Meet Heather Chelan, Khadijah Lopez and Giveon: R&B’s Rising, Unsung Talent
Miller Mobley

Thank God, it’s Friday, y’all!

After a week full of wild-and-crazy moments, ESSENCE is back with another installment of The Playlist to give you some music to vibe out to.

But first, please let me introduce myself. My name is Kevin L. Clark (@KevitoClark) and I am your new vibes curator here at The Playlist. I aim to continue the energy that my predecessor created, while spotlighting up-and-coming music acts that you should keep on repeat.

With that said, allow me to share the talents of Heather Chelan, Khadijah Lopez and Giveon — plus new tracks from Toni Braxton, Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Leon Bridges.

A Seattle-born, London-visiting singer-songwriter, Heather Chelan is a name new to many, but one not to forget. Her low-tempo, yet emotive track, “Cherry Pick,” hints at a larger project on the way worth keeping an ear out for.

Khadijah Lopez has one of the most stunning voices in the music game. Championing her own sound, this T-Dot native brings an upper-echelon level of authenticity to her work with “These Parts” from her Serenity on Earth serving as a great example.

Cleveland’s own Alina Baraz continues to create anticipation for her debut studio album, It Was Divine, with a chill, slowed-down jam called “Endlessly.” Coming right after the release of her scintillating, 6lack-assisted “Morocco,” Baraz shares the inner workings of her heart over a solidly produced instrumental done by Spencer Stewart and DJDS. With themes revolving around love—losing it and finding it—and self, Baraz is sharing what’s real on this must-hear song.

Leon Bridges’ first release since his Texas Sun EP comes along just as getting cooped up becomes bothersome. “Inside Friend,” which dropped at midnight and features the talents of fellow Grammy winner John Mayer, is a dreamy R&B number with an emphatic hook that encourages people to stay close and indoors. Clocking in at three-minutes, Bridge and Mayer deliver sultry guitarwork over a very different sonic environment.

The team behind “Yeah!” have reunited once again. Premiered during the IG Live “Verzuz” battle between Lil Jon and T-Pain, “SexBeat” finds Usher and Ludacris joining the famous producer rekindling that old magic once again. Fans have immediately labeled the track as the sequel to “Lovers and Friends,” which had enough juice behind it to prompt Usher to let the two-year-old cut be released. If this is the beginning of a revival for the ATL trio, then it would be right on time.

A little over a month after delivering a Drake co-sign-worthy performance on “Chicago Freestyle,” Giveon capitalizes on the hype with “FAVORITE MISTAKE.” A very revealing and uniquely emotive effort, the Long Beach artist showcases his rich baritone as it colors this tale of forbidden love over a self-produced backdrop. His latest project, TAKE TIME, promises to attract a swarm of new fans, so play this one on repeat and get prepared for a fruitful year from this budding young crooner.

With plans to marry Bryan “Birdman” Williams this year, Toni Braxton releases “Do It,” a powerful new single under her new deal with Island Records. The seven-time Grammy Award winner’s emotional song offers encouragement to anyone struggling to end an unhealthy relationship. Those sentiments are reflected in the song’s lyrics, sprinkled with an element of hope for good measure. Now might be a good time to quarantine your heart and play this song on repeat.

The original Black Eyed Peas members are back on “Mamacita,” featuring their new lead singer J Rey Soul. “Mamacita” is a Latin-flavored reggaeton cut that has enough bop to become your favorite song of the quarantine spring. Even without Fergie, singer Ozuna helps the BEP revival continue without fail for 2020, while sampling “The Material Girl” Madonna’s 1986 song “La Isla Bonita.” An instantly memorable jam, The Black Eyed Peas might have another big hit on their hands.

Dive into this week’s featured songs above and tell us your own favorite jams in the comments below.


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