Beyond The Surface

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On the 12th, London turned U.S. RnB star, Ella Mai released her self-titled debut album, which is solely about love. The acronym "ELLA" is revealed as the album progresses to highlight emotion, lust, love, and awareness as progressive stages of romance. Ella uses ballads and two-part harmonies to address her short-comings and offerings-- made privy by conscious involvement, and she celebrates being loved regardless of imperfection. The singer brings light to the idea of using love as a healing mechanism, understanding that healing through love is only possible when all parties surrender their need to control and embrace vulnerability-- a twin flame concept. Obviously the singer is a hopeless romantic. The album, well-written, cohesive, and diverse, is ultimately a classic RnB album made simple. Ella Mai is available on all streaming platforms.
Earlier this week, Mahalia shared the official visual for her single, "Surprise Me". The visual is collection of choreographed candids of a seemingly great love, while the song is Mahalia's acceptance of the thought-to-be love as an illusion. The single is one of five on Mahalia's EP, Seasons.
Longtime RnB artist, Nivea has returned over a decade later after being sidelined by the industry. The diamond in the ruff was the first chosen to unveil the raw truths behind her career coming to a sudden halt years ago on BET's web docu-series, "Finding". Shortly after its airing on September 21st, Nivea released her single, "Circles" which is a sure RnB hit.
Champagne Eyes is AlunaGeorge's third studio project and also a concise personification of the divine feminine becoming aware of herself. Aluna eludes to the patriarchal idealism of the divine feminine, speaking on the expectation to be perfect, "emotional", dependent and "wholesome". The artist classifies her work as RnB/soul but there are definitely some stylistic fusions present in her music. The EP is available on all streaming platforms.

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Beyond The Surface

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On September 21st, upcoming RnB singer, Mahalia released her second studio project, Seasons. The project is a long time coming with the debut of Never Change being over 3 years ago. Mahalia has managed to stay relevant and grow her fan base through collaborative works, the steady release of singles, touring and social media. Her EP, Seasons is all about "love"-- except maybe it is really about an unhealthy attachment. The collection of well written songs highlight common feelings of inadequacy and abandonment, and the tendency to ignore them for the sake of maintaining a connection. Seasons is available on all streaming platforms.
About 2 weeks ago, Dreamville artist, JID released "151 Rum", a track about his reality that highlights lyricism and flow. The rapper also made an appearance at the COLORS studio where he debuted another single, "Working Out". JID's latest album, The Never Ending Story dropped last March. Since then the artist has been pretty low-key, occasionally mentioning studio time on twitter in between live performances. I'm predicting the release of a full project within the next year.
This week Kelela released a remixed version of her October 2017 album, Take Me Apart.
In September, Nigerian Native, Obi released a groovy afro-rap track entitled "Mood". On the song he and featured artist, Lasgidi air lustful experiences shared with various women.
Anderson Paak and Kendrick Lamar team up to gift us with a funky hit about maintaining a private life within the limelight.
Upcoming soul singer, Hunnah, finally shares the official visual for her single, "Think About It". The release of unresolved feelings is visually represented by ridding herself of the physical reminders.
On the 4th Jaden Smith released his trap-techno single "GOKU", the Dragon Ball Z reference serves as a metaphor for Jaden's personal growth and life progression-- a message I can get behind.
Justine Skye's "Build", released just days ago, speaks on a woman's burning desire to manifest the man of her dreams in place of men that disappoint and waste time. Justine vows to channel her energy into building herself up instead. The track features upcoming artist, Arin Ray, who can also be heard on Earthgang's latest song "Stuck".
Earlier this week, singer-rapper IAMDDB shared the official visual for her single, "Kurr£ncy" which is one one of 8 tracks on her album Flightmode, Vol. 4, released in June.
Soul singer, Elle Varner has returned with the release of her single "Love You Blind". It comes as no surprise that the song is about love, specifically not rush into it to avoid deceit, but the country sound the track takes on is certainly unexpected. While this sound seems unusual coming from Elle, I've decided to see it as one of her many branches.

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Beyond The Surface

 Submissions:hiiighercalling@gmail.com

Submissions:hiiighercalling@gmail.com

Not even two full months after being formally introduced as TDE's newest addition, Hip-Hop artist, Reason dropped his first official album, There You Have It on the 28th, his single "Better Days" appearing as one of twelve unique tracks. While Reason, specializes in traditional Hip-Hop, soul and RnB are incorporated into There You Have It with the use of classics by heartthrob legends such as Al Greene and Usher. The opposing blend of sounds coupled with tragic anecdotes makes for a well made album. Reason's There You Have It can be found on all streaming platforms.
The official video for NAO's summer banger, "Make It Out Alive" is here. This single, along with "Another Lifetime" will appear on her album Saturn, set to drop on the 26th of October, and shortly after the Saturn tour will commence in December.
In June, the summer single "Got Friends" by GoldLink featuring Miguel was released. This month on the 25th, the official visual was premiered. The contemporary cinematic release is somewhat reminiscent of Michael's thriller, taking an unexpected spin as the storyline progresses.
On the 19th, the visual for Llloyd's soulful RnB jam, "Excited" went public. The song is off his latest LP, Tru and the visual-- sleek and simple, has an early 2000's feel to it.
Kelela re-released another version of her already electric love song, "Waitin". The remix by buzzing producer Kaytra has a rather elaborate title: "KAYTRANADA_WAITIN_115 BPM", which describes the new cut perfectly. The original track can be found on Kelela's album Take Me Apart, released October of last year. Along with the original, the remix is available on all streaming platforms.
Upcoming RnB artist, Jacquees takes an upfront approach to courting with his single "London", making his expectations of sex absent of emotion known. The single is from his recent LP, 4275, released June 18th of this year. The "London" visual went live days ago on the 25th.

Beyond the Surface

On the 21st, Lupe Fiasco's seventh album, Drogas Wave was released a week before its proposed date. As expected the album is lyrically and musically impressive. The 24 track album is dynamic sonically, hosting a variety of sounds-- whether it be through Lupe's chosen style of delivery, production, or the inclusion of other genre artists. With Drogas Wave, Lupe takes a fictional route in highlighting truths about slavery and it's lasting affects on world culture. Execution practices such as throwing slaves overboard while at sea and baiting slave babies to alligators, colonization, and miseducation of "blacks" are remembered in the fabricated tale about a group of slaves dying at sea, but return in spirit. The album progresses to shed light on the continued efforts against "blacks" post slavery-- ie, drug wars, and the material manifestations of the psychological effects of slavery, ranging from lack of self knowledge to gang violence, and even diet. Lupe highlights the widespread controversial notion that the indigenous race is the Creator's people, referring to curses spoken about in multiple religions and our connection to celestial bodies. I think Lupe deserves a grammy for this one. Drogas Wave is available on all streaming platforms.
Earthgang and Arin Ray teamed up to turn out a love song about a sticky situation. "Stuck" overall sound is reminiscent of Outkast.
I am (an EP) is RnB star in the making, Symphani Soto's, first official project. On I am, Symphani melodically uses her vocal range to speak on a push and pull affair. The project is available on all streaming platforms.
 Submissions: hiiighercalling@gmail.com

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Day's after the release of his album, 6lack shared the visual for the album-titled single "East Atlanta Love Letter". Future appears in the video to perform his fervent portion of the collaboration. Read more about East Atlanta Love Letter.
Earlier this week Jorja Smith's "On Your Own" visual was made public. The single is off her sensually melancholic album Lost & Found, released June of this year. With few moving parts, the "On Your Own" visual is still eye-catching.
A week ago Masego took a public poll to determine which song from his recently released album to shoot a video for; on the 20th, the jazz musician delivered the official video for "Old Lady" as requested. Learn more about his album, Lady Lady.
The official video for Ella Mai's "Trip" went viral on the 18th. The director takes a simplistic approach, capturing beauty shots of the singer on various sets. "Trip" along with Ella's other smash hits will be featured on her self-titled album Ella Mai set to release on October 12th.

Beyond the Surface

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"Better" is Khalid's first single after the release of his debut album, American Teen last year. On the track the rising RnB star sings about a love formed in friendship.
6LACK's sophomore album, East Atlanta Love Letter is just that, the gathering of thoughts in the name of love. The artist airs his vices that have a history of getting in the way of what he really wants. The performance, made public on the 14th, definitely gives the likes of Bryson and mainstream artist, Drake, a run for their money. Though there's plenty of room for all the artists, it certainly makes the anticipation of blended genre releases more exciting. Overall, East Atlanta Love Letter is fluid and solid.
After two years of seclusion, Noname returned on the 14th with her sophomore album, Room 25, a collection of Hip-Hop ballads that tell it like it is. Even with the all the alliteration and allegorical metaphors, the artist's stance is explicitly made: She can rap and America ain't shit. The lyrical activist psychologically dissects the ongoing offenses against indigenous people, insinuating that there is a need for systematic oppression and hate projection to progress political agendas such as the matrix. "Under one god" officials are sedated and manipulated into believing that unjustified murder is on the endless list of things that qualify for repentance, completely eliminating concepts of morality, righteousness, and accountability from christianity. And in the midsts of state of emergency trauma the bottom 90% are encouraged to (temporarily) buy back their happiness from the top 1% -- classic.

Just as the political bologna begins to digest, Noname feeds us truths about her innerworld. The artist accounts for her silent disappearing act, revealing the causes of her depression that drove her to alcoholism.

On the 11th, Dreamville artist, Lute dropped two freestyles. Listen and read along below.

[Intro]
We recording?
Gotta put some respect on my name!
Let's get it
LETS GET IT

[Verse]
When that money hit the bank I buy the hooptie instead of Gucci
Wood grain with the blue tooth, bumpin' Juicy
Mama used to tell us that money don't grow on trees
Now a nigga makin' paper off discarded loose leafs
Truth be, I'm tired of provin' I could rap to niggas
'Till I slap a nigga, he come back with niggas
Then I get to cappin' all these wack rappin' niggas at the same time
Never gave a fuck about what ain't mine, peace of mind
I be sleepin' fine but you still gotta keep an eye
Twenty reasons why, glove box where I keep the 9
Watchin' niggas shine when the light is lime, fuck you mean
Been that nigga since Girbaud jeans, I was 16
Some days I wondered if my days were numbered
Some days I wish I knew what I know now when I was younger
Head above the water line, I'm older, shit can't take me under
Even though I'm swimming in my thoughts, nigga
So much on my mind, surround yourself with those who rock with ya
Plot with ya
Cause same niggas dap me up, would never confront me
I hear more 'bout me from them, through mutual company
Funny how this whole time these niggas thought the goal was money
Meanwhile, niggas on the Gram to hide the fact they bummy
If only niggas focused on the craft, then what you seek is given
Fifteen hundred likes on Instagram and niggas think they did it
Nigga please, that's how much my rent be
Plus my livin' fee, then my Jordan [?]
That's three grand a month, y'all matching to buy a gram of weed
Mind your fuckin' business, I take care of me, fuck you mean
Went from prayin' on my knees to spreadin' my wings, somewhere in between
Must have forgot that I will slap a nigga, ain't your average rappin' nigga
Fuck you mean
So next time you see a nigga chillin', thinkin' that he did it
Tell him he trippin' a thousand likes below the price of livin'
Nigga you broke
Above water now, nigga we afloat
Fuck a boat, I got money now, I should build a moat
You too close, five years ago niggas was a ghost
Be the same nigga sayin' I'ma blow
Damn

[Intro]
This is a homage beat

[Verse]
Head on a swivel, I don't trust nobody at all
Includin' myself, ties I sever off
Cause fake shit be bad for your health
I don't preach, I just keep it real
How can I touch the bases if you don't know how to feel?
Heart full of fear cause you afraid to live, fly on the wall
But you on Instagram reciting hooks by Lil Duval
How can you evolve, if you the one that's stuntin' your growth?
Relyin' on time, in your mind you think the progress is slow
But what's the rush though? I'm just asking for a friend
Same niggas you impress and can you depend?
All be all, but it's not the end, just gotta have trust
I'm all in but you don't think about us
You all about you, and that's cool, but don't tell me how to love
You lack emotion yet my love is potent
You burnin' bridges yet im crossin' oceans
My hand on your thigh, to me that's promise land, im just sayin'
I'm with the shits if you with it too
Forbidden fruit, I take a bite of you
God forbid I lose the sight of truth
Got more to gain but even more to lose
So who I gotta prove I'm that nigga still?
West sides reppin', watch these niggas get to steppin' when I'm unconcealed
Who is you to tell me how to feel?
Head on a swivel, I don't trust nobody at all
Includin' myself, ties I sever off
Cause fake shit be bad for your health
I don't preach, I just keep it real
How can I touch the bases if you don't know how to feel?

Source: Genius

Beyond the Surface

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Guru's Groove is Philly's Jazz Singer, Masie Blu's debut EP. Only consisting of three tracks, the project is a farewell to her once lover and a "hello' to herself. Without the extra baggage, she is more equipped for her spiritual journey to healing and peace-- a message.
Soul singer and Dreamville artist, Ari Lennox, intimately shares the ins-outs of a break-up she experienced years ago with her song "Whipped Cream"-- the title reminiscent of her go-to comfort food at the time. Days ago, on the 5th, she shared the visual for the song which beautifully captures the gist of the relationship.
In contrast, IAMDDB's "Drippy" embodies self-worth. This concept is expressed both visually and lyrically as the multi-faceted artist flosses designer gear while eluding to "leveling up" in men. The song is one of eight that can be found on her album, Flightmode, Vol. 4 released in June of this year on all streaming platforms.
Former Danity Kane, then Dirty Money member, Dawn (now solo), shares the visual for her single "Jealously". While the song is a message to her man's lingering ex-girlfriend, the visual is much more abstract, capturing cultural and lighting aesthetics.
Full Moon Bloom is JuztKP's 3rd studio album. Like his other projects he discusses the topics that matter, but tend to get little air time in pop culture. The album opens up with "In the Waters", a song about being reborn with the revelation of self as a "black" man of royal blood. He goes on to discuss his overstanding of oppression as an illusion, touching on the many efforts to keep the indigenous aloof of their cosmic origins and potential. Such efforts include miseducation, drug wars, mass incarceration, mass murder, and contaminated water supply, just to scratch the surface. Like other conscious rappers as of late, JuztKP predicts that divine intervention is near as prophesied in ancient and modern texts. He ties his exoteric gains to those within himself, acknowledging his growth by way love and fatherhood. This West Coast vibe can be found on all streaming platforms.
"Spirit" is one of two love songs that ambient duo, Majid Jordan released on the 7th, almost a year after the release of his album, The Space Between.
"Circles" by Dahlia is a metaphor for isolation-- the result of her neo-soul longing to escape the cycles she keeps finding herself in along with her unhealthy "survival" habits.
"Think About It" by Hunnah was released at the top of summer. On it the RnB artist comes clean about unresolved feelings she's been carrying from a previous relationship.
Lady Lady, jazz musician, Masego's sophomore album is the ultimate vibe for creative bachelors, centered around intimacy or lack thereof, and full of heart throbbing sensual sounds. While the musician constantly longs for, pursues, and speaks to true intimacy (love), he is actually fearful of it-- poetically revealed throughout the album. His fearful reactions to the possibility of love is easily masked as a healthy appetite for women and excitement, his reasoning for protesting commitment. The timeless album can be found on all streaming platforms.

Submissions: hiiighercalling@gmail.com

 

Beyond the Surface

Never Leave Quietly is RnB diva, M8alla's debut album. The album titles eludes to its stimulus: women's right to expression, and therefore it is rightfully high on the cathartic spectrum. M8alla spills her guts about let downs from so-called loved ones, but the joke's really on them as she makes her way up in the ranks. Originally from Nigera, this African Queen blends native sounds with melodies and quick tempos to give way to well rounded project. Check out the "Illegal" visual below.
M8alla gives way to women's voices on controversial topics like abortion, immigration, and world hunger, taking a slight dig at masculinity in the process.
NAO is back with a banger-- and the help of fellow artist, SiR. Entitled "Make It Out Alive", the hit single revels in the fears of falling in love.
ScribeCash refuses to let up. The upcoming Hip-Hop artist strikes again with her newly released "Massa" visual. The song further perpetuates Black adamancy about the eradication of U.S. cops profiling and murdering indigenous people.

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Rap artist, Austin Skinner release another trap hit entitled "not stressin!" which is pretty self-explanatory.
Released on the 28th, Undeniably Imperfect is NiickTheKiid's first EP. The trap-soul project highlights inconsistencies of his changing heart.
#Equaminity, conscious rapper Glendino's first major project is centered around the perspective commonalities of the awakening collective. Glendino poetically speaks on the social issues that plague the mind and state of humanity that infuriates the heart, all while remaining at peace, understanding divine cause.
Soul singer, Jazmen Safina, shared her first official from her upcoming project, reportedly dropping this fall. "Green Tea" is about the energizing effects of love.