Now technically, I could’ve made this one the Magic Johnson version of Quickies, since Shaq wore 32 during his Magic, Heat and Suns career and not his Lakers run. However, I made a whole song dedicated to “My Magic Year” when I turned 32. So it’s time to give another 32 a chance. Besides, the thump that some of these songs have is more like a Shaq dunk than a Magic assist. Let’s get into them and remember to support dope music in all its forms.
Lil Flower Nasti – “How”
I got this one in my inbox this morning, but it’s a solid song that’s smooth as silk, but still manages to be upfront with its presentation. “How” is one of those songs that’s about being with someone who treats you better–while still actively being with someone who treats you badly. I like the instrumentation on this one, as it reminds me of a Free Nationals song in its neo-soul approach. I also just like the story Nasti presents because, while I’ve never been in a relationship where someone treated me less than, I’ve seen it happen and I’ve wanted to tell those people to do better for themselves. Her voice is also a thing of beauty, so if you want some reflective R&B, this one’s for you.
Tai Marie – “Battlefront II”
A sexy R&B track that incorporates nerdy tendencies (specifically falling in love while playing Battlefront 2), Tai Marie’s latest has an old-school vibe to it, but it’s also pretty new-school. As with LFN, I love Tai’s vocals. Tai’s made a name for herself on SOTBMusic with her vocals and her songwriting. From her “Sukiyaki” cover to this one, she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite R&B artists.
Activepoet – “Wildin”
This one reminds me of Shelly’s “Cha Cha” on the beat and a mix between Mac and early Logic on the flows and lyrics. The song also plays like a play on Kanye’s “Spaceship.” That’s because it’s about trying to make it in a world that’d rather have you working 9-5 (or 9-9 in some cases) than to have you just go for your dreams. The laidback but playful lyrics make this one a headnodder for sure.
Jason Ballard – “True”
I started listening to this one last night while I was waiting on a certain someone. And it kind of encapsulated how I was feeling. While I’m not the biggest emotional ball of emotions I used to be, with the right person I’ll let down my cool. “True” has a bit of a Frank Ocean sort of thing going for it, but also a bit of D’Angelo and Maxwell. That is, it’s a love song of sorts that also finds the artist becoming very, very vulnerable for that special someone.
Devwiththebev – “Hiding in the Clouds”
This one is a powerful song about what it means to be melanated in 2022 (and how it may sometimes drive some of us to substances). “Clouds” is a self-produced track from Dev that talks about some of us may use substances to avoid discussing one’s demons. I’m here for the production, but also for the subject matter. While I do drink these days, I try to confront any negative feelings before I start taking shots. That way, I’m not drinking to escape but more to have some fun.
FredoThaGawd – “OSRNS (feat. Knoyze, SBLMNL and IntricateTheAlmighty)”
There’s not much I can say about this one besides “this is lyrically-potent hip-hop that channels its inner Kendrick Lamar.” Like, really, that’s the gist of it. It reminds me of an early Kendrick track in its approach to lyricism and the moves it makes. “OSRNS” (or “on some real nigga shit”) features hyped lyrics and a multitude of multis. If you want that rappity-rap that doesn’t sound dorky, this one’s for you.
TaReef KnockOut – “Small Town”
This is the first TaReef Knockout song I’ve heard in a minute. But the brother’s still making heavy moves after songs like “Fruits of My Labor.” This track is a bit more personal, as it discusses what happens when a young man grows up in a small town and how, sometimes, nice guys finish last (until they grow up and everyone realizes they’re on a great wavelength). The production and the flow reminds me of a mix between Kendrick and early Drake. The second verse then discusses how he’s grown because of some of the negative experiences in the “small town” and how he’s found the Bonnie to his Clyde. The song is equally powerful because it’s filmed on-campus at an HBCU.
Saif – “Rival”
This one’s a powerful song as well, but for different reasons. This one’s more about how fake news and propaganda makes us think differently–especially if we can’t distinguish between the two and truths. I love the production here, as even though it reminds me of a later-day Eminem track, the vocals on the hook make this one darker and more hard-hitting. The Australian-Bangladeshi artist dives into a lot of topics, from melanated folks being chastised because of the color of their skin, racism, politics and just trying to make a mark in a world that’d rather us not be awakened.
HAWA B – “Sleep”
I like this one because of the vocals Hawa employs. The song reminds me a bit of a mix between Prince and Sade with a bit of FKA Twigs. That’s because it’s not wrapped neatly in an R&B bow. Nope, it goes a different route. Instead, the track bounces between alt-soul and rock while still being very melodic (there’s even a great guitar climax at the end of the song). It’s a song that you need to experience yourselves, for sure.
STEP1 – “1STEP (feat. R4ND4ZZO)
STEP1‘s latest one sounds like a mix between Tha Pharcyde and Brockhampton. The song features the NoVa quartet discussing inspiration and how it can be a fickle sort of thing when we’re trying to stay by ourselves. They talk a bit about self-doubt while also saying “damn the self-doubt. Let’s be great!”
Amplified. – “Real Love”
The new Amplified. track features the artist diving headfirst into some old-school vibes while discussing how being surrounded by real love will keep you afloat longer than surrounding yourself with BS. The track talks about love from a romantic and a friend-like level, opting to say that real love “don’t take no time…don’t need no reasons.” It just is, it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not.
Ex-poets – “Bay of Pigs”
A song more about blind loyalty and how authority can restrict how true one stays to themselves, “Bay of Pigs” is also loosely based on the 1961 Cuban invasion. It’s funky and a bit psychedelic while also just being an incredible intricate song. If you’re here for a good time that tries to educate you while dope instrumentation washes over you, you should check this one out for sure. The outro is one of my favorite parts because of the way everything breaks down and eventually becomes one sound, almost to suggest that we should stay focused on ourselves, even when things look bleak and soul-crushing.
UglyFace – “Pillow Talk”
“Pillow Talk” is a song that’s about getting big props from the opposite sex when things are looking great. However, it’s also a song that discusses how the rush to floss and flash can dull relationships. While doing that, it also celebrates the wins that the group received over the last few months and years. I love the production here because the R&B sample lends itself well for introspective lyrics.
Chris Mardini – “Pockets”
Typically, I’d pass on this sort of song. However, I think that the fact that “Pockets” reminds me of a mix of Nirvana in its instrumentation and Twenty One Pilots in its lyrics with an angrier alt-rap touch kept me interested in seeing where “Pockets” would end up. The song finds the 19-year-old artist and songwriter blending quite a few subgenres while talking about the darkness of being a young creative. It discusses a lot of darker, complex emotions besides just happy and sad as well. So if you’re looking for something a bit different than what you’d typically get from an SOTBMusic post, this one’s for you.
Natalie Lauren – “Swoonin'”
A more upbeat song than some of the tracks featured in this Quickies volume, “Swoonin'” finds Natalie Lauren discussing those initial feelings of love and, well, swooning that come with a crush. Specifically, she talks about finding love again when she thought it wouldn’t find her. I also love that the song is a dive into self-love and self-care as well as being a love song for someone else.