Neo-soul music was the thing back in the late 90s and early 2000s. We had artists like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo—and songs, samples, and artists showing up within the worlds of Hip-Hop, movies, and TV.
But despite its lack of limelight as of late, neo-soul is far from dead. In celebration, here are three neo-soul artists that would make a great addition to any Sunday morning (but especially one with cannabis involved).
3. Isaiah Sharkey’s It’s a Shame (2017)
Isaiah Sharkey is best known for his work as a touring musician with John Mayer, but he is also an incredible, original artist within his own right. He is as good if not better than John Mayer at the guitar, but his expert talent in no way overshadows the artistry of his songs.
He subtly works in complexity to his music in a way that could come off as showy, but almost never does. It fits into his mix in a way where you might not even realize how absolutely crazy this man is at the guitar.
It’s a Shame features a subtle rhythm guitar supported by a killer bassline and horn licks over top of an awesome 90s-hip-hop-esque drum beat. It seems like this music was made with smoking weed in mind.
2. Daniel Caesar’s LOVE AGAIN (2019)
No discussion of neo-soul music would be complete without mentioning Canada’s very own Daniel Caesar. Caesar was born in Toronto and has grown to be an international sensation, collaborating with the likes of H.E.R., Pharell Williams, John Mayer, and Jacob Collier.
Love Again is a slow-moving song that tells a story of heartbreak and questions whether the singer will ever be able to love again. Caesar tells this story through a back-and-forth duet with singer-songwriter Brandy Norwood that makes for an incredible musical experience. The flowing tenor provided by Caesar expertly meshes with the raspy mezzo-soprano arpeggio lines provided by Brandy.
The combined talent of these two is already angelic, but there are certain nuances that weed can afford a window with which to view. Even if that window is just getting lost in the instrumental and Brandy’s angelic voice, that’s okay with me.
1. Robert Glasper’s Reckoner (2015)
Robert Glasper is something of a legend within Jazz, hip-hop, and neo-soul circles. If you walk into a room and say the name “Robert Glasper,” you will immediately see all the music nerd’s heads swivel. That said, you do not need to be a music nerd to appreciate his music.
Reckoner is a fully instrumental piece, and holy guac is it a good one. There are few pieces of music that got my attention as quickly and stayed in my head for as long as Robert Glasper’s Reckoner did. The piece starts with an immediately memorable drum intro that leads into sublime piano chords. Just when you think you could not possibly be more into a song, the melody comes in.
The rest of the song is variations and improvisation on that melody, but it somehow never gets old. The song is over five minutes long and every second of it is incredible. If you have never listened to Robert Glasper before, this is the song to put on. If you have somehow never actively listened to music while stoned before, this is also the song to put on.
These are some modern neo-soul songs. Most are from the late 2010s, but all three of these artists are still putting out music today, some having done so quite recently. If you enjoy this kind of music, no worries – despite its age, neo-soul music has a long and fruitful life ahead of it.