Rakiyah Is Bringing The Importance Of Aesthetic Back To R&B

In a genre that up until recent years has been a bit lackluster in terms of aesthetic and artistry, R&B singer-songwriter Rakiyah is rejuvenating sighting. From her cosmic-like and often movie-like presentation to her multi-layered ballads, the New Jersey native appeals to many audiences.

Citing Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill as musical icons who influenced her experimental sound, music is something that arrived a bit later down the line for Rakiyah. In fact, the aerospace engineering major-turned-singer occupied the YouTube space for a while studying abroad in Korea to become a rocket scientist. Her bilingual comprehension is often reflected in music, with songs like “Like You” and “The Invitation” sung in a mix of Korean and English. Although an unlikely combination to a degree, Rakiyah’s pleasantly celestial vocals make for a great fusion.

Rakiyah emerged onto the scene in 2018 with releases like “Inhale” and subsequently her debut EP, Alter Ego. The following year, she unveiled her Mango Tree and I Like Him EPs, which further cemented her as an artist with plenty of potential. Her 2020 single “Like You” and its predecessor “I.T.I.D” continued to expand her formidable catalog, unburdened by the expectations of others. Upon listening to her music, love is an ambitious concept for the emerging R&B polymath, and these songs ultimately allow for authentic self-expression.

The result, her 2021 release Into The Cosmos, is a lustrous envelope of futuristic-tinged R&B that excavates what it means to be vulnerable yet in control. Enlisting J.cob for the five-song offering’s lone feature, production is handled by the likes of Nabil Sioty, Jaelyn Flemming, and 30HertzBeats (Queen Naija, Tink, August Alsina) to name a few. Through records such as “Whoa” and “Mars,” we get a peek of Rakiyah’s oozing confidence and sensuality over compelling instrumentals that provide a satisfying glimmer of that bossed-up version of herself. Elsewhere songs like “Over Again” and “3 AM” offer a graceful view into the EP’s focus on reconciliation—with relationships, with the self, and with the past.

Coming off the heels of her critically-acclaimed EP, she graced fans with the release of “Naughty X Nature.” Undoubtedly one of her sultriest records to date, filled with several sexual innuendos that serve as a celebration of her prowess in the bedroom and on the mic. “Good girl gone bad, you noticed. Come catch this ass I’m throwing,” she sings. To kick off 2022, the cosmic queen unveiled her first offering aptly titled “1-800-MLKYWAY” featuring the honey-drenched vocals of DaVionne. So far, this year is poised to be another titanic run for one of the most exciting names to watch in R&B.

As Rakiyah continues to experiment and explore subjects within her artistry, her laudable voice will enter the pantheon of greats in a matter of time. Captivatingly, she occupies a space that demonstrates the value of theatrics and aesthetics within music, which makes her art all the more enjoyable. As she prepares for her next full-length project, stream Rakiyah’s discography below.

Elsewhere in music, check out our eight picks for artists to watch in April and beyond!

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