Album of the week: KeiyaA – Forever Ya Girl
KeiyaA is an up-and-coming R&B soul artist from New York City who just released her official debut album Forever Ya Girl on all streaming services. It’s a gorgeous quest for individual fulfillment. There’s a subtle powerfulness to her voice that’s rarely seen in contemporary artists of her stature. Her voice has a feathery weight to it, but her words pierce your soul like a dagger-“Gone for so long, I can barely recall the last my phone rang/Gone for so long, I can surely afford to be in the rain.” There’s moments where she begs for reconciliation. Kenya wants power over her feelings, but also wants to be loved in a genuine manner. It’s balance many of us try to find.
She utilizes similar chaotic percussion loops like lo-fi rappers MIKE and Navy Blue, but rather than full-on rapping, KeiyaA uses the soulful landscape as a channel for melodic exercises. She wrote and produced the entire album, an impressive feat that’s showcased through carefully curated refrains and emotional one-liners. The entire record feels like one cinematic experience filled with fragmented rumination and instrumental transitions that illustrate a fully-formed storyline about spiritual reliance, individualism, and the pursuit of self-actualization. It’s one of the most dazzling listens in quite some time.
Songs of the week
Connie – “Spf 30”
When it comes to vivid songwriting, Connis is quickly becoming one of the more charming artists in the underground hip hop scene at the current moment. His album from earlier this year-Sessions: 001-was a swift exploration of his needs and wants in life without needless filler. The Massachusetts native also utilizes auto-tune very well as seen on his Valentine’s Day single “Palindrome”-a beautiful Frank Ocean-like acoustic ballad that showcased his intimate singing voice. The entire experience was raw, from the gentle rain in the background (which added a lot of dimension) to the welcoming, yet desolate tone in his inflections.
“Spf 30″ is slightly more playful in lyricism (SPF 30 — you lather me down slow”/Pale motherfucka need aloe when I get home”), but just as blissful in approach. Connis is either infatuated with a significant other, or already falling in love. Either way, I’m all for it because the music has been top notch.
Lance Jackson (feat. Luke Bar$) – “PRESS START”
Randolph, MA native Lance Jackson hasn’t released a ton of music yet, but this new two-song video has piqued my interest. In the thoughtful but heart wrenching first leg of the video (“You”), Jackson is seen enjoying himself with a girl at an arcade as he raps in a voice-over style about how little he can actually see her (“I want to treat you better than my wallet can allow me right now”). The first song’s runtime is only a minute and some change, but the sentiment is distinctly present.
The second half of the broadcast (“Aww Shit”) features Jackson and Van Buren’s Luke Bar$ in a more stern tone; calling out people for their lack of empathy in certain situations (“‘Cause if you know what I know/You would ask why it’s always me on the ropes/You ask what it really means to stay ten toes down for a vision that just wanna see you burn to the ground trying to get it”). The pursuit of happiness in the midst of uncontrollable chaos permeates through both tracks. It’s all very Saba-inspired. I’m excited for his future.
Wakai – “Dreadlocks”
I have to thank to DJBooth for putting me on to this elegant piece of art. The beautiful keys and light 808 taps juxtapose the bleakness of Wakai’s unfortunate situation. He’s lost some friends and he just wants to know why. Life can be so cruel. I’m glad there’s music to help us get through the rough patches.
AzChike – “Okay”
California’s shelter-in-place makes it impossible for local rappers to create their usual stout visuals of the state’s serene landscape. Enter AzChike, an LA native who is making the most of the situation. He raps his usual blunt vulgarities about how he’s going to fuck a girl; but not without a a backing band this time. Chike has one guy on flute and the other on a guitar while he performs as the lead singer. Who says hip hop music should only be made digitally?
Conway the Machine & The Alchemist (feat. Schoolboy Q) – “Shoot Sideways”
At the time of me writing this, Conway and Alchemist’s new project had only been a day old. I still need to let the whole thing settle before I give my full opinion on it. The single with Schoolboy Q was as menacing as most would expect a collaboration like this would be. All I can say is, what a year it’s been for Alc. Check out that album he did with Boldy too if you haven’t already.
Great posse cut here from a group of New Jersey artists who are all affiliated with the independent collective OCD entertainment. Spearheading this track is label mainstay Cinoevil, an artist who’s received significant airplay from the Hot 97 “Who’s Next” series. The single is a part of Cinoevil’s new self-titled album-released a couple weeks ago on all streaming services. It’s a very diverse body of work thanks to Cino’s genre defying mix of hip hop, punk, rock and pop. There’s some tracks that integrate melody, and there’s others that contain straight bar-for-bar brawling. “Diagnosed” features the latter with a small dose of competitive fiery.