Sounds Like: The 23-year-old R&B man we love to hate, despite his perpetually solid records, gives us his fifth in seven years, and it’s full of sex-funky, hard-hitting beats.
Free Association: How long do we have to feel guilty about being down with this guy?
For Fans Of: Usher x R. Kelly + Tevin Campbell, Ray J/ Akon/T-Pain, talented dicks.
Sounds Like: The Jersey native’s second is a (mostly) wordless opus of slide guitar-heavy instrumentals that are dreamy, artistic and a little internationally-kissed.
Free Association: Perhaps most impressive? He did EVERYTHING on this record.
For Fans Of: David Byrne, George Harrison + Ravi Shankar, sophisticated stoners.
Sounds Like: The Miami-Dade County, Fla., native’s an expert at the art of club-friendly poppy hip-hop that sounds more house than hood; he’s as gimmicky as he is successful.
Free Association: Striking that Top 40 nerve relentlessly, with much production help.
PW's Music Issue 2014