Looks familiar?

*After nine years of fans trembling from his studio absence, Bilal has finally released a sophomore studio album called Airtight’s Revenge.

He hasn’t been totally absent from the R&B scene though. He has appeared on a slew of artists’ projects, including Jay-Z, Erykah Badu and Beyonce. He hit a snag with his old label Interscope Records after his first sophomore album Love For Sale was shelved after being leaked all over the internet.

He returns under indie label Plug Research to release an album that attributes to his mind as a musician. Airtight’s Revenge could easily associate his influences as Prince or even Billie Holiday as throughout his album he stretches his vocals to be used as an instrument instead of just a carrier of lyrics.

Key tracks from the album include “Flying,” “Think It Over” and “Who Are You.” These are moments where listeners can capture the essence of the singer and how his imagination flows. His creativity and ability to expand past his initial sound, in thinking back to “Soul Sista,” shows exactly why his buzz never died down despite no official release since 2001.

“Flying” is a raw and explicit tale of a woman strung out on drugs with no signs of escape. Bilal makes a unique illustration of how she grew up, as well as the characters in this song.

“Think It Over” explores regret deeply, tying the end of a relationship with the death of a prominent Black figure, Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Who Are You” is a song that is seldom unsung in today’s R&B industry, as it explores the hype behind being apart of a particular spirituality. What’s unique about it is that he starts the song like a Western-told fable but ends it like a reggae track.

The entire album is streaming on the National Public Radio (NPR) website. Check it out here http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129347880&ft=1&f=1108.