James Vickery has always been drawn to music with soul. Whether that’s Motown or D’Angelo, he wants to hear something that will grip him, that will make him feel something.
It’s there in his own music, too. Glorious R&B songwriting expressed with no small degree of grit, he’s built a singular catalogue, with his inimitable voice placed front and centre.
New EP ‘Sheet Music’ is out now, and it’s a fine collection of soulful songwriting that comes at a great time for UK R&B as a whole. It’s no secret that the community is going through something of a purple patch, with countless artists making their mark.
Curiously, it’s often the female artists who breakout – think Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Ego Ella May, and countless others. Writing for Clash, James Vickery opted to cite a few of his male peers, artists who use R&B to deconstruct masculine tropes and build something new, open, and forward-thinking.
I feel like Jvck James encapsulates everything that is UK R&B. He IS R&B in its purest form. I’ve known him for a long time, he actually opened for me a few years ago and I always knew he would go on to amazing things.
He’s recently explored features on US shores and I’m so excited to see him spread his wings with the freedom he has now. If there’s anyone who will go on to mainstream attention it’s this guy here. His catalogue is growing with a plethora of big names alongside him and it’s only a matter of time before he finds that winning formula that takes him to the very top.
Recommended Song: ‘No Drama’
Elmiene is a name that was brought to my attention through the content creators RnB Radar. I was stunned instantly. His voice exudes brilliance and tone, and although his career is in its early stages, the trajectory for him is off the charts.
Already he’s been selected to perform on Colors, has been in the studio with Timbaland and has a Stormzy co-write under his belt. If you’re a fan of old soul, this is your guy. I feel we’re so lucky to have platforms like RnB Radar discover this gem for us, but it speaks volumes of the state of R&B in this country that it took a CANADIAN based content creator to discover him before the UK mainstream did.
Recommended Song: ‘Endless No Mores’
I have such a soft spot for Kadeem. I actually reached out to work with him a while back purely because his voice has this brilliant low resonance that you rarely herein R&B these days, it was giving Luther Vandross. Beautiful baritones are something that people didn’t know they wanted until Giveon popped onto the scene a few years ago, so it makes it even more special that he is from British soil.
Kadeem is also very real on his socials about the realities of being a successful artist in this climate and still having to work a job alongside this to make ends meet- he gets nothing but respect from me for this.
Recommended Song: ‘Simple Man’
Nippa feels like a breath of fresh air in the space for me. He is so unapologetically authentically him. And that’s very apparent from his visuals all the way through to the way he acts on socials. Someone described it online as ‘UK Hood R&B’. It’s a side of the scene which doesn’t get talked about enough. He’s managed to garner his own specific sound by merging lanes of hip-hop and drill and R&B into one and I don’t think anyone could emulate that even if they tried.
His videos are simple but relatable, good vibes with his boys. His music taps into that Craig David R&B all readers of this no doubt grew up on (he has a song with him called G Love).
And if my word isn’t good enough, he was spotted in the studio with Dave recently, how’s that for a co-sign?
Recommended Song: ‘The One’
Children of Zeus
I’ve included Children of Zeus here to showcase the depth of this genre in this country. Whilst you could argue they fall into the ‘Neo-Soul’ category. R&B has the biggest umbrella of sub-genres out of nearly every other genre.
It’s also important to note the talent outside of London specifically which I feel gets overlooked often. British R&B is so much more than London R&B and this duo are exactly that. They’ve garnered one of the biggest and loyal fanbases in the genre and their success is wholeheartedly deserved.
Recommended Song: ‘No Love Song’
I don’t know much about Odeal personally but he’s one of the few artists in the genre that I look forward to every release. He’s also someone I feel like cannot be defined by one genre. He for sure has inserts of R&B littered throughout his music but it would be an insult to him to just simply label him as an R&B artist as he is so much more than that.
Recommended Song: ’24/48‘
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