Happy Friday everyone! It is I, your favorite No-Fi King, Speed on the Beat back with another awesome edition of Quickies. Today, we’ve got some bangers and some thought-provoking tracks. Without further ado, let’s get into the Shawn Kemp/Gale Sayers edition of Quickies..
Jozem – “Youth”
A song dedicated to “walking in one’s own truth,” this one’s a beautiful composition and features the artist speaking about his own upbringing and how he’s been molded by certain positive influences. The video is equally impressive, shot in Kenya and featuring ballet students further pushing the idea of being oneself and being okay with it. I like that Jozem doesn’t shy away from admitting that he, at one point, wasn’t as comfortable with his differences. It’s a process that takes time and maturity, and that makes this song that much richer.
Family Habits – “All I Got”
A jazz/funk song, “All I Got” discusses the pressures of living in a society obsessed with “success.” I love how each element of the instrumentation pops in and out at a breakneck pace. It’s almost as if it was done to remind us that life can be hectic and frantic, but we have to take time to breathe and find our peace. Like accepting who we are, finding that balance can be difficult at times but is always rewarding once struck.
Cold Illumination – “Temporary”
This song’s very Weeknd-esque, down to the orchestral instrumentation and minimalistic approach. I like this song because it’s in-your-face about how he’s temporarily moving about and trying his best not to break hearts. That’s a bit harder to do when emotions are high, but I get it. I’ve been in situations that were temporary and I often found myself pushing people away because I was scared of being hurt. I love his vocals as well, since they’re giving a lot of Weeknd vibes but are their own thing as well.
Orrin – “My Bad”
I didn’t know what to expect from Orrin’s “My Bad.” I thought that, honestly, it’d be another turn-up sort of song, based on the beat. However, I was wrong and that’s great for me–and you. Between the trippy visuals and the autotuned vocals, we get a lot to digest from the two-minute song. It’s one of those sort of songs that speaks on love and human connection that gets twisted “when we forget where we come from.” Written after a tour, the Afrofuturist wants to be a conduit for change through their music. I like the overall message of this one, because there’s heart and soul underneath the catchy lyrics. It also serves as a deconstruction and analysis of what it means to be a relatively successful Black man in the 2020s. I’m genuinely intrigued by their music after this one because it does what other songs in this sort of wave often don’t: it makes you think.
Udoka Malachi – “High 99”
I think the best way to describe this one is “Childish Gambino mixed with Common.” There’s a conscious rap element as well as the bluesy neo-soul sort of element as well. The song speaks on past experiences and present ones as well, and how they both color who we are as people. What I really enjoyed about this song is the mix of genres.
Ludic – “Instabeat”
A song that discusses successes and how it can effect us/make us question if we really want all the attention it brings, “Instabeat” is a alt-pop offering from Vancouver’s Ludic. The trio knows that success can be a fleeting thing. So with that in mind, they’re trying to enjoy what success looks like to them, not to anyone else. What that looks like, from what I’m gathering, is still being able to speak and think about what matters to them. I like the instrumentation on this song as well
Sunhi – “Ice Cold”
A song that brings to mind folks like Summer Walker and SZA, Sunhi’s “Ice Cold” is about leaving a broken relationship. Her vocals are undeniable and her songwriting is also pretty great as well. Overall, it’s a song that hits close to home for me in some ways. I’ve been in situations where I had to leave because the love wasn’t the same anymore. It hurts, but sometimes is necessary.
Taylor McClaine – “Hustle and Thrive”
This one’s a bit more mainstream than what I typically write about. However, there was something about the motivational elements McClaine delivers here that made me want to talk about it. Plus, the flow is cold. Add that to a high-energy beat that feels ready for war/ready for moving up in the world. All together, you’ve got something that is equally inspiring and bop-friendly. It’s got a swagger to it that it matches with solid lyrical content.
Twenty Eleven – “Step Close”
Though this is the first time I’ve heard the group, Twenty Eleven has been around in some way since 2008. This is their first song since 2014 and it feels like something you’d hear from a combination of Silk Sonic and Slum Village. That is, it’s soulful and a bop, but also has some throwback instrumentation on it. Overall, it’s a track that you can play with your special someone and, well, step in close to them and let them know how much you care.
Natural Twenty – “Ebb and Flow”
Another neo-soul/funk offering, “Ebb and Flow” deals with those initial feelings of attraction and admiration. I like this one because it’s honest with its feelings and its presentation of them. My only gripe with this one is that it’s only about two minutes long. It’s a beautiful jam, but it feels a bit like a tease because you could’ve gotten to another couple seconds. However, like those fleeting moments, it’ll put a smile on your face.
Jill Valentyne – “DWYW”
“DWYW” or “Do What You Wanna” is, plain and simple, an anthem about independence and doing what makes you happy and what makes you feel content. It has “businesswoman” written all over it. I mean, it doesn’t really matter how you make your money, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt anyone. This song also feels a bit more strip club-friendly than some of Valentyne’s other cuts I’ve featured on SOTB. However, I like that element of it because, well, I like strip clubs and could see this one being a club favorite.
Ex-poets – “Opus”
Featuring MFN eXquire, “Opus” is one of those stream-of-consciousness sort of tracks. It’s got an undeniable vibe that feels like alternative rap at its best mixed with a bit of funk jam session. Plus, there’s a pretty sweet sax solo on the track. Saxes make everything better, even if it was already awesome beforehand. I think this one’s my new favorite track from the Ex-poets group because it does a lot with its time and doesn’t waste any of it on formalities. Instead, we get three-and-a-half minutes of vibes, moods and contemplation.
Rinchere – “The World Watching”
A revision of Jay Z’s “Streets is Watching,” Rinchere and Var Brown’s “Watching” discusses the way that the world has changed in the face of social media–and not exactly for the better. I mean, we’re all practically glued to our phones and such. This means that real life can pass us by, but it also means that it’s easier for people to catch onto you if you’re doing some dirt. Now Rinchere and Brown aren’t advocating for griminess; in fact, they’re more so just saying watch how you carry yourself on social media because the whole world’s watching your every move in theory.
Mega – “Box of Regrets”
This one’s about, per Mega herself, “letting go of the past [and[ saying goodbye to what has caused us pain.” It’s a beautiful song, one that is minimalistic as well as poignant. I love the vocals because they’re so soothing. It’s almost as if Mega knows some of the things I’ve personally been through and is speaking directly to me, letting me know that it’s okay to finally let go. While she admits that “pain isn’t a requirement for growth,” she knows that pain can prompt us to take action and make change(s).
Kxzz – “Spins”
A song about avoiding the negatives in life while also providing hope to those going through negative moments of their own, Kxzz’s “Spins” reminds me of a mix between Mac and Smino. That’s kind of cheating because those are two artists the rhymesayer compared himself to. However, it’s an apt comparison. There’s a lot of lyricism on display here, but also a lot of self-reflection and aims for self-improvement. He’s leaving the negatives behind, though, only focusing on the wins even while learning from the losses.
B. Bravo – “Fly Bye”
A mix between neo-soul and lo-fi hip-hop, this Reva Devito feature feels like something you’d get from Erykah Badu. It’s breezy and airy but also pretty thought-provoking. If you want some positive vibes and beautiful melodies, this one’s for you. It’s funky but also dense and very complex in its approach.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to log off and listen to the rest of the Orioles game. Support dope music in all its forms.