Words by: Nathan Vinson

Although the year of 2016 was riddled with heightened racial tensions, devastating celebrity deaths, and unprecedented presidential antics, the music industry easily became the beacon of light needed to make it through.

Last year, we saw pop mainstays like Drake and Rihanna put out their biggest and arguably best albums to date, witnessed the new wave of R&B through the musical lens Anderson .Paak and Ro James, and even encountered the re-emergence of beloved artists J. Cole and Solange.

As we digest this year’s Grammy winners, let’s take a deeper look at four R&B artists that are sure to find more success in the coming years.

BJ The Chicago Kid

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Label: Motown Records

Latest Project: In My Mind

Nominated For: Best R&B Performance (Turnin’ Me Up), Best Traditional R&B Performance (Woman’s World), Best R&B Album (In My Mind)

Why You Should Check Him Out: BJ The Chicago Kid’s distinct, smoky vocals and knack for instrumentation proved effective on his latest album, In My Mind, which peaked at #7 on the US R&B Album charts. If you like traditional R&B with a modern twist, then BJ the Chicago Kid would be the perfect addition to your playlists.

Ro James

Hometown: Queens, New York

Label: RCA Records

Latest Project: Eldorado

Nominated For: Best R&B Performance (Permission)

Why You Should Check Him Out: Sexually charged and confident, Ro James broke onto the music scene with his seductive cut “Permission,” which peaked at #3 on the US R&B Singles chart. His highly underrated “Eldorado” is boldly vulnerable and overall just a strong debut from a true artist. With his headlining XIX Tour running from February through mid-March, Ro James is on the fast track toward bigger success in the coming months.


Hometown: Houston, Texas

Label: Columbia Records

Latest Project: A Seat At The Table

Nominated For: Best R&B Performance (Cranes in the Sky) [WINNER]

Why You Should Check Her Out: Although Solange’s first album “Solo Star” was released in 2002, she finally received mainstream attraction with her No. 1 debuting album “A Seat At The Table” this year. Aptly detailing the black experience in a series of songs and interludes, it’s no surprise that her latest album topped many of the year’s “Best Of…” lists. If you haven’t already listened to this poignant piece of art, or any of her other work, what are you waiting for? Get on that!

Anderson .Paak

Hometown: Ventura, California

Label: Aftermath Entertainment, by way of Interscope Geffen A&M Records

Latest Project: Malibu

Nominated for: Best New Artist, Best Urban Contemporary Album (Malibu)

Why You Should Check Him Out: Anderson .Paak rose to new heights in 2016 thanks to his well-received album Malibu, and knockout features on songs by Mac Miller and A Tribe Called Quest. His humorous and whimsical lyrics have caught the attention of many, but it’s his genius musicality that makes him special. You can catch Anderson .Paak as the opening act on Bruno Mars’ tour this fall, but until then you can check out his eclectic collection of music, you won’t regret it!

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