Kingdom‘s a nerd. Like a huge nerd. For R&B, I mean. If you follow his Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or if you’ve even remotely listened to anything he’s made in his career (so far), you’d know that the dude is really into songstress, female R&B vocals.
I guess a lot of producers in the House/Bass context are R&B nerds, so to speak. But just because you sample Aaliyah doesn’t mean you’re INTO Aaliyah. Kingdom samples R&B, but contextually he lives and breathes that genre of music, too. He’s used female vocals in the past, but Kelela is Fade to Mind’s first in-house R&B vocalist.
I first heard a stripped-down, vocal-free version of Bank Head (newest tune from Kingdom off of his forthcoming Vertical XL) off of Night Slugs All Stars Vol. 2. Didn’t think much of it, honestly. It was all build-up but no climax. It wasn’t until I peeped Bok Bok’s Fade to Mind mix (which I totally recommend listening to) where I heard a version of it with Kelela– there I realized what was missing from Bank Head.
Bank Head alone is somewhat run-of-the-mill. Sorta just your average bass track with pitched-up vocal snippets. But with Kelela on singing duties, the song transforms into a worthy adversary to Usher’s Climax. A song that never launches but has more to say through that track movement than any prototype R&B ballad. Using the sonic touches of the beat to supplement the song’s themes, we get a really complex letter. Goes from being a club-ready tune to something I can put on a girlfriend’s mixtape (I don’t really do that as much anymore, but you know what I mean).
R&B in general is being looked at for its sound and melodies– almost like its become a producer’s treasure chest of samples. But it’s not only from the production angle. Mainstream, play-it-safe R&B vocalists are exploring their sound, too, to really make their love-cries bassier and texture-heavy. (CC: Jeremih [this one sounds like a Kingdom song], The-Dream, Brandy)
Hardly do these producers, though, get someone to sing for real– and at that, sing great.
Here’s a cool Kelela interview off of Fact Mag.
Very excited to see what else they do with her on Fade to Mind.