NAO – Artist to Watch

For this week’s *Artist to Watch* I want to talk to you about NAO, 31 year old singer-songwriter Neo Jessica Joshua from East London. Her voice is so extraordinary that I doubted it was real when I first heard one of her songs. But after having watched some of her interviews I can confirm, she actually sounds like a cute little angel all the time. Her debut album “For All We Know” was released in 2016 which included “Fool To Love”, “Get to Know Ya” and “Bad Blood” and I can imagine you’ve probably heard one of them before.

Her lyrics are full of emotions and power, but it is her voice that really transfers the feelings onto the listener. I’d describe her music as soulful, sometimes funky, electronically influenced, galactic RnB. That she is not only a great singer but also a talented songwriter is proven by the fact that she’s co-written Stormzy’s “Velvet/Jenny Francis (Interlude)” which I personally loved for its depth and honesty.

Now last year, NAO released her latest project called “Saturn” and it absolutely amazed me. Listening to this album, it feels like she is taking you on a very personal spaceship ride right through her inner galaxy. Starting out right away with the first song “Another Lifetime” which is heartbreakingly beautiful (I absolutely love her reference to the concept of having multiple lifetimes and meeting certain people again in another). The next equally beautifully tragic song “Make It Out Alive” features the incredible SiR which I’ll most likely feature in one of my next Artist To Watch posts as well. Yeah… I could probably talk about every single song on this album but instead I will give you my personal highlights and then leave you to listen to it and make up your own mind.

First favorite I have to mention is “Saturn” with British singer Kwabs. It’s a beautiful, romantic duet which uses planet and zodiac sign metaphors in order to describe a relationship. “I love the way you open my heart, I feel you around me like Venus and Mars”, she sings, very #universey if you know, you know. The other song I want to emphasise is “Orbit”, equally universey and sooo, sooo magical.

Now while writing this, I am getting extra excited because I will finally be able to see NAO live in concert on my birthday next month. So if you find yourself loving her songs as much as I do check out her upcoming tour dates here and maybe you’ll be able to go to one of her concerts this or next month as well.

 

Pink Sweat$ – Artist to Watch

So for today’s *Artist to Watch* I want to introduce you to Pink Sweat$. Originally a songwriter from Philadelphia, this guy has now decided to start his own singing career. And I am glad he did! His songwriting story is interesting because he even wrote for Country artists “Florida Georgia Line” which honestly I hadn’t even heard of before. But I think that says a lot about his open-mindedness and his general love for music and meaningful lyrics. Why stick to just one genre when there is great stories to be told in all different types of music?

When reading Pink Sweat$’s interview with Billboard there were a few things he said that made me smile. Talking about the origin of his artist name “Pink Sweat$”, he explained that the name originated from him wearing his pink sweatpants to the studio all the time. The fact that the inspiration behind his love for pink was sparked by Cam’ron just shows that he’s not just a talented singer and songwriter but also a really cool guy.

Another thing I like about Pink Sweat$ is his critical view on the disrespect for women in the music industry especially in rap music and his emphasis on meaningful lyrics that move people and inspire them in a way that makes them want to share the music with others. Essentially he’s taking his talent for writing songs in order to spread more love in this world and I think that is a really beautiful thing.

Having lived in Philadelphia, New York and L.A. and having been strong enough to fight a rare disease that could’ve costed him his life, it seems that he’s found an inner balance that he is now able to channel through his own music. His first EP “Volume 1” consists of six songs that each are special in their own way. I personally am glad that he has decided to sing his own songs because his voice is way too powerful to remain hidden from our ears.

Now if you only ever just listen to one of his songs I want you to listen to “Honesty”. This 3:11 track has touched my soul right when I first listened to it. What makes it so special is that I think everyone can find something in it that they can relate to. The song is about making yourself vulnerable with someone else and revealing parts of yourself that you might prefer to keep to yourself. It is about the type of surrender that is required in order to open up to real profound love. I love it so much because it is encouraging depth and emotions in a time where most people hide behind their masks and protect themselves to the point where they deny their own soul.

Pink Sweat$’s mission is to touch people with his music and he really does have a gift in doing that. I’ve been listening to this EP over and over and I’m excited to know that Volume 2 is in fact already finished and on the way.

Universey sound

In 2017, one of my favourite poets Cleo Wade posted a quote on her Instagram saying “I know ‘universey’ is not a word, but isn’t it crazy how many things are just so damn universey?”
This word resonated with me immediately and I have been using it very frequently ever since and so here are my favourite universey songs for you.

Musiq Soulchild – The Moon (feat. Neil deGrasse Tyson)Musiq Soulchild Feel The Real Album
This song is truly a gem. I mean, it starts out with a sample of an episode of Cosmos (one of the most amazing shows on this planet lol ‘planet’) by Neil deGrasse Tyson comparing love to “a new electromagnetic force of nature which is as boundless as the multiverse itself”. It’s a beautiful love song with a lot of depth and soul. What I love most about it is that the piano sound in the background reminds of stars twinkling and the whole song consists of universey metaphors.

Common – The Light
Common The Light
Even though this song is over 18 years old it is still timeless which is probably owed to the sample of “Open Your Eyes” by Bobby Caldwell that is used for the chorus. I love that the song is founded on the concept of darkness and light, darkness representing fear and light representing love. My favourite line from this song and probably still one of my favourite lines ever is “If heaven had a height you would be that tall”, which is just an incredibly beautiful universey reference.

Ivy Sole – Life (feat. Dave B)
Ivy Sole Life
Writing this I’m realizing this is not just a list of universey songs but also a list of some of my all time favourite songs right here… Ivy Sole is a female rapper who I personally would describe as a lyrical poet gifted with a very kind and calming voice. On this song she harmonizes with singer Dave B and creates a very dreamy universey sound. Again referring to the concept of light as love and darkness as fear she starts out the song singing “When the midnight comes the stars will help you guide your feet and if it’s meant to be you will end up right here next to me”. But you’ll need to listen to it in order to be able to fully grasp its greatness.

MAX – Meteor
Max Meteor
This song had me at hello…If that’s something that exists for songs. The first few lines spoken like a poem before the music sets in “A meteor bursting through my atmosphere, what’s a star I long to touch, it’s so very near, here I am reaching towards its erupting flame, with thoughts surrounded by your name”. WOAH! Right? Listening to it you feel like you’re drifting through space yourself. It’s just such an artwork of universey lyrics and atmosphere expanding sound.

Jhene Aiko – Frequency
Jhene Aiko Frequency
Do I really need to say anything about this song? Okay for the ones of you who don’t know it I probably should lol… If I feel stressed or out of balance I put on this song, sit with it and find myself returning to myself. That’s how powerful it is. “Frequency” by the beautiful Jhene Aiko is about the fact that we all send out our personal frequencies which consist of our thoughts. If we think positive thoughts we emit positive vibes which lift us to a higher frequency, if we think negative thoughts we emit negative vibes which lower our frequency. That’s why people speak of ‘raising your frequency’ and this is why people ‘level up’ when they decide to better themselves and think more positively, they literally rise up… I could go on about this endlessly… this song is a masterpiece.

Iman Omari – Energy
Iman Omari Energy
In line with what I have just been referring to in terms of frequencies, this song is basically talking about the same thing. “I only see one thing in this world that I need, no war coming from me, just want the love’s chemistry, good vibes and inner-key, is all I feel surrounding, if it’s not on your level, then why don’t you just let it be”. The war he is talking about here represents negative energy. He is basically saying he only emits positive vibes and is only seeking love, so if you’re not on his level/frequency then you should just stay out of his way. That’s pretty much the definition of a universey song right here.

Chris McClenney – Gravity
Chris McClenney Gravity
Oh what a song! Playing with the concept of gravity representing a sense of being grounded within yourself and the concept of light representing love. “Drifting out of space, all I see is black, lost my sense of place, can’t find my way back, but a lightyear away, I can still see your heart shinning”. Simply beautifully universey.

Past Lives – BORNS
Past Lives Borns
This song had to be included on this list because what is more universey than the concept of past lives?? Also in contrast to the other songs this one right here, even though starting out slowly, is a very danceable planet party song! “Through all of my lives I’d never thought I’d wait so long for you, the timing is right, the stars are aligned, so save that heart for me, cause girl you know that you’re my destiny, respect to the moon, the stars, their sons and their daughters, our love is deeper than the oceans of water”. Do I need to say more? *drops Mic*