Despite the conversations in years past, R&B is far from dead and 2023 has been the year to prove that. With a wealth of R&B music having been released over the last 365 days, the genre is more alive than ever, not to mention with a stark variety of material to choose from. New York artist Melo Mulaa looks to stand out as one of the city’s next R&B standouts with his 6-track, 16-minute EP, “Cheat Codes.”
In a music scene overwhelmed with an abundance of Drill and Drill-esque rap, Melo serves as an invigorating refresh with his own blend of Melodic Trap n’B. With an aesthetic that is best comparable to Bryson Tiller and Brent Faiyaz, Melo’s juxtaposition of smooth vocals over a combination of live instrumentation, 808’s, and other elements of Modern Trap music provide a vibe that’s sure to have event the most skeptical listeners grooving along.
My favorite track from the project is “Scrubs”. Both sampling and interpolating the famous TLC track “No Scrubs”, Melo puts his own spin on a classic, while also using the recognizable melody to elevate his own musical ideas. Considering so many samples nowadays serve as the complete basis for a new track, the way it’s used here should serve as an example of how to properly use a sample.
“Bedroom Boom (Interlude)” is another track that stood out to me. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, Melo’s vocal performance on the track was most noteworthy to me. It’s got a calm rhythm behind it that’s easy to nod your head to, but the best part is probably about a minute in, where different layers of his vocals cascade over the beat at once. Different shouts and croons fill the space in your headphone’s before Melo dials it back for a moment and gets into his rap rap bag, letting off a quick flurry of bars.
“I’m Not With You (Ft. ShontiiXL)” is another track that I thoroughly enjoyed. Although it uses the same beat from Kehlani’s hit track “Nights Like This,” Melo and guest feature ShontiiXL put their own spin on the track while painting a story with themes similar to the original track (a back and forth between two lovers). The mix on ShontiiXL’s vocals were noticeably different though, and momentarily took me out as I was listening. Though a minute bone to pick, I was eventually able to get past the stark contrast and enjoy the track for what it is.
Melo Mulaaa’s journey to become the next R&B star out of New York City is only beginning, but the road ahead of him already shows extreme promise. If you're not tuned into Melo Mulaaa already, then what are you doing???