Here's a debut with all the polish and promise of Miguel's career re-booting Art Dealer Chic tapes. KES is an Orange County-born, Compton-raised, outspoken singer and producer; he spent the last years writing behind the scenes before undeniable duo LA Reid and Babyface signed him to Epic. While much of this year's stand-out R&B has mined the silken cool of the '90s, Audio Justice unapologetically goes left, employing the slick guitars and earnest nastiness of '80s heroes like Rick James and Prince. At five tracks, this whole thing's solid, but pay close attention to champagne-sparkling grinding ode "Horses" and bubblegum-sticky "Gimme Your Love."
Download: KES, Audio Justice