Home Music The Generation of Raw R&B Relatability: Why SZA, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, and...

The Generation of Raw R&B Relatability: Why SZA, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, and H.E.R. All Made the Cut


At one point in time, there was Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and other notable female artists who will always be ranked as some of R&B’s greats. They will always be known for their voices and quality music they made specifically for that time, which will continue to last for generations. While it’s important to acknowledge the ‘greats’ that paved the way, it’s also equally as important to recognize new artists who produce music for our time.

As if millennials weren’t criticized enough for just about everything already, we also tend to get attacked for this generation’s sound. In this case, I’m referring to modern female R&B artists who are doing the same thing as those of the past—putting out music the current generation of listener’s can relate to. I would say this continues to be the goal of today’s artists, but the difference is the rawness and transparency. Artists like SZA, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, and H.E.R., have all released projects that have gone against the grain for simply not holding back.

Jhené Aiko hasn’t had an album release this year, but she has released singles that did nothing but add to her repertoire of already relatable music. In one of her latest, ‘While We’re Young,’ she vibes to the idea of forgetting everyone, doing something crazy, and just getting away from the routine lifestyle. Even in the past, she’s often mixed her vocals with stuff women go through—from lighting up and making love, to being done wrong and getting your heart broken. Although these are all common themes of R&B, Jhené doesn’t quite beat around the bush. Let’s not forget, this is the same woman who sang about eating the booty “like groceries.”

The ‘Bed Peace’ singer isn’t the only one who manages to produce significant music for millennials and beyond. Artists like, Kehlani, do as well, and it’s almost as though she literally takes her life and transfers it into sound. Meaning, the ‘SweetSexySavage’ artist makes music for people who have been through some stuff, but also for people who took the same stuff to grow stronger into a bad b*tch. On her latest, Kehlani was the lead writer on all the tracks excluding the ‘Intro’ which was just the icing on the cake. The singer’s honesty and vulnerability throughout her music is what makes us want even more.

H.E.R. just so happened to give us more this summer with ‘H.E.R. Vol. 2’ that blessed our souls. The singer came through with familiar vibes laying all her emotions out on the table, just as she did with ‘H.E.R. Vol. 1.’ I don’t know about you, but the fact that she’s so emotional, alone, is just right up my alley. Other themes such as being uninterested in a man who has all interest in her, the different ‘Changes’ you go through in a relationship, to wanting to give your partner your everything, were all subjects that made you feel as if she made the project uniquely for her listeners.

SZA became the definition of raw with her latest, ‘CTRL’ by spilling all the tea. From beginning to end, the artist basically gives us a soundtrack for our young adult years, and we’re here for it. The ‘Love Galore’ singer reminds us that our imperfections and insecurities make us perfect with the intro, “Supermodel,’ and all throughout the album. She also reminds us to never settle, by opening up about infidelity, in addition to other ups and downs you face in the game of love. The singer drops gems in regards to “control” featuring a load of wisdom. One of the greatest gems of the whole album is if your significant other doesn’t make you want to shave your legs as a signal of your love for them, you might as well throw the whole relationship away. You’re alright with me, SZA.

Shout out to these ladies for simply being real.

Micah Kimberley is a Michigan State University graduate, home of the green and white! She is currently pursuing her dreams and passion in journalism remaining a lover of all things media, pop-culture, and red-carpet related. Micah works as a writer and contributor for Tha Celebritea, as well as her most recent home, at EMCEE. As she stays on her journalism grind, she also grinds and dedicates her time to becoming a young entrepreneur.

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