I think I may have found a new favourite contemporary vocalist, just last week. I as listening to the album L'Anné du Zouk 2010 in the background at work when one track just totally leapt out at me and floored me. Let me present you Haw by Goldee:
Goldee - Haw (Mediafire)
So what's the deal, you ask? The production is stale and sounds several years old, and even lacks that bassiness that makes zouklove wonderful. But the vocalist!
She's not got great range or great dynamic expressiveness, I'll grant you. But she does one thing immensely, immensely well - she takes fast-moving, rhythmically precise singing to another level entirely by making it sound perfectly effortless and simple. Soft as a simple voice, yet extremely complex in the perfect precision with which she places her notes. And she does it fucking polyrhythmically!
Take the chorus, for instance. Set against the classic, diatonic rhythm of 3+3+2, with its emphasis on the first, fourth and seventh beats in a eight-divided bar, she sings a melody with subtle but clear emphasis on the second and sixth beats of the bar! Now, not only is this a twice-removed syncopation against the meter, but it also syncopates/interlocks/change-rhythms/whatever against the main, already syncopated rhythm! The result is bloody fantastic, she completely runs counter to the main rhythm and makes it sound effortless as fuck. Magic.
Bonus: Another dude that can sound like Autotune with just his natural voice.
Bakary - Femme de la Nuit (Mediafire)
COOPER UNION TALK
18 hours ago