2022 R&Baylist: What The Bay Area Gave Vocally in 2021

Peace y’all, it’s Amani Jade AKA the bridge without the toll & the heart of The Oakland Mind! Coming with a one-of-a-kind Bay Area music list centered on R&B! Below I list 11 musical selections in chronological order with special shout-outs, plus a few honorable mentions meant to spark some pride and goodness coming out the Bay this past year. You can expect a variety of vocal skills, meaningful lyricism that will make you feel, and accompanying visuals when available. These featured artists are representing the Bay Area and beyond, not only putting on for the stomping grounds but the diaspora of Rhythm and Blues! Read along and let us know – are we giving the KBLX equivalent?!

Remember to drop comments and most of all, get ready to FEEL! For a direct connect to the full R&Baylist, click here.


Warmth of Other Suns – Martin Luther McCoy

This touched me for a few reasons. My partner Sum and I wrote for a Black Gold Storytellers project based on the book that this song is also titled after. We interviewed two of our elders about their migration stories from the South. The kicker? We did this all in preparation for our live presentation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Fast Forward and here I am understanding the assignment when signs show themself. Hence, this powerful stand-out on this list. This unique choice is different from the rest of the list vibe-wise, as it is heavy and contemplative. I love the live instrumentation accompanying his soulfulness. Peep his description explaining his connection to the Great Migration story – plus other clips on his channel like “Welcome to Frisco” *wink*

Link: https://youtu.be/qJ0RJMsetHQ

Released: February 25, 2021


Forgive Them – Jane Handcock

I was torn between this track and her February release “IONLIKEDAT”… so watch both! I ultimately chose this one to feature because it hit on a deeper level. I’m good vibing with the heaviness! I appreciate IONLIKEDAT and R&B generally for the atmospheric vibes, but if it makes me feel, it wins my heart. This one did just that. Is it just the emcee in me, or do you feel me? You like dis more, or IONLIKEDAT (lol see what I did there)? Shout out to the collabs she’s done with Grand Nxtionals, of which the boy Blvck Achilles out me on!

Link: https://youtu.be/5jAU5ZgjKRE

Released: April 1, 2021


Smoke ‘N Mirrors – HoneyGold Jasmine and AjGod

If “Top 25 Most Played Songs” was an automatically populated playlist like it used to be on iPods… this would have been on mine! First of all, the whole Twin Flames EP is FIRE! AjGod on the production and cover with his queen is serving nothing but heat! Then HoneyGold comes on with the 90’s R&B runs meets 1900’s jazz vocals, and then my favorite thing – straight BARS! When she sings, she saaangs. When she spits, she pulls you all the way into the vibe, saying something worthwhile. The Bay-ish attitude, lingo, and production is everything I could ever need to hit repeat. Tell me I’m lying!

Link: https://youtu.be/JO9MvTnwvQ8

Released: June 18, 2021


Sing to the Moon Live – Isaiah Mostafa ft. Imani Avanti

First of all – this man put out 37 songs in 37 weeks! He quite literally birthed himself into being recognized as the incredibly versatile & DOPE artist we love today! This is one of the many must-hear songs to be slapped and sung along to, done here live here for our viewing pleasures. It’s the ukulele and background vocals of Imani for me! PLEASE do not sleep on the 37 weeks, and especially tell me if you can even CHOOSE a fav! My current personal fav is not R&B – so let me honorably mention Guavacado and give him the nod for the BARS!!!

Link: https://youtu.be/cg-x0EavRRo

Released: June 23, 2021


7-Eleven – Lovey

It is the affirmative healing work laced in the lyrics for me. I used to be a master SoundCloud playlist curator, and I had an entire self-loving playlist. THIS would belong there 100%. When I needed to cut off the longing, desperate Love Muses playlist cuz I was single, I knew I could rely on sistas like JaLon Chistian, Masie Blu, f.Sol, and now Lovey. Also, shout out to her birthday anthem, a musicians’ treat to themself, and upbeat with the self-love as a birthday gift should be! The title wordplay is fun, and now you won’t forget to wish her Happy Birthday’s when you ride past a 7-Eleven! 

Link: https://youtu.be/de2kRwHLa-Y

Released: July 11, 2021

Missin’ You – Netta Brielle

This is the only obviously romantic-relationship-based R&B song on the list cuz a majority of R&B serves desperate longing that I just do not like to call in… but this song ABSOLUTELY SLAPS and it AIN’T THAT! It reminds me of the way my relationship really started, long-distance over the phone with a timezone difference, and given that it’s still going strong – it’s nothing but positive, reminiscent feels! So let’s definitely count this one in, for the slap of it all but also the beautifully grainy, strong vocals she gives! I will play this next time I wake up and my bae is in the bathroom instead of next to me, just because it’s that good while feeling good LOL! Netta gave the inspo! Snaps and Claps sis!

Link: https://youtu.be/x2-pL-KRBAA

Released: August 26, 2021


Pretty Girls – Coco Peila 

This incredibly multifaceted & talented artist is not just doing it to flex these factual adjectives. She is a true demonstration of the daily practice of creating love. This video, which I was fortunate enough to be featured in, features a plethora of more and more demonstrations – an entire cast of PRETTY GIRLS! When you can pull something like this off, it says a lot about your standing in communities. But aside from the visual presentation, it’s giving vocals AND BARS! Not just any bars – but MEANINGFUL MESSAGES FOR US ALL! So we give thanks for this contribution to 2021’s Bay Area Pride and we STILL HollaAllaDemaPrettyGIRLS! Love You CoCo!

Link: https://youtu.be/uIx_7KJV_1Y

Released: September 2, 2021 


Twenty Something – Astu 

NO, SHE DIDN’T JUST PUT ON FOR DISNEY! YES – SHE DID! Chiiiiild, this is a long time coming – and I am looking forward to more coming! I have been a fan since I saw her live for the first time at Spirithaus, and as we artists know, ain’t no love like a fellow artists’ love. Therefore, go through her catalog (especially on Spotify), and peep the Oakland Mind #30DayBayChallenge review of her album Patterns as well. She is grounded while blooming, and getting her just desserts for all the good music she’s been serving! Bay Pride just went up and I don’t just mean G4U type!

Link: https://youtu.be/QX5rXvlQLU0

Released: September 9, 2021


Altar – Kehlani

Y’ALL. I WAS NOT READY TO CRY AND DANCE! Kehlani didn’t just kill it. She did the opposite and healed it. Shout out to the music video and her beautiful dancing as always – and seriously – just stop reading and click the link ASAP! @Kehlani – GO ON AND GIVE SOME SPIRITUAL DIRECTION LIKE A MAINSTREAM ARTIST USUALLY WOULDN’T THEN! We still love you back at home!

Link: https://youtu.be/lsbJvA_ag3c

Released: September 15, 2021


Retail Therapy – Jada Imani

This was dropped on Jada’s birthday, bringing balance in her Libra way to the topics of coping mechanisms, grief, and LOVE. I especially appreciate the way she incorporated her family, her home state, and the celebration of her grandmother’s life. Her voice has come into its own in a special and unique way – and for those who don’t know – she also got BARS. I happen to know cuz we go back! So click around and find out, and RIP Grandma Jo! 

Link: https://youtu.be/D3vtyG1E0Q4

Released: September 25, 2021


 Swim So Good – Marje

This pretty brown music is a gospel, a short film, and a family reunion all in one music video. One thing I admire in Marje’s music is the soul and sentiment that is so clearly pulled from her experiences, and that we can tell she wants the goodness of that for all pretty brown babies. She serves authenticity and the Real Richmond side of the diaspora! We can always count on wholesome rhymes and deep soul in her music, but it’s the visual aspect that provides the next level of stunning. She is certainly pretty pretty, deeply brown, AND gave us choreo that had the equally beautiful cast getting down! Yay for the Bay, we love this for us.

Link: https://youtu.be/gSF1QlP3cUI

Released: November 13, 2021


BECAUSE I COULD GO ON & ON (hence, a list of 11…) HERE ARE SOME HONORABLE MENTIONS! All my love and sound healing vibrations to ya! Tag your music-loving friends!


Honorable Mentions, Some Additional Gifts


PS: If you enjoy this, find more from myself and my partner right here and support the shop at OaklandMind.com

About the author

The bridge without the toll & the heart of The Oakland Mind!