You may have noticed (or not) that there hasn’t been too many R&B artists featured on HYPEBEAST’s front page. Chalk it up to the rise of ultra machismo hard edged hip hop music as the urban soundtrack of choice making the heart aching crooner seem out of touch or, maybe it’s just unconscious journalistic bias (sorry). With some exceptions modern Rhythm and Blues has been the pelvic thrusting, ultra sexed, over produced singer with pseudo screw faced Hip Hop posturing. New millennium R&B has also given us the vapid, hollow regurgitations of old Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye styling minus the passion, which record labels dub “neo soul”. West London born singer Estelle is neither the Hip Hop poseur nor Soul revival act. However, she successfully pulls influence from both genres as she holds the titles of singer, songwriter, MC and producer with a vocal timbre that is more akin to a jazz vocalist.
Estelle’s second album “Shine” released earlier this spring, is filled with Hip Hop star power that compliments her vocal talents rather than over powers her ability. Most notably, her bubbly pop single with Kanye West “American Boy” introduced her to a new audience that her first album hadn’t. Her new single “No Substitute Lover” produced by a reenergized Wyclef Jean is along the same lines of that single which infuses rap undertones with infectious pop and live instruments. Lauryn Hill’s spirit is obviously present here as Estelle channels L-Boogie at her artistic “Miseducation” peak. One look at the cameo heavy video and one listen to the track gives the listener renewed confidence about the future of R&B.