American rapper Young M.A. recently caused a ruckus online when he claimed that “we barely have R&B” in 2020, such is the genre’s reduced stock. Step forward, then, Dvsn, the duo made up of crooner Daniel Daley and Grammy-awarding producer Nineteen85. The latter has been behind hits such as Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and Travis Scott’s smash ‘Coffee Bean’ and (contrary to what Young M.A. says) he and Daley are breathing new life into R&B.
No wonder musical kingpin Drake, never one to miss an opportunity to tap into the zeitgeist, released this collection via his OVO Sound label. Dvsn have been away for three years – their smooth second album ‘Morning After’ was released in 2017 – and latest record ‘A Muse In Her Feelings’ opens with a striking admission. On the shimmery ‘No Good’, Daley admits: “Somehow I lost da vision”. Perhaps the Canadian artists lost their passion for music during their brief hiatus. Either way, they’re back with a bang.
Not succumbing to the soppy side of R&B, Nineteen85 – real name Paul Jefferies – taps into a noughties-inspired sound with a modern twist: nostalgic and airy synths glide over more contemporary sounding, subdued percussion. Take ‘Flawless (Do It Well Pt. 3)’, which features the current princess of R&B, Summer Walker. This is a club anthem disguised as a sleepy slow jam, the soothing gravel of Daley and Walker’s vocals bumping up against a back-breaking breakdown section.
R&B king Ty Dolla $ign and the Grammy-nominated, ascendant star Jessie Reyez cast spells on this celestial record too, lending their respective talents to the buoyant ‘Dangerous City’ (which pays tributes to the Caribbean culture Dvsn grew up around) and the louche ‘Courtside’. Future turns up on the dizzying ‘No Cryin’’, which interpolates rap mogul Soulja Boy’s 2008 smash ‘Turn My Swag On’ and samples ‘Boss Ass Bitch’ by the now sadly defunct La crunk group PTAF. The hazy, empowering track – a remarkable anthem – reminds us that “Ain’t nobody crying in the club / You can do better.”
Tracing the line between melancholic and euphoric, that lyric is basically the record’s mission statement. Fans have been desperate for new material from Dvsn, who have delivered a modern R&B record well worth celebrating; the duo have poured out their feelings and opened up an emotional conversation with the listener. Star-studded, shimmering, danceable and intimate, ‘A Muse In Her Feelings’ is R&B in its purest form.
- Release date: April 17
- Record label: OVO Sound