14 R&B Artists to Listen to Right Now

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With a deep personal connection to R&B music rooted in my Black queer identity, upbringing in the golden age of R&B (1997- 2011) and PhD which focused on R&B music and Black Queer women R&B artist, I am uniquely positioned to provide insight into the top up-and-coming R&B artists to watch in 2024.

From classical piano style records featuring arpeggiated chords and classical-flavoured string arrangements layered on to melismatic gospel-styled vocals to voices heavily altered with autotune a – la 2008, today’s R&B is characterised by artists that are obsessed with innovation and bringing disparate musical influences together.

This new age of R&B garners its distinct sound from aggressively pulling away from the conventional boundaries of contemporary and traditional R&B and trading the genre’s defining chord progressions for a synthetic coolness that champions edgier, genre-bending production, whilst maintaining soulful melodies.

Swelling debates regarding whether the genre is alive, or dead seem like a distant fever dream as R&B is taking centre stage not only in the hearts of the genre’s loyalists but also in the hearts of those who once turned their backs on the genre labelling it as ‘dead’. Today’s R&B is musically ambitious, lyrically complex and alluring, it is calling listeners back to the bedroom and the dark misty clubs found in Hype Williams music videos, in other words, R&B seems to have gotten its groove back.

What has made today’s R&B so addictive is the ways that it speaks to and embodies the shifting and fluid nature of the contemporary consciousness that the genre’s loyalists have begun to adopt. The rawness with which up-and-coming R&B artists muse about life, love and everything in between is a bright, shiny mirror for its audience to truly see themselves and the 14 artists listed below are amongst those holding that mirror up.

1. 3ee

Genre: Alternative R&B

Listen to them if you like: Kehlani and early Justin Timberlake.

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, 3ee is a singer-songwriter who regularly juxtaposes dreamy vocals with their punchy, heavily produced beats and melodies. On their latest project entitled ‘LSTN!!!’, 3ee impressively samples the Tweet deep cut ‘My Place’ for their lulling single ‘WAITING!’ featuring regular collaborator and fellow alternative R&B artist Kenji. ‘CARE4ME’ and ‘MNTNS’ are the two other standout records on what is an incredibly notable debut album.

[Listen on Spotify](https://open.spotify.com/artist/0MOQB6FzT4cx60yzXhtj9h?si=cFwUz4RvSe-R1Elzr-uhiw\)

2. Natanya

Genres: Jazz R&B, Pop R&B

Listen to them if you like: Amy Winehouse and Jean Deaux

London-based Natanya is a half Nigerian and half Trinidadian songstress. Like many other artists of her generation, Natanya burst onto the scene via Tiktok with her catchy single ‘Foolish’ which is infused with early 2000s romantic Latin pop sounds. Natanya didn’t take the hype that was building around her lightly as last year she released an impressive self-written six-track debut project entitled Sorrow At Sunrise. Both written by Natanya, the stand-out singles from her debut are ‘Angel’ and ‘23’. I saw Natanya perform at Cross The Tracks festival in May 2023 and was very impressed with the way that she was able to make the stage her own. Natanya joins new R&B starlet Destin Conrad as a support act for his summer European tour and I’m sure she will pick up more fans along the way.

Listen on Spotify

3. Cari

Genre: Alternative R&B

Listen to them if you like: Brandy, Tracy Chapman and James Fauntleroy

A self-proclaimed music hoarder, Cari is one of those elusive artists who only release music occasionally but when she does it is incredible. If you look in the right places on SoundCloud you may find snippets of Cari’s excellent covers over the years, the best one being her cover of Alex Isley’s 2012 single ‘Into Orbit’.

Last year Cari decided to peel back the cover of elusiveness and release her debut single ‘Colder in June’. Produced by Melo-Zed , ‘Colder in June’ is a haunting guitar-led record that not only demonstrates the subtlety of Cari’s pen but also indicates Brandy’s long-lasting influence over this new generation of R&B artists. Cari has followed up on her first single with the release of her second single entitled ' Over & Over'. Cari has mused about wanting to push UK R&B forward with her music, if both of her singles are anything to go by it shows that UK R&B is not only going in the right direction, but it is also in safe hands.

Listen on Spotify

4. Adria Kain

Genre: Contemporary R&B

Listen to them if you like: Miguel and Jasmine Sullivan

I first discovered Adria when I was looking for artists to interview for my PhD project which focused on exploring the musicking of Black queer women artists that make R&B music. A Toronto, Canada native, Adria describes herself as ‘soul filled and honest’ and her Colors performance of her single ‘Only With Time’ is indicative of that description. After releasing several EPs over the past seven years, Adria reaches full blossom with her latest album Where Flowers Bloom. This album envelopes listeners with its soothing and sensual tones and is a wonderful coalescence of R&B, soul and Jazz sounds.

Listen on Spotify

5. Rae Khalil

Genre: R&B

Listen to them if you like: Anderson .Paak

Recent Def Jam and Apeshit signee Rae Khalil has emerged as a front-runner for the new age artist who can not only sing but also rap pretty well. I first heard Khalil on CARRTOONS’ 2020 album Saturday Morning on the record ‘Father- Alt. Version and was impressed by her ability to draw listeners in with her smooth vocal and gritty rap verse. Khalil has the rare ability to effortlessly fuse contemporary soul, R&B, and pop elements with timeless hip-hop influences, weaving together euphoric production and compelling storytelling.

Having already won a Grammy in 2021 for her contribution to .Paak’s ‘Lockdown’, it is no surprise that she has received shoutouts and co-signs from Hip-Hop heavyweights such as Common and Queen Latifah.

Listen on Spotify

6. Kali Claire

Genre: R&B

Listen to them if you like: Mahalia and Kehlani

I first came across Kali Claire when she opened for India Shawn at her debut London show in June of 2023. Across a series of praised EPs and singles, her distinctive songwriting navigates seamlessly between R&B, futuristic pop, and soulful, cinematic ballads. Not only is Claire a brilliant singer and songwriter, but she has also honed her craft as a producer and engineer.

Like many other singers and producers of her generation, Claire records a lot of her songs at her home studio and regularly shares how she has made some of her songs with her followers on TikTok to give them special insight into her creative process.

Listen on Spotify

7. boistory

Genre: R&B, Alternative R&B, experimental afro-R&B

Listen to them if you like: Santi and Tay Iwar

Born in London to Ghanaian and Nigerian parents, Boistory's talent lies in bridging smoothness with rawness. Combining R&B, Afrobeats, and electronica, he stood out as a potent voice in an Afro-R&B scene that was beginning to influence the global R&B scene. Boistory took great pride in defying the conventions of R&B and being more experimental with his musical expression.

Released earlier this year, his single ‘BEBE’ featuring Nigerian Alté artist Odunsi (The Engine) is a brilliant example of Boistory’s ability to combine R&B and Alté sounds with genuine flair and originality.

Unfortunately Boistory passed away earlier this month but he left a powerful and distinct legacy that will continue to live on.

Listen on Spotify

8. Dayo Bello

Genre: R&B

Listen to them if you like: Giveon and Sampha

Southeast London native Dayo Bello is another reminder of how refreshing UK R&B currently is. Following his time at London's prestigious The BRIT School, renowned for nurturing talents like Adele and Amy Winehouse, he debuted with the jazz-infused R&B love ballad "Mine" in late 2016, showcasing his talent at a remarkably young age.

Dayo's straightforward, contemplative, and heartfelt lyrics are an obvious strength of his music, and he continues to shine on his latest project entitled ‘Outside’.

Listen on Spotify

9. Erika de Casier

Genre: R&B, alternative R&B

Belgian and Cape Verdean artist Erika de Casier is a singer, songwriter, and producer whose music blends elements of R&B, pop, and electronic music and is characterized by smooth vocals, lush production, and nostalgic references to 90s and 2000s R&B.

De Casier gained recognition with the release of her debut album Essentials in 2019 which showcases her unique style and draws inspiration from classic R&B artists while infusing modern sensibilities and electronic flourishes. With the release of her 2024 album Still, De Casier continues to evolve as an artist, exploring new sonic territories and pushing the boundaries of contemporary R&B and electronic music.

Listen on Spotify

10. kwn

Genre: R&B

Listen if you like: PARTYNEXTDOOR and TY Dolla $ign

Kwn adds to the significant roster of British R&B artists who are pushing UK R&B beyond British borders. Drawing inspiration from Canadian R&B superstar PARTYNEXTDOOR, kwn’s sound is braggadocious, ‘I can steal your girl’ R&B through and through. Her 2023 sing ‘No Cinderella’ took TikTok by storm amassing almost half a million streams on Spotify. Her latest single ‘Lord I’ve tried’ sees kwn set aside her signature autotuned vocal for a more raw and stripped-back vocal that pulls listeners in close.

Listen on Spotify

11. Tendai

Genre: Alternative R&B, Pop R&B

Listen to them if you like: Scribz Riley and A2

Having signed with 0207, Def Jam's UK label, East London native Tendai has unleashed a range of singles that blend alt-pop, future R&B, and soul into a unique soundscape. Besides his music, Tendai is also an adept producer, notably contributing to Stormzy's latest album, This Is What I Mean with the record ‘Need You’. Tendai’s recent single ‘I Deserve It’ hints at even greater things to come, setting the stage for a promising future.

Listen on Spotify

12. JADA

Genre: R&B

Listen to them if you like: Kiana Lede

JADA, a singer/songwriter hailing from Hackney, East London, enchants audiences with her soul-stirring melodies and heartfelt lyrics. One of the standout songs within JADA’s catalogue is ‘Tam Tam’ produced by critically acclaimed saxophonist Venna. Anticipation mounts as JADA prepares to release her long-awaited debut EP in the summer of 2024.

Listen on Spotify

13. Jay Safari

Genre: R&B

Listen to them if you like: Lucky Day, SIR and Destin Conrad

Florida Native Jay Safari burst onto the scene with his dynamic Neptunes-inspired single ‘Dance’ which was the lead single on his 2022 project Bad Decisions. Safari isn’t afraid to show off his significant vocal ability and this was demonstrated with the release of his EP Live in the Lair which consists of 4 one take tracks. Safari continues to build upon his impressive repertoire with singles ‘Hold on’, and ‘Obsessions’ which will be on his sophomore project Best Kept Secret, Vol. 1.

Listen on Spotify

14. Tyler Daley

Genre: R&B, lo-fi R&B, Soul

Listen to them if you like: Omar and Jordan Rakei

Tyler Daley, also known as one-half of the acclaimed Children of Zeus embarks on his journey as a solo artist with his debut project Son of Zeus’. Daley’s solo work is an amalgamation of nostalgic reverence for pirate radio, infused with a diverse array of influences spanning roots reggae, street soul, and R&B, while infusing a contemporary twist through his affinity for hip-hop. Daley's debut serves as a personal narrative, that brings its audience closer to him not only as an artist but also as man. Described as an embodiment of the soulful Zeus sound, Daley’s music encapsulates a fusion of gritty low-fi soul, hip-hop, and R&B.

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