Posted in music

Album Review: Burna Boy – Twice as Tall…

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The “African Giant” also known as Burna Boy, released his fifth studio album on Friday the 14th of August! The build-up to the album was quite small as we were only really given details towards the final week of promo. Burna Boy’s previous 2019 album “African Giant” was critically acclaimed and considered by most people (including me – https://musicandlifeblog.com/2019/08/19/album-review-why-i-think-burna-boy-african-giant-2019-is-a-work-of-art/ ) as his best album to date. With such high praise from an album, it was always going to be an almost impossible uphill task to live up to the same expectations. Due to this, I decided to try my best to listen to this new album with fresh ears, trying not to compare his previous genius album to it. Albums are always a reflection of where the artist is at that moment, no album is gonna be from the same frame of mind.

With the first few minutes of me digesting the album, I won’t lie, I had quite a few questions. Admittedly, from the first few listens I was a bit confused at the direction of the project. I gave it time and with further listens I began to genuinely enjoy a lot of the songs. I feel this album is an introduction of Burna Boy to the global audience. It feels that the title “Twice as Tall” is in reference to the magnitude of Burna’s rising success worldwide. A major and important fact people need to remember when listening to Burna Boy is that Burna’s music goes way beyond just beats and rhymes. His music clearly takes inspiration from politics, his spirituality, culture and activism. On this album, in particular, he takes inspiration from many other African countries. I think this is why Burna Boy never really loses his flavour in his songs regardless of what the tone of the song may be. This album is a continuation and sequel of his previous work. He never forgets his roots despite the unnecessary Diddy noises and clear American influence through features.

I would have preferred for him to be singing more in the Yoruba dialect or Igbo that he does so well (Similar to how he uses it in the song ‘Bebo‘) but I can see that in regards to a global stage, the more English the easier for others to digest.

I believe it is only fair to listen and take in this album as a solo project and not a comparison to his previous album.

It will be interesting to see how Burna Boy follows this project up and what direction he will now head into but I know that wherever he goes, Burna’s unique sound will never be far away.

Below are some of the key songs I took from the album:

Level Up (Twice As Tall) Ft. Youssou N’Dour

I really liked this intro track featuring the Senegalese singer. Straight in, Burna goes personal with his journey starting from the beginning of his career; “I remember when I couldn’t level up. I was trying, but I couldn’t level up. It was rough, you see“. The whole song focuses on the theme of never giving up and keeping the faith. It’s interesting that this is the intro track as usually people would end an album with this inspirational message proving that they are a product of keeping the faith. I really liked the vibe of this song, very laid back but motivational. It’s not surprising Diddy had a little speech on this song as after finding out he was part of the album process, this message is very on-brand with his motto, to also keep going. I personally didn’t think his input was necessary at all and is part of the new direction I was not a fan of on this album.

Way Too Big

I really liked this song and I think this was one of the songs from the album that I can see getting really good reception if played with a crowd. The song also works well with the title of the album, emphasising Burna’s journey to success. I always think when an artist is as big as Burna, they have the right to have a song with bragging rights at least. i can see crowds singing this song back to Burna at concerts or events. It also is a small reminder of Nigerian confidence and pride, to acknowledge that you are worth too much to lower your standards for anyone. This is definitely one of my favourites from the album.

Wonderful:

I’ve previously spoken about my love for this song. This is without a doubt my favourite song on the album. We were treated to this song earlier on before the album release and I thought that this was a taster of the kind of direction Burna was going for on this album. Having heard all the songs, I now believe this song is a bit out of place with the rest of the songs. This song is pure Nigerian music. It has the inspired instruments, the tone, the beat, the feel and the language. It is impossible to listen to this song without finding yourself moving some part of your body somehow!

Onyeka (Baby)

This is the love song for this album. The name of the song was originally in reference to the Nigerian singer Onyeka Onwenu. However, Burna Boy has said that the song is now more of a general song and can be in reference to all women. The song also references an Igbo highlife classic from Chief Stephen Osadebe titled “Osondi Owendi“. You can actually hear the similarities with the backing production of this track and the backing production of ‘Onyeka’. This is one of the many examples of how educated Burna Boy is with previous Nigerian music and how he uses it to inspire his music of today.

Have a listen to his inspiration.

Naughty By Nature Ft. Naughty By Nature

Hmmmmmmmm. I don’t know where to begin with this song. To be honest when I first heard this song, I was shocked and almost offended. I think it was the complete change in pace and of how different this song was from Burna’s usual music. However, as I listened to the song more, I started to warm to it a lot more. The song reminds me of a previous song called ‘Ice Cream Man’ that Burna featured on one of his previous tapes. The song has an almost nursery rhyme theme to it. The part for me where I find is wrong is the feature from Naughty by Nature. I understand their talents separately as an established hip hop group but I really do not believe their sound goes well with the Burna sound on this song. It sounds like a very random match. If I could hear a version of this song without NbN I would definitely rate it higher. Have a listen to ‘Ice Cream Man‘ to see if you can hear the similarities.

No Fit Vex:

I really enjoyed the slowed-down pace on this track especially as it followed the very hype song “Comma”. The title of the song is pidgin for saying “No Hard Feelings”. The song is very positive and focuses on the fact that Burna Boy is just living his life and has no hard feelings for anyone.

23

Another emotional song from Burna Boy. With this song, he reflects on his success again but this time using Michael Jordan’s signature ’23’ number. He mentions in the introduction; “The music make me feel I be Jordan, now I understand why them say aiye gbon gan”, meaning that he understands why they say there’s enough space. Even though he is not a basketball player like Michael Jordan, he is experiencing what it’s like to also be at the top of his respective field, in this case music. The song almost sounds like we are hearing his personal thoughts of reflection as well as gratitude. This song will be so beautiful to hear with a live band stripped back.

Time Flies Ft. Sauti Sol

This song is the perfect follow up to ’23’ in terms of keeping a similar mood. It took me a few listens to pick up this song and I worry that this song could be overlooked. In terms of African music however, this song is a perfect example of the beauty of what the continent contains. The song features the Kenyan group Sauti Sol. It’s clear that Burna took a lot of joy dipping into so many African countries on this album, again exploring his global impact. The backing vocals and production of the song definitely explore the beauty of Kenyan music. In the chorus, “Siwezi wacha rhumba” is sung which is Swahili for “I’ll never stop partying” and I can see how that motto fits with the tone of the song. Burna Boy’s vocals on this song are so soothing, this is the kinf of song that makes you want to close your eyes and really take everything in.

Real Life Ft. Stormzy

Burna Boy and Stormzy have already collaborated on the smash hit song “Own It” also featuring Ed Sheeran. I already knew that they potentially would make another great song but I did not expect the direction this song went in. I’m a Stormzy fan but I’m not so fond of his singing on songs, HOWEVER, this song put all my doubt to rest. Stormzy’s singing was the perfect component to this song. I had this song on repeat when I first heard it. This is another beautiful song and I loved the fact Stormzy was able to do something different on this record. They are both superstars in the music world for different reasons and this song is an example of how beautiful they can sound merged together.

Bank On It (Produced by JAE5)

What a track! As soon as I heard the drop I knew it was a JAE5 produced track. Burna and Jae have collaborated on quite a few tracks now and it is clear they always make hits. The song almost reminds me of one of their songs “Calm Down” in the sense of a similar drop. It is a great way to end the album as the song reflects on the fact that life is precious and that we are all human and will make mistakes in life. Despite anything and everything that may happen in this life though, Burna Boy wants to make it clear that he will continue being successful.

Overall, this is an album you really need to take in to understand Burna Boy’s new perspective. There is alot of gratitude, praise and success mentioned on this album and it is clear this is the journey of a huge star.

Posted in music

#MusicMondays – NEW MUSIC: CE- The Stay Tape

Hi All! Happy Monday!! Today’s post is a focus on the new project that has just dropped from CE. I’ve mentioned his music before on the site & I really enjoyed this tape. It seems he’s exploring more sounds and it definitely pays off with this new music.

My personal favourites at the moment are:

Check out the tape below!!

Posted in music

Playlist Picks: What I’ve Been Listening to….

Hello Everyone!!! Hope everyone is hanging in there! This year seems to be speeding by which is probably for the best given the state of it!!! Today’s post is dedicated to top songs I’ve been playing recently that have given me such good vibes! These are the kind of songs you could have playing while you’re just chilling. Good vibes only!

Brandy – Borderline

Brandy has always had a sensational voice but this new album ‘B7’ is just reminding me of all of her beauty. This was the second single released from her new album but this is by far my favourite on the whole project. The harmonies and vocal range she displays on this song are heavenly. I would love to hear perform this song live, it’s the kind of song that just touches your soul. Stunning!

Rebecca Garton Ft. Ling Hussle, Alana Maria & Tia Carys – All Me Pt.2

Women globally are doing BIG things. This time it’s the turn of the UK talented queens. Rebecca Garton previously released the first part of the song with WSTRN’s Louis Rei which I loved. I was happy to see Ling Hussle on the lineup as I’ve previously spoken on my love for her voice and wow this song was another perfect way for her to showcase her talent. Rebecca Garton seems to also be the one to watch this year! Women are really shining and I love to see it! I hope this is the first of many more collabs from them as their voices blended so well. I also really enjoyed the video where they all paid homage to the Queen Lil Kim. The visuals, vocals and harmonies on this song are perfect!! Have a watch below:

Da Baby Ft. Young Thug – BLIND

Da Baby recently dropped the deluxe version of his smash hit album ‘Blame it on Baby‘ and this song was definitely one of my favourites from the new version. Young Thug always does great features and is so lucky his voice is so versatile to so many different beats. One of the things I loved most about this song is that we can see and appreciate a slower side to Da Baby. We are all so used to his fast rapping style and while this song still contains his signature rapping style it has been slowed down to match the beat. I actually like this slowed down Da Baby. The ‘Blind” reference is in relation to the fact both artists are now successful and are getting the opportunities they always dreamed of. Really inspiring sentiment. Have a listen below:

Dexta Daps Ft. Beenie Man – Obviously

Dexta Daps is by far one of may favourite artists at the moment! It feels like he is incapable of making a bad song and I’m all here for it! He released an album July 31st called ‘VENT’ which I found out about last week! There’s something so sensual about his voice that makes you want to hear every single word he is singing. His Jamaican accent sounds somehow always sounds more sexier than usual! He is immensely talented! This was one of the songs that caught my attention early on while listening to the album. The fact it features the legend Beenie Man is an added bonus! Have a listen to the beauty below:

Rick Ross Ft. Finn Matthews – Pinned to the Cross

The King and pioneer of luxury rap is back with another thought-provoking single! One of the main lines that stood out to me was “I just want to be free, another black man on the run”. In this song Rozay touches on the racial inequality happening in America at the moment. Have a listen below:

Christina Aguilera Ft. XDNA (aka LEWIS HAMILTON) – Pipe

I had to emphasis the feature on this song because I am still shocked. The song was originally released in 2018 with her album ‘Liberation’. However, Lewis recently revealed to the world that he is indeed the secret feature on the song! Hamilton is currently one of the best drivers in Formula 1 and has six world championship titles to his name. It seems rapper/singer is now something else he will be adding to his already huge list of talents. As a Lewis Hamilton fan myself, it is exciting to finally hear his music as he has always expressed his love for making music. I really hope this is not the last music we hear from him because his verse was great!

THEY Ft. Tinashe – Play Fight

I stumbled on this very randomly, but I’ve enjoyed it ever since! The song is such a vibe. THEY are an R&B duo that I had never heard of before this song. However, after hearing this song, I will be checking out more of their songs! The song has a 90’s nostalgic feel and I love how the verses let us hear from different perspectives. Have a listen below:

SIDE NOTE: The African Giant, Burna Boy releases his highly anticipated 5th studio album tomorrow (Friday 14th August). Stay tuned for an album review for that new project. If you haven’t already, please read my previous Burna Boy album review:

Posted in music

Revisiting Time: Bow Wow – A Living Legend.

Shad Gregory Moss born 9th March 1987 also known as Bow Wow and formerly Lil Bow Wow has been in the music scene for over 2 decades! He burst into the scene as a small and cute but feisty rapper with his signature hairstyles and confident personality. He then gradually moved into movies and made a name for himself in the acting world. As he grew up, he moved into producing movies and tv shows and even hosting TV shows. Along the way he has gained numerous awards for his music and acting abilities. He was once even featured in the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest rapper to have a no1 hit. In addition, he holds the record for having the most retired videos on the popular BET Network show 106 & Park where he also eventually hosted. It has always been clear that Bow Wow was destined for success with all his talents.

However, the issue sometimes with child stars is that sometimes their domination is often forgotten about and overlooked. Hopefully this post can remind everyone of some of his accolades and prove the immense talent Bow Wow has. Revisiting these albums have been an absolute joy for me as a huge Bow Wow fan. I hope you can all feel the love throughout this post.

I’ve picked the top songs from seven of his albums as well as some features that he has been infamous for:

Album: Beware Of The Dog (2000)

Beware of The Dog

This was Lil Bow Wow’s debut studio Album and was executively produced with his mentor at the time Jermaine Dupri.

  • Bounce With Me Ft. Xscape – The leading song is one of Bow Wow’s most notable songs and features vocals from the girl group Xscape. The song was also featured in the movie ‘Big Momma’s House’. For me the song is incredible to think that the person rapping is a 13 year old boy! Lil Bow Wow demonstrated his talented flow on this song and it was clear from the jump that he was not to be ignored.
  • Puppy Love Ft. Jagged Edge – The fact that a 13 year old could even feature with a prestigious group like Jagged Edge on his debut album is evidence that he was the boy once upon a time. This is personally in my top 10 of Bow Wow songs. Lil Bow Wow at the time was rapping about his fame and the women that were falling for him. Jagged Edge provide such beautiful vocals on the chorus of this song. The video is just as great.
  • Bow Wow (That’s My Name) Ft. Snoop Dogg – How many rappers can say they have an anthem?!! No matter how old Bow Wow is, this song will follow him forever. When this song came out, it was played everywhere!!! The video was also the first of many of his videos to be retired on BET’s 106 & Park countdown.

Album: Doggy Bag (2001)

Doggy Bag

The second studio album from Lil Bow Wow

  • Thank You Ft. Jagged Edge & Fundisha – This was the first single from this second album. For me this song has such a beautiful sentiment. For someone so early on his career, the fact he made a song just to thank his fans at such a young age was beautiful. The whole song is an ode to all the fans that have supported him from the beginning and made his dreams come true. Not many young artists are that self aware at a young age and be able to show gratitude like he did. One of my favourite lines from the song:

I wanna thank you for the groups that came befo’ me (uhh). All of y’all in the office that promote me in the streets. All the mom and pop stores that don’t get a lot of credit”

  • Take Ya Home – If you aren’t singing back “Lil’ Bow Wow, you just don’t know, the way you move so fast across the floor” after this song then I really don’t know! Another one of his infamous songs. This song is extra special as it features as the theme song to his smash hit 2002 movie ‘Like Mike’.
  • All I Know – Another one of my favourites. The song samples Another Edition’s “Candy Girl”.
  • Basketball Ft. Jermaine Dupri, Fabolous & Fundisha – The song wasn’t featured on the album but was also released for the Like Mike Soundtrack. This is probably one of the most notable songs from the movie!

Album: Unleashed (2003)

Unleashed

After his film debut, Lil Bow Wow became Bow Wow by dropping the Lil. This was the first album where Bow Wow was known under a different name. It is also the album you can hear his growth with a change in his style and flow. His voice is notably deeper too which is proof thatthis album was reaally the birth of a new chapter of Bow.

  • Let’s Get Down Ft. Baby – Another classic song from Bow featuring the one and only Birdman. The song happened to be one of his highest charting singles.
  • Eighteen – This was definitely a growing of age single. For me, this was the single on the album that reminded us all that Bow Wow was now growing into a man. Gone were the songs where he was rapping about puppy love and his Mickey mouse chain, now he wanted to be respected and seen as a man. Every young rapper has a coming of age single when he starts the new adulthood process in his music and for me, this was the song.
  • My Baby Ft. Jagged Edge – Bow Wow is so good with the slow songs and this song is by far one of the best of them. The song is quite deep as he raps about a woman he meets who was in an abusive relationship. Throughout the song he tries to profess his love for her and convince her to leave the toxic situation she is in. Jagged Edge’s harmonies on this song are perfect. They always make such a good partnership with Bow.
  • To My Mama Ft. Amerie – Another deep song of gratitude from Bow Wow. Despite at this point wanting to be seen as a grown man on this coming of age album, Bow did not forget to show appreciation to his mother. Bow Wow grew up with his mother who was a single parent and she was his biggest supporter. She got him connected to Jermaine Dupri, she assisted and followed him on his tours and even took part in his album productions. It was such a nice touch that at this point even though he was now old enough to do more things for himself, he was still able to show thanks and appreciation for all his mum had done. The song is really beautiful.

Album: Wanted (2005)

Wanted

This was one of the most memorable albums for me as I can remember physically buying a copy. Living in England, it was harder to hear Bow Wow music without searching for it. We had to wait even longer for release dates in that time but I was so happy to have this album in my hand. This is probably the album where I know pretty much every song on it off by heart.

  • Big Dreams – I feel this song is one for everyone to hear Bow Wow’s storytelling ability. He is able to portray a whole storyline on this song which is quite deep, all with the same message. I will never forget the chorus of this song:

When you got big dreams, don’t listen to what nobody say & don’t let nobody turn you away. When you got big dreams, keep your eyes on the prize, don’t fall to the wayside…”

  • Let Me Hold You Ft. Omarion – Another absolute classic from Bow Wow and is probably one of the most favoured. This was the first collaboration of many between Bow Wow and Omarion. The song has been certified platinum and is still regarded as one of their best collaborations. The song uses Luther Vandross’ “If I only had One Night” as a sample. The song, the dance moves, the video, the hair beads, this song is ICONIC. By far, this is in my top 3 Bow Wow songs. I could recite it in my sleep!
  • Fresh Az Im Iz Ft. J-Kwon & Jermaine Dupri– This was gangster Bow Wow! It was nice to have a change in pace for Bow Wow after his two big hits from this album that were more slowed down. If you’ve ever seen clips of Bow Wow performing this song you can tell this is one of his favourites.
  • Like You Ft. Ciara– Wow. This song will go down as one of the best couple collaborations. Unfortunately Bow Wow and Ciara are no longer together but at the time, they were the hottest couple out. This song was huge and still is! If you can sing the whole chorus without falling out of breath then you are a real one! (I can of course)
  • Honorouble Mentions on this Album: Caviar & B.O.W.

Album: The Price Of Fame (2005)

The Price Of Fame

Now this was a monumental and pivotal album in Bow Wow’s career. Being the fifth studio album from Bow Wow, it was clear he had gone through a lot in his career. The intro of this album he addresses: “It’s like Shad Moss’ diary i’ve been dealing with the price of fame from the the beginning of this year until now even til this even til this day”. This album was a way for him to express and eject all the struggles and stress he had been through and portray it within his music.

  • Outta My System Ft. T-Pain & Johnta Austin – This song will most likely be in most peoples top 5 Bow Wow hits. It is clear that Bow Wow has such big talent when it comes to the slow and emotional type of rap songs and this song is a prime example. The song was in reference to his break up with Ciara but it is evident he pours his heart and soul on this track. The vulnerability and honesty on this track is refreshing.
  • Shortie Like Mine Ft. Chris Brown – It’s soooooo crazy to think that Chris Brown was just at the start of his career with this song. This was Chris Brown’s FIRST featured single. This song was huge and loved by so many young women at the time. I remember having the lyrics printed and stuck on my wall! Bow Wow and Chris Brown’s musical chemistry is so evident in this song and I’m so glad they continued their friendship. Bow Wow’s flow in his last verse is UNMATCHED!!!!!!
  • Honourable Mentions on this Album: I’m a Flirt, How You Move It & Tell Me

Album: Face Off With Omarion (2007)

This was Bow Wow and Omarion’s first collaborative album! Omarion always brings out the best in Bow Wow so this project was greatly appreciated.

  • Girlfriend – Another fan favourite! This song was the first single from the album. The video was iconic and it was clear that Bow Wow, over 10 years in the game was still on top form!
  • Hey Baby (Jump Off) – If you watch the video to ‘Girlfriend”, you hear how it leads to this song. The song was also featured on the ht tv show ‘Ugly Betty’.
  • He Ain’t Gotta Know – This was one of the slow songs on the album but worked so well. Omarion’s harmonies and Bow Wow’s slowed down pace was a recipe for success. Definitely one of my favourites on the album!
  • Listen – The way Bow Wow and Omarion use this song to narrate a conversation is incredible. The back and back between them in this song is so good! I remember watching a studio video of this song with them acting it out and it added even more to the song. The song was never released as an official single but I wish it was.
  • Honorobale Mentions: ‘Bachelor Pad’, ‘Can’t Get Tired of Me’ & ‘Take off Your Clothes’.

Album: New Jack City II (2009)

New Jack City II

Bow Wow’s SEVENTH studio album!!!

  • What They Call Me Ft. Nelly & Ron Browz – I loved this song! Nelly killed his verse too!
  • You Can Get It All Ft. Johnta Austin – When I hear this song, I can instantly see Bow Wow on a beach with Johnta in the background singing! Loved the video! It’s also a clear indication that Bow Wow definitely appreciates quality when it comes to features. Johnta is a prominent feature in his albums and it is evidently a match made in heaven.
  • Like This Ft. Johnta Austin & Dondria – I absolutely loved this song when i first listened to the album. The chorus is beautiful and yet again Bow Wow takes a slowed down pace to compliment the theme of the song.
  • Honorobale Mentions: ‘She’s My’, ‘I Ain’t Playing’ Ft. Trey Songz & ‘Pole In my Basement’.

Singles & Notable Features:

  • Destiny’s Child – Jumpin, Jumpin’ (So So Def Remix) Ft. Lil Bow Wow, Da Brat & Jermaine Dupri (2000) – This remix was legendary and seeing a small boy like Bow Wow hold his own to so many grown women was wonderful!
  • JoJo Ft. Bow Wow – Baby It’s You (2004) – Another great feature from Bow Wow!
  • Dem Franchize Boyz – ft. Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat & Bow WowI Think They Like Me (2005) – Every rapper has a memorable featured song and I believe this is the one for Bow Wow. He completely owned the whole song and it is not surprising that he still performs this verse today.
  • Bone Thugs N Harmony Ft. Mariah Carey & Bow Wow – Lil’ L.O.V.E. (2007) – So many legends on one song! Mariah owned this song with her incredible vocals! Bow Wow’s fast pace on this song is great!
  • For My Hood Ft. Sean Kingston (2010) – This was the soundtrack song for Bow Wow’s movie “Lottery Ticket”. I love the message behind the song and even all these years later, it is still a hit!
  • Ain’t Thinkin’ Bout You Ft. Chris Brown (2010) – Now this song was originally on Chris Brown’s joint mixtape with Tyga without a Bow Wow verse. Bow Wow remixed the song and kept Chris on the chorus and it became a nationwide hit! It would have been nice to have heard a joint project with Bow and Chris because they really make good music together!
  • Better Ft. T-Pain (2012) – Another song showcasing Bow Wow’s talent at storytelling.

Greenlight Mixtape Series:

Bow Wow should also be known and remembered for his infamous Greenlight mixtapes. There are currently 6 mixtapes in the series but Greeenlight 4 was my favourite. Here are some of my favourites from all of them:

  • Regret (Greenlight 1) – A deep track where he addresses his failures, drug addiction and rumours.
  • You Know I’m Nasty (G1) – One of my favourite Bow Wow songs in general. Warning: the song is very raunchy.
  • All My Life Ft. Jermaine Dupri (G1)
  • Why They Hating (Greenlight 3)
  • What I Do (G3)
  • Cumming (G3)
  • I Got Em Let Em Know (Greenlight 4)
  • Why They Hate Ft. Gunplay (G4)
  • Everywhere I Go (G4)
  • Let’s Get Closer (G4)
  • Boy or Girl (G4) – This was the song that Bow released after finding out he was due to be a father.
  • We In Da Club (G5)
  • Suge Freestyle (G6)
  • Death Row Freestyle (G6)

Here is a playlist I have compiled with some of the hits mentioned in this post:

Posted in Album Reviews, music, UK Music

Mixtape Review: Unknown T – ‘Rise Above Hate’. – Collab with ‘Shahna Says’

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey everyone! Another week, another EP review! Today’s post is extra special as I collab with the hottest journalist on the scene ‘Shahna Says’! We were both excited for the launch of this tape so figured it would be the perfect time to collaborate together.

UK Drill rapper Unknown T blew onto the scene with his smash hit ‘Homerton B’ back in 2018. Instantly, his infamous deep voice and unique flow became a household name. It can definitely be argued that he was one of the most important figures that contributed to the recent success of the drill genre. There was a setback with a recent jail stint but luckily, he was able to overcome and has finally got the time to shine. Straight in at the deep end, Unknown T releases his debut mixtape ‘Rise Above Hate’ and it’s clear from this tape that he is here to stay. One thing you can be guaranteed with an Unknown T project is that you will get unlimited hits. Having released many freestyles in between it was clear that Unknown T was more than just a ‘Drill” rapper. (One of my favourite live lounges from him has to be the Busta Rhymes cover).  He has proven himself to be an artist and more importantly a versatile one. For me, this was one of the reasons I highly anticipated this mixtape launch.

The tape starts off quite calmly as if Unknown T is preparing us for a big journey to come. Throughout the tape however, we are taken on a fun ride with all kinds of surprises along the way. Here are some of the tracks that we loved:

Deh Deh

For me the intro track was just a preparation for what was to come. ‘Deh, Deh’ is really where it all begins. Unknown T’s signature emphasis on the pronunciation of words is so evident on this track too! In this song Unknown T reminds us that he raps about his personal experiences. The accompanying video is great too as we are able to witness Unknown T executing his signature dance moves!

Addicts

M&L: I like the switch up from this song. The song starts off melodic with the voice of M Huncho along a trap type beat. The breakup allows us to have a bit of a break from the known greaze of Unknown T. It takes a talented artist to have songs with different sounds and still make it work. Unknown T is the king of this. When his verse comes in, it works so well without having to change the tone of the song. There are a few real messages I picked up in this song such as “It’s kinda sad that kids are killing kids” as M Huncho and Unknown T both touch on how the environment some kids are brought up is a key factor on how they turn out.

Shahna Says: Addicts’ with M Huncho has got to be one of my favourites and not because I’m an M Huncho super fan but because of the vibe they have together. We see Unknown T slow down his flow and sound a bit to compliment Huncho allowing him to take the first verse and chorus before we hear Unknown T. ‘I’m trapped in the ends with skengs, drug addicts and drillers, ballies and dingers’ lyrics like this give a nod to the artwork of the block of flats he grew up in and the whole projects theme. Other songs such as ‘Prison’ and ‘Fresh Home’ deal with the same openness with listeners appreciating the fact that he is out and all that he has been through.

Main Squeeze Ft. Young T & Bugsey

M&L: This song features the UK duo who have owned this quarantine period after the success of their song ‘Don’t Rush’. They provide their signature sound on this song and provide us with a memorable chorus and hook. This is not to take away the way Unknown T did his thing on his verse. His delivery and entrance on the song was just a prime example of how effortlessly talented he is. This song is also a great indication of how the UK scene is on top right now with both artists showcasing their individual talents in one track. It will be extremely hard to convince me that there is a genre Unknown T cannot make his own. I can see this being a commercial single.

Shahna Says: Main Squeeze’ has already hit the radio playlists, easily becoming the UK’s fave alongside his promo single ‘Deh Deh’. Main Squeeze is a girl song you could say and we hear Unknown T singing to a potential love interest and the placement of the song allows the listener to move away from the drill lyrics to a vibe that can be played while driving or in the club. Balance. Young T and Bugsey always bring their own vibe giving the song that afro swing feel. I look forward to a video for this one.

My thoughts on some other tracks I loved:

  • SS Interlude – This was a pleasant surprise on the tape. It’s clear that Unknown T enjoys switching up within his music. This may be a short track, but I feel he uses this interlude as a diary and a way to be vulnerable. He sings “Sometimes I struggle mentally”, a juxtapose from all the rough and tumble he is used to rapping about. It also seems like he is directing this at a love interest. I liked the change in pace at this point on the tape.
  • LV Ft. Young Adz –  I really enjoyed this collaboration. Since the release, this is one of the songs I’ve had on repeat. I love the production on this song, it reminds me of the type of sound you would hear on a game.
  • Leave Dat Ft. AJ Tracey – I don’t know where I was when this song was originally released a year ago but wow! I’m not usually a fan of AJ Tracey’s style but I feel this is the sound for him. We are all used to hearing Grime AJ but maybe he should consider more drill. His rapping style compliments the fast pace of the drill beats so well. These two could easily make a joint tape! What a track! A year later or not!

Ambition

M&L: The final track on this tape and wow what an outro! The stripped back production and slow pace prepares us for what feels like a heartfelt response from Unknown T. He uses the track to look back on how far he has come and how much of it has paid off. He also lets us know that he is not done yet; “I’m coming for the game, that’s my main ambition”; hinting that he is only beginning. This is exciting to hear as I truly believe Unknown T is one of the most talented artists in the UK right now. It’s clear that there are no limits to where his talent can go, and it is promising to hear that he is just getting started.

Shahna Says: The final song ‘Ambition’ feels very heartfelt and reminds me of other rappers such as Skrapz, Blade Brown, Asco and Nines when it comes to rapping about your previous life and what you’ve been through. The pain and drive is felt and heard in Unknown T’s voice as he explains he’s coming for the game that’s his main ambition. Touching on now being able to have designer clothes, dealing with relationships and his dream and vision overall. A perfect way to end the project.

Overall, this tape for me has been everything I expected and more. Unknown T constantly proves his talent and it is such a pleasure to hear his constant growth. I really hope there is more to hear from him in the future and it will be such a joy to see and hear how he expands his already growing fanbase.

Don’t forget to pop over to Shahna Says’ page to read more of her views on the project. The great thing about music is that it hits everyone differently! Hopefully this is the first of many more collabs with her!

Link for her page is also: https://shahnasayss.wordpress.com/

Posted in music, Music videos

Video Pick: Ghetts – Mad About Bars Freestyle

This week’s video pick is the new freestyle from UK rapper Ghetts! It’s crazy to think this is only his first ‘Mad About Bars’ freestyle. Ghetts is one of the best in the grime scene and his witty punchlines and wordplay was evident throughout this whole freestyle. For me, Ghetts, Kano, Chip and Wretch 32 are some of the best when it comes to wordplay in the UK rap scene.

There are so many quotables in this but my favourite lines have to be;

“How can I talk about killing my ops and in the same breath say black lives matter”

“Fill up the lorry with G’s Units…you know what the payola says, the mandem got yayo for days. & I got alot of money in Lloyds Bank, I’m real cakey I’m way overweight. That’s 50 in the rucksack”

“Bar after bar after bar after bar…right now I’m in a drunken state”

“I know Rona’s lurking somewhere, all I can do is pray she don’t come this way”

Posted in music

Playlist Picks: New Music & What I’ve been listening to…

Hello Everyone! I hope you’re all doing well?! Today’s post is on all the new music I’ve been having on repeat for the past week! It’s a strange coincidence that all these releases are from men! That was not the aim haha!

I’m trying to provide you all with more content from now on for you all to enjoy! Please feel free to contact me if there’s some things you want to see more of!

My Top Playlist Picks are:

Pop Smoke:

There was no way I wasn’t going to mention the man of the hour. The late Pop Smoke’s posthumous album ‘Shoot For The Stars Aim For The Moon’ was released on July the 3rd. The album boosts features from Roddy Ricch, Quavo, Future, King Combs, 50 Cent and many more. If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t a huge Pop Smoke fan while he was alive however I always appreciated how talented he was. He made the drill sound a mainstream success in the US and it was clear he was only just beginning his journey. I recently read a really great review from ‘Shahna Says’ of this album release that summed up most of the songs. Have a read here:

Having listened to this album however, it was clear that Pop Smoke was a lot more versatile that most people including myself expected. A few of the songs on the album stood out for me.

  • The Woo Ft. 50 Cent & Roddy Ricch – This was the first song on the album that instantly got me. I never really realised the similarities between Pop Smoke & 50 Cent before this album but it’s clear why 50 Cent decided to take control of this project. Roddy of course provides great vocals but for me 50 was the star of this song and it was nice to hear him rapping again.
  • Got it On Me– This was one of the most anticipated singles to come from this album. Pop Smoke’s version of 50 Cent’s classic “Many Men”. The song definitely did not disappoint! It’s unreal how similar they sound! it could easily be a part 2 version of the original.

Burna Boy – Wonderful

Oluwa Burna does. not. miss!!!! This song is such a vibe honestly. Burna said that the song is about the impact his music has on the world and this song is a perfect example of that. Regardless of whether you can understand some of his Yoruba dialect, you will, using his words “feel it in your soul“. The song has a stripped back feel to it and has a lot of emphasis on the instruments. For me this is reflective of Nigerian music in general. The song makes me happy and feels like I’m back home. Have a listen below:

Just Rome Ft. ShoSho – Cheque In

I recently stumbled onto this song and I’ve had it on repeat ever since. This is my first time hearing from any of these artists but I’m impressed. I like the fusion of the melodic chorus from ShoSho combined with the raw rap on the verses from Just Rome. The last verse is my favourite as I love when artists have back to backs within their songs. For me, this makes me feel like both artists are in touch with one another. Have a listen below:

Ramz – Scratch Cards

I don’t know what spirit has entered Ramz but I’m grateful for it. He has completely taken a new route in music and it suits him. Coming off the release of his previous single ‘Brixton to Oxford Circus‘ he releases this new banger. Drill really suits his rapping style as he is able to keep the pace and keep his clarity which is a rare talent. In the song Ramz reflects on his upbringing but also his success now. I hope this new sound continues with Ramz and I feel there’s much more talent for him to show. Have a listen below:

Jacob Latimore Ft. Trevor Jackson & Rotimi – Real Love, Pt.2

With so many wonderful females taking over R&B at the moment it’s nice to hear men doing their thing too. This remix features 3 talented men in their own rights and the video is just as creative being shot during quarantine. I wasn’t even aware Trevor Jackson could sing as I knew him as an actor but was pleasantly surprised. Trevor and Jacob’s harmonising was my favourite part of the song. Have a listen below:

Rayven Justice Ft. Case, Eric Bellinger – Missing You (DJ Carisma Remix)

More men doing it for R&B in this song. I like the original song from Rayven which was released earlier in the year but this remix is even better. Any song that features an R&B legend like Case is always going to catch my attention I like how even though Case is old school R&B and Rayven & Eric are new school, they all blend well together.

Russ – Give Up

I have not heard one bad single from Russ before. This song continues with that tradition. Russ is so good at releasing stand alone singles that genuinely are good songs and not just throw away singles. This song touches on Russ’ love interest giving up despite Russ’ reluctancy to do the same. Have a listen below:

Franglish Ft. Tory Lanez – My Salsa

French rapper Franglish treats us to a nice anthem from his 2020 mixtape “MOOD” featuring quarantine king Tory. I hadn’t heard of Franglish before but after this song I will be checking out his other songs. Tory Lanez is perfect on this song. The tone of his voice is made for this kind of music. Have a listen below:

Posted in music, Music videos

Video Pick: Unknown T – Daily Duppy

As a BIG rap fan, UK music outlet GRM Daily’s ‘Daily Duppy’s’ are something I always look forward to. It’s even more exciting when I hear a rapper I genuinely like is going to be featured. This was the case for UK drill rapper Unknown T. He definitely did not disappoint either!

Fresh home and on a roll with his releases, this Daily Duppy was long overdue. Filled with the usual wordplay format, his signature adlibs and signature dance moves, this is easily one of my top Daily Duppy’s.

Unknown T has also announced his new mixtape will be dropping on the 17th of July 2020 and I for one, cannot wait!

Check out his Daily Duppy below:

I loved his previous BBC Live Lounge performance last year which for me demonstrated his versatility. As a drill artist you expect them to stay in one lane especially with a distinctive voice like Unknown T has. However, this live lounge really solidified him as an all round artist in general. It’s a wonderful rare talent for an artist to be given any genre of song and any sound and still be able to make it their own. For me, Unknown T is one of the best in the UK right now.

Check out his previous live lounge below;

Posted in Album Reviews, feminism, music, Uncategorized

WHO RUN THE WORLD? New Releases from Black Women of the Hour:

Hello all, hope you are all well! It’s been a very traumatic month for most people, me included but I hope you are all taking care of yourself. Before we go even further, a friendly reminder that BLACK LIVES MATTER…ALWAYS HAVE…ALWAYS WILL.

This post is dedicated to all the incredible women out there doing their thing and working twice as hard to be considered on the same level as men. The post is specifically highlighting the talent of Black women. I truly believe black women have the hardest ladder to climb sometimes, in music, sports, the corporate world. With sexism and racism against us, sometimes I feel we are always underestimated and overlooked. Today’s post is about all the new music that has come out recently from some incredible black women. There’s always a misconception that female artists have to act or dress certain way to be noticed. Each women in this post represent different aspects of womanhood in their own unique ways. Hopefully the different women in this post prove that you can be anything you want to as long as you are unapologetically yourself.

Have a read and listen below to some female power! (HAVE A LOOK OUT FOR THE MOOD/THEMES IN EACH ENTRY DEMONSTRATING THE VERSATILITY OF FEMALE ARTISTS).

Beyoncé – BLACK PARADE

THEME/MOOD: ACTIVISM, HUMAN RIGHTS, BLACK POWER

Queen B is back with another song and this one is an ode to all things black. The song was released on the same day as the Juneteenth celebrations. A day that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. In addition, she also released the song with a very important message; “Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right“. Words to remember. I liked how she emphasised her views in the second verse with; “Yeah, yeah, I’m for us, all black All chrome, black-owned“. On Beyonce’s website following the release she listed many black owned businesses celebrating black excellence reiterating the point in her verse. Another stand out part for me in this song is in the second verse when B sings; “Rubber bullets bouncin’ off me…Made a picket sign off your picket fence“; for me the metaphors are a representation of despite all that is thrown at her and black people, we will never stop fighting for our rights. This is not the first time and I’m sure not the last that B has spoken about injustice and racism and activism. I am however happy that the song is quite positive and motivational for the black community. Beyoncé’s harmonies in this song also make it even more soothing on the ear. Have a listen below;

City Girls – City On Lock (Album)

THEME/ MOOD: CAREFREE, DETERMINED, RICH, FEMALE BOSS, SEXY.

City Girls are back in full form!!!! The duo had to unfortunately release the album earlier than scheduled due to a leak a few days earlier. However, as one of the millions of fans of this duo, it was great news for us! For me, City Girls represent women in an unapologetic form, I feel they say things that many of us women think but would never say. I believe every woman has an inner city girl within them! They’re fun and exactly what we need at a time like this! Listening to the album had me smiling throughout, I found myself living vicariously through the music describing their carefree and fun lifestyle. In comparison to their first two albums’ “PERIOD” & “Girl Code”, you can hear the maturity in this album, Yung Miami definitely takes more of the lead on this album too which I assume could be due to JT’s time away. I would definitely warn that this album is very Rated R! Here are some of my favourite tracks;

  • Enough/Better – This intro track features two different songs. My favourite is the second song ‘Better‘. While ‘Enough‘ is very fast paced and jumping straight into City Girls and what they do best, ‘Better‘ starts off a bit slower. On this track, JT & Miami summarise their life in the past few years referencing their growing success, their lows and the trials and tribulations they have faced. It ends on a positive note reminding us all that they have overcome every problem they’ve faced. A perfect way to start an album.
  • Jobs – After the release of this album, this was the promotional song that followed. In this song the duo express the fact that they no longer have to go to jobs as they are the work. A BIG FLEX!!! I loved JT’s verse on this song, she came in so sick too!
  • Broke N***as – This was one of my favourites from the first listen and still is! The song was produced by Traxamillion. The beat on this and the way Yo Gotti sounds on this is perfect! The song has a West Coast feel to it! Perfect beat to have playing in the sun!
  • P***y Talk – Produced by Yung Miami’s very own boyfriend Southside, this song is a great follow up to the above. The song features Doja Cat who unfortunately isn’t anyone’s favourite at the moment. Regardless, I liked the song and loved the fact Yung Miami took the lead on it. I’m usually more of a JT fan but I’m really enjoying hearing Yung Miami become more versatile recently.
  • City on Lock Ft. Lil Durk – The title track on the album which features Lil Durk. I liked him singing on the chorus.
  • Flewed Out Ft. Lil Baby – The title of this song of course coming from Yung Miami’s infamous phrase. City Girls’ and their labelmate Lil Baby always make good music together. This is another song I can see doing well for a while.
  • Rodeo – You can guess what this song was gonna be about from the name already! Regardless I loved the beat on this song too and the way JT’s voice sounded on this.

Teyana Taylor – The Album

THEME/MOOD: SEXY, VULNERABLE, LOVED,SAD,HAPPY, SATISFIED.

I’m a fan of Teyana’s music. I’ve always felt she wasn’t given the respect she deserved. However I’m noticing that recently she has been respected and praised a lot more which is great to see. Her previous album was released 2 years ago and I enjoyed that project. This new album is even better in my opinion. There is so much depth on this album, we really feel all the emotions she feels on this journey. Her features on this album are some of the best I’ve seen. Nearly all of them work so well and compliment one another perfectly. Here are some of the songs that have stood out for me:

  • Come Back To Me Ft. Junie & Rick Ross – As soon as I saw Rozay on the tracklist for this song, I knew this would be one of my favourites on the album. The song also features a cameo from Teyana’s adorable daughter Junie. This is a signature Teyana song, slow…sensual and soft.
  • Wake Up Love Ft. Iman – This is one of the songs Teyana released with the album and I’ve really warmed to it. This song features her husband Iman and I really feel his rapping style is appreciated in this song. The song feels even more romantic with the both of them on, you can tell this is definitely an ode to their love. The video is beautiful too!
  • Lowkey Ft. Erykah Badu – I read an article where Teyana claimed she was so scared to ask Erykah for a feature as she was her idol. Honestly Teyana hit the jackpot with features on this album. This could be my favourite one! Erykah rides the song so well and her tone of voice is so refreshing.
  • Morning Ft. Kehlani – Another one of the songs released before the album release. For me this is one of the most sexual songs on the album! Kehlani provides one of my favourite feature verses from her on this song. She has about three different flows on her verse! Both of these women’s voice gel so well and I really hope this is the beginning of more features from them.
  • Boomin Ft. Missy Elliott & Future – It’s so nice to hear Missy on new music!!! Her harmonies with Teyana on this song were so beautiful to the ear. Future of course does his thing too! This song samples ‘808’ by Blaque which was originally released in 1999.
  • Killa Ft. Davido – This song contains a feature from popular Nigerian artist Davido. It’s nice to hear an afrobeat blend on this track.
  • Lose Each Other – One of the few ballads on the album, the song is quite stripped back. I like the realness and rawness of this song. it focuses on the times when you may not be with a person you love or once loved. Teyana states that it shouldn’t have to be a bitter situation, “I meant it when I said “I loved you” and love just don’t go away”. True words. The song highlights the sometimes-grey area in relationships and breakups.
  • Try Again – The beat, the mood, the sound of this song IS such a vibe. I think this a song that you will hear in a few years and remember how much of a banger it was. There’s no way you won’t be doing a little dance/movement to the chorus of this song.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album and it will be on rotation for a while. The album is filled with so many gems! Honourable mentions to ‘Concrete‘, ‘Friends‘, ‘How You Want It‘ Ft. King Combs, ‘Made It‘ and ‘We Got Love‘ featuring the legend that is Lauryn Hill!!!

Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour

THEME/Mood: Female Power, Love, Sisterhood

R&B Sister duo Chloe and Halle are back, this time with their second studio album. To be honest, I’ve never listened to a whole project of theirs before this album. I listened to this one and I really enjoyed it. It seems like the sisters have certainly matured in their music and content. This album for me is like a rebirth of Chloe and Halle, a new age, a grown and unapologetic version of them. I think my opinion on them has changed slightly and it’s nice to see their growth in the music business. One thing I will say is every single song on this album was produced so well, every beat is perfect for the song. Here are some of my favourite tracks from the album:

  • Forgive Me – I love the motto of the song; “Don’t ever ask for permission, ask for forgiveness”. The song is focused on the art of unapologetically being yourself. A very positive and inspiring song.
  • Baby Girl – The intro beat of this song is enough to get you hooked straight away. This is another female anthem, a nice song to help uplift you when you’re feeling down.
  • Do It – This is one of the popular songs from the album and a recent release. For me this song demonstrates their talented vocal ranges.
  • Busy Boy- This song emphasises the grown sides of the sisters. A playful song referencing the situations some female friends go through.
  • Don’t Make It Harder on Me – Another one of my favourites from the album, the sisters harmonise so beautifully on this song. The song is all about temptation and has an old school feel to the production.

Some other singles from some other Melanin Queens to check out:

  • Shenseea Wasabi (Dancehall Queen treats us to another banger!)
  • Simi Dudke (Nigerian singer Simi has such a sensual and soothing voice, check out this song from her) I absolutely adore her voice, reminds me of Nigerian high life music.

If you haven’t already…check out my Summer playlist below and feel free to follow and enjoy!! Have a nice weekend everyone!

Posted in activism, music, Race, Uncategorized

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. #BlackLivesMatter

“I trust God and know that everything that happens is for our greatest good, but man….it’s tough right now. Blessings to all the families that have lost loved ones to police brutality” These were lyrics said by Jay-Z on his song “Spiritual” released in 2016 after the deadly racist police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. 4 years later and those lyrics couldn’t be any more relevant. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Rest in Peace to Ahmaud, Breonna and George.

On May 25th 2020, George Floyd, a BLACK man was MURDERED by a police officer in Powderhorn, a neighbourhood in Minneapolis. Shortly after, videos and still images of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck started to circulate. These kind of murders are not isolated incidents and this is one of the substantial amount of killings by the hand of US police against black people. The past few months alone, to name a few, On February 23rd 2020, we saw the murder of Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging before being chased cornered and killed by 3 white racist men. On March 13th 2020, Breonna Taylor, a BLACK woman, was killed by police by being shot EIGHT times in her home. A further point to add is that all of these murders have taken place in the middle of a global pandemic. For me it is clear that the biggest deadliest virus here is racism. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

As a result of these murders, people have started to protest against racism in America as well as the UK. I don’t condone violence of any kind when innocent people are being hurt. However, Colin Kaepernick, the ex NFL player knelt peacefully in protest to the racism black people face in the US daily and there was a public uproar. It even resulted with him losing his job. Now, people are taking a different approach via the rioting and protests which is happening in the US and UK. However, yet again people are complaining, this time focussing on the destruction caused by the rioting and looting rather than what got people to that place in the first place. To make it worse, I am seeing numerous counter arguments to the statement ‘Black Lives Matter’ with another statement “All Lives Matter”. I just want to point out ONLY racists have an issue with the first statement. Black Lives Matter is a statement to argue that our lives matter TOO, it does not mean ‘instead of’. People that do not understand this are part of the problem. PRO BLACK DOES NOT MEAN ANTI-WHITE.

I live in London and I have grown up with numerous stories about death caused by racism whether it is by people or via police. Cases like Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Mark Duggan are just a crumb of the numerous racist fuelled deaths in this country. I read an article that Black people in the UK are “40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police“. This is despite the fact white people outnumber black people in the UK. As a Black 26 year old woman living in the UK, I too have experienced racism in my lifetime. Some of this racism has been subtle, either by looks or flippant statements or even by lack of acknowledgement of myself. However, some has been blatant and loud. 95% of my black male friends have been racially profiled and stopped and searched at least once by police in the UK. None has been because they have committed a crime but simply because of how they look. The majority of my black female friends are working in organisations where they are the “only black person” in the room. UK racism is not as subtle as people like to believe, some of it is as clear as the sky is blue. The Wind Rush Scandal, Grenfell Tower fire, stop and search and even when it comes to medical issues, it is very evident. I don’t know what it will take for a change to come, I don’t whether there will ever be a day I am not reminded of the fact most of the world is against my people or that I will always have to work extra hard to even be seen on the same level as white people. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

It is tiresome having to constantly wait for tragedies to occur for us to scream that our lives matter too. It is tiresome having to constantly worry about our brothers and sisters knowing the system was not made for them.

It is tiresome having to bite our tongues knowing that we cannot react to EVERY racist incident without falling into the “angry stereotype”.

Being black in this society is having a good day because you hear that there was “The first black person” somewhere that has achieved greatness and then turning on the news and hearing an unarmed, innocent black person was murdered in cold blood for simply being black.

Being black is worrying about what racism is going to be like in the country you want to visit on holiday.

Being Black is assuming you will most likely in most corporate places, be the only black person in the room.

Being a black woman is having the burden of having to constantly worry about our black brothers, sons, boyfriends, husbands or even friends knowing that at any moment they can be targeted for the colour of their skin.

Being a black woman is having the burden of making sure at work you are “approachable”, “not too loud”, or “not too intimidating”.

Being a Black Woman is knowing that in some instances you have to avoid reacting so you are not portrayed as the “angry black woman”.

Being a Black Woman is knowing your hairstyle has to be “professional” when going for job interviews, adhering to the “caucasian look”

One thing I will say, it is down to white people to contribute and join us on this fight to equality. Ultimately, it will have to be white people that eradicate racism as they are the ones in a position of power. The more white people and non black people speak up against the injustice and racism, the closer we all are to finally fighting this. I don’t know if there will ever be a day when Black people would not have to worry about the things we currently do but I pray that day comes. We are exhausted of constantly being hunted, targeted and mistreated and I really hope and can only pray that one day a change will come. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Some people have previously asked me “Why is this blog called Music & Life? What does it mean?“. On my very first post on this blog I stated that music IS life. There is a song that relates to every possible human experience and life itself. For me music is supposed to be a comfort, whether it’s to energise you, empathise with you, educate you or even disagree with you.

I have made a playlist with some songs that help reflect in detail what I have and most black people have been screaming. The songs help bring awareness to the racial injustice we feel on a daily basis. Here are just a few of the songs featured, full playlist is included below for you all to follow and play:

Childish Gambino – This Is America (2019): This is possibly one of the biggest examples and insights into Black America as of recent. The juxtaposition of the happy tone with the dark and deep context surrounding this song is a great ploy to get people to take in the subject at hand.

Common Ft. John Legend – Glory (2014) – This song was from the ‘Selma’ soundtrack and it feels like a fantasy of what the world could be like when or if we are ever seen as equals.

Freedom is like religion to us, justice is juxtaposition in us. Sins that go against our skin become blessings”

In a sad twist of irony, sometimes our suffering is used for the greater good or have been catalysts for change.

Bashy – Black Boys (2009) – UK rapper Bashy is possibly loved by so many men due to the impact of this song. In the intro Bashy says ; “This is out to all the black boys growing up, yeah. There’s bare positive black boys around you making movements…making movements toward success“. This song is an ode specifically to Black Boys all around. In a world where they are the minority and sometimes persecuted due to their colour, this song lets them know they are not alone. The song touches on the successful Black Men in media and in life that are doing and where doing well. All those men could be considered role models to young black boys listening. This song is still relevant today in a society where Black boys are being killed in every part of the world, some black boys may be feeling de motivated or alone but they must remember “Ooh child, things are gonna get easier…Ooh child things will get brighter”.

No we ain’t hooligans, just young and talented nubians with potential and promise”

Ty Dolla $ign Ft. Big TC – No Justice (2016) – This is one of my favourite Ty songs. The opening lines “Seem like shit is getting worse before it’s getting better” can be applied to the current climate.

Kenneth Whalum Ft. Big K.R.I.T – Might Not Be OK (2016) – WOW. One of the most powerful songs on this list. There is absolutely no way you can listen to this song and not hear the pain being spoken about in this song. It would be an injustice to point out a specific line in this song because you really need to hear the whole song to take it all in.

The Game Ft. Rick Ross, Fabolous, Diddy, 2 Chainz, Wale, DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, Yo Gotti, Problem & more – Don’t Shoot– Following the murder of Michael Brown, the Game brought together 10 14 other artists for this song. The song focusses on the constant injustice of how black people keep getting killed repeatedly for no reason other than their race. The song also focusses on the lack of trust between the black community and the police. The songs’ chorus is sung by The Game’s daughter.

Throwing up our hands don’t let them shoot us…’Cause we all we got, we all we got. God ain’t put us on the Earth to get murdered, it’s murder”

YG – Police Get Away with Murder (2016) – Self explanatory. Facts too. This song was YG’s response to the numerous cases where police literally got away with murdering black people with no consequences.

Gotta watch how I walk and wear my outfit…White tan brown black, white tan brown black…Black males in a hoodie that’s a target to them”

Powerful.

Jay Z- 99 Problems (2003) – One of Hov’s most popular songs. The second verse is a prime example of racial profiling. Jay Z narrates the scene perfectly demonstrating an insight into the lives of black men in America.

Half a mill for bail cos I’m African”

Demonstrating the way black people are treated. Bail is usually set extremely high knowing majority of the time, will not be able to be paid.

Joyner Lucas – I’m Not Racist (2017) – This song is perfect for those that do not believe race is an issue in America or even the world. It focusses on the disconnect between Black people and White people. Joyner raps from both perspectives in order to emphasise the point at hand. The video is incredible and I love the fact he creatively explains the main issue regarding racism.

Below is the Playlist:

Posted in music

Playlist Picks; New Music and What I’ve been listening to…

Hey Everyone! Day 100000000 of quarantine, I hope you’re all doing well and keeping safe while following your government’s guidelines! Today’s post is dedicated to all the music I’ve been listening to and loving in the past 2 weeks! Some are from established artists and some from upcoming. Please give them all a try, there should be a song here for you!

I’ve got a few ideas for the blog that should be coming into effect within the next couple months so pleas stay tuned! If you enjoy the site, please share and pass on to friends. I’m grateful for all of you!

My top playlists picks:

Promise – Gara (2020) – Produced by Randsombeatz

I stumbled upon this guy and since then I have been addicted to his music! If you are an afrobeat fan, this is the perfect song for you, Even if you’re not, have a listen. The song is from a British Nigerian artist that goes by the name of ‘Promise’ hailing from London. His music is usually a fusion of afrobeats, dancehall and UK rap. Usually when I hear a British artist that does afrobeats, I sometimes get disappointed because on occasion I feel the actual African essence is sometimes missing from their sound. This is definitely not the case for Promise. His music hits the spot in terms of that special authentic African sound. I was more disappointed that he only had 3 songs for me to listen to! Hopefully this is the beginning of a long career for him! I will be first in line waiting to hear more great music from him. (Check out his song ‘Promise‘ too, another one of my favourites)

Chris Brown x Young Thug – Go Crazy (2020) – Produced by KanielTheOne

Chris Brown and Young Thug recently released their joint album called ‘Slime & B’. I was pleasantly surprised with this tape, I feel their voices blended really well throughout and I think they both were able to showcase their individual talents too. This particular song stood out to me as a summer track and has now even been made into a dance challenge! The beat is a perfect pick me up and I can see this being a big song this summer.

Young Thug x Future – Help Me Breathe (2020)

This outro from Chris Brown and Young Thug’s joint album happens to be my second favourite on the tape. This time it features Young Thug collaborating with the toxic king himself, Future. We already know that Thug and Future make good music together based on their joint tape released in 2017. Personally one of my favourite joint songs from them was from Thug’s album ‘Beautiful Thugger Girls’, the song being “Relationship”. With this song “Help Me Breathe”, I feel it is actually quite a sweet one. Both of them talk about the importance of their partners in question indicating that they are giving them life. Check it out below;

Shana – Crush on You (2020) – Produced by Jiffthegeneral

Moving to an RnB theme, this is a new song from a new artist! This debut song is from London RnB singer Shana. With this being her first single I am hoping we hear much more from her in the future. I’m pretty sure this song will have you singing “I’ve got a crush on you” over and over and doing some kind of shuffle. I like the freshness that I get from this song, no gimmicks, just pure good vibes and excellent production. The female (even male) Rnb scene in London isn’t as big as it can be and it’s refreshing to hear more and more newcomers. Have a listen to the song below and enjoy:

Kehlani Ft Jhené Aiko – Change Your Life (2020)

Following on from the RnB theme, I had a listen to Kehlani’s new tape this week and this song for me was one of my stand outs. Jhené and Kehlani on the same song makes complete sense, both queens have the perfect sensual voices to blend with each other. I love Jhené’s verse in the second verse as she sings to the person in question hyping them up while also pointing out that they would be even better together. In verse 3, Kehlani lays it all on the table and when I first heard this verse I replayed it multiple times. “Used-to-be models, IG honeys all shaped like bottles but now you seein’ that it’s more than body, face, and smile. You see me, and you look beyond it, you feel inspired…”. So beautiful. Check it out below;

CE – Who Am I? (2020) – Produced by DCQBEATZ

Another one from CE! I’m a fan of this track for sure, it has a nice vibe to it, the beat is great too. CE raps less on this particular track and lets his singing do all the talking! This will have you singing “Everytime you find me, you try to remind me of who I am” like it’s been doing to me! The artwork is great too! Have a listen below:

Russ Ft Ty Dolla $ign – 3AM (2020)

If you haven’t checked it out already, I have a Russ album review out https://musicandlifeblog.com/2020/02/18/album-review-russ-shake-the-snow-globe/ . Russ has now brought out a deluxe version of the album including this new song featuring Ty Dolla $ign. He teased the song earlier this week and I had a feeling it was going to be a good one. Ty Dolla on any song is always a joy to listen to and you will not be disappointed with this track. Ty’s verse is such a pleasure to hear, the harmonies and rifts as perfect as always. I’m gonna have to dive into the extra tracks Russ has blessed us with but for now, have a listen to this song below;

Some other songs I’ve loved:

  • Joyner Lucas Ft Will Smith – Will Remix (2020) – Will killed his verse with that old school flow, his verse content was solid and he was speaking facts! Always great when idols jump on the tracks about them.
  • French Tha Kid – Dream (2020) – Produced by KP Beatz – I recently came across this guy and he’s pretty good. I like the flow switch up on this song. I think he’s got an exciting upcoming career in the works.
  • DaBaby Ft. Roddy Rich – ROCKSTAR (2020) – I’ve had this song on repeat, definitely my favourite from the album. Da Baby shows himself in a different light here for me, his rapping is solid. Beat is crazy too!
Posted in music

Revisiting Time: Why Beyoncé’s – ‘Dangerously in Love’ Album is my favourite album of hers…

It’s that time again when I discuss a throwback project and this time I wanted to focus on everybody’s favourite singer Beyoncé and her debut solo album ‘Dangerously In Love‘. This album, released on June the 20th 2003 was monumental for so many reasons; one of them being that this album propelled Beyoncé into even more superstardom and established her as a credible solo artist.

The album was released during a Destiny’s Child hiatus and brought into question whether this was going to be the album that made Beyoncé want to take solo music more seriously. It is absolutely crazy to me that this album was released when I was 10 years old, at an age where I couldn’t even understand and digest the lyrics to their true meaning properly and yet I still had it on repeat. For me, this was the album that solidified my love for Queen B.

Dangerously in Love’ takes on a very R&B vibe containing many ballads while also staying true to her signature sounds adding elements of hip hop too. The album has a star studded lineup of producers and featured artists. All of these ingredients mixed with the fresh desire and energy she demonstrates on this album makes it my all time favourite Beyoncé album.

The main note to take from this album is that it was the birth of a woman who was not afraid to demonstrate her independence, feminism, her confidence, vulnerability and drive. Beyoncé.

Below are some of my favourite songs from the album that I will never forget;

Crazy In Love Ft Jay-Z

Every artist has that single that catapults them into another realm and will always be the song associated with them. For Beyoncé, this is the song. It’s ironic because in the song itself, Jay Z actually raps “History in the making“, little did they know this song was going to be talked about for years to come. This number 1 song was released as the lead single for the album and the accompanying video became a worldwide phenomenon. The song is understandably about the feeling you get when you are truly madly crazily in love with somebody. It’s possible and likely that the song was in reference to her love for Jay Z. We were used to hearing Beyoncé belting out her love usually in a more softer way but her sound in this song is more of an out of control vibe. This is obviously a reflection of her love that she is trying to explain about. Throughout the song she sings “Your love’s got me looking so crazy right now” indicating that she is enraged with her love for him. One of my favourite lines in the song is when she sings : “If you ain’t there, ain’t nobody else to impress” referring to the fact that he is the only guy she is checking for…to the point she does not even want to get attention from any other guy. A classic song.

Naughty Girl

Beyoncé definitely explores her sexy side on this album and with this song in particular. This song has a very minimal sound however it allows us to appreciate Beyoncé’s impeccable vocals. The song uses Donna Summer’s “Love to Love you Baby” as a sample. The song also has an Arabian feel in terms of the production. I would say this is one of the must hear songs on the album as yet again it compliments Beyoncé’s amazing vocal range.

Baby Boy Ft. Sean Paul

When this song/album was released, Sean Paul was already well known and established in the game. Having released his critically acclaimed ‘Dutty Rock’ album the previous year. I love the fusion of R&B, Reggae and dancehall in the song coming from Sean. When she performs this song live she adds a sort of remix to the end of the song focussing on the dancehall element of the song which makes it even better. There is no surprise that this was another number 1 single from her and is still a hit in clubs today. I dare you not to dance listening to this song!

Me, Myself & I

Okay!!!!!!! Now this is the ultimate anthem most woman probably sing whenever they are going through a break up or having issues with their man. Beyoncé more than any other artists has the ability to create songs that somehow women as a whole always take in. This song is one of them. Aside from the fact the song is about heartbreak, I believe it is actually a very useful song and is more a lesson about self love and self worth. It teaches women to realise that they have to love themselves first and foremost. Despite the heartbreak she learns the valuable lesson that “I took a vow that from now on, I’m gonna be my own best friend, I know that I will never disappoint myself”. It’s the realisation that in life the only person anyone can really 100% trust and rely on is themselves. I would say this song is timeless because everyone could use this reminder.

Yes

This is another one my favourite songs from the album. CONSENT. The more I think about it, in the age of consent that we are in now, this song is extremely relevant. On the song Beyoncé sings about her hurt and frustration from a very disrespectful and impatient lover who wants to go somewhere way too fast. It’s only now I am older and wiser that I can really take in the lyrics of this song. I initially loved the song because it feels like Beyoncé still shocks you with the notes she was hitting in this song. I also love the storytelling element of this song especially in the beginning; “Slowly you walked over, I maintained my cool, you said hello to me”, when she paints a picture of how they met each-other. Now for me the key part of this song is when she sings;

You said I move too slow, I showed you to the door, you said you’d call me later…I said don’t call no more. It’s cool if you can’t wait for me…I’m glad you let me know, ’cause you show me your true face, baby…the first time I said no”

She details how he tried to pressure her showing his true colours. I also want to point out the strength she shows by standing up to this man. It’s crazy to think how ahead of time Beyoncé was with this song but also scary to think she was only 21/22 when this song was released.

That’s How You Like It Ft Jay-Z

This is the second featured track with Hov on the album. This is also one of my favourites on the album due to the easy going, playful theme I feel with this song. I like the interaction between the both of them on the song and the way she explains her love for him (again). Jay Z has a chance to stand up for himself on this song in response to the doubters they obviously faced as he raps; “I know you’ve heard I’m a gangsta, they say “Stay away from them gangstas”. During the time of this being released they were merely a rumour but its safe to say Hov pretty much confirms B is his women in all of the 3 features on this album!

Dangerously in Love

Possibly one of the most beautiful ballads on this album. This song is the definition of love, adoration and happiness. She stars the song with “Baby, I love you
You are my life
“, if that isn’t a strong statement…I don’t know what is. I feel this song is the softer version of ‘Crazy in Love’. When all the lust and honeymoon period of a relationship has died down, this song is the prime example of what true love is. It is calm, patient, soft, sexy, slow and understanding. One of her best songs in my opinion.

’03 Bonnie & Clyde Ft. Jay Z

This is the ultimate B & Hov record! This is the 3rd collaboration between the two of them on the album but was actually the first they released together. The song uses 2Pac’s original “Me and my Girlfriend” (even though he was actually referring to his gun) song and Hov & B provide their own spin. It’s ironic that it was 2Pac’s original song considering the affiliation Jay-Z had with Biggie, however luckily the beef was squashed after the passing of both Pac & Big. Another fun fact is that Kanye West produced the beat for the song. This was also the first song many of Jay-z’s peers realised he was in love with Beyoncé. The song is definitely the song that publicly confirmed both of each-others love for one another.

These are just my personal favourites from this classic and unforgettable album but feel free to listen back to the album below;