Tanika Ray.

Among the winners were R&B acts SZA (Outstanding New Artist), Bruno Mars (Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album, Outstanding Song) and Mary J. Blige (Outstanding Female Artist). R&B legend Charlie Wilson was honored with the Music Makes a Difference Award.

Top 10 R&B Albums of 2017

2017 started off kind of slow with R&B releases but quickly picked up as the year progressed. There were a good amount of newcomers like SZA and Daniel Caesar who made an impact on their debut projects. We also saw comebacks from R&B vets like Bell Biv DeVoe and Xscape. The Rated R&B editorial team has compiled a list of the top 10 albums of 2017.

Check it out below (please note: these are in no particular order).

Chante Moore – The Rise of the Phoenix

Chante Moore has taken “50 and Fabulous” to another level with her seventh solo studio album The Rise of the Phoenix. Her artistry has aged well over the course of her 25-year career, as she sounds “Moore” confident than ever. While the LP covers the entire spectrum of love, the album’s upbeat, feel-good tracks stand out the most for their radio appeal and contemporary sound. The album’s current sound doesn’t come at the cost of Ms. Moore’s vocals, as she showcases her range (including whistle tones!) on her most tender ballads of regret and vulnerability. Even the interludes deserve a playback! Chante Moore simply delivered, and if you just can’t get enough of this album, then her latest Christmas album should carry you through every holiday season to come. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Something to Remember,” “Offa-U,” “Saving Grace,” “Pray,” “I’d Be a Fool”

Daley – The Spectrum

Daley is probably one of the most underrated R&B acts out now. Known for his spacey R&B sound, the British singer adds a little color to his sophomore effort, The Spectrum. Feel-good songs like “Sympathy” and “Slow Burn” will have you dancing to the rhythmic production. But don’t let that fool you, though. There are vulnerable moments of heartbreak (“Until the Pain is Gone”) and self-reflection (“True”). — Keithan

Standout selections: “Until the Pain is Gone” feat. Jill Scott, “On Fire,” “Sympathy” and “Second to None”

SZA – Ctrl

Insecurities, fear, and doubt may permeate the lyrical content of this body of work, but SZA is more artistically reassured than ever on her breakout record Ctrl. Sonically gorgeous, the album not only sounds better with each listens, but it feels better with each listen as well. Over time, you’ll find yourself liking songs you didn’t like before and loving the ones you initially did even more. It’s evident that SZA is still adjusting to the overwhelming response of praise for her debut effort, but as the only female R&B artist to find major urban mainstream success this year, it’s simply par for the course of success. If she continues to ride in her own lane, there’s no telling what destinations she will reach by the end of her musical journey. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Broken Clocks,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy)” and “Go Gina”

Daniel Caesar – Freudian 

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano-driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian. — Nathan 

Standout selections: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “Blessed” and “Hold Me Down”

K. Michelle – Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

K. Michelle has never been one to hold anything back, but on Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, she unveils every inch of herself in an unprecedented unapologetic fashion. The album kicks off with her rapping obscenities and concludes with one of her most soulful records to date – and in between lies an ode to James Brown, a timely Debarge sample-led criticism of mainstream media’s treatment of black women, a jazzy dose of shade to Kirk Frost (and his three or four earrings), and back-to-back country ballads. While this may sound musically sporadic, the flow of the album is quite natural and effortless. Her heart may lie in country music, but she knows how to make a solid R&B record; This is certainly her first album with multiple viable radio singles.The People I Used to Know is less about switching musical lanes and more about shifting artistic gears as the album progresses — leading the Memphis-bred songstress down the road to one of the most complete R&B works of the year. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Takes Two” feat. Jeremih, “Crazy Like You,” “Giving Up on Love,” “God, Love, Sex, and Drugs”

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Capitalizing on her divorce news and cringe-worthy moments that logged the past five years of her personal and professional existence, Mary J. Blige wore her troubled emotions heavily on sleeves of Strength of a Woman. Beginning with a powerful opening track that revisits Blige’s hip-hop soul roots and yields her first-ever music union with Yeezy, Strength scales between claiming back the power she regretfully hid behind the love for her estranged husband-manager to now recognizing how resilient she is well beyond her celebrity status. Blige even found time to be the right amount of petty and unleash a high dose of saltiness topped with sweet revenge over trapsoul instrumentations ushered in by a new school of hungry music tasters like Camper and Prince Charlez who wanted to see her win again. — Antwane

Standout selections: “U + Me (Love Lesson),”  “Set Me Free” “Survivor” and “Telling the Truth” featuring Kaytranada

Ledisi – Let Love Rule

Shining a fully charged flashlight of hope, Ledisi tunnels her way through all love’s madness on Let Love Rule. Even though the New Orléans native has the voice of an angel, Rule doesn’t digest well on the first or second listen. I say this not bash or discredit Ledisi’s musical abilities but to say, if you’re a frequent radio listener, this album won’t impress you. This record isn’t chasing the minute, ready to serve sounds of R&B. It’s an album that increasingly ages after each playback. With Let Love Rule, Ledisi uses this collection of ballads and melodic compositions to educate hearers about social injustices, how to present in your relationship and the power of waiting for the stars to align in your favor. She doesn’t do half bad either. — Antwane

Standout selections: “Here,” “All the Way,” “High” and “Us 4 Ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid

Tamar Braxton – Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness may universally signify prosperity, joy, and delight but Tamar Braxton’s album version has a far deeper meaning. Absorbed by samples from the yesteryears of R&B, the youngest Braxton sister uses her definition of Bluebird to share the private wounds from her dissolving marriage from Vincent Herbert. Balancing the dark and light colors of musical tones, this solid recording not only hears Braxton harping on the foulness of love but finding moments to celebrate its presence and all its other glorious wonders. While being fully against Braxton calling it quits as a solo artist, Bluebird of Happiness definitely leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of her loyal Tamartian fans – for now. — Antwane

Standout selections: “The Makings of You,” “My Forever,” “My Man,” and “Wanna Love Me Boy”

Tank – Savage

Serving as the follow-up to 2016’s Sex Pain & Love II, Tank takes an aggressive approach on Savage. He instantly hooks listeners with the title track before taking them on a musical journey through the bedroom with songs like “When We” and “F It Up.” The album isn’t just about sex, though. There are moments when he’s just singing about love, whether it’s the good times or trying to rekindle an old flame. — Keithan

Standout selections: “When We,” “Good Thing,” “Do For Me” and “Nothing On”

Jhene Aiko – Trip

After making a false start with her 2016 single “Maniac,” Jhene Aiko made a strong recovery with her second studio album, Trip. Released with no prior announcement, the 22-track LP is Aiko’s open diary that uncovers some of her most vulnerable moments. From dealing with the death of her brother to breakups, Aiko takes her listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through love, pain, depression, and happiness. Trip may be her most raw and honest project to date. — Keithan

Standout selections: “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee, “While We’re Young,” “New Balance” and “OLLA” featuring Big Sean

Sabrina Claudio – About Time
**honorary mention**

OK, About Time may technically be a mixtape but Sabrina Claudio certainly made it feel like an album. Laced with angelic harmonies and mesmerizing lyrics, About Time finds Claudio singing about…time (literally). “During the process of writing these songs, I was worried about time for some reason,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with a relationship — maybe just career-wise I was worried about time and it translated through my music.” — Keithan

Standout selections: “Belong to You,” “Frozen,” “Natural” and “Stand Still”

SZA Shares Video for ‘The Weekend’

SZA just wants to keep you satisfied through the weekend with her new music video!

The highly anticipated video, which was directed by fellow R&B singer Solange, follows SZA swaying and dancing provocatively in various parts of a multi-floor building. Although it may not sound so exciting, the video is definitely one for aesthetics with its wide-angled viewpoints and repetitive dance motions similar to Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” video.

“The Weekend” is SZA’s second single from her critically acclaimed and now Grammy-nominated record Ctrl, which was released this past June. The sensual single now sits at No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 5 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay chart.

In other news, while “The Weekend” is holding strong on urban radio, creeping up the charts is SZA’s third radio single “Broken Clocks.” The Ctrl cut is sitting just 5 spots below the official urban radio chart, garnering over 400 spins in the latest tracking week.

Watch the video for “The Weekend” below.

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