I’ve been wanting to write this since it first came out, but am finally coming through with my words. I truly hope by now you guys know how incredible Normani is. She is a sweeping force of talent and we are all happily taking notice. I am hype riding her latest wave that is ‘Motivation.’ The song solo without the video is drenched with elation and strong vibes. Her smooth voice compiled with the upbeat rhythm send definite sensations of euphoria throughout the mind. But then the video….YES!!! Pure nostalgia radiates in each scene from the young Normani watching ‘106 and Park’, to her 1996 graffiti styled outfit, to her memorable dancing in the rain shot. This young lady also has an elegant package of athletic ability from her splits, twerking and flips. I was definitely impressed. Oh and she danced in the rain in heels; She definitely came through with her fantastic ability to amaze. Please if you are not part of the 36 million views this video has caught since it premiered on YouTube, check it out below or run to the channel right now to get your dose of “Motivation.”
The summer may bring a combination of sweltering heat, pesky mosquitoes and hot garbage stench in the air with it’s putrid mask that suffocates the masses, (Yea, I really can’t stand the smell. Lol), but this season also brings an array of events and activities for our active minds to go wild in enthusiastic galore. Yesssss, I love the freedom the warmer weather and months carry. Beach days, lounging by the pool, and cool nights on a rooftop are some of the amazing wonders about this time of year. One thing I definitely enjoy are the concerts. Hearing music float in the air as you watch one of your favorite or a new pleasure perform is always magic. Last week, I was enamored by the sensational Yuna. Spotify put me on to this artist years ago and ever since, I couldn’t let go of her sound. Her music is so pleasant, down to earth and fun. It was a gift to my spirit to hear her live last week at Sony Hall here in NYC. She has such a humbling and filling presence that it just moved me the entire time. You could tell the crowd was enchanted by her aura. She performed some favorites like “Used to Love You,” “Crush , and “Pink Youth.” It was amazing!
Please do yourself a favor and check out her latest album Rouge. This project has a funky, lively, cool vibe to it that’s destined to move the spirit. Meaning red in French, Rouge possesses a fiery energy that lifts the senses into a youthful frenzy of carefree moments in each tune. Yuna’s voice captivates the ears as it playfully glides through each piece majestically.
“Black Marquee” is definitely a time machine run to the 70s from the funkadelic charms of the rhythm and Yuna’s crisp vocals. This one has my body attempting to recreate the moves of decades ago from it’s free and fun uptempo sound. Another favorite of mine,”Like,” has such a dope message about a girl who avoids the pressures of drinking, smoking or showing her skin but still enjoys being herself. The tune also brings attention to the toxic nature of social media. Yuna and rapper Kyle manage to keep me bopping my head while contemplating the nonsense of social media and people’s judgement. However, my favorite from this musical creation is “Forevermore.” The fast paced, flare of sound embedded with her natural home grown flavor entices me continuously. The unique, repetitive, yet unpredictable changes of the beat flow together and grow like a flame beautifully harmonizing with Yuna’s enchanting vocals. This song mesmerizes and keeps me wanting to come back for more.
Rouge is an eclectic combination of sound that delightfully captivates the vivaciousness of youth and being yourself. It is a delectable gift to the ears that one should give to themselves. I was so pleased to provide myself with the honor of being in this incredible artist’s presence last week. The wonders of listening to an artist live is an embodiment of self care in how it enhances the feel good vibes bubbling from within. I’m pleased that these months bring more opportunity to take in the musical sensation of summer concerts. Listening and experiencing Yuna was definitely the seasonal package I was ready for.
When I get home, I take off my boots or sneakers at the front door and I leave them there. The day usually still weighs heavy on my mind. I’m annoyed at this client that cancelled yet again. I’m frustrated about a significant other’s actions or inaction. I’m still coming down from the crazy driver who cut me off on the highway; they almost took me out of my character. Nah, they definitely did when I cussed them out under my breathe as they drove off. Just not bad enough for me to go all Fast and Furious on them and pursue them. My day melts away however when I enter my room and I put on my choice of entertainment for the night – Netflix, YouTube, CW, or VH1. The incense sticks are pulled from their hiding place and then lit with the limitless power of fire. Then this stick is placed on a mantel for it to consume my space with an earthy scent of sage or frankincense. Serenity slides into my core emboldening my spirit and making it feel easy to be at my center of rehabilitation called home.
Solange’s latest installment of sound “When I Get Home” definitely signifies these words from the dreamlike, transitional nature that it embodies. This black queen has enchanted my ears over the years with her quirky, fun and down to earth tunes. I was blown away when I first heard her previous project “A Seat at the Table.” She eloquently empowered our voices through her own with hits like “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “Cranes in the Sky,” and “F.U.B.U.” When tuning into this project, I imagine myself lying afloat, drifting off into one mastery to the next, each having its own unique instrumental and lyrical flair which evoke a myriad of emotions. This artist epitomizes the beauty, strength, vulnerability and the fight of the resounding force of being a black woman. Whether it’s peace, simplicity, twerking, or just vibing out, this album carries it all.
It’s tough not to do a little slow twerk or wine when “Binz” comes on. The quick patter, patter of the drums puts your mood at ease and ready to embrace the rhythm with it’s fast tempo melody. Solange’s lovely harmonies are also a delicate touch to the light track. Your ear drums will take in a “Yes Sis” mood as you allow the sound to take over.
My mind kind of flashes into this imaginary dance scene when I listen to “Dreams.” The slow, low tempo track makes me think of a pair of dancers gracefully gliding across the floor with arms outstretched and their faces plastered with stoic yet focused expressions; their fluid movements integrating together in simple harmony. Solange’s vocals portray the mystic flow of a whimsical presence that playfully charm the senses into a thoughtful, pleasant place.
“Almeda” carries forth a trippy, playful like beat throughout. The name portraying as an ode to her hometown in Houston, Texas, (which also means ambition in Latin), Solange pays tribute to the components of the versatile and resilient nature of black excellence. She casually floats in and out of the beat playing along lyrically with Playboi Carti as they both uplift the physical aspects of the melanin experience. In truth, you cannot break the spirit of being black, “Not even in that Florida Water.”
Even if I’m not moving towards the floor, I definitely want to when my ears perk up to “Stay Flo.” My face muscles go from calm to gangsta desiring to mean grill in an involuntary pleasure when listening to this track. My limbs then work to move in a twerk like motion due to the light, fun, upbeat, but low tempo energy manifested in “Stay Flo.” (No lie, I literally just got up to dance. When the rhythm calls, it calls.)
This whole album is a transcendent expression of being free to dance, love, be inspired and woke to the beauty that is melanin. “When I Get Home” is an excellent tribute to the experience of letting loose and embracing the soothing or turn up nature that is embodied when you are in the presence of your own space. Have fun and embrace this beautiful affair to your internal core when listening in to this production.
Three out of seven of my favorite crystal rings. Made each one myself.
So I was thinking it might be fun to write a reaction post to this drama brewing up between Princess Nokia and Ariana Grande. I got a little annoyed seeing all the hate daggers people were throwing at Princess Nokia when she threw some hints that Ariana stole her sound in her latest installment “7 Rings.” I was watching one of my favorite YouTuber’s Empressive’s channel. She has some incredible music documentaries and celebrity tea that could rival shows like UnSung. (Even just watched her documentary on JoJo) In this video, she brought up the controversy behind the fact that Ariana’s new hit sounded a bit too familiar. The beat was accused of being a bit too reflective of several artists including Soulja Boy’s ‘Pretty Boy Swag’ and 2 Chainz ‘Spend It.’ In Empressive’s video, Princess Nokia spilled her two cents on the track claiming that Grande’s track seemed “familiar” and “sounds about white.”
While watching the video, I scrolled down to the comments (normal unbreakable habit when watching YouTube videos) and found Ariana stans dragging Princess Nokia for her truth. It was kind of sad. As a fan, I cringed every time I saw someone call her Princess Flip Phone……Smh…… The savagery was difficult to take in. Some commenters also confronted her about her own similar sounds in her track ‘Orange Blossom’ and compared it to another dope somewhat underground artist that I love Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’
My disgust at the harsh comments and thirst for musical knowledge thrust me into an investigation to see if any of the allegations being made against Ariana Grande and Princess Nokia are true. I first looked into the accusations against ‘Orange Blossom.’ This track has an ultra chill, lullaby type vibe that carries on the flow throughout. The video of Princess Nokia enjoying Coney Island’s amusement park is a perfect compilation of the feel good mood carried on in the melody. In her music, I always love how versatile and different Princess Nokia is. She’s chill, but fiesty, woke by silly. I love the collective vibe that she gives.
Only a small snippet of this choice track compares to the also delectable sounds of Kali Uchi’s ‘Honey Baby.’ The way Kali Uchis sings in a sort of lullaby way would make one think that Princess Nokia may have taken some sort of inspiration from the track. However, Kali’s is a bit more slower and even has a slower Crystal Water’s ‘Gypsy Woman‘ type beat placed in. Plus, this part is literally only 30 seconds of the song. The rest of ‘Honey Baby’ has two transitions that goes from a cruising melody to a psychedelic fast paced trip. The two songs are very different. Both artists are hella dope. People need to stop with the drama.
However, Ariana Grande’s song ‘7 Rings’ does sound much more like Princess Nokia’s ‘Mine.’ My investigation took me further by listening in depth to the Ariana track. She starts off in her own rendition of Julie Andrews ‘My Favorite Things‘ singing quite similarly to the Sound of Music star throughout the song, but doused with a hip hop/pop flair. The theme sticks to the starlet boasting about her being able to get what she wants with her own money and flossing with her girls. The song is a fun homage to being proud of what you can earn with your hard earned cash. Yet, I do hear other inspirations from other artists like how poppin’ her gloss is (Lil Mama) and how she just bought her hair (Princess Nokia).
Speaking of Nokia, ‘Mine‘ is a dope homage to the hairstyles of women of color. “It’s mine, I bought it. It’s mine, I bought it,” repeats the chorus. The song flows hard and heavy requesting ‘certain people’ not to touch the hair of a brown or black person and embraces the many dynamic wears, whether weave, wig or natural, of how we shape our hair. It’s funny because both sounds do have a bit of similarity to ‘Pretty Boy Swag‘ from Soulja Boy, but not as much in my opinion.
Each of these songs possess their own unique dosage of resonance injected into them. However, each of them sound like a piece from someone else’s art. From the beginning of time, ideas and thoughts have been created but also seen in new and exciting ways. People love to say that nothing is original anymore. But with so much incredible findings being discovered already, it’s quite difficult to be completely innovative. Every idea is twisted and reformed from another one. Maybe Ariana is just another artist reforming old ideas and making them into her own. Besides, each of these songs sound versatile and have their own magnetic flair that attracts a variety of souls to their tune. I think that’s the true beauty of what they choose to give out to the world.
BTW, I just checked out this Genius video that finds more influences including Beyonce from Grande’s ‘7 Rings’ video. What other music influences to you see?
The other day, this past Wednesday, I had an influx of feelings. Both positive and negative. I had so much on my mind, but I can’t remember it all now. Anyway, I was on one of the green line trains heading to 125 St for class and this song from Ari Lennox came on my Spotify playlist. Let me tell you about this track; it immediately lifted my spirit. It sent me somewhere (as most good music does); a destination of paradise. It doesn’t bombard you with too much sound all at once. It is gentle. The light instruments guide you into a place where you are quietly embraced by the soothing power of Ari’s voice. Her croons jump and play with the background sound making a beautiful introduction to the ethereal magic produced later on. Close your eyes and let “La La La La” emanate your spirit. I forgot I was underground, in the subway while listening to it. This tune makes time stand still in a moment of serenity. After a long day going back and forth from Harlem to Midtown, when I turned on my music again to head home, there it was again recreating that same dominating feel of tranquility. I wrote about this song before, but it is all deserving to receive some nods once more. When I hear this track, I know that I am love, peace and light; it fills me. Please check it out and let me know what it does for you.
P.S. Also check out one of her more fresher tracks, “Night Drive” as well as other tunes from her latest album PHO. It is also a pretty dope listen. =)
It’s all about the vibes for me lately. Another tune that has captured the joy in my spirit is “Sunday Vibes” from Masego and Medasin. Mmmm….. the sax sweetly grabs you by the hand and guides you to sashay on the dance floor. It will have you doing a light two step whether it be how your head moves or the tap in your feet. The beat collabs well with a sexy sax to make one divine choice of a track. Check it out below!
Moment of Inspiration: Every Friday, (I will try my best with school taking over my life.) the Heartbeat Life will feature dope music we think you should check out. I have been discovering some incredible music just this week. It will warm my heart to share the auditory love with you.
This week: FKJ – Vibin’ Out With (((O)))
Begin to effortlessly feel at peace; the vibes in this track are fly enough to keep you afloat. Drift off into paradise with this smooth rapture of solace; the singer’s light croons will gently rock you to a realm of joy. I love this connection between FKJ and (((O)). I hope you enjoy it too.