Today’s female R&B scene has created a distinct narrative on what makes good music “good:” great vocals, meaningful lyricism and strong production value are all prerequisites for success. Recently, forces like Jessie Reyez, SZA, H.E.R., Jorja Smith and many others have created identities as powerful figures in the R&B realm through this model. In addition, Republic Records recording artist Kiana Ledè has quickly developed into an intriguing young artist using a very similar route.
Ledè released her debut EP for Republic Records earlier this week, the seven track Selfless. The Phoenix native’s project is a perfect placement in a genre saturated with talented artists, as its a worldwide signal for her quick rise. Selfless features sharp, yet emotional soul that is paired with lyricism that comes off genuine and relatable. Ledè isn’t run-of-the-mill, rather, she seems to be creating her own path, even if it is through the most conventional of means. Common themes of love and loss are interweaved throughout the work, as Ledè learns to pick up shattered pieces after a recent breakup with her unfaithful ex-boyfriend. “Get In the Way,” “Wicked Games” and “Take It All” are all highlights that feature stunning production and her unforgettable voice. “Take it All” goes a step further by testing her vocal stylings with a minimal soundscape filled with guitar strings in the background.
The A$AP Ferg-assisted “Fairplay (Remix),” a story in the glorification of a messy relationship, is arguably the strongest track on the project, as it gives listeners both Ledè’s young personality and the popular tailorings of Ferg, one of the hottest rappers on Earth. Refreshingly, Ferg’s starpower doesn’t overbear Ledè’s message – one of anger towards the unfair role that women have been given in heterosexual relationships – and the two’s chemistry is both clear and sensual.
All in all, at just 21 years young, Kiana Ledè’s talent won’t go unnoticed in the industry with this release. The R&B genre is continuously growing at a fast, sometimes exponential, pace. Selfless, amazingly, is able to break through some of the thick clutter as an introduction to craft, not copycatting.