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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Newly-released female R&B albums

Solange, Kehlani, India.Arie

Beginning in February, the world was graced with the the release of new albums from three beloved R&B artists. While Kehlani, Solange and India.Arie all have different sounds, fan bases and relationships to fame, most likely, the people that rejoiced over Solange’s “When I Get Home” were also excited to listen to Kehlani’s “While We Wait” and India.Arie’s “Worthy” and vice-versa.

It’s fitting that India.Arie’s “Worthy” led the pack when it was released Feb. 15. As a four-time Grammy winner, with twenty-one nominations, she is considered an icon within the music industry. Rated RnB reviewed Arie’s album and noted how it was “intended to be her ‘most textured and lively work to date.’” The article continued with an analysis of Arie’s chosen tracklist, introducing how “Worthy” officially begins with “What If” — “a powerful statement of emancipation that urges the average person to advocate love, as opposed to letting hate divide.” Arie’s entire album flows as a cohesive and layered gospel piece which introduces subjects of religion, love, femininity and harmony into each song. Individually, each song is a beautiful piece and look into Arie’s psyche and deepest feelings, while collectively the album is an emotional call to action. For those who have not listened to Arie, “Worthy” is a culmination and development of Arie’s past experiments with style and content.

A week later on Feb. 22, Oakland artist Kehlani released “While We Wait” with features from artists including DOM KENNEDY, Ty Dolla $ign and 6LACK. Unlike Arie, who has been releasing music for over twenty years, this is Kehlani’s third mixtape following her 2017 debut LP “SweetSexySavage.” Kehlani’s unique and catchy sound on this album is described by Pitchfork as an insight into how “the playlistification of mainstream music has not hindered this refreshingly concise collection of pop, rap, and ’90s R&B resilience.” Each of the nine songs on Kehlani’s album attest to Kehlani’s versatility within genres and her ability to introduce her voice into so many different realms of music. Kehlani’s mixtape is exciting as a titled “placeholder” for her album release later this year. Kehlani might be working on other longer projects right now, but this mixtape does so much in just nine songs. It functions as a well-thought and developed project released amid Kehlani’s pregnancy (as her full album is said to be released after her child is born). For the many who watched Kehlani rise from “America’s Got Talent,” each release is another proof of Kehlani’s growing style and creativity as an artist who has much more ahead.

Three years after her first No. 1 album, “A Seat at the Table,” Solange released “When I Get Home” on March 1. This release was arguably the most exciting of the three, as the anticipation surrounding Solange’s next album essentially began three years ago for fans of “A Seat at the Table.” While Solange Knowles has been in the industry and an artist since the days of backup dancing for Destiny’s Child, her music career has recently matured and become accepted beyond her relationship to Beyoncé.

Variety commented on Solange’s important choice of release date, writing  “‘When I Get Home’ did arrive fully-formed just after midnight on March 1 — as Black History Month became National Women’s History Month, in case anyone missed that thematic link — and in every sense, the music leads the listener: The album knows exactly where it’s going, and when and how it’s getting there, so the best approach is to settle in and trust that the driver has mapped out an interesting ride, even when it feels like you’re taking the scenic route.”

Even though Solange’s album has nineteen songs, it totals at just 39 minutes, with a relationship between each song comparable to Earl Sweatshirt’s “Some Rap Songs” that maintains individual sounds within each song, but makes sure that the short songs flow together within the album instead of functioning as their own hits.

All of these albums began the exciting wave of releases in new music that 2019 seemed to be lacking. If you haven’t listened to any of these works or artists yet, these three perfectly testify to the growth of each artist, and are worth a listen.

Written By: Rosie Schwarz — arts@theaggie.org

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