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10 Black British Women To Add To Your Playlist In 2021

From jazz to indie to R&B, here is a list of 10 Black British women you should add to your playlist Arlo Parks Arlo Parks is a 20-year-old singer and poet from London who has written and produced some cool alternative indie-pop tracks over the last few years including Eugene and Black Dog Arlo’s music is tranquil, authentic, and comforting. It's her meaningful and empathetic lyrics that have made me become a fan. Black Dog is powerful and delicately expressed, as it surrounds the topic of mental health. The song came out during the peak of the pandemic and received a lot of praise. Arlo described it as a track "to make people who are struggling feel less isolated." As an up and coming artist, Arlo has received a series of accolades; she had a socially distant performance outside the Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, made BBC1 Radio's Brit List and even appeared on the cover of the popular music magazine, NME. With her album release coming up later this month, I predict big things for the singer! Celeste I first heard of Celeste when she was announced as the BBC’s Sound of 2020 winner. But it was her performance of the melancholy ballad, Strange at the Brit Awards that caught my attention. Celeste brought grace and passion on the stage; her powerful, raspy vocals reminding me of the late Amy Winehouse. The song Strange tells a tale about the loss of friendship and broken relationships – it is beautiful, compelling and showcases Celeste’s meaningful lyricism. It is refreshing to discover artists who can evoke such emotion in their writing. The British-Jamaican singer was the voice behind the John Lewis Christmas advert and announced her debut album will be out next month. Celeste recently revealed that she will be playing three live shows this summer – her soulful sound is certainly one to listen out for! Bree Runway Bree Runway, the singer, rapper, and songwriter from East London isn’t bound to a genre and I love this about her. Hearing a fusion of pop, rock and R&B in her tracks makes her stand out, alongside her fun, creative music videos. It was no surprise to discover her inspirations included Prince and Missy Elliot- musical legends and pioneers of eccentricity! Bree has collaborated with the legend herself, Missy Elliot, who featured on the singer's latest mixtape, 200ANDEVA. Everything about the mixtape was unique and it provided a versatile repertoire of catchy tracks. Little Nokia became an instant favourite on my playlist; the distorted guitar riffs and noughties nostalgia I heard throughout the song won me over. It’s certainly one of those albums you have got to blast out loud. I am hoping we get more bad b*tch anthems from Bree Runway. Nubya Garcia Raised in Camden, Nubya Garcia is a talented saxophonist and the reason I took a personal interest in learning more about jazz. Browsing through Bandcamp, I was drawn to Nubya Garcia's album artwork; bold, bright colours of red, orange, and yellow, with a silhouette of a girl wearing a head wrap. The album titled Nubya's 5Ive was the jazz artists debut project and gave me an intriguing insight into the London jazz scene. I was captured as the smooth, melodic saxophone solo introduced the album and continued throughout. Last summer, Nubya released a full-length album named Source, which received rave reviews from highly acclaimed music platforms like Pitchfork. The musician described the album as telling a story about her heritage and an exploration into the stories of her parents. Nubya’s style merges conventional jazz with hints of soul and hip-hop – providing a contemporary feel. It is fascinating to hear and makes a great addition to those who want relaxing, soulful tunes on their playlists. Mercy’s Cartel When I first listened to Mercy Cartel, I enjoyed the diversity, hearing her delve between different genres such as electronic, neo-soul and pop. The last couple of years has seen Mercy release singles and her first EP, D.Y.E, which is heavily R&B inspired. In 2020, Mercy released two singles – Sleep and Falling. Falling is my kind of tune; the catchy beat is a fun blend of pop, R&B and Afrobeats, paired with her warm vocals as she sings about a socially distant romance. The Bristol-based singer-songwriter has said she takes inspiration from Nigerian music, which has impacted the creations. I found her refreshing to listen to and look forward to hearing more from her this year. Lex Amor Based in North London, Lex Amor is a hip-hop rapper, DJ and producer who has made an impression for her poetic lyricism. Lex Amor released her first mixtape, Government Tropicana, which her fans have described as mesmerising and soul-soothing. Throughout the project, she consolidates her lessons in life, recognising her identity and purpose. Lex has described the project as being ‘very homegrown’, with most of the songs being recorded in her bedroom. With melodic beats, a unique flow and heartfelt lyrics, the songs draw upon her life growing in London. Last year saw her performing for COLOURS studio; I enjoyed her jazz-inspired freestyle, Clocks as well as the smooth rendition of Odogwu. Lex Amor has goals to continue finding innovative ways to articulate her experiences – I hope we get to hear more this year! Yazmin Lacey Yazmin Lacey is an R&B and soul singer, based in Nottingham. Yazmin’s voice is incredibly beautiful; her tone is comforting and reminiscent of old-time jazz vocalists. The Morning Matters EP was released last spring and is a work of art. All tracks radiate positivity and Yazmin explained the EP was dedicated to ‘everyone doing work on themselves and trying to live better.’ With the current circumstances, listening to her music has been uplifting; there is a peaceful presence about her. I cannot help but smile whenever I play Morning Sunrise. In addition to releasing her album, Yazmin performed on the music platform, COLOURS, singing a live version of Own Your Own. She also worked on Blue Note’s Reimagined album, covering a classic jazz song by Dodo Green. Her soothing, crisp vocals suited this cover perfectly and I am so excited to hear more from her. Enny Enny is an emerging rapper who has gained praise following her hit song Peng Black Girls featuring Amia Brave. This uplifting song celebrates the black community and our culture, whilst acknowledging our differences. The upbeat, soulful production accompanied by Amia Brave’s smooth vocals goes perfectly with the rapper’s flow. I admired Enny’s witty wordplay and the sentiment of the song, especially the West African representation in the music video! Following the release of her singles (For South, He’s Not That Into You), it’s apparent that Enny is an artist to keep our eyes on – I’m keen to see what she does next. Dolapo Dolapo is a British-Nigerian singer-songwriter from North London. She has been a songwriter and vocalist for numerous UK rappers such as Young T & Bugsey and MoStack, before making her solo debut in 2018. Dolapo attributes her musical style to Gospel and has taken inspiration from 90s R&B stars like Aaliyah and Lauryn Hill. Her EP, A Short Love Story caught my attention and was an introduction to Dolapo's style. As I listened to her stunning vocals and the smooth instrumentals, I felt nostalgic - it reminded me of old school R&B. The singer recently collaborated with Ms Banks and Oxlade on her newest song, Interest, which she described as 'one for the ladies’. As Dolapo continues to make her mark on the UK music scene, I believe we will be hearing more from her in 2021. Shaé Universe I have followed Shaé Universe’s journey from when she would upload covers on Twitter. I remember being drawn to her effortless vocals and seeing her gain praise from artists like Ella Mai and Nao. Following this, Shaé continued to deliver multiple singles and collaborations. The Nigerian-British singer-songwriter has a unique style; the single You Lose was a glance into ‘R&Drill’ as she merged her R&B sound with a drill beat. Her latest single, Royalty featuring rapper, Kojey Radical, is also a drill-infused track, with R&B harmonies and Spanish guitar in the background. Shaé described the song as "an anthem for all kings and queens to empower themselves with." For the BET Soul Train Awards, Shaé was a part of an amazing UK Soul Cypher. Alongside other UK artists, Shaé presented her beautiful and impressive riffs on a cover of D'Angelo's Lady, adding her distinctive flair. Shaé Universe’s musical versatility has got me hooked on what she has in store for us.

10 Upcoming Books by Black Authors

Hi readers! 2021 has already been a great year for black authors with brilliant releases like we are all birds of uganda, His Only Wife and the anthology Who's Loving You- all vastly different, but equally deserving of praise. Fortunately, the rest of the year is looking to be just as impressive. So make room on your book shelves; here are 10 more titles that you absolutely need to add on your TBR list! By Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah (22 July 2021) The Sex Lives of African Women uniquely amplifies individual women from across the African continent and its global diaspora, as they speak of their diverse experiences of sex, sexualities and relationships. Many of the women who tell their stories in this collection recall the journeys they have travelled in order to own their own sexualities. They do this by grappling with experiences of child sexual abuse, resisting the religious edicts of their childhood, and by asserting their sexual power. From finding queer community in Egypt to living a polyamorous life in Senegal to understanding the intersectionality of religion and pleasure in Cameroon to choosing to leave relationships that no longer serve them, these narratives are as individual and illuminating as the women who share them. The Sex Lives of African Women provides a deep insight into women's quest for freedom, highlights the complex tapestry of African women's sexuality, and bestows upon all women inspirational examples to live a truly liberated life. By Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (1 June 2021) Ace of Spades is a compelling, incendiary and unputdownable thriller billed as Get Out meets Gossip Girl with a shocking twist. It is set in an elite private school; when someone begins spreading rumours about the only two Black students there, they are forced to fight, not just for their reputations, but for their lives too. Delving into the heart of institutionalized racism, Ace of Spades offers a blistering social commentary on the barriers that Black students face when they aspire to things that come easily to their white classmates. Faridah wanted to “explore the way powerful systems are created as well as how these systems can be destroyed”. Faridah describes the novel as “a love letter to queer Black teenagers who feel powerless and alone finally finding their voices.” She continues: “I hope readers see that Black people belong in stories like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, and that above everything else, we deserve happy endings.” By Emery Lee (4 May 2021) Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships. Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe. When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page. In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script. By Oyinkan Braithwaite (May 2021) When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle's house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby's cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby's cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth? By Akwaeke Emezi (29 June 2021) In letters addressed to their friends, to members of their family - both biological and chosen - and to fellow storytellers, Akwaeke describes the shape of a life lived in overlapping realities. Through heartbreak, chronic pain, intimacy with death, becoming a beast, this is embodiment as a nonhuman: outside the boundaries imposed by expectations and legibility. This book is an account of the grueling work of realignment and remaking necessary to carve out a future for oneself. The result is a black spirit memoir: a powerful, raw unfolding of identity. By Nicola Yoon (1 June 2021) Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance Studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything--including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk? By Suyi Davies Okungbowa (11 May 2021) Award-winning author Suyi Davies Okungbowa begins a thrilling new epic fantasy series of violent conquest, buried histories and forbidden magic. In the city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness-only he doesn't want it. Instead, he prefers to chase forbidden stories about what lies outside the city walls. The Bassai elite claim there is nothing of interest. The city's immigrants are sworn to secrecy. But when Danso stumbles across a warrior wielding magic that shouldn't exist, he's put on a collision course with Bassa's darkest secrets. Drawn into the city's hidden history, he sets out on a journey beyond its borders. But the chaos left in the wake of his discovery threatens to destroy the empire. By JJ Bola (28 September 2021) Michael decides to flee to America and end his life once all his savings run out. JJ Bola's second novel is a story of millennial existential angst told through the eyes of a young Londoner who seems to have it all - a promising future, a solid career, strong friendships, a blossoming love story - but it's the unbearable weight of life that leads him to decide to take his own. As he grapples with issues bigger than him - political conflict, environmental desecration, police brutality - Michael seeks to find his place within a world that is complicated and unwelcoming. Although he finds solace in the people that surround him, he alone must decide if his life is worth living. By Pumla Dineo Gqola (19 October 2021) "Patriarchy does not respect national boundaries. It is unabashedly promiscuous in its influences and tethers. Yet, it does use nationalism very productively." An empty street at night. A crowded bus. A lecture hall. All sites of female fear, instilled in women and those who have been constructed female, from an early age. Drawing on examples from around the world - from Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa to Saudi Arabia, the Americas and Europe, Gqola traces the construction and machinations of the female fear factory by exposing its lies, myths, and seductions. She shows how seemingly disparate effects, like driving bans, street harassment, and coercive professors, are the product of the ever-turning machinery of the female fear factory, and its use of fear as a tool of patriarchal subjugation and punishment. Female Fear Factory: Gender and Patriarchy under Racial Capitalism is a sobering account of patriarchal violence in the world, and a hopeful vision for the work of unapologetic feminist imaginative strategies across the globe. By T.L. Huchu (27 April 2021) When ghosts talk, she will listen ... Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world. She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan ...) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted? Opening up a world of magic and adventure, The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu is the first book in the Edinburgh Nights series.

2020 Must Reads By Black Women

It’s the beginning of 2020, you are in the midst of compiling your must-reads for the year, and I’m here to help! Here is a selection of books written by Black women expected to be released in 2020, that would make for perfect inclusions on your reading lists. They cover an array of genres and are written by authors from varying backgrounds to give you a well-rounded reading experience this year. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk "For fans of Nina LaCour's We Are Okay and Adam Silvera's History Is All You Left Me, this heartfelt and ultimately uplifting novel follows one sixteen-year-old girl's friend breakup through two concurrent timelines--ultimately proving that even endings can lead to new beginnings." The Vanishing Shelf by Brit Bennett "From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white." Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola "Love stories inspired by tales of the past...Join debut author Bolu Babalola as she recreates the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and retells them with new incredible detail and vivacity. From the homoromantic Greek myths, to magical Nigerian folktales, to the ancient stories of South Asia, Babalola is inspired by tales that truly show the variety and colours of love around the world." we are all birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan
"Two lives, generations apart, set to collide with life-changing consequences...Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of generational love, loss and what it means to find home. It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers' Prize, and the most exciting young novelist of today." Transcedent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
"Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national best seller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama."

2022 Books to Look Out For

Books we’re making shelf space for in 2022. Bridges are for Burning by Bina Idonije Other works by author: Debut Date of publication: To be confirmed On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Oghogho ‘Gigi’ Dempster wore her heart on her sleeve. At almost thirty-one, she was single and ready to mingle after nearly two years of relegating her love-life to the curb in favour of growing her fledgling social media company. Her beautiful best friend Alana was newly pregnant for the love of her life, Benjamin Halal, and her sister Efemena ‘Fifi’ was married to wealthy aristocrat, Lotanna Dike. But on that February 13th night, Gigi wasn’t looking for what her best friend and sister had; not love or marriage, but a temporary connection and intimacy. How could she have known that that night would dramatically alter the course of her life? Wahala by nikki may Other works by author: Debut Date of publication: 6 January 2022 Ronke wants happily ever after and kids. She’s dating Kayode and wants him to be “the one” (perfect, like her dead father). Her friends think he’s just another in a long line of dodgy Nigerian boyfriends. Boo has everything Ronke wants—a kind husband, gorgeous child. But she’s frustrated, unfulfilled, plagued by guilt, and desperate to remember who she used to be. Simi is the golden one with the perfect lifestyle. No one knows she’s crippled by impostor syndrome and tempted to pack it all in each time her boss mentions her “urban vibe.” Her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby. She’s not. When the high-flying, charismatic Isobel explodes into the group, it seems at first she’s bringing out the best in each woman. But the more Isobel intervenes, the more chaos she sows, and Ronke, Simi, and Boo’s close friendship begins to crack. A sharp, modern take on friendship, ambition, culture, and betrayal, Wahala (trouble) is an unforgettable novel from a brilliant new voice. Honey and Spice by Bolu Babalola Other works by author: Love In Colour Date of publication: 21 July 2022 Honey & Spice tells the story of the sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo, an expert in relationship-evasion, as well as the women who make up the Afro-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University, and their plights to avoid the mess of situationships, players and heartbreak. But when Kiki meets distressingly handsome and charming newcomer Malakai Korede — who she has publicly denounced as ‘The Wasteman of Whitewell’ — her defenses are weakened. A clash embroils them in a fake relationship to salvage both their reputations, and soon she finds herself in danger of falling for the very man she warned her girls about. Can Kiki look beyond her own presumptions and open herself up to something deeper, or is love out of her reach? The Paris Apartment by Lucey Foley Other works by author: The Book of Lost and Found, The Firefly, The Invitation, Last Letter from Istanbul, The Hunting Party, The Guest List Date of publication: 22 February 2022 Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there. The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question. The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge. Everyone's a neighbour. Everyone's a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling. Book Lovers by Emily henry Other works by author: The Love that Split the World, A Million Junes, Hello Girls, Beach Read, People We Meet on Vacation Date of publication: 3 May 2022 About: Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves. To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara Other works by author: The People in the Trees, A Little Life Date of publication: 11 January 2022 In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances. These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realisation that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness. Unattached edited by Angelica Malin Date of publication: 3 February 2022 About: Thirty women, from Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson and Chante Joseph to Shon Faye and Stephanie Yeboah write on what single womanhood in the modern age means to them. releases from Akwaeke Emezi Other works by author: Freshwater, Pet, The Death of Vivek Oji, Dear Senthurian You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty Date of publication: 24 May 2022 Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again. It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honour her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love? Bitter Date of publication: 5 February 2022 Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the town of Lucille. Bitter's instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but her friends aren't willing to settle for a world that the adults say is "just the way things are. Content Warning: Everything Date of publication: To be confirmed In their bold debut poetry collection, Akwaeke Emezi imagines a new depth of belonging. Crafted of both divine and earthly materials, these poems travel from home to homesickness, tracing desire to surrender and abuse to survival, while mapping out a chosen family that includes the son of god, Mary auntie, and Magdalene with the chestnut eyes. Written from a spirit-first perspective and celebrating the essence of self that is impossible to drown, kill, or reduce, Content Warning: Everything distils the radiant power and epic grief of a mischievous and wanting young deity, embodied.

5 Noteworthy Animated Music Videos

I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to go through the whole of #AnimatedApril ignoring animation in music. For decades music videos have played in the animated space and incorporated film-grade methods to create mini music movies. Here’s 5 (and a bonus video because I couldn’t help myself) animated music videos for you to check out. John Redcorn - SiR This song alone invokes daydreams of a lonely character that wears his heart on his sleeve and never quite got that same love back. With John Redcorn being inspired by the fictional animated character from King of the Hill, it’s only right that its music video mimics that artform too. These visuals allow SiR to star in his own episode of the show, kicking off with depictions of friends & label-mates Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul. Throughout the video, we see John at first fighting the feeling but trying time and time again to prove his love for Neicy. Their affair didn’t last as long as John and Nancy’s 14-year stint and of course, our John ended up alone. Every night alone... Okay quit crying, we’ve got the rest of the list to get through! Nightrider - Tom Misch & Yussef Days ft. Freddie Gibbs Nightrider is such a wonderful composition I don’t think a video with real people would’ve done it justice - it deserves a smooth video, humans would interrupt the vibes. Just as well Tom Misch, Yussef Days, and Freddie Gibbs appear as animated characters cruising amidst a warm sunset and eventually into the clouds. You can’t help but nod along with them in the car, it feels like they saved you a space at the back next to Freddie. Join the ride. Feels Like Summer - Childish Gambino Now here’s one you might have to watch a couple of times to get everything. When Gambino’s Feels Like Summer dropped in September 2018 I wasn’t feeling like Summer, let me not lie. However, this cameo-filled video sent music bloggers into a frenzy as everyone tried to unpack what the scenes meant. A lot of the theories seemed reasonable, but can someone tell me why The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and Frank Ocean were playing tug of war against Willow Smith, Solange, and A$AP Rocky, please? Saturn Barz - Gorillaz I couldn’t make this list without including Gorillaz, as a virtual band technically all of their videos are animated. What stood out with Saturn Barz was their use of the crazy (relatively new at the time) VR/360 function on Youtube. From sitting on the battered train to arriving at the Spirit House, these animated visuals are extremely textured. There’s something in every scene to invoke your senses and none of the extra scenery is irrelevant. Whether you’re floating through space with Murdoc or using the 360 view in the music room with Noodle, this video is a crazy immersive experience. Heartless - Kanye West There’s no way you can think about animated music videos and not talk about this one real quick. Yes, it’s another breakup song but this second single from 808s & Heartbreak was kind of a big deal and a key example of using film-grade methods in music videos. I was a bit confused about how they managed to achieve Kayne’s likeness and movement so smoothly in the video and it turns out that this is thanks to the rotoscope method of animation - they filmed the video in real life, then drew over it. Paying homage to Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop movie, the end product looks great, and what better way to accompany this heartbreak anthem than with an animated Kanye drowning his sorrows in a neon city. Opposites Attract - Paula Abdul Okay, slight curveball here but if you know me you know I love my 80s music and had to get one on the list! I’m sure this video used to play on MTV well into the 2000s and I got up to try and match the choreography every time. Taken from Paula’s record-breaking debut, Opposites Attract talks about exactly what it says in the title. However, instead of showing Paula with an ‘opposite’ male counterpart, the Disney-animated MC Skat Kat joins her in live-action scenes as they dance at and with each other. Similar to the Heartless video, which came out about 20 years later, Rotoscope animation was used but it wasn’t the first time. 43 years prior, this same technique was used to illustrate Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry Mouse (from Tom & Jerry). From part-animations to 360 virtual experiences the art of music videos have come a long way, and although we aren’t presented with them as much as we were in the good old MTV days, the good stuff’s out there if you’re looking for it!

5 Things We Love About Moira Rose

Schitt’s Creek swept the 2020 Emmys last night with a staggering nine awards. This delightful piece of comedy is incredibly deserving for so many reasons and high up on that list is Catherine O’Hara’s masterful depiction of Moira Rose. Here are five (of many) things that make this character one of the best to grace our screens: 1. The oddity that is her vocabulary and her equally inexplicable accent.
What other tv show character do you know that can incorporate ‘prestidigitator,’ or ‘pettifogging’ as seamlessly and casually as Moira Rose? And even more intriguing is the way that she utters these words with the concoction of an accent that has you hanging on to every word she says. Part Canadian, part British, and mostly Moira, her accent is an absolute delight. 2. Her wardrobe The show does a phenomenal job of matching the Rose’s family eccentricities with their wardrobe, but none stand out the way Moira’s do. Her outlandish-and then some- outfits, often paired with a bold red lip and a signature wig (that we’ll get to) are at the very core of the character’s make-up. How casually she dons these over the top pieces against the much blander backdrop of the small town and its inhabitants is nothing short of perfection. A personal fave is the pope-inspired look she wore to officiate David and Patrick’s wedding, that would have fit right into the 2018 ‘Heavenly Bodies’ Met Gala. 3. Her wigs Affectionately dubbed “her girls,” Moira’s wigs are easily the piece-de-resistance to the character’s makeup. Each has a name (after a real-life family or friend of Catherine O’hara) and a personality to match, a fun touch that was revealed to be entirely O’Hara’s doing. Apart from how obviously funny they were, the wigs broke down the image of the conventional yuppie rich white woman so well- making it difficult not to find her endearing. 4. For the most part, she’s a good wife/mother/friend Sure, she once forgot David’s birthday, or accidentally took home the wrong child (in her defence, “Alexis looked Chinese as a baby”)- which one of our parents hasn’t had a cheeky misstep? But mostly, Moira’s character was written so carefully as to avoid her ever being callous. She is bold, dauntless and even a little self-centred but never mean. Any foot-in-mouth moments she has are never laced with malicious intent. She never berates her husband for his countless failed attempts to get them out of the town; she allows her kids the freedom to express themselves however they please, while being emotionally supportive when they need (she championed David& Patrick and took Alexis on a night out when she was reeling from her breakup with Mutt); even Jocelyn warms up to her eventually. 5. Her commitment to performing Whether it was with the Jazzagals, the mother-son duet with David, or the capricious Crows role she secured, Moira stayed true to her craft. After she got over the initial shock of having to move to Schitt’s Creek, the matriarch took up acting and singing again- at first seemingly to pass time, and then eventually, with devotion. We witnessed her go through the motions with her career, which makes it even sweeter that last night Moira finally got her Emmy.

5 Worst Romantic Films From The Floor

Next to naps, Forex trading over Instagram and buying drinks in the club, Valentine’s Day takes its rightful place as a scam of the highest order dressed in holiday attire. Although it serves as an excuse to be explicitly romantic whilst boosting the floral and chocolate industries, February 14th also serves as a reminder that a dinner for two can also be a large meal for one given the right motivations and lack of prospects. Instead of crying in ‘forever alone’, flip the script and use V Day as an opportunity to celebrate singlehood… By ugly laughing at love. Here is a list of romantic films that missed the mark by a considerable margin and then some - showing viewers that fairytale endings should sometimes stay in the books. 1. The Break-Up (2006) It’s bad enough when you have one character that plays themselves in every movie they are cast, but when you have two actors in Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, that play Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, somehow love doesn’t feel like it’s in the air. After the couple ‘call it quits’, neither of them want to move out of the luxurious apartment they bought together. The tedious arguments over everything and nothing causes the film to drag - turning the romcom into a ‘comedy’ for all the wrong reasons. 2. Valentine’s Day (2010) Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’? With a star-studded line-up including Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Cooper and Queen Latifah, the production had promise on paper. Despite having an estimated budget of $52 million, the movie only received 18% from Rotten Tomatoes and for good reason. The story was intended to be carried by the status of the actors and not the actual plot. There were too many scenarios and not enough time to explore the different couples in depth. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Taylor Swift’s character name, which was Felicia… I shit you not. 3. Naked (2017) The Wayans, in particular, Shawn and Marlon, are ‘notorious’ for making spoof comedies with whacky and slapstick twists. So, when Marlon Wayans approached the ‘do over’ or ‘loop’ trope with his signature style, it didn’t come as a surprise. The protagonist, Rob Anderson jumps through hoop after hoop on his wedding day but can’t seem to make it to the alter. Rob repeatedly wakes up butt naked, stuck in a cycle and ultimately unmarried. HOWEVER, for nudity to be the main device, in both a romance movie as well as this economy, something somewhere is not adding up. 4. The Kissing Booth (2018) When you look past the reductive script, regressive character constructs, clichés and misogyny, it’s still really cheesy. In a typical coming-of-age story, Elle falls in love with her best friend's 'bad boy' brother, putting a strain on their lifelong relationship. The franchise clearly has a following that gave it the platform for sequels, but it also made it apparent that the target audience is for those experiencing puberty. As a result, it has made its way firmly onto the list. 5. New Year’s Eve (2011) As if the pandemic didn’t ruin my birthday enough, the creators of the Valentine’s Day movie decided to romanticise another holiday unprovoked. In an attempt to find happiness, a decorated cast comprised of Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert De Niro and other esteemed actors scour the city in the name of love before the clock strikes 12. Although there were improvements in comparison to their first attempt, the script and dialogue still fall flat and short of the heartwarming content expected. There’s also a personal vendetta from attaching my good name to my special day (birthday) every year.

7 Non-English COLORS Performances

In a world where English is assumed as a universal language, getting complacent and expecting to hear film and music in a certain tongue means many artforms might be overlooked. As people are becoming more attuned to sounds outside of the US and UK, platforms are using their reach to celebrate musicians that don't pander to English listeners. In a bid to broaden horizons whilst plugging some of our favourite COLORS performances, here is a list of songs and artists that break the mould of English-speaking music, whilst encouraging listeners to put Google Translate to good use. Hamza - French It’s only right that the list kicks off with a personal favourite. Hamza is a Belgian rapper that dips in and out of the French language, using the poetic intonation to create the melodic flow he’s known for. Hailing from a country that is a melting pot for prominent languages such as French, Dutch and German, Hamza’s lyrics may include slang that reaches over into another dialect or is native to Belgium. His rendition of 1994 is also how the ‘Saucegod’ closes his album of the same title - it’s the perfect introduction to what his catalogue has to offer. YEИDRY - Spanish Despite living in Italy, Dominican Republic-born singer makes use of her mother tongue (Spanish) in her music. YEИDRY has an airy and sultry touch to her sound with stripped-back production allowing her voice to be the focal point. From Nena, to El Diablo and Barrio, YEИDRY sonically mixes the traditional sounds reminiscent of Salsa and Merengue and brings them into the present Latin Pop genre. Tiwa Savage - Pidgin/Yoruba As an Afrobeats artist that has stayed at the top of her game for over a decade, Tiwa Savage is a powerhouse that needs no introduction. The Nigerian singer was first recognised for her pen and songwriting ability before moving into performing, and her lyricism reflects her journey. Tiwa starts off Attention with the line, “Oro re tin sun mi o”, meaning ‘I’m getting tired of you’. Although the track isn’t as Yoruba-heavy as other numbers from her 2020 album like Ole, it is still an accurate indication of how she effortlessly switches between Yoruba and Pidgin throughout her career. Sho Madjozi - Swahili It’s impossible to watch this COLORS show without dancing. Sho Madjozi operates in a space between Amapiano and Gqom, which are genres of South African Dance and House music. With her unique lane also comes a combination of languages - drawing from Swahili, Tsonga, English and Sheng (street slang from Kenya). The song exploded internationally, garnering support from listeners all over the world, including John Cena himself. Sammany - Arabic Sammany is a standout: both on this list and as a musician. Matalib already holds a lot of power and emotion behind it, as a song inspired by the uprising in Sudan but the acoustic version evokes a deeper heartfelt response that the original doesn’t match. The fluidity of the Arabic language complements music in a way that most languages ever could, to the point where a guitar is an added bonus rather than a necessity. At a total of 2:46, the video is one of the shorter COLORS recordings, but also one of the most complete. Koffee - Patois Patios can be easily overlooked as a language of its own when it comes to music, especially when so many Patois words and phrases are being assimilated into the English language as slang. An artist that stands as a firm reminder is Koffee. It’s obvious that the Jamaican-born singer is a product of her musical environment. Her cadence on Rapture flies back and forth between the home influences of Reggae and Dancehall, and the harsher and abrupt pronunciations of Western RnB and rap. Patois is the piece of the puzzle that brings both sides together. Fatoumata Diawara - Bambara Nterini has a completely different energy to the other songs on the list. Whereas the Western influence blends into the other tracks, Fatoutmata Diawara’s rendition has major juxtaposition and it’s beautiful to see. From singing entirely in Bambara (the official language of Mali) to then breaking into an electric guitar solo works in a way that feels beyond verbal comprehension. Even before translating the lyrics - the vibe emits feelings of love and loss, which is exactly what the song is about: heartbreak. It’s no surprise that Diawara has become more experimental with her sound in recent years, working with both Gorillaz and Disclosure.

8 Mangas That Outdid Their Animes

If you look closely, you can find an anime epiphany on Frank Ocean’s Sweet Life opening lyrics, “the best song wasn’t the single.” Meaning: popularity isn’t always the best thing on offer, despite how it’s presented. The single might be the focal point of the album or project as a standalone release but not necessarily the true ‘star’ of the show. Now, the normal thing to do would be to dive deeper into what that means for music, or maybe even apply this analysis to romantic relationships, but what happens when you look at anime through the lens of Sweet Life's opening lyrics? Although manga is a worldwide phenomenon, it's the large scale anime rollouts that bring in money and shape fanbases- they're the singles of the production. Without taking away from distinct animation styles and the art of voice acting, there are countless anime interpretations that may be perceived as the ‘single’ but are definitely not the best as far as their manga counterparts are concerned. Was this what Frank had in mind when he gave us Channel Orange? Absolutely not, but here is a cocktail of anime productions that pale in comparison to their mangas. 1. The Promised Neverland If this anime was judged on Season 1 alone, it wouldn’t be anywhere near this list. The Promised Neverland (or Yakusoku no Neverland) is a standout amongst Shonen anime and manga. Praised for its originality, plot twists and suspense, it was deemed a best selling manga in 2020 and an even bigger success on TV screens in the 2010 decade. The problem comes in the form of Season 2. Instead of sticking to the well laid out script created by authors Kaiu Shirai and Toyisha Ono, CloverWorks Studios and its affiliates chose to take another path- ultimately shortening the timeline and removing key parts to the story. Their biggest downfall was leaving out the most important arc as well as the most interesting: The Goldy Pond Battle Arc. In order to get the full picture of the intricate story, it’s best to indulge in the manga. 2. Death Note Before I’m tracked down and put in a Twitter thread, there’s a very good reason for this classic making an appearance. Almost everything in the manga is properly and accurately portrayed in the anime. However, the manga fills the void that many people complain about when it comes to Death Note - the ending. Without giving away the original manga ending, it is a more cohesive and appropriate finale to the intellectual saga in comparison to the anime. Endings of shows usually help mould the overall opinion towards them and the anime version fell flat and gave off an anticlimactic aura. It was still entertaining, with viewers enjoying symbolism in the art style and the grey area between right and wrong but it didn’t feel like an ending, it’s almost as if something was missing. The manga offers a darker and more sinister alternative ending that better fits the view of morality that gets more complicated as the show continues. 3. Soul Eater The short answer for Atsushi Okubo’s Soul Eater, is that the anime simply deserved better. The 51-episode adaptation from the manga garnered a lot of support, and rightly so. It was well received for its iconic characters like main character Maka Albarn, alongside Black Star and its distinctive style (that would later be seen in productions such as Fire Force). In a bid to fit an elaborate and complex plot into a set number of episodes, character development for integral people such as Death the Kid and Crona were overlooked. Other corners were cut including entire arcs, watering down what could have been an ever bigger fan favourite. That isn’t to say the anime got everything wrong. In fact, to uphold the integrity of the original story, certain characters, themes and events had to be identical to the manga and these are the parts that allow it to be revered still to this day. 4. Tokyo Ghoul It’s sad to anticipate certain manga adaptations only for the anime to fail miserably. A slight exaggeration? Perhaps, but everyone and their manga-reading mother had high hopes for what Pierrot Studios would with such a dark and twisted tale. I’m not opposed to narrative deviations and changes but it is a thin line to walk, and the line only gets thinner when more changes are made. Tokyo Ghoul is a prime example. The biggest change comes as a complete juxtaposition from the original chapters. The anime sees the ‘protagonist’, Kaneki Ken, joining Ghoul terrorist organisation, Aogiri Tree rather than shunning and opposing them. The choice to have him join the group fundamentally changes his character development and the story that follows. 5. Deadman Wonderland A moment of silence for Deadman Wonderland. If the anime was given the chance to finish, it would be a notable name amongst others of its time like Beezlebub and Hunter x Hunter (2011). From the first episode, viewers are left with more questions than answers but not in an intriguing way. The plot holes that aren’t filled adequately work more as a deterrent from an otherwise intriguing premise. The glaring difference between the manga and anime is laughable. This manga comes with a heavy recommendation from those that read it, myself included. 6. Akame Ga Kill Labelling Akame Ga Kill as a fan favourite is an understatement. The contrast of an innocent and childlike artform to the gory and action-filled plotline is welcomed in most anime circles. Likened to Game of Thrones due to its ‘anyone can get it’ storytelling, it is no surprise that it has become a modern-day classic but the variations from the anime and manga have fans split over which one is the superior version. Again, missing arcs like Wild Hunt are partly to blame with settings and world building feeling shallow despite how vital it is to the characters’ overall mission. The constant time skips make it hard to gauge power progression and levels. As a result, it’s easy for the anime not to hold the attention of the manga fans and even first-time watchers. 7. One Piece The fact that one of the greatest animes of all time is on the list is testament to the detail enclosed in manga chapters. In this case, the best song is the single as well as everything else on the project. The anime follows the manga very closely to the degree where still shots from the anime look identical to incidents in the manga. The divergence lies in how much control the author has over the anime development. Although Eiichiro Oda is very much involved in the anime’s progression, the sheer dominance and command he has over the manga is mind-blowing. Nothing in the manga is by chance or left to likelihoods or possibilities. Everything is calculated to perfection and seeing it unfold in the manga is incomparable to watching the events on the screen. Oda is a master at world building and transporting the reader into the domain that he created. By combining his love for foreshadowing and thoroughly setting the scene, the manga becomes too good not to read. 8. Yu-Gi-Oh! It’s always fun to throw in a curveball. Yu-Gi-Oh! Is often grouped with the anime that shaped many childhoods like Pokemon, Digimon and Cardcaptors. The interesting twist is that those anime are arguably adapted for children to watch. When their premise and scenarios are further analysed, surprise surprise, a lot of these shows aren’t for children at all. And that definitely includes Yu-Gi-Oh! When you look past the card game marketing ploys, the typical Shonen adventure that viewers have become used to and the filler arcs, it is an eerie and messed up tale. The dialogue and artwork is far more disturbing than Nickelodeon leads on because torture and inflicting pain is a big part of what makes the duels captivating. This is one to read at your own peril if you are a little worried about ruining your childhood.

8 Seamless Transitions by Black Music Artists

I recently came across Kim Petras’ album, TURN OFF THE LIGHT (2019), which is amazing in the way that each track seamlessly blends into the next and it got me thinking about other albums which do this and why don’t more artists do this with their entire albums. Seamless song transitions are not a new trend. I think the first ever wholly seamless album I heard was Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) but I think hearing the entire body of work flow so easily in Petras’ album, more recently made me think about how much a good transition can elevate an album and make me think of the album as being better rounded. Most artists don’t do entire seamless albums but they do make an effort to include a few seamless transitions and that doesn’t go unnoticed by me. I’m rounding up a few favourites. Janelle Monae’s Screwed into Django Jane off her album Dirty Computer (2016) is a perfect example of how seamless a transition could be, one song flowing sonically into the next with a storyline throughout the entire album. JAY-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne (2011) in particular Otis into Gotta Have It. Iconic collaborations aside, Watch the Throne was definitely an album that eclipsed me when it first came out, but going back and listening to it, I’ve found an appreciation for it in my later years and its artistry. GoldLink’s album At What Cost (2017) features the transitional gem that is Hands On Your Knees into Meditation. This one feels almost like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ transition but it’s there. Hands On Your Knees fades to silence making room for the set up of my favourite Goldlink track Meditation. Solange's Can I Hold the Mic (interlude) into Stay Flo off her most recent album When I get Home (2019) is firstly top tier Solange and secondly imagine being so iconic that you have access to Beyonce for your interludes, imagine being Solange’s sister! Kendrick Lamar, this man is the master of seamlessness in his bodies of work but a stand out transition for me has to be Welsley’s Theory into For Free off To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). Aside from being an example of what the RnB genre emcompasses, the production of both songs tell individual stories whilst melting into each other smoothly. Daniel Caesar’s We Find Love into Blessed, is just beautiful. Off Caesar’s debut studio album, these two songs blend seamlessly to create a love song which lasts 8 minutes and 16 seconds. This doesn’t need anymore words. SZA’s Doves in the Wind into Drew Barrymore on CTRL (2017). The entire album is such a vibe, and makes me so happy, but nothing makes me happier than this transition because it includes audio from SZA’s grandmother (who carries the whole album based on her advice, let’s not lie). It’s hard to believe that it came out so long ago. Childish Gambino’s Dial Up into The Worst Guys from my favourite CG album Because the Internet (2013). I remember being 15 and spending my entire summer playing this album over and over, but in particular coming back to these two tracks because of the way they blended together and how the layering made me feel like anything was possible. And having Ludwig Göransson on your production team doesn’t hurt either. What are your favourite tracks/albums that seamlessly blend together?

A Body Of Work: Conversation with Chief Aleel

Nothing could prepare you for the unpredictable artistry you’ll experience listening to the album, A Body of Work. Jaleel “Chief Aleel” Brown, gives you a look through the personal lens of his life in the city that raised him, Houston, TX. Through authentic south sounds of screw, ascending lo-fi and exhilarating instrumental layers, he solidifies his place as both a lyricist and producer. photo by Jun Dinamling Houston is a culture driven city with a boundless energy. Whether you’re coming from the suburban essence of Missouri City, the prominent Black beauty of Third Ward, Midtown’s millennial land or the rocky mountain streets of Hiram Clarke, any Houston drive is a vibe as you transition from one part to the next. This influence is perfectly exemplified throughout the eight track album, with each song ending in a different sound from when it starts. Following his previous project, Gnarly VHS Tape, A Body Of Work’s sound reaches a level of maturity pulled from the Space City. “As I drive around Houston, the scenery always changes,” said Aleel. “It can be really sunny with an open field and then you go into the city and it may just look like two different versions of futuristic or grimy-however you want to look at it. All the songs are different parts of Houston. Different times, different weather, different stuff.” Apollo 11 opens the album with a dainty touch of piano switching from sweet jazz to a soft yet brisk tempo building into Chief’s articulate style. The intro also connects with the cover of Aleel’s previous work, Gnarly VHS Tape, symbolizing the launch into his own world. “I wanted it to be like a takeoff,” said Aleel. “When you hear all the sound's being built up a lot of that came from listening to psychedelic music, like Pink Floyd and Tame Impala.” Chief Aleel features BBY Kodie and Louie Koston in delivering nothing less of heat for any hater in the track Tok Tok. Three high speed flows, a light Still Tippin sample and a Yonkers soundbite lethally come together serving as one of two popular songs- the other being Westpark. Influenced by Three Six Mafia and a Memphis’ sound, Chief Aleel glides through Westpark standing ground on his growth and eagerness as an artist from the start of the heavy 808’s to the end of the crisp violin. photo by Jenni Ochoa “When I make music now, I have to research it to really understand what it is,” said Chief Aleel. “I liked how they [Three Six Mafia] just made it sound all screwed up, but it's fast. Eventually we [Sonny London] were listening to some music, like some year old ass, jazz band thing and I just like how their voice sounds. You can't really hear in the sample cause we use it so fast, but it’s called a cortex and it's real slow and melodic … music I could listen to study and focus. [Sonny London] threw it in the program and just sped it up.” Each feature on A Body Of Work successfully does their part to enhance the track. With the steady manifestation in Toyota Camry featuring Tobacco Ryan, the psychedelic chill with intense guitar solo of Top Down featuring Mufasa Enzor and Sonny London, and the vulnerable feelings of Neon Blue featuring Lauryn Harris, Chief Aleel notes that he, “enjoys bringing people together when it comes to songs. If you’re making a movie, you gotta have the right props.” Fellow Houston rapper Jiffy Rockets adds a spicy feature on Wassup for a confidence driven record. The incredible duo reminds us what they represent through a funhouse sequence leveling up into who they are with lyrics, “Chief is not from Houston but they know I Rap-A-lot. Candy paint my casket bitch I’m H Town ‘till I drop,” and “we’ve been goal getting since ten, wassup with your money? It’s looking condensed. We make hits you ain’t makin’ a dent.” “Working with her is the best because we've been making music the longest,” said Chief Aleel. “We pretty much just try different ideas and don't care about holding back. A lot of artists and people are just more sensitive about what they like and what they don’t, but with us, you can just get straight to the point … we move quick.” Chief Aleel prepares us for the end in Cake. With lyrics, “gotta go through hell to find the fruits of your labor but the taste is bittersweet and you can’t switch up the flavor,” he offers, and takes tunnel vision advice for the turbulent parts of life. The album then closes with Growing Pains, featuring Chase of Nazareth, Emily Vincent, Ian McGilber & Peyton, where Aleel reveals his realization and appreciation for his journey through life’s seasonal changes being, “naked in the summer. Faded in the fall (and) Staying cozy in the wintertime, ’til the spring calls.” “All these songs are points in my life that I felt like it really meant something to me,” said Chief Aleel. “Whether it was just something I was going through, something around me. Just something (where) one moment I was like, okay, I want to capture this. My brain is the closest thing to a camera … you’re just trying to take all these certain moments and put them together in like three minutes spans or two minute spans, so it's really digging deep and personal.” A Body Of Work is an impressive addition to Chief Aleel’s catalogue, stamping him as an artist to keep on radar.

A Theatre Review: Leave To Remain

Writing a musical is the last thing you would expect from Kele Okereke. Bloc Party's lead singer, along with Matt Jones, told the intricate story of "a young gay couple leading busy London lives". Yes, there are vague parallels between Kele's experiences and the synopsis but as the plot thickens (sorry for the cliché), the question has to be raised: how semi-autobiographical is the play? The audience follows Obi (played by Tyron Huntley) and Alex (Billy Callum) as they use 'holy' matrimony as the solution to Alex's visa problems. What was really commendable was that the production didn't play to a familiar tune; it steered clear of stereotypes. Surprisingly, Alex was the character dealing with visa issues as an American citizen, instead of Obi- being of Nigerian descent. Although marriage is a big step and theme within the performance, it is quickly understood that it is the least of the protagonists' problems. From family issues to ambiguous relationships with friends, resolving past concerns is essential for their future. The director's vision was perfectly encapsulated in the lighting, set design and musical numbers. As director, Robby Graham made it clear how fast-paced he wanted the show to be. So, without any intervals it had the potential to lose momentum, but I was proven wrong. Watching how the actors depicted the passage of time was a highlight I won't be forgetting anytime soon. The multirole performers wheeled huge shutters across the stage that blended seamlessly into the rest of the design to convey the passing of time. Simultaneously, the strobe lights that mimicked the club from previous scenes would flicker as the lyrics from different numbers would come together in a harmonised ensemble. It’s clear that the storyline wasn't the only intricate aspect. It's impossible to move forward without discussing movement. The creativity of the dance alone was enough to rave about, but my interest had the same mutual connection as lighting and set design: time. Not only was movement used to expose the controversy and intimacy, it was the key to 'travelling through time'. When Obi went to confront his parents about his marriage, he danced in unison with his younger self until the teenage Obi was the only form of himself on stage. We were able to see how the trauma transcended time in such an abstract form through the use of interpretive dance. I was convinced this scene couldn't be bested but the family dinner shattered my expectations. The coming together of Alex's and Obi's family was 'awkward' to say the least. Tensions were built through underhanded comments and slight, yet noticeable gestures. When the pressures on stage piqued, the cast broke into a synchronized danced accompanied by a musical number. It seemed as if it were the only way to communicate how every character effectively felt and it was physically represented through the spilling on the wine. In an interview with The Standard, Kele addresses the similarities drawn between himself and Obi: "I don’t think it is an autobiographical story. I share similarities with Obi — he’s British-born but of Nigerian descent, and he has issues with this family. But that’s about as far as the similarities go" Okereke goes on to mention how he related to Obi's struggles growing up in a religious family. His words suggest that the concepts are loosely based on his experiences but there is a thick line between Obi and Kele as individuals. The narrative seems more effective this way. A more personal and intimate script risked alienating viewers who couldn't relate, or even sympathise with the story. The touch of Nigerian culture within a British play emitted a far more inclusive tone with understandable characters. An answer given during a Q&A will forever be associated with this piece of theatre. The cast was asked whether the play could have been more political, given the title. Rakie Ayola (who played Grace, Obi's mother) said that the play is already political. There are underlying themes and motifs that weren't explicitly stated but were still very much touched upon. In light of the Windrush Deportation, Leave to Remain served as a gentle but firm reminder of the current political and social climate in the country.