The immense crop of talent that has reared its head in the neo soul and hip hop community over the past few years is mindboggling. From this new generation of artists, Jesse Boykins III and MeLo-X have emerged. Each comes from distinctly different backgrounds, while Jesse is firmly routed in the ways crooning and MeLo-X is a crafty producer and smooth voiced emcee. Together they’ve partnered up for a collaborative full length, “Zulu Guru”, to be released on Ninja Tune, but before that sees the light, they’ve given us a string of singles to enjoy for the time being.
Stream: Jesse Boykins III & MeLo-X – Black Orpheus (Ninja Tune)
The latest of these is “The Perfect Blues”, a modern soul ballad with a lot of the warm synthesizers that characterized previous songs we’ve heard from Jesse. This is easily one of Jesse’s strongest studio performances; his voice matches the tone and atmosphere of the beat perfectly. The vocals are also exactly what we’ve come to expect from him – they float over the beat like air above a cloud, while his lyrics tell the story of an emotional and positive relationship. He describes how together they form “the perfect shade of blue”, which he considers a supernatural and peace forming color. That’s not to say they were perfect, but when mixed it was a different story. It’s a touching ballad void of many of misogynic undertones in much modern R&B and soul music. Its counterpart is “Black Orpheus”, which features another soft-on-the-ears beat and MeLo-X on the mic. Jesse plays more of a background role, only singing on the eight-bar chorus. Nevertheless, his cloudy voice echoes in our heads long after his lines finish all while MeLo spits a few crafty bars. Like many of his contemporaries his rhymes are based around wordplay i.e. “shorty got attached to the ring like Frodo”. When MeLo’s adlib is going on Jesse’s voice pierces through the mix, this could be a good or bad thing depending on whom you favor; we tend to lean toward the former. This is just the appetizer for what is sure to be a standout album from the pair and if you are even a moderate fan of r&b this is worth a listen.
Stream: Jesse Boykins III & MeLo-X – The Perfect Blues (Ninja Tune)