DROP THE MIC!

WITH CELEBS GIV­ING HIM EN­DORSE­MENTS AND HIS FIRST SIN­GLE GET­TING GLOW­ING RE­VIEWS, STANAJ IS THE HOTTEST ARTIST TO WATCH IN 2017.

Gotham - - Contents - BY TIM LATTERNER

With celebs giv­ing him en­dorse­ments and his first sin­gle get­ting glow­ing re­views, Stanaj is the hottest artist to watch in 2017.

“Some­times I have to pinch my­self,” notes 23-year-old vo­cal dy­namo Al­bert Stanaj. “Lit­er­ally a year ago, I never would have been at a record la­bel or record­ing mu­sic.”

In­deed, his rise has been swift: In­sta­gram snaps with Drake and Jay Z; so­cial me­dia shout-outs from Chris Brown and Kim Kar­dashian West an­nounc­ing him as an artist to watch; and then a per­for­mance of his ex­plo­sive track “Ain’t Love Strange” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fal­lon that pro­pelled him onto Bill­board’s Next Big Sound charts. Now he’s open­ing for Jojo on her North Amer­i­can tour, with a May stop at New York’s Irv­ing Plaza.

For a per­former in his twen­ties, a fast rise can lead to los­ing his vision or iden­tity—but not for Stanaj. “I’m very lucky, I have my fam­ily and my team and they tell me what’s re­ally good.” His EP, The Preview, which was re­leased in Au­gust, shows a con­fi­dent artist on the right track: Stanaj’s sound com­bines ’90s R&B (think Boyz II Men) and big, clack­ing beats (Sia, Zayn) in tracks fo­cused on show­ing off his vo­cal chops. As a singer, he’s high-fly­ing and ad­ven­tur­ous, and the mu­si­cal in­flu­ences of his youth—justin Tim­ber­lake, Mary J. Blige, Prince—are def­i­nitely present. “I wanted to em­u­late that,” he says of ’90s R&B style, “but in a new, 2017 sort of way.”

“I WANTED TO BRING SOME STYLE, SOME EDGE INTO THESE SONGS—A LOT OF EAST COAST VIBES— SINCE NEW YORK IS HOME.”—STANAJ

R&B junkie: Stanaj pulls a range of in­flu­ences— Donny Hath­away, Justin Tim­ber­lake, Boyz II Men— into his of-the- mo­ment sound.

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