Rated Next: MIKExANGEL

MIKExANGEL is among the new wave of R&B acts that is making a lot of noise right now.

Born in Petersburg, VA and raised in Richmond, MIKExANGEL started singing at a young age. He was initially insecure about the sound of his voice. However, his supportive family gave him the encouragement he needed to keep going. He eventually joined his church choir where was able to sharpen his skills. His airy, melodic voice made him stand out. Church deacons would compliment him, telling him he had a “voice like an angel.” The feedback about his angelic voice would eventually inspire his stage name.

“They used to always tell me that I had a different type of control with my voice, I could control my voice better than a lot of people,” says MIKExANGEL. “I used to just keep that in mind. It always reminded me that I had a gift.”

Like many singers, MIKExANGEL tried the whole R&B group thing in high school — it didn’t work. While he attended Virginia State University, a historically black college located in his birthplace, MIKExANGEL utilized social media to help build his brand. He would perform covers on YouTube of popular singers such as Trey Songz, Drake and Jhene Aiko.

It’s funny how life works and how things come full circle. Aside from his voice, MIKExANGEL had a hidden talent — songwriting. His producers would plug his name in circles they were in, which eventually landed him an opportunity with Trey Songz — an artist from the same town as him and an artist he was covering on YouTube. He ended up signing to Trey Songz’ team as a songwriter. He contributed to Trigga’s mixtape Intermission I & II, where he co-wrote songs and sung on reference tracks. Their working relationship evolved into something greater. Trey saw something in MIKExANGEL and became his mentor.

Trey introduced MIKExANGEL on his Snapchat when he shared a snippet Mike’s song “Nothing 2 Something.” Overwhelmed with positive feedback from fans, Trey knew he was stepping in the right direction.

MIKExANGEL joined Trey on his Tremaine: The Tour this past spring, where he was able to formally introduce himself to Trey’s fans as his protege. The tour also put momentum behind MIKExANGEL’s debut project, Nothin 2 Somethin, which released in June.

In our interview with MIKExANGEL, he talks about working with Trey Songz, being influenced by other genres, his mixtape and more.

RATED R&B: Although you’re still early in your career, how do you feel like you’ve evolved since you first started doing music?

MIKExANGEL: I feel like I’m making music for a purpose now — not just for me but to inspire others. I’m also influenced by all music now not just one genre.

RATED R&B: How did you end up working with Trey Songz and becoming his protege? What lessons has he taught you thus far?

MIKExANGEL: I met Trey at a studio in Virginia through my manager Mu. He connected us and showed him some of my work; shortly after we built our own chemistry and started collaborating together. I always believed in myself and wanted to be an artist as well as a songwriter; however a lot of people labeled me as only a songwriter. But Trey and Mu saw my vision but never promised me anything. I just strived to show my worth and my value and never stopped creating.

RATED R&B: Virginia has birthed some very popular artists like Trey Songz, Chris Brown, Missy Elliott, D’Angelo, Pharrell and the list goes on. Has being a Virginia native have any influence on your music?

MIKExANGEL: Honestly, Virginia made me who I am…just growing up seeing these artists from the same area blow up and become huge stars made me feel like I could do the same. I draw inspiration from all of those artist because they’ve made their own lane and are still considered the pioneers in the industry.

RATED R&B: Has any other genre of music influenced your sound?

MIKExANGEL: I definitely get influenced by a lot of music. I try to listen to a new song from a different genre every day. One thing about me is I want to explore and experiment genres as I grow. I never want to put myself in a box or classify myself as just an R&B artist. I draw inspiration from old and new music. I enjoy MGMT, Elton John, John Mayer, Francis and the Lights, Ed Sheeran…the list goes on.

RATED R&B: Your mixtape Nothin 2 Somethin is out now. What do you hope fans take away from this project?

MIKExANGEL: I want my supporters to know I didn’t just make this project overnight. It was a process of a lot of long nights, relationships, tears, heartbreaks and life experiences. I want them to know this isn’t it for me. This is only the beginning. I feel like everything I went through molded me and there’s a lot more music on the way.

RATED R&B: At one point, you weren’t comfortable with the sound of your voice. At one point did you learn to love your gift?

MIKExANGEL: I really started embracing my voice when I got to high school and college. I joined every choir I could and learned a lot of techniques along the way. I think I really found my sound when I purchased my own equipment and stopped going to big studios.

RATED R&B: Is there anything else you have coming up that you would like to discuss?

MIKExANGEL: Really, just a lot promotion for my project NOTHIN2SOMETHIN that’s available everywhere and be on the lookout for touring announcements!

Stream Nothin 2 Something below and follow MIKExANGEL on Instagram @MIKExANGEL.

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Exclusive: Syleena Johnson Gets Deep on Lack of Soul in Music + Talks New Album ‘Rebirth Of Soul’

One of R&B’s most authentic storytellers Syleena Johnson is not shy about recounting her trials and triumphs through her music. For more than two decades, the Chicago native has curated records that have brought joy and sweet pain to our hearts.

Deep and honest cuts like “Faithful to You,” “Apartment for Rent,” “Labor Pains,” and “Label Me” have championed women’s life stories while enlightening men on the day-to-day struggles of womanhood.

Johnson’s first and less documented release, This Time Together by Father and Daughter, premiered in the summer of 1995. The joint album – with her legendary father Syl Johnson – ignited her soulful stardom with songs “Keep on Loving Me” and “Piece of the Rock.”

Seven solo albums and one joint album later, the 41-year-old singer-songwriter pays tribute to her music genius of a father with her fall release,  Rebirth of Soul.

Along with the gearing up for the release of her new album, Johnson continues to secure her bag with television and health/wellness ventures.

During our 30-minute conversation, Johnson dished tribute album to her father, her new TV One talk show Sister Circle, her wellness brand SheLean and her favorite R&B artists now and more.

Check out the interview below.

Already, Sister Circle is capturing audiences across the nations — specifically women of color. How important is it for this new generation of black women to hear other black women like yourself and the other hosts empower and uplift each other?

If I can be frank, this show is important right now in a time where our current leadership is inadequate, unmotivating and sexist, which is causing our nation to adopt those undertones. In an entertainment field, where women — especially black women — are being exploited on television in such a negative way, Sister Circle is a breath of fresh air. We’re not perfect. We’re not walking around with halos. We’re still black women who have the same black women issues.

Our goal is to converse on these issues and show perspective from the African-American point of view in a bulk where the entire show is made up of African Americans. And Sister Circle is something that we don’t have right now in this climate where there are so many issues that pertain to us and our culture. It’s not black women directly. Black men, our sons. Black men, our husbands. Black men, our brothers.

What was it like having Wendy Williams, the contemporary Oprah of daytime, grace Sister Circle‘s inaugural show?

It was one of the biggest example of black women supporting each other. She’s the queen of daytime talk right now. By her being our very first guest, she pretty much blessed the show. She pretty much said, ‘I’m proud of you girls and you’re doing your thing.’ What more can you ask for? Other than Oprah Winfrey herself (laughs).

How does Sister Circle stand apart from other panel talk shows?

First of all, Sister Circle is live every day, five days a week. It’s the first all black panel talk show with no other nationalities. There is a male that represents the LGBTQ community which I have not really seen on any other talk show. Also, our hosts come from all walks of life which is really fun. Plus, we knew each other before starting the show which makes the chemistry really strong.

Recently, you started a health and wellness initiative, SheLean. Tell us about it. Also, did personal health motivate this new business venture? Or was this idea presented to you after the success of fitness DVD Mommy’s Got Soul?

No, it wasn’t personal health. Although SheLean was something that my best friend and I had already put together, what really put the fire under me is when I learned that every 4 out of 5 African American women, according to the CDC, are suffering from heart disease, type II diabetes and mild cancers. African-American women are also developing lupus and other different autoimmune diseases, which I believe is directly related to diet, poor rest and lack of vitamin and mineral content.

Also, the lack of education to be able to remedy this void plays a part. So with SheLean, the initiative is to educate the matriarch of the household, which is a woman, and in educating the woman you can help decrease childhood obesity, as well as obesity and obesity related disorders in minorities cultures, with African-American women and individuals being primary.

How do you resist food temptations and stay on a consistent workout regimen with your hectic work schedule?

During the five-day week, I eat clean. I need my energy and I need my stamina. Eating bad during the week will cause me to be sluggish and groggy. I allow myself a bad meal on maybe Friday and Saturday and then I go back to eating clean on Sunday. Like today, I had a glass of wine and a fried chicken burger. It was a good cheat meal for me (laughs).

I don’t go crazy though … like you won’t catch me eating a full pizza. I’m not really a sweets girl. I don’t get rid of temptations. I minimize them and I put them in my diet where it works. I think what happens is when people diet and they starve themselves it causes them to binge. That’s how they end up eating a whole pizza and ice cream (laughs).

Rebirth of Soul, out now, is an ode to your father, Syl Johnson. What was the overall recording process like?

It’s really easy working with my dad in the studio. So the recording process was awesome. It was all live instrumentation. On the Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You,” there was a live harpist and string quartet in the studio. So live instrumentation was the most intriguing thing.

With a title like Rebirth of Soul, do you think soul has died in music? If so, why?

Yeah … and the reason I say yes is because soul is not a genre. When you’re singing soul music, you’re singing from your soul. And that means you’re singing from your story, your history, from the things that you’ve gone through. I think that the music today is talking about things that are way too surface. They’re not getting deep enough into the infrastructure of their spirit and soul. They’re not baring their soul in records anymore. A lot of artists are just taking a song that was written and they just sing it.

As far as the music you’ve heard this year, who’s music do you feel still embodies soul?

Mali Music. He’s my favorite right now. I listen to a lot of old music like Anita Baker, Sade, Earth Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan. Every morning when we come on set for Sister Circle we first listen to gospel. Then we merge to vintage R&B, which has been in my spirit lately. To be quite honest, I don’t even listen to the radio. I’m not really a fan of anything that’s out at all. I do like The Weeknd … sometimes. It’s the music that I like. It’s eerie. He reminds me of a male Sade in a way. He’s just not as poignant as her.

What’s your favorite cut on the new project? Also, out of all the covers, which did you want to nail perfectly?

My favorite cut on Rebirth Of Soul is Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine.” I was so happy to do this record because it’s my favorite Otis Redding record. And the song I wanted to nail was “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. I knew that people would compare me to Aretha Franklin, like they already have. I knew attempting a record of that caliber I had to shut it down. So what I set out to do was to do it exactly like her. I mean timing wise, run wise, range wise — as well as singing it in her key. To me that was the best way to pay homage, to show respect and to celebrate Aretha Franklin. She is truly the Queen of Soul.

Rebirth of Soul is available digitally for purchase and streaming now. Packed with 10 amazing covers, including Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, this incredible body of work is definitely a collectors item.

Make sure to follow Syleena Johnson on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, follow Sister Circle TV on all social media platforms.

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.

Chart Check: Tank Scores Top 5 Hit on Urban AC, Tamar Braxton and Trey Songz Pick New Singles

Tank New album tamar new single and album treys songz

Tank New album tamar new single and album treys songz

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 Nielsen’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of October 6, 2017:

Single Selections

Trey Songz’s Tremaine the Album era continues with the selection of his second single “Songs Goes Off.” The Atlantic Records signee received 12 adds at R&B radio in the latest tracking week. If the song charts, it will be Trey’s first Urban AC charter since 2015’s “Slow Motion.” Tremaine the Album debuted at No. 1 on the R&B albums chart and No. 3 overall upon its release in March.

If Tamar Braxton was set on going out with a bang, then she is definitely on the right track with her new song “Blind.” Lifted from her latest and last album Bluebird of Happiness, the heartbreaking ballad is serving as the second single behind lead single “My Man,” which currently sits at No. 10 on the Urban AC Chart. “Blind” received 16 adds this week, making it the most added song on urban contemporary  radio. Bluebird of Happiness is available now on all digital platforms.

On The Rise

Sam Smith is back and bigger with his new single “Too Good at Goodbyes.” Thanks to rising popularity and the release of the song’s music video, Smith has shot up the Urban AC chart, rising 22-12 on this week’s chart. The track saw a 255 spin increase since last week, making it the most spin increased song of the week on R&B radio. It also received an additional nine adds on R&B radio formats.

Like little sister, like big sister, and vice versa! Toni Braxton is starting her new era in the right direction with her new single “Deadwood.” The song continues to rise, jumping 30-23 on the Urban AC chart thanks to a 148 spin increase in the latest tracking week. The song also received 12 adds on R&B formats, making her the second most-added R&B song of the week. The first? Her younger sister, Tamar.

Leaps and Bounds

Tank has been building momentum in preparation for his new album Savage which was just released last night, Sept. 29. Lead single “When We” is the shining star of the week, as it rose to the No. 5 spot on the Urban AC Chart this week. The bedroom banger saw an increase of 124 spins on R&B radio station, the fourth-highest increase this week.

Here’s some chart superstition: every time Tank has a song enter the top 5 on this chart, it eventually becomes a No. 1 hit. Tank notched No. 1 songs in 2007 with “Please Don’t Go” and again in 2012 with “Next Breath.” As you can tell, his chart toppers are five years apart, which would continue if “When We” ever reaches the top spot in the year of 2017. Does “When We” have the potential to further this interesting trend? Tank has some stiff competition against the rising force of Khalid’s “Location,” the slight resurgence of Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” and the staying power of Sevyn Streeter’s breezy jam “Before I Do” which logs a fifth week at No. 1 this week. Competition aside, Tank has a shot, but only time will tell.

SZA has brought the heat this summer and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon with her latest single “The Weekend.” In the latest tracking week, the song leapt 10 spots, rising 40-30 on the urban radio chart. Fueled by a 249 spin increase, the Ctrl cut was the fifth-most spin increased song of the week. If that wasn’t enough, the song has also received 18 more adds on urban radio formats. If this type of success is any indication, “The Weekend” is on it’s way to becoming a solid radio hit.

R&B Albums Chart Update

Billboard’s R&B album had a couple of notable chart movements in the last week. First up, Musiq Soulchild debuted at No. 16 on the chart this week with her double-disc set Feel the Real. The album is lead by his single “Start Over,” which now sits at No. 15 on the Urban AC chart. A little higher up on the chart sits Beyoncé’s 2016 album Lemonade, which leapt 24-8 in the latest tracking week. Lemonade is Beyoncé’s latest album, which featured singles such as the impactful “Formation,” whimsical “Hold Up,” and Just Blaze-produced “Sorry.” In other Beyoncé news, the songstress has hopped on the remix to J Balvin and Willy William’s latin banger “Mi Gente.” As previously reported, the sales from the song will be donated as relief funds for Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other Caribbean Islands and is already the No. 1 song on iTunes Worldwide. Expect for this track to make a splash in the next couple of weeks.

Quick Notes

And in quick notes: Rising artist Izzy Bizu is getting her first shot at radio success with her song “Diamond.” The song received 10 adds at R&B radio, the fourth-most for the week; Khalid’s “Location” proves to be the hit that just won’t go away. The song, sitting at on the Urban AC chart at the No. 4 spot, saw a 131 spin increase this week. With the decline of Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like,” the song is definitely on the trajectory for a top 3 finish within he next couple of weeks; And finally, Jazmine Sullivan and Bryson Tiller’s “Insecure” duet is beginning to find real chart success as it double debuts on both the Urban and Urban AC chart this week. The song sits at No. 30 on Urban AC and No. 37 on the urban radio chart.

What about you? Are you feeling Tamar and Trey Songz’s new singles? Do you think Khalid will go No. 1 on Urban AC? Did you enjoy this week’s Chart Check? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below!

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