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.
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. =)
SZA my dear, I love your music. Even though your album has been out for some time now, I must write about it. I fell in love with your surreal sound about a year ago when Spotify introduced us. At first, I was thrown off by your ethereal aura which resonates through much of your music, but it is also what caught me. I was instantly attached when I heard “Warm Winds.” The streaming service continues to keep this love strong when they throw in your tracks from time to time on my playlist. So of course, I feel I must dedicate time to addressing my feelings towards your latest project “Ctrl.”
SZA, you are phenomenal. Weird and honest. Beautiful and loving. An emotional warrior who is true to herself and owns her self-discovery through the highs and lows of relationships. It is the combination that I see and others see, that makes you so easy to vibe to. Thank you for going against the norm and charging forward in your truth. This expression of said truth is eminent in “Ctrl.” This songstress is rated R – raw, real and relatable. Her music stands a testament to what many of us want to say, but have difficulty in finding the words.
In her track “Normal Girl,” the beat has a trance like energy that intertwines with a hip hop sound. This track resonates with me through its message. Many want their parents to be proud of them. However, it is difficult to be yourself with the weighing feeling of your parents’ approval. Now to be approved by your lover’s folks too? Ugh! It’s tough to get a break.
I can hear the passion from her croons in “Broken Clocks.” I cannot see her, but I feel it in the way she sings. “Ohhhhhhh!” Yes girl, I hear you. Her story is truth; she sings of having an overwhelming job while dealing with a chummy dude. LIFE!!!!! Hahahaha. Many of us deal with situations in which we shouldn’t entertain our energy into. But yet, nothing is ever so simple to do, because you know, “You love me.”
SZA continues in tales of self-discovery through “Pretty Little Birds.” Poor aves, they got to deal with flying into the stupid window repeatedly. And yet, they still flap their little wings and fly towards the sky. “Pretty Little Girls, Pretty Little Girls, we hit the window a few times;” in truth we are very much like these feathered creatures in how we make mistakes but are dynamic in our strength to never give up. My soul wants to twirl to this track. Heavenly and full of flight, the collection of sounds can make one want to soar.
Ms. Twenty Something herself reveals her truth about the fear of love, not being where she thinks she should be and holding onto those who matter most to her heart in “20 Something.” We stumble through these times making mistakes repeatedly trying to figure how to do this adult thing right. May she survive the stormy waves of this period; when the waves are rough they always become calm again.
Another tune about birds comes through in “Doves in the Wind.” The song is lit. The end. Oh, and clearly, we control men with our babymaker “flowers.” With bars from Kendrick Lamar describing the wonders of our wombs and the hype, the smooth sound pounce into the ears making one enamored with excitement from the track. Sit back, bob your head and chill to this feature.
SZA packs in a gutsy punch of honesty in “Supermodel.” We all want to be a supermodel to someone. Perfect skin, hair, butt, boobs, abs, lips or whatever it is that society is telling you must be excellent in to make you a match for that person. She goes in on this track letting it all pour out on how much she needed her man and how she gave him a gift of “dirt” after he left her for someone else.
“Why I can’t stay alone just by myself, wish I was comfortable just by myself, but I need you, I need you, I need you.”
Whoever is reading this, I want you to look in the mirror, look into your eyes and say “I need you.” There is no one out there that can do more for you than yourself. You can be happy with yourself. You can have peace by yourself. Whatever you are looking for in that other person is already residing right from within. Heaven knows, I used to feel like I needed to be someone’s supermodel, but I am super in just being myself; flaws and all. Know that you are too.
More tunes from this package of sound give me life through her journey of sharing a man in “The Weekend,” not-your-average girl anthem in “Drew Barrymore,” her bubbly wild tale “Love Galore and more. SZA makes us listen and warms the hidden parts of us afraid to live in our imperfect truth. This daring dive into her attempts for control decked out in 80s sounding nostalgia and hip hop grooves allow one to feel freer in accepting their own truth. For sure, I know I do. Thank you Queen for doing what you do best and never feel afraid to lose control.
This songstress has kept away from us for far too long. Yes! I know she has her own life. But Corinne Bailey Rae’s music has always been just the right sound I needed to hear without even knowing it. I am truly pleased to hear that she’s making music again. In her latest video, “Been to the Moon,” one can see how far she’s grown musically. The sound has a celestial approach that leaps along with her sweet, soft croons. Feel the heart of this production at the chorus – her voice soulfully intertwines with the light changes of the beat. This psychedelic track is a marriage between the new and the old. Don’t let your ears meander away from it; take a listen below.
Ahhhhhhh love. It’s a chased after emotion that bring out both the best and the worst in all of us. We fight, cry, scream, but also smile, laugh and take in the essence of someone who causes our hearts to beat ten times faster than normal. At times, it’s difficult to describe the wonders of what love can bring. However, there have been many different musical artists who have been able to do just that. Here on the Heartbeat Life, we have complied a short list of r&b artists who beautifully mesh together and who have made us swoon over their creative gift of capturing love into their sound.
Chris Brown and Tinashe/Sevyn Streeter: Chris Brown has had many different collabs with a variation of artists whether it be David Guetta or Tyga. However, he has also made beautiful sensual music with R&B newbies Tinashe and Sevyn Streeter that take us on a fun ride of love. In “Player,” the chemistry between Tinashe and Brown is so evident, you would fan yourself from the sizzling fire between them. But based on style, innovation and tone, Streeter and Brown also make a dynamic duo in their pop induced, rhythm and blues flavored sound.
Avant and Keke Winans: Don’t even get me started on them. Their voices together is the definition of love. Their earth shattering sound in “First Love” brings back or even creates the insistent stomach activity of butterflies fluttering around at the first signs of the most desired four letter word in the world.
Usher and Alicia Keys: Their song together will always have you thinking about your first. Cherished memories are uncovered when listening to “My Boo.” One can’t help but reach out their hand and have it drenched in the wake of warmth from that person who started it all.
Tamia and Fabulous: Though Fabulous is a rapper, this combo just gives one the feels. Every time it comes on and Tamia starts -“I think you’re truly something special. Just what my dreams are really made of. Let’s stay together you and me boy. There’s no one like you around,” it makes me want to melt into the floor from just how “fabulous” this tune truly is.
Usher and Monica – OMG!!! Do you remember that episode of “https://www.youtube.com/embed/r9WxDQSnAcU“>Sister, Sister”? Yes!!! Let’s take it back. This track “Slow Jam” is a classic which will stay imprinted in the our hearts in how much of a sweet musical masterpiece it is.
There are many more like R.L. and Deborah Cox or Justin Timberlake and Beyonce that leave an imprint in our brains for how these artists intertwine their incredible voices to make magic. Over the last few years, the art form has made its transitions. However, we will never forget the tunes that reminded us of what love feels like.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Hope you are all spending it with those you love or by spending time loving you.