Artist Spotlight: ELI
One of the metrics of a great artist is their ability to reinvent themselves through sound. It’s a fine balance between establishing self while also exploring the diversity and capability of musical intonation. ELI is one such artist. So early on in her career, her sound traverses multiple planes, transporting listeners through a series of experiences. Her most recent show is testament to that. Amidst an intimate gathering in South London, Eli took to stage and across 30 minutes, explored the span of alt genres.
Fresh off her most recent track, Too Much, Eli is establishing herself as an artist to remember. Rooted in community, an ELI performance is like being in the warm embrace of long separated friends, engaged by the excitement of catching up on the intricacies of small stories. There is a depth in Eli’s vocals that captivates her listeners, a reminder that music is a fluid thing. Too Much feels like an adventure, a genre fluid track that refuses to be one thing. I Rule is much softer, leaning heavily into its accompanying instruments. On guitar, Eli let’s loose with powerful guitar riffs. On drums, Mike embodies the rockstar feel of the track and Greg leans into the soothing synths of the track.
Alt music is not new. Afropunk is rooted in the resistance and community of the Black punk. While there has been a shift in perception and the mainstream, Black alternative artists are still finding their way. Alt is an amalgamation, as ELI says. She is indie, she is Afro pop, she is soulful. ELI is a unique blend of the musical experiences that reflect her heritage and environment as a London based, Nigerian, Ivorian singer, song-writer and producer. All these experiences and sounds are cultivated in her musical journey and all roads have led to this point.
This year ELI would like to build more of a community. Find more of the communion that was lost in the pandemic while being a reflection to and of people that look like her. As an alt artist, ELI is breaking the rules of sound and creating something familiar yet entirely new. This is the world of ELI and there’s so much more to come.
premiere: stir your soul with singer gabrielle sey’s black af record, dripping with african rhythms
“It is what it is… just feel it.”
This is Gabrielle Sey’s response when asked to describe the genre of music she “fits” in. The thing is, Sey’s sound doesn’t fit into a specific genre because she has managed to create tapestry of sound that reflects her roots, influences and individual flair. Her individuality shines through and delivers a layered debut EP, from the way voices come together to fill the sonic space or the way she finds ways to stretch and play with her voice to give each song its own emotional signature.
I was fed up of being placed in a box and conforming to an industry stereotype. People often assume that being black means I sing R&B and soul. However, I wanted my music to reflect my African heritage as well as the music I love and enjoy. As the sound of the EP developed I realised that what I was creating couldn’t be defined by a specific musical genre. So, I decided to sum it up with these words: “It is what it is… just feel it”
‘Break My Silence’ is the perfect introduction to the LP, opening up with layered voices that fill up the chest of the listener as Sey’s raspy-smooth voice guides the song through its journey from a harmony of voices to a guitar that emits the same undeniable energy you’d find in South African ‘Maskandi’ music. Sey’s African roots are ever-present and elegantly woven throughout the EP with each song toting an infectious rhythm that can be traced back to many parts of the continent.
Photo by Tayo Lee Nelson
Sey manages to deliver a balance between soulful R&B and irresistible African panache that truly places her in a league of her own. Her ability to bring raw acoustic energy and produced sound together under her vocal prowess is truly a masterclass.
Her EP is out now.
get mesmerized with hypnotic vocals in neo-soul songstress iyamah’s groovy new single
Iyamah, pronounced (i..yam..ah) grew up in the seaside town of Brighton, surrounded by the sounds of African drumming and reggae music. She first picked up piano at 13 after spending her time imitating the likes of Alicia Keys and Adele playing on the radio. When her teacher convinced her to start singing solo, she started singing lessons, starting her on the journey to becoming a Neo-Soul artist to watch.
Iyamah developed a strong love for neo-soul and hip-hop, listening to and appreciating the likes of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. She also immersed herself in Brighton’s club scene, writing toplines for Drum and Base features that culminated in a collaboration with Black Butter Records’ My Nu Leng, featuring on their festival anthem ‘Senses’. She performed with them at Glastonbury last year and festivals throughout 2018.
The singer/songwriter found her home in her Neo-Soul and R&B roots, producing stunning vocals in her latest offering ‘Silver Over Gold’. Her vocals detail the relatable struggle found in moving to a new town while also living through life’s many disappointments. The mesmerizing guitar matches her natural musical prowess, delivering a fully realized piece of music. The songstress has already sang alongside Kojey Radical and Poppy Ajudha and supported Mahalia on her UK tour, displaying her undeniable talent and hinting at her imminent rise.
‘Silver Over Gold’ is out now.
decolonize & reclaim! the latest afropunk mixtape is streaming now
Decolonize land. Decolonize thought. Decolonize bodies. Reclaim the narrative. What does it mean to decolonize? What does it take to reclaim? Those are the questions asked by our latest Mixtape: Decolonize & Reclaim. Songs from artists like Angelo Moore, Childish Gambino, Le Vice, DOOKOOM, Baloji & Shingai, and many more wrestle with these complex questions, and envision worlds free of internal and external colonial bullshit. Turn it up and take it back.
01. Le Vice – Boys & Girls
02. Interlude: Quetzala Carson (August 2017)
03. The Internet – Roll (Burbank Funk)
04. Aphrotek – River Styx Ride (ft. Mike Ladd)
05. Interlude: Decolonize This Place (April 2018)
06. Monoculture – Movement
07. All Cows Eat Grass – Air Castle
08. Ajo – Gotta Love It
09. MTA Interlude
10. Yuno – No Going Back
11. Pete Wilde – Lucy
12. Unlikely Heroes – Tazzy
13. Vodun – Spirits Past
14. DOOKOOM – Gangstaz
15. SCARLXRD – Burns
16. DUCKWRTH – Boy
17. Interlude: Now This / Decolonize the Brooklyn Museum
18. Angelo Moore & The Brand New Step – Inner City Blues (ft. Butterscotch)
19. Baloji – Soleil de Volt (Shingai Remix)
20. Childish Gambino – This Is America
Album artwork photography by Sammy Sampson / @Sammysampsonphotography
feel the pain of heartache in nu-soul mad scientist rosehardt’s latest visual album
“Heartache is a motherfucker”
Pacing around an empty apartment, Rosehardt spends much of the album-length video that accompanies Songs in the Key of Solitude trying and failing to get over a bad breakup. It’s a difficult and unflinching look at the cycle of getting over someone, made captivating by the depth of the production and the stunning cinematography.
“The best kind of pain is the kind you endure in the name of love”
The best moments come when Rosehardt lets himself look into the ugliest sides of a breakup with self-aware sarcasm. The self-love anthem “Wax” is absurd and frank, and its polar opposite “Come Away Death” finds the singer staring bleakly into the abyss and rolling his eyes at himself. It’s the kind of song that the tragically gone Scott Hutchinson spent a decade sharpening into daggers. “Goddamn” turns an awkward exchange with his mother about faith into unexpectedly riveting drama. His mother opens an orange with a million pounds of weight beneath it.
The album ends with the cast off shrug of “Solitude.” There’s no resolution, no big epiphany. Just life goes on, and the heartache keeps hurting. It’s refreshingly honest and simple, on an album that masks its ambition beneath a veneer of starkness.
Songs in the Key of Solitude is available digitally and on vinyl via Styles Upon Styles records.
no f*cks given! the new afropunk mixtape is all attitude, no apathy
For some people “not giving a fuck” is about attitude, and for some it’s about apathy. Like Janelle Monáe and Zoë Kravitz’s sexual liberation at the end of the world anthem “Screwed,” it’s a phrase with a lot of simultaneous and contradicting meanings. On our latest mixtape, we celebrate the artists who don’t give a fuck but don’t have time for apathy. From the Nova Twins to Latasha, Tyler Cole to Jean Grae, this month is about the artists who see what’s going on in the world and are too busy speaking truth to power to worry about what anyone thinks of them. Here’s to the artists with no fucks to give.
01. Tyler Cole – The Government Song
02. Interlude: FreeQuency “Masculinity So Fragile”
03. Nova Twins – Hit Girl
04. Latasha – Sumpn
05. PEDRO – Na Quebrada (ft. Rincon Sapiência)
06. Ghost & The City – Please Forgive My Heart
07. No Kind of Rider – Dark Ice
08. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris – Zero
09. Black Pantera – Alvo Na mira
10. Interlude: Jasmine Mans “Footnotes for Kanye”
11. Crashing Hotels – Never More
12. Bakar – Million Miles
13. Interlude: Janelle Monáe (April 2018)
14. Akua Naru – Made It
15. Blac Rabbit – All Good
16. Janelle Monáe – Screwed (ft. Zoë Kravitz)
Photo by Matheus Leite
premiere: eclectic jazz group freelance releases passionate love letter to the african diaspora
Amongst all the noise of today is Revive Music’s FREELANCE “Your Love”. The song is a visceral melting pot that tells the story of a romantic courtship that leads to a journey through the African diaspora. With melodic conventions, an eclectic mix of rhythms, jazz fusion, boom-bap, and afro-beat, FREELANCE honors the musical legacy of Fela Kuti, bridging the gaps between music from the continent and from the diaspora. The masterful song features songwriter/producer Smithsoneon, Darren Barrett (trumpet), Lomar Brown (saxophone), Mitch Henry (organ), Brandon Mayes (percussion), Brandee Younger (harp) and the Solar String Quartet
“Your Love” is a thematic derivative of the “now or never” ethos at the heart of Yes Today that suggests the time to love is now,” the band tells AFROPUNK. The song tells a story of romantic pursuit that travels the length of the African diaspora according to its melodic conventions and myriad schools of rhythm. The composition is a nod to the stylistic influences that combine to create the melting pot music that is the Freelance calling card. The melody floats above the chorus as Smithsoneon peppers the track with rhythmic verses that borrow heavily from hip-hop cadences.”
video premiere: artist/activist akua naru celebrates black triumphs & joy with single ft. eric benét
Enjoy this burst of fresh air courtesy of AKUA NARU and Eric Benét, with their brand new track “Made It”. A poetic narrative that shines brightly through warm harmonies and an energetic melody, singer, rapper, poet, social activist, AKUA NARU narrates perspectives of the black experiences through tongue-and-cheek lyricism that bursts with nostalgia, power, and struggle, but ultimately joy. The neo-soul single radiates with energy and triumph promoting a hopeful image of black love and humanity.
“The poet Kelly Elaine Navies wrote it best, “like the banjo, I was stolen from Africa–but the middle passage did not break my strings, nor did it destroy my song.” This song is for us, the living; we stay making it,” says Akua Naru.
Akua Naru’s upcoming album ‘The Blackest Joy’ will be out April 27. You can pre-order it here.
Photo by Katja Ruge
premiere: afrofuturist electro-soul artist alxndr london’s “jury judge executioner” is ear melting
“Sometimes I feel like a restless volcano; hot lava forever travelling. Jury Judge Executioner is me coming face to face with an understanding, and I’m one hundred percent at peace with it.”
Alxndr London’s music exists at the intersections of acute angles. Traces of neo-soul and electrofunk blend with his Afrofuturist aesthetic. On his latest single “Jury Judge Executioner,” Alxndr London bends his sharp angles into something unexpectedly smooth. Working with producer Haich, it’s an adventurous cut from an artist who is rarely anything less than adventurous. London describes his forthcoming 2023 EP as “an allegoric story arc where religious, political, satirical, spiritual, numerological and Afrocentric themes meet fantasy and science-fiction.”
The EP drops April 23rd. See Alxndr London live in London on April 25th at Oslo (Hackney).
sade’s new song is here! her first track in 7 years
The wait is over, the legendary Sade’s new track has been revealed by producer No ID.
As we previously reported, the song, ‘Flower of the Universe’ was written for the soundtrack of Ava DuVernay’s latest movie, ‘A Wrinkle In Time’.
Stream the touching and smooth track below!