R&B and soul, a genre of music gaining more and more popularity, is being dominated by a new, young group. If you’re looking for some of the best vocals, turn to Giveon. If you’re in search of romantic songwriting for a soulful vibe, you have Leon Bridges. If you’re in the mood to switch it up and try some alternative R&B, look no further than Steve Lacy.
These three artists are each dominating a different aspect of R&B, and it’s propelled them to stardom. However, they all fall short of one man: Daniel Caesar.
Caesar’s vocals are unmatched, his lyricism tells a different story on each song, his ability to flow on the classic R&B beats he’s known for and the alternative beats of the future have solidified the 28 year old artist as the best R&B artist on the scene.
“NEVER ENOUGH,” Caesar’s third studio album, is a cake walk for the Canadian artist who crushed his two previous albums. His songs continue to have his fans in a chokehold, and for nearly six years he’s only slightly changed up his impeccable style.
2017’s “Freudian” is your typical lovey-dovey R&B album. It’s bedroom music and full of songs you play with that special someone. The easy flowing beats and soft-sounding features from well-known female R&B artists made it one of the more memorable R&B projects of the 2010s.
Caesar followed that up two years later with “CASE STUDY 01,” which was far more experimental when compared to his 2017 album. The lyrics continued to spew professions of love and admiration, and the experimental artist still sounded like his usual self. By the release of this album, Caesar had moved his way to center stage and had the R&B community’s full attention.
Now, four years after the edgier “CASE STUDY 01,” “NEVER ENOUGH” is a perfect mixture of all Caesar’s different flows and vibes. You’ll have a heavy use of autotune and electric guitars on “Buyer’s Remorse” and “Shot My Baby,” just for Caesar to reel it back in on tracks like “Always” and “Cool.”
It’s the type of music that has you shaking your head, because there’s simply no way Caesar could have gotten any better. Yet he does, and he improved in every major category.
The vocals are as irresistible as ever, the songwriting feels more advanced than before—take the story told on “Toronto 2014” for example—and the way Caesar bounces from alternative R&B to his classic style is remarkable.
This experimental flow that keeps getting brought up is mastered on “Do You Like Me” and “Shot My Baby.” The beats can only be described as funky, and Caesar both cries out over the beat and sings in a soft whisper nearly quieter than the soft piano keys.
These alternative tracks are head boppers that space out the slower, love songs like “Cool” and “Always,” which are arguably the two best songs on the project. But no matter the song and its vibe, each one tells a different story that’s been cultivated during the four year gap between albums.
Not to mention, Caesar was in some hot water after being cancelled during the release of his 2019 album. His sales on that album took a hit, and “Vince Van Gogh” addresses those mistakes Caesar made.
Lyrics like, “Used to be ugly / Now I’m handsome,” or “My words come out clumsy / Make me sound bummy,” is Caesar’s way of expressing he’s said and done some things that he’d love to take back. His image was slandered by his miscalculated actions, but he’s different this time around.
The regretful lyrics on “Vince Van Gogh” are delivered in a deep voice, nearly drowned out by autotune, to make his apology sound catchier than it should be.
The final touch Caesar puts on this album is a heavy dose of male features, which sounds strange on paper, but is worth noting when you look at the tracklist of his 2017 project. Headlined by Kali Uchis, H.E.R, Syd and Charlotte Day Wilson, “Freudian” only included female features which gave the album its trademark sweet sound.
On the flip side, “NEVER ENOUGH,” with features from Omar Apollo, Mustafa and Ty Dolla $ign, sticks to male artists. Their respective voices work with the tone and vibe Caesar works to create on this album, and the songs come out sounding reflective and deeper than what was produced on “Freudian.”
Would a touch of Kali Uchis’ harmonious voice be nice? Definitely. But on second thought, this time around, the soulful women of R&B wouldn’t have worked on this album when the spotlight needs to be on Caesar.
On the fifth song of the album Caesar cries out “Do you really like me, do you really like me?” Obviously he’s directing this question towards a lover of some sort, but I’d imagine if it was a question for his fans we’d all be shouting back, “Yes, yes, yes.”
“NEVER ENOUGH,” is the trifecta for Caesar who has yet to miss on an album. He pulled off classic R&B in 2017, edgier R&B in 2019 and the perfect mashup of both in 2023.
Written By: Nick Hancock