Neo soul

Neo soul is a genre of popular music. The term was coined by music industry entrepreneur Kedar Massenburg during the late 1990s to market and describe a style of music that emerged from soul and contemporary R&B. Heavily based in soul music, neo soul is distinguished by a less conventional sound than its contemporary R&B counterpart, with incorporated elements ranging from jazz, funk, hip hop and electronic to pop, fusion, and African music. It has been noted by music writers for its traditional R&B influences, conscious-driven lyrics, and strong female presence.

Neo soul developed during the 1980s and early 1990s, in the United States and United Kingdom, as a soul revival movement. It earned mainstream success during the 1990s, with the commercial and critical breakthroughs of several artists, including D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Maxwell. Their music was marketed as an alternative to the producer-driven, digitally approached R&B of the time.

Since its initial mainstream popularity and impact on the sound of contemporary R&B, neo soul has been expanded and diversified musically through the works of both American and international artists. Its mainstream presence declined during the 2000s, although newer artists emerged through more independent means of marketing their music. According to music journalist Mark Anthony Neal, "neo-soul and its various incarnations has helped to redefine the boundaries and contours of black pop."[1]

Neo soul
Stylistic origins
Cultural origins1980s – early 1990s, United States and United Kingdom
Typical instruments
Other topics

Etymology

As a term, neo soul was coined by Kedar Massenburg of Motown Records in the late 1990s as a marketing category following the commercial breakthroughs of artists such as D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Maxwell.[3] The success of D'Angelo's 1995 debut album Brown Sugar has been regarded by several writers and music critics as inspiration behind the term's origin.[3][4][5] While some artists have ignored the label, others have received the designation with controversy because it may seem contrived to music audiences and imply that soul music had ended at some point in time.[5] In a 2002 interview for Billboard, Massenburg said that genre classifications are often unpopular because they may be suggestive of a short-lived trend. However, although he said neo soul is still essentially soul music, Massenburg felt there was a need to market artists of the genre for listeners to have an understanding of what they were buying.[5]

In a 2010 article for PopMatters, music writer Tyler Lewis said that neo soul has been received with much controversy: "Given the way black music has been named by (usually) outsiders ever since the blues, the reaction to the name by artists who ostensibly fit into the 'neo-soul' category represents a wonderful example of black self-determination in an industry that is still defiantly wedded to narrow definitions and images of black folks."[6] Jason Anderson of CBC News compares the etymology of neo soul to that of "new wave" and comments: "As imperfect as the term may be, neo-soul is still an effective tag to describe the mix of chic modernity and time-honoured tradition that distinguished the genre's best examples. Neo-soul artists tried to look both backward and forward, acting in the belief that a continuum might exist."[7]

Characteristics

Despite some ambivalence from artists, the term received widespread use by music critics and writers who wrote about artists and albums associated with the musical style.[5][8] African American studies professor Mark Anthony Neal has described neo soul as "everything from avant-garde R&B to organic soul ... a product of trying to develop something outside of the norm in R&B".[9] According to music writers, the genre's works are mostly album-oriented and distinguished by its musicianship and production, incorporating "organic" elements of classic soul music with the use of live instrumentation, in contrast to the more single-oriented, hip hop-based, and producer-driven sampling approach of contemporary R&B.[5][10][11] They also infuse jazz, funk, and African musical elements into R&B.[12] In her book Musical Rhythm in the Age of Digital Reproduction, music author Anne Danielsen wrote that neo soul toward the end of the 1990s exhibited a musical development that was part of "a remarkable increase in musicians' experimentation with and manipulation of grooves at the microrhythmic level – that is, the level in played music that is usually understood in terms of phrasing and timing."[13]

Noting that most of the genre's artists are singer-songwriters, writers have viewed their lyrical content as more "conscious-driven" and having a broader range than most other R&B artists.[2][5][11] AllMusic calls it "roughly analogous to contemporary R&B".[16] Dimitri Ehrlich of Vibe said that they "emphasize a mix of elegant, jazz-tinged R&B and subdued hip hop, with a highly idiosyncratic, deeply personal approach to love and politics".[2] Music writers have noted that neo soul artists are predominantly female, which contrasts the marginalized presence of women in mainstream hip hop and R&B.[17] Jason Anderson of CBC News called neo soul a "sinuous, sly yet unabashedly earnest" alternative and "kind of haven for listeners turned off by the hedonism of mainstream hip-hop and club jams."[7] Neo soul artists are often associated with alternative lifestyles and fashions, including organic food, incense, and knit caps.[18]

According to music writer Peter Shapiro, the term itself refers to a musical style that obtains its influence from older R&B styles, and bohemian musicians seeking a soul revival, while setting themselves apart from the more contemporary sounds of their mainstream R&B counterparts.[3] In a 1998 article on neo soul, Time journalist Christopher John Farley wrote that singers such as Hill, D'Angelo, and Maxwell "share a willingness to challenge musical orthodoxy".[11] Miles Marshall Lewis commented that 1990s neo soul "owed its raison d'être to '70s soul superstars like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder", adding that "in concert, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo regularly covered Chaka Khan, the Ohio Players, and Al Green, to make the lineage crystal clear."[19] In citing Tony! Toni! Tone! as progenitors of the genre, Tony Green of Vibe viewed that the group pioneered the "digital-analog hybrid sound" of neo soul and "dramatically refreshed the digitalized wasteland that was R&B in the late '80s".[20] Neo soul artists during the 1990s were heavily inspired by the eclectic sound and mellow instrumentation of Gil Scott-Heron's and Brian Jackson's collaborative work in the 1970s.[21] All About Jazz cited Jackson as "one of the early architects" of the sound and his early work with Scott-Heron as "an inspirational and musical Rosetta stone for the neo-soul movement".[22]

History

1980s–early 1990s: Origins

Sade Adu 1
Sade's mid-1980s sophisti-pop music presaged the growth of neo-soul

Neo soul originated in the 1980s and early 1990s, with the work of musical acts such as Prince, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Terence Trent D'Arby, Joi,[23] and Mint Condition, whose music deviated from the conventions of most contemporary R&B at the time.[2][5][11][20] Tony! Toni! Toné!-member Raphael Saadiq later embarked on a solo career and produced various works of other neo soul artists.[24] Influential to neo soul, UK act Sade achieved success in the 1980s with music that featured a sophisti-pop style, incorporating elements of soul, pop, smooth jazz, and quiet storm.[25][26] The band was part of a new wave of British R&B-oriented artists during the late-1980s and early 1990s that also included Soul II Soul, Caron Wheeler, The Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, and Lisa Stansfield.[27] AllMusic's Alex Henderson writes that, "Many of the British artists who emerged during that period had a neo-soul outlook and were able to blend influences from different eras".[27] Other British progenitors of the neo soul movement at the time included Young Disciples and Omar Lye-Fook,[28] the latter of whom has been cited as "the father of British neo-soul" and an influence on many future artists.[29]

According to Christopher John Farley, Prince had been "carrying a torch for neo soul for decades, refusing to make R&B that played by the rules or fit into comfortable formats. In the mid-'90s, he was suddenly joined by a host of other soul artists who also wanted to break boundaries".[30] American artists during the early 1990s included Zhané, Groove Theory, Joi, Tony Rich, and Me'Shell NdegéOcello.[8][31][32][33]

NdegéOcello's 1993 debut album Plantation Lullabies was later credited as the beginning of neo soul;[34] according to Renee Graham of The Boston Globe, it was "arguably the first shot in the so-called 'neo-soul' movement",[35] The success of Tony! Toni! Toné!'s 1993 album Sons of Soul was also viewed as a precursor to the soul music revival in the mid-1990s.[36][37] Cheo Hodari Coker said in 1997 that the album "largely sparked the soul music revival that has opened the door for a new generation of singers who build on the tradition of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder".[36] Allmusic editor Leo Stanley wrote that by the release of Tony! Toni! Toné!'s follow-up album House of Music in 1996, "their influence was beginning to be apparent, as younger soul singer-songwriters like Tony Rich and Maxwell began reaching the R&B charts. Like Tony! Toni! Toné!, Rich and Maxwell relied on traditional soul and R&B values of songwriting and live performances, discarding the synth-heavy productions of the late '80s and early '90s".[37] Malcolm Venable of Vibe cited the early work of hip hop group The Roots, who used live instrumentation, as a precursor to neo soul's commercial breakthrough in the mid-1990s.[38]

Mid–late 1990s: Mainstream breakthrough

Erykah Badu at Jazz Reggae Festival LA 2009
Although she disputes the term, Erykah Badu has been dubbed "the first lady of neo soul" and "the queen of neo-soul".[39][40][41][42]

Music journalists have credited the successes of D'Angelo's Brown Sugar (1995), Badu's Baduizm (1997), Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite (1996), and Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998) with shaping and raising the neo soul movement to commercial visibility into the late 1990s.[3][8][16][43][44][45] According to Farley, D'Angelo's album "gives a nod to the past, ... mints his own sound, with golden humming keyboards and sensual vocals and unhurried melodies ... His songs were polished without being slick and smart without being pretentious", while Badu "brought an iconoclastic spirit to soul music, with her towering Afrocentric headwraps, incense candles, and quirky lyrics".[30] Baduizm sold nearly three million copies and won Badu two Grammy Awards.[42] Hill's debut featured her singing and rapping, with deeply personal lyrics,[30] and was one of neo soul's primary successes,[8] achieving massive sales, critical acclaim, and five Grammy Awards.[46] Subsequently, other female artists broke through with their debut albums, including Macy Gray, Angie Stone, and Jill Scott.[16][24] The 1997 film Love Jones capitalized on neo soul's success at the time with its soundtrack album, which impacted the Billboard charts and featured artists such as Hill, Maxwell, The Brand New Heavies, Me'Shell NdegéOcello, Groove Theory, and Dionne Farris.[47][48]

According to Greg Kot, the musical collective Soulquarians—consisting of such artists as D'Angelo, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Mos Def, Common, James Poyser, and Q-Tip—contributed significantly to the neo soul movement during the late 1990s to the early 2000s with its members' "organic soul, natural R&B, boho-rap".[49] The collective developed through the production work of The Roots' drummer and producer Questlove.[38] Following a minor decline in its hype, neo soul's mainstream popularity increased in the late 1990s with the successes of Hill, Maxwell, Eric Benét, Saadiq, and Les Nubians.[8] It impacted more mainstream-oriented R&B radio, while influencing contemporary R&B acts, such as R. Kelly and Aaliyah,[30] to incorporate some of its textural and lyrical elements.[8] In his song "When a Woman's Fed Up" (1998), Kelly incorporated a more soul-based sound and referenced Erykah Badu's 1997 song "Tyrone" in the lyrics.[8]

2000s: Apex and mainstream decline

With the success of albums by Hill, Badu, and Maxwell, D'Angelo's second album Voodoo served as a further alternative to excesses of late 1990s R&B and hip hop, as neo soul reached its apex in 2000.[50] A production of the Soulquarians,[49] it was an exemplary creative milestone of neo soul.[7][51] Ben Ratliff of The New York Times called the album "the succes d'estime that proves the force of this new music: it is a largely unslick, stubbornly idiosyncratic and genuinely great album that has already produced two hit singles".[10] By the time of her second album Mama's Gun (2000), Erykah Badu had been dubbed by writers as "the queen of neo-soul".[42] She said of the honorific title, "I hated that because what if I don't do that anymore? What if I change? Then that puts me in a penitentiary."[42] Subsequently, other artists attained success in the early 2000s, including Bilal, Musiq Soulchild, India.Arie, and Alicia Keys, who broke through to broader popularity with her debut album Songs in A Minor (2001).[2][16][52] Hip hop artists such as The Roots and Common, associated with the Soulquarians,[49] released albums that incorporated neo soul, Phrenology (2002) and Electric Circus (2003).[24]

India.Arie 2
Neo soul vocalist India.Arie in 2004

However, the decade later featured a decline in output by neo soul artists,[6][53] with many of them failing to make a commercial impact after previous successes or not releasing a follow-up album.[47] Badu's commercial viability decreased as each of her releases following her debut Baduizm departed further from that album's music.[7] Hill followed-up her 1998 debut, considered the best-selling neo soul album, with the 2002 live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a combative, confessional work in which she expresses her misgivings about fame.[7] Melena Ryzik of The New York Times wrote in a retrospect of that "era of left-of-center black singer-songwriters", stating "many of them struggled to keep their creative momentum, conflicted about their early mainstream success."[42] Producer and Soulquarians member Questlove elaborated on the artists' regression from the mainstream, saying "I think most of us went through our psychosomatic, quasi-self-saboteur stage. Once we got that first taste of success, I think just the pressure of reacting got to all of us. Some of us released some of the craziest records of our career."[42] Other artists such as D'Angelo and Hill went on indefinite hiatus from the music scene.[7][42] Tyler Lewis from PopMatters attributed the decline to "the downside of [the] rejection of the term ['neo soul']".

"The industry, which already has a hard time with unapologetic and complicated black artists, had no idea what to do with all these enormously talented individuals who rejected entire marketing campaigns designed to 'break' them to the record-buying public. As such, albums were shelved or delayed or retooled and artists were dropped from major labels and forced to go it alone, making the first decade of the 21st century the least "soulful"—however you define it—decade for the industry itself in ... well, decades."[6]

The Boston Globe's Renée Graham wrote of the artists' ambivalence towards the term in a 2003 article on neo soul's standing, "Despite its critical success, if neo-soul had an initial failing, it was the media-created label itself – a term that the artists, whom it was meant to represent, generally rejected".[47] In a 2003 interview, music publicist John Constanza said that "The neo-soul movement is still there, but it's been underground, and it's trying to get the attention of the mainstream again".[47] Mark Edward Nero of About.com stated, "In general, neo-soul has remained almost exclusive to R&B outlets such as urban radio and Black Entertainment Television ... the majority of neo-soul artists have yet to crossover to mainstream American music listeners, partially because the music's sound generally focuses on artist expression, rather than popular appeal".[54]

During the mid-2000s, emerging artists such as Heather Headley, Anthony David, J Davey, Eric Roberson, and Ledisi signed to independent soul labels and received exposure through independent retailers, neo soul-oriented web sites, college and public radio stations, city club venues, cable networks such as Music Choice and BET J, and publishing deals as writers and producers for major label-recording artists.[55] Erykah Badu and Maxwell returned from their respective hiatuses and released well-received albums, her New Amerykah albums and his 2009 album BLACKsummers'night, and they subsequently toured together.[7][56][57] VH1 Soul's series Soulstage, which began in 2007, showcased new music by artists such as Badu, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Q-Tip, and Saadiq.[58][59]

2010s: Late period

Raheem DeVaughn (2010)
Raheem DeVaughn performs socially conscious and love-themed songs, and has been compared to Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye.[60][61]

Since its original popularity, neo soul has been expanded and diversified musically through the works of both American and international artists.[10] The more popular neo soul artists of the 2010s included John Legend, Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Amy Winehouse, Chrisette Michele, Leela James, and Raheem DeVaughn.[24][54] DeVaughn has described himself as an "R&B Hippy Neo-Soul Rock Star", viewing it as a reference to his eclectic musical style.[60] In its 2010 issue on critical moments in popular music, Spin cited D'Angelo's Voodoo and its success as a turning point for neo soul: "D'Angelo's pastiche of funk, carnal ache, and high-minded, Afrocentric rhetoric stands as neo-soul's crowning achievement. So unsurpassable that it'd be eight years before we'd hear from Erykah Badu and Maxwell again, while Hill and D'Angelo remain missing. But Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Cee-Lo picked up D's mantle and ran with it".[53] Evan Rytlewski of The A.V. Club discerns "a line of revelatory, late-period neo-soul albums" with the releases of Maxwell's BLACKsummers'night (2009), Badu's New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (2010), Bilal's Airtight's Revenge (2010), and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange (2012).[62] In the 2010s, other neo soul acts included Fitz and The Tantrums,[63] Mayer Hawthorne,[64] Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats,[65] and Amos Lee.[66]

See also

References

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Further reading

External links

1990s in music

For music from a year in the 1990s, go to 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99

Popular music in the 1990s saw the continuation of teen pop and dance-pop trends which had emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Furthermore, hip hop grew and continued to be highly successful in the decade, with the continuation of the genre's golden age. Aside from rap, reggae, contemporary R&B and urban music in general remained extremely popular throughout the decade; urban music in the late-1980s and 1990s often blended with styles such as soul, funk and jazz, resulting in fusion genres such as new jack swing, neo-soul, hip hop soul and g-funk which were popular.

Similarly to the 1980s, rock music was also very popular in the 1990s, yet, unlike the new wave and glam metal-dominated scene of the time, grunge, Britpop, industrial rock and other alternative rock music emerged and took over as the most popular of the decade, as well as punk rock, ska punk and nu metal, amongst others, which attained a high level of success at different points throughout the years. Electronic music, which had risen in popularity in the 1980s, grew highly popular in the 1990s; house and techno from the 1980s rose to international success in this decade, as well as new electronic dance music genres such as Rave, happy hardcore, drum and bass, intelligent dance and trip hop. In Europe, Techno, Rave and Reggae music were highly successful, while also finding some international success. The decade also featured the rise of contemporary country music as a major genre, which had started in the 1980s.The 1990s also saw a resurgence of older styles in new contexts, including third wave ska and swing revival, both of which featured a fusion of horn-based music with rock music elements.

Reflecting on the decade's musical developments in Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s (2000), music critic Robert Christgau said the 1990s were "richly chaotic, unknowable", and "highly subject to vagaries of individual preference", yet "conducive to some manageable degree of general comprehension and enjoyment by any rock and roller."

Anderson Paak

Brandon Paak Anderson (born February 8, 1986), better known by his stage name Anderson Paak ( or ; stylized as Anderson .Paak), is an American musician and record producer from Oxnard, California. He released his debut album, O.B.E. Vol. 1 in 2012, under the pseudonym Breezy Lovejoy. He went on to release Venice in 2014, under his current moniker. Paak followed with Malibu, in 2016, which received a nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammy Awards. Apart from his solo career, Paak is also one-half of NxWorries, alongside record producer Knxwledge. He is accompanied by the band The Free Nationals, who play a variety of instruments such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and drums and also serve as backing vocalists.

Anthony Hamilton (musician)

Anthony Cornelius Hamilton (born January 28, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer who rose to fame with his platinum-selling second studio album Comin' from Where I'm From (2003), which featured the title track single "Comin' from Where I'm From" and the follow-up "Charlene". Nominated for 17 Grammy Awards, he is also known for the song "Freedom" from the soundtrack album of Django Unchained co-written and sung as a duo with indie soul singer Elayna Boynton.

Bilal (American singer)

Bilal Sayeed Oliver (born August 23, 1979), better known mononymously as Bilal, is an American singer-songwriter, musician and producer. He is currently an independent artist residing in New York City.Bilal is noted for his wide vocal range, his work across multiple genres, and his live performances. He has been well received, both nationally and internationally, with an extensive list of collaborations including Kendrick Lamar, Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Guru, Kimbra, J Dilla, Robert Glasper, The Roots, and many more.

Dwele

Andwele Gardner (born February 14, 1978), better known by his stage name Dwele, is an American soul singer, songwriter and record producer from Detroit, Michigan.

Eric Benét

Eric Benét Jordan (born October 15, 1966), known professionally as Eric Benét, is an American R&B and neo soul singer-songwriter and actor, who has received a total of four Grammy nominations to date for his musical work.

Erykah Badu

Erica Abi Wright (born February 26, 1971), known professionally as Erykah Badu (), is an American singer and songwriter. Badu's career began after opening a show for D'Angelo in 1994 in Fort Worth; record label executive Kedar Massenburg was highly impressed with her performance and signed her to Kedar Entertainment. Her first album, Baduizm, was released in February 1997. It spawned three singles: "On & On", "Next Lifetime" and "Otherside of the Game". The album was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Her first live album, Live, was released in November 1997 and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA.Her second studio album, Mama's Gun, was released in 2000. It spawned three singles: "Bag Lady", which became her first top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #6, "Didn't Cha Know?" and "Cleva". The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA. Badu's third album, Worldwide Underground, was released in 2003. It generated three singles: "Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)", "Danger" and "Back in the Day (Puff)" with 'Love' becoming her second song to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #9. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA. Badu's fourth album, New Amerykah Part One, was released in 2008. It spawned two singles: "Honey" and "Soldier". New Amerykah Part Two was released in 2010 and fared well both critically and commercially. It contained the album's lead single "Window Seat", which led to controversy.

Influenced by R&B, 1970s soul, and 1980s hip hop, Badu became associated with the neo soul subgenre in the 1990s along with artists like D'Angelo. Badu has been called the queen of neo soul. Her voice has been compared to jazz singer Billie Holiday. Early in her career, Badu was recognizable for her eccentric style, which often included wearing very large and colorful headwraps. She was a core member of the Soulquarians. As an actress, she has played a number of supporting roles in movies including Blues Brothers 2000, The Cider House Rules and House of D. She also has appeared in the documentaries Before the Music Dies and The Black Power Mixtapes.

Fitz and The Tantrums

Fitz and The Tantrums are an American indie pop and neo soul band from Los Angeles that formed in 2008. The band consists of Michael Fitzpatrick (lead vocals), Noelle Scaggs (co-lead vocals and percussion), James King (saxophone, flute, keyboard, percussion and guitar), Joseph Karnes (bass guitar), Jeremy Ruzumna (keyboards) and John Wicks (drums and percussion). Their debut studio album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, was released in August 2010 on indie label Dangerbird Records and received critical acclaim. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The band signed to their current label Elektra Records in early 2013 and went on to release their second LP, More Than Just a Dream, on May 7, 2013. Their self-titled third album was released on June 10, 2016.

Floetry

Floetry was an English R&B duo comprising Marsha Ambrosius ("the Songstress") and Natalie Stewart ("the Floacist"). The group recorded two studio albums, one live album, and sold over 1,500,000 records worldwide. Formed in 1997, Floetry started on the performance poetry stage. They are two of the many artist responsible for developing the genre that is now known as Neo-Soul, while also popularizing the use of poetry and spoken word throughout music. They have worked with many musicians and artist including: Jill Scott, Queen Latifah, Michael Jackson, Common, The Roots, Bilal, and more founders of Neo-Soul.

Hip hop soul

Hip hop soul is a subgenre of contemporary R&B music, most popular during the early and mid 1990s, which fuses R&B/gospel singing with hip hop musical production. The subgenre had evolved from a previous R&B subgenre, new jack swing, which had incorporated hip-hop influences into R&B music. By contrast, hip hop soul is, as described in The Encyclopedia of African American Music, "quite literally soul singing over hip hop grooves".The genre was most popular during the mid 1990s with artists such as Mary J. Blige (known as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul"), Mariah Carey, Jodeci, TLC, R. Kelly, and Montell Jordan. By the late 1990s, hip hop soul would lead to the creation of neo soul, which retained the hip-hop and R&B/gospel influences while also adding elements of classic 1970s soul music.

Jazmine Sullivan

Jazmine Marie Sullivan (born April 9, 1987) is an American singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut single "Need U Bad", produced by Missy Elliott, reached #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, while her second single, "Bust Your Windows", produced by Salaam Remi, peaked at #4. Elements of R&B, reggae, dub, pop, jazz, neo soul, and doo-wop can be heard in her work. Sullivan cites singers Brandy, Changing Faces, Kim Burrell, Lauryn Hill, and Dorinda Clark-Cole as her main influences and inspirations.

Kehlani

Kehlani Ashley Parrish (born April 24, 1995) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and dancer from Oakland, California. She is signed to Atlantic Records. Kehlani is originally from Oakland, California, where she achieved initial fame as a member of the teen group Poplyfe.

In 2014, she released her first commercial mixtape, Cloud 19. The mixtape was listed as one of the Complex's "50 Best Albums of 2014." In 2015, Kehlani released her second commercial mixtape, You Should Be Here. The mixtape debuted at number 5 on the national R&B/Hip-Hop chart, preceded from her sold-out North American promotional tour. In 2016, she was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album for You Should Be Here. Kehlani released her first major-label debut album, SweetSexySavage on January 27, 2017.

Lucy Pearl

Lucy Pearl was a group formed in 1999, as the brainchild of former Tony! Toni! Toné! member Raphael Saadiq, A Tribe Called Quest DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and D'Angelo. However, D'Angelo backed out of the group due to scheduling conflicts. After D'Angelo backed out Raphael came up with the idea of adding Dawn Robinson (of En Vogue) to the group. They released their self-titled debut album Lucy Pearl in 2000.

After two singles, "Dance Tonight" and "Don't Mess with My Man", Dawn Robinson left and was replaced by Joi.

The group's collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Q-Tip (reuniting the former Quest rapper with Ali Shaheed Muhammad), You, also appeared on the movie soundtrack of Save The Last Dance.

Maxwell (musician)

Gerald Maxwell Rivera (born May 23, 1973), also known by his stage name Maxwell, is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. Along with fellow musicians D'Angelo and Erykah Badu, Maxwell has been credited with helping to shape what has been termed the "neo soul" movement that rose to prominence during the late 1990s.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Michelle Lynn Johnson, better known as Meshell Ndegeocello (; born August 29, 1968), is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, and bassist. She has gone by the name Meshell Suhaila Bashir-Shakur which is used as a writing credit on some of her later work. Her music incorporates a wide variety of influences, including funk, soul, jazz, hip hop, reggae and rock. She has received significant critical acclaim throughout her career, and although she has never won a Grammy Award, she has been nominated ten times. She has been credited for helping to have "sparked the neo-soul movement."

Musiq Soulchild

Taalib Johnson, professionally known as Musiq Soulchild or simply Musiq (; born September 16, 1977) is an American singer and songwriter whose style blends R&B, funk, blues, jazz, gospel influences fused with hip hop.

My Favorite Part

"My Favorite Part" is a song by American rapper Mac Miller, featuring singer Ariana Grande, from Miller's fourth studio album The Divine Feminine (2016). The song was written by Miller, Grande, and its producer, MusicManTy. It was released by Warner Bros. Records as the third single from The Divine Feminine on September 9, 2016. A music video was released on December 12, 2016.

Omar Lye-Fook

Omar Christopher Lye-Fook, MBE (born 14 October 1968 in London), known professionally as Omar, is a British soul singer, songwriter and musician. Omar grew up in Canterbury, Kent. He learned his craft classically, playing the trumpet, piano and percussion. He also spent two years at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester and the Guildhall School of Music in London. His most well-known song was his debut single "There's Nothing Like This". It reached number 14 in the UK Singles Chart on re-release in 1991. AllMusic noted that he is described by some as the father of British neo soul.

SZA (singer)

Solána Imani Rowe (born November 8, 1989 or 1990, known professionally as SZA ( SIZ-ə), is an American singer and songwriter. In October 2012, SZA self-released her debut EP, See.SZA.Run, which she then followed up with her second EP, titled S, in April 2013. In July 2013, it was revealed that she had signed to the hip hop record label Top Dawg Entertainment, through which she released Z, her third EP and first retail release, in April 2014..

SZA's name is an acronym derived from the Islam Supreme Alphabet, which is "a system of interpreting text by assigning meanings to the letters of the Roman alphabet" in the religious belief of the Nation of Gods and Earths. S-Z-A stands for "sovereign", "zigzag", and "Allah".

SZA's music is genre-blurring R&B influenced by avant-garde jazz, alternative rock, and hardcore rap. Her major-label debut, 2017's Ctrl, helped SZA score the most nominations of any female at the 2018 Grammy awards. In addition, she was the key component on a handful of Top Ten pop hits from the likes of Maroon 5 ("What Lovers Do") and Kendrick Lamar ("All the Stars").

Throughout her music career, she has collaborated on songs with popular music artists and acts such as Rihanna, Maroon 5, and Kendrick Lamar. She initially surfaced as a guest on tracks by TDE label member Isaiah Rashad. She then found her vocal abilities in high demand from other artists. In 2014, she joined Jill Scott on her record "Divinity" and then went on to be featured on Rihanna's "Consideration" in 2016. SZA then enhanced her mainstream recognition by collaborating with Maroon 5 for their 2017 record "What Lovers Do," and her Black Panther featured record with Kendrick Lamar, "All the Stars," in the early months of 2018.

SZA's debut studio album, Ctrl, was released on June 9, 2017, to universal acclaim from music critics. It debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 and was eventually certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album and its songs were nominated for four Grammy Awards, while SZA was nominated for Best New Artist at the 60th annual ceremony. Ctrl was ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time.SZA is a neo soul singer, whose music has been described as alternative R&B, with elements of soul, hip hop, minimalist R&B, cloud rap, witch house, and chillwave. SZA's lyrics are described as "unravelling" and her songs often revolve around themes of sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment. SZA cites a variety of artists as influences, including Ella Fitzgerald, Meelah, Björk, Jamiroquai, and Lauryn Hill, among others. SZA also takes influence from non-musical artists, including filmmaker Spike Lee.

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