It's a good time to be a 21-year-old R&B artist, probably: you can pay homage to those that came before you, but you grew up without the sort of rigid genre distinctions that defined the classic '90s era. Thinking that there was ever a time in which we fought about whether R&B and hip-hop could be fused as one is a comedy of errors bordering on the absurd. The joke-ass term "PBR&B," coined a few years ago as shorthand for "hipster R&B," now seems the divisive colloquialism of an archaic era. Put all your eggs in one basket and scramble them. We don't have enough time on this earth to bother with rigid genre divisions. Winter is coming.
That seems to be the case with Maxine Ashley, a 21-year-old Pharrell protégé since 2011, who just released the video for "Between You & I," a slow jam that blends a classic-era seduction-mangst situation with immersive harmonies and lush beats. It's very Monica-meets-a-shoegaze outro (alternately: Al B. Sure), and incidentally one aspect that the Bronx-born Ashley advertises in her bio is that she is equally a fan of The Smiths and Beyoncé, and that her music is "arrhythmic pop," a subversion of the term rhythm and blues if there ever was one. (She also experiments a lot with dance music, a house route that everyone seems to be feeling right now.) Both the song and video are scrumptious—the oily, pink-and-purple sheen compliments her look, which channels Left Eye with the sensibility of a club kid. (I'm gonna have to request that Maxine Ashley be the only person allowed to wear ruffled anklets with Croc pool slides, though, thank you very much.) This is from her latest EP, Moodswings, which came out last month.