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Best R&B Songs of 2023… So Far | New R&B Songs This Year

With absolute madness occurring in the world on what seems like a daily basis, fans are most likely needing some comfort music. No genre is more comforting to listen to than R&B, and in 2023 we received some heat from R&B, pop, afrobeats and other genres. Powerhouses such as Janelle Monae, Brent Faiyaz, Asake, Burna Boy, SZA, Daniel Caesar, T-Pain, Sampha, PartyNextDoor, and more delivered some fantastic work. These are some of the best R&B songs of the year so far in 2023.

Struggling to find a list of the Hip Hop Albums that have been shifting the culture? Take a look at our lists for Hip Hop, Rap and R&B to get a complete survey of the projects that are dictating the conversation within Hip Hop.

Need some new songs to throw in the rotation but Spotify and user-created playlists are way too long? We kept it simple and added only the best of the best songs from each month to make sure you get the songs you need without a hassle. Peep the lists below.

Looking for some up and coming rappers and underground gems? We’ve done the work for you and highlighted the short EPs, mixtapes and projects to check out if you’re tired of the mainstream album cycle.

Editor’s note: Songs from this list were released between January 1, 2023 – August 30, 2023.

“Moment Of Your Life” – Brent Faiyaz

Laced with innuendos, every line in Brent Faiyaz’s new single with Coco Jones is dipped in lust-draped double-entendres. His voice lulls in harmonious waves, brushing his deep baritone against Coco Jones’ high-reaching soprano. The instrumental is deceptively simple, with an acoustic guitar riff that mimics Faiyaz’s suavity; the strums glide with ease as they ascend and descend up the scale, but they dare not roll past the bass drum, submitting to Brent’s listless seduction. – Yousef Srour

“Snooze” – SZA

“Forever” – Charlotte Day Wilson & Snoh Aalegra

“Party Girls” – Victoria Monét f. Buju Banton

Driven by echo and pulsating reverb, KAYTRANADA’s drum kit texturally defines Victoria Monét’s glassy vocals as she ventures into the escapism of deep house. The bass kicks for the first three beats of every measure, coming to a full stop by the fourth, popping-and-locking Monét into place amidst the tongue-in-cheek steam of her lyrics. The hypnotic repetition in the drum pattern paired with Monét’s breathy exhale of the words, “alright” and “tonight,” join together to create sexual tension, itching to be released. – Yousef Srour

“Cheat On Me” – Burna Boy f. Dave

“Unsettling” – Roy Woods f. Vory

Roy Woods’ journey in the OVO Sound realm has been a rocky one. Despite having a healthy number of records out, he’s been somewhat lost in the spacy nocturnal R&B that Toronto artists have been churning out since the rise of Drake and The Weeknd. “Unsettling” doesn’t stray from the formula, but it might be one of Woods’ most effective uses of it. The lustful lyrics and feathery vocals amplify the suaveness of the Spanish guitar that drives the beat. Add a syrupy Vory verse and you get a quintessential display of the label’s affinity for moody crooning. – Louis Pavlakos

“K-POP” – Travis Scott, Bad Bunny & The Weeknd

“Resentment” – PartyNextDoor

“Tiny Garden” – Jamila Woods

Not everything needs to be a maximalist ordeal. Jamila Woods understands this and knows how tending to something small with consistency can elevate it to its potential. On “Tiny Garden,” the Chicago song rids herself of the idea of a fairytale romance and likens her growing love of someone to the daily nurturing required to build a garden. Woods sings with an awkward earnestness that neatly encapsulates the way honeymoon love builds at the start of a romantic relationship. – Louis Pavlakos

“Wasted Eyes” – Amaarae

“Big 7” – Burna Boy

“Forever Is A Thing” – Keyshia Cole

R&B mainstay Keyshia Cole memorializes her late mother in the soul powered ballad “Forever Is A Thing.” Backed by a contemporary soul groove, Cole reflects on the shock and pain of losing a parent, the uncertainty she feels about how to move forward, and the eventual acceptance and understanding that comes with time. “How would I know? That you didn’t want to stay. You were ready to leave. I guess I’m just a fool to think forever is a thing.” While clearly profoundly personal and deeply felt, “Forever Is A Thing” has the timeless quality of an R&B classic that can tell a different story to each listener. – Nina Hernandez

“The Rush” – Janelle Monáe f. Nia Long & Amaarae

“Basquiat” – Asake

“Girlfriend” – Äyanna

East London R&B up-and-comer Äyanna proposes commitment to a potential lover on sultry new single “Girlfriend.” It’s the first in an forthcoming series of romantic comedy-inspired tracks from the newly minted Love Renaissance member. Over a pop-infused beat produced by Ben Billions and Di Genius, Ayanna communicates the urgency one feels when pursuing a crush. “If I wait any longer, you might make me spill over,” she warns. “How can I make you understand it? You got me feelin’ like I’m ready to pop.” – Nina Hernandez

“One Of The Girls” – The Weeknd, JENNIE & Lily-Rose Depp

“FWLM” – Toosii

Summer Walker x Childish Gambino – “New Type”

“New Type,” off of Summer Walker’s surprise new EP, CLEAR 2: SOFT LIFE, is a bouncy, sensual performance from one of R&B’s most elite acts. On this particular record, Walker longs for affection and, of course, has her phone blowing up with men wanting to take her out – but this causes her to reflect on what she wants, leading her to come to the realization that her preference in men has changed. Childish Gambino swings in for what’s now come to be a rare musical appearance, delivering a monotonous verse, channeling the low-key vocal inflections of Kendrick Lamar on songs like “United In Grief,” rapping from the perspective of one of the dudes trying to catch Walker’s attention; “I show up with a happy meal, your attitude ain’t happy / You tell my son his daddy broke, he hear you laughin’ at me,” he raps, adding in some humility to the tension. – Isaac Fontes

Janelle Monáe – “Lipstick Lover”

KAYTRAMINÉ – “Rebuke”

Rory x RAAHiiM x Shantel May – “Not Me”

The second track off of Rory’s debut album, which the podcaster and media personality allegedly spent three years curating, producing and writing, is an absolute gem. Serving as an intimate collaboration between two of Toronto’s most soulful R&B acts, RAAHiim and Shantel May, the duo seamlessly unite to express each of their respective sentiments towards their love interests. After delivering an introspective opening verse, RAHiiM handles the catchy hook on which he reveals that, although his love interest is looking for someone to fall in love with her, it won’t be him. In May’s subsequent verse, she flaunts her angelic vocals and sends a commanding message to her partner while confirming that she’s a member of the BeyHive by refuting RAHiiM’s claim in the first verse that all of his exes want to be like Beyoncé. – Isaac Fontes

Bad Bunny – “Where She Goes”

 Beyoncé F. Kendrick Lamar – “America Has A Problem (Remix)”

“Blade” – Arlo Parks

British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks wanted to create something danceable when she teamed up with producer Paul Epworth on “Blades.” The single from her upcoming second LP My Soft Machine features the same lyrical intimacy that rocketed the 22-year-old to fame, but over a club beat instead of her usual indie vibes. Not only is the style switch-up a pleasant change of pace, but it fits neatly into the song’s theme of seeing an ex flame across the room at a party. – Nina Hernandez

“Double Fantasy” – The Weeknd f. Future

“Valentina” – Daniel Caesar f. Rick Ross

“Un x100to” – Grupo Frontera & Bad Bunny

Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny has a track record of cross-cultural collaborations. Still, it was a shock to the social media ecosystem when he teamed up with Mexican regional Grupo Frontera – one of the brightest stars in a genre currently experiencing an international renaissance. But novelty isn’t the reason “un x100to” shot to No. 1 on Spotify’s global chart. That’s attributable to the chemistry between the Norteno up-and-comers and Bad Bunny on this smoldering heartbreak anthem about losing someone you’re not sure you deserved in the first place. Grupo Frontera lays the foundation with a hypnotizing cumbia and Bad Bunny matches the energy with another unapologetically toxic verse. – Nina Hernandez

“Rollercoaster” – Burna Boy f. J Balvin

“Let Me Go” – Daniel Caesar

“GLU” – Usher

Let the Usher revival tour begin. On “GLU,” the 44-year-old R&B singer fully leans into his raunchy side, finding inventive ways to sing about his most intimate moments with his lover. Yet, the debauchery feels conspicuously tasteful. Despite lines about licking, arching, and finding a myriad of different positions, Usher sounds like he’s singing a wedding track. His serene falsetto over the guitar-driven instrumental might be deceptive once the lewdness of the lyrics settles in. – Louis Pavlakos

“Tennessee Whiskey” – T-Pain

“Save Your Soul” – Tink

“Kill Bill” – SZA

The fourth single from December’s stunning and ambitious SOS, “Kill Bill,” is a tribute to being pulled under the riptide of a breakup one can’t accept. If the album cover of SZA sitting in the middle of the ocean is the visual motif of the album, “Kill Bill” is the aural one. The R&B maintstay’s singsong delivery contrasts delightfully with the violent lyrical content inspired by the Quentin Tarantino epic. Who among us has not, at one point, felt they’d rather be in hell than alone? – Nina Hernandez

“I Won’t Tell” – Baby Rose & Smino

“Nightmares” – Dende

“3 Boys” – Omar Apollo

omar-apollo-3-boysNegotiating relationship boundaries in the polyamory age isn’t easy. That’s where we find 25-year-old freshly minted pop star Omar Apollo in searing new single “3Boys.” The recent Grammy nominee conveys in his typical combination of soulful vocals and blunt lyrical content the agony of wanting just one person — who in addition to our protagonist wants a couple other parties in the mix. It’s apparent from “3Boys” that as Apollo grows in human experience, his formula of agonized direct appeals to wayward lovers will continue to shine. – Nina Hernandez

“Tell Me Why” – Enchanting f. Layton Greene

“Do You Like Me” – Daniel Caesar

“Still Work” – OG Parker f. Ty Dolla $ign, Muni Long

“Find Out” – Liv.E

“Forever” – Vedo

“Her Old Friends” – PartyNextDoor

It’s been two years since the nostalgia-filled PARTYPACK EP had fans wondering where PartyNextDoor has been and how much [if at all] he’s evolved. His latest single “Her Old Friends” is an honest ballad that places the blame on a lover’s best friends for her deviance. The ‘no fluff, no frill’ track sports a mellow-paced kick and snare while PND croons “I was supposed to take her out the game”– a familiar cadence both original PND fans and newcomers may enjoy. – David Brake

“Pray It Away” – Chloe

“Love Shit” – Enchanting

On her second single of the year, “Love Shit,” Enchanting lays the bars aside to deliver a contemplative R&B number. It’s not her first try at a melodic track given her past works like “Summer Night” and “Luv.” The newly signed 1017 rapper begins “Love Shit” with a confession which falls into an infectious bass and drum Enchanting walks on with charm. – Devon Jefferson

Contributing writers: David Brake, Yousef Srour, Nina Hernandez, Jeremy Hecht, Devon Jefferson, Anthony Malone, Holly Alvarado, Louis Pavlakos & Josh Svetz.



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