Rappers get most of the limelight in the city, which is unfortunate for those of us who very much still mess with R&B. But Columbus for sure has some notable figures in this realm. The city has people like Greg Owens, a singer/musician/producer who has dropped some notable tracks already this year, including standout “Tetris” with rappers TrigNo and Wordplay Keyz. We talked to Owens earlier this year about producing, new projects and making R&B music.
“I like making the feel good, up-tempo type records. A lot of people, especially people around my age, they like to shy away from that, or they do like the turn up and slowed down beats,” Owens says. “But since I’m a musician, pretty much every genre that you know, I’ve been exposed to. So I do hip hop, jazz, house, R&B, soul. I make a variety of stuff.”
And the city has people like Elliott Trent, whose hold on the city’s trap scene is only matched by the likes of frequent collaborators Major Zoe or 808-H. Trent’s latest effort earlier this year, Numb, boosts at least 20K plays for each track, with the track “Jealousy and Lies” reaching 80K. Trent’s lane could be described as so-called alternative R&B, the type of vibe you get from someone like Bryson Tiller, but grittier.
And then there’s Kent, similar to Trent in that his approach to R&B is less than traditional.
Kent’s been singing since he was a kid, but it took a little bit before he sang in front of people. He was inspired to pursue music as a career by his classmate rapper Zac Fresh, back when he had a song with Soulja Boy, which was huge, he says.
Kent just started performing last year. Due to the novelty of it all, the first show he booked ended up being a small festival in Chicago. He drove the 6 hours and has been working ever since.
Kent’s latest project, the collaborative effort FRVRGOLD with rapper Big James and producer Sean Starks, is a testament to that work. While Big James’ excellent contribution shows growth, Kent’s style and sound is all over the project in what he considers his most popular project to date.
I asked Kent if he thinks singers are overshadowed in the city. To my surprise he disagrees, saying singers, Columbus-based or otherwise, may just fail to take more initiative.
“They know we’re here and talented but as singers, we have to find a way to tell our truth, introduce love back to the culture and be compelling while doing so,” he says. “Until that’s done it’ll continue to seem that way.”
For Kent, any possibility of being overshadowed has just been taken as motivation: “It made me invest, it helped me see that I gotta give them the best version of myself at all times.”
As for the city as a whole, he says it’s a good place to be right now, “slowly but surely.”
“We’re opening up as a city, getting more familiar with each other. Some people are actually interested in seeing what the city has to offer,” he says. “We just have to stay consistent and give them something to hold onto forever.”