Published Feb 22, 2017Some might recognize the name Kingdom from production highlights for artists like Dawn Richards and Kelela; clearly, he has a penchant for forward-thinking R&B. Stylistically, the production on his latest album takes cues from post-dubstep and modern hip-hop, resulting in an accessible electro-R&B sound that could move a dance floor or even creep into pop radio.
The chilly synths and sparse arrangements are given life by the human vocals on most tracks, and the fact that these beats were designed for movement. The triplet figure in the hi-hat on "What Is Love" gives the song a more breezy, summery feel, and SZA's vocal performance is easily catchy enough for Top 40. Instrumental "Tears in the Club" has a similar mood and kick drum pattern to those of Kelela's "Rewind," which Kingdom also helped produce. Syd's perfectly delicate but smoky voice, which stood out on Kaytranada's 99.9%, is also a hit here on "Nothin."
"Timex" is the one relatively boring track compared to the rest, but it offers a bit of breathing room or a come down late in the album, before closing banger "Down 4 Whatever" (again featuring SZA's immensely enjoyable vocals).
Kingdom has described his aesthetic goals as "simultaneously erotic, melancholy and resilient." While those aren't the easiest feelings to marry, he's done a successful job of it here. Tears in the Club finds him perfecting his sound, securing a place near the top of the genre and having fun along the way. (Fade to Mind)