Phenomenal Women

So when I started writing today, I was planning on giving you a list of my favourite songs to spice up your playlist for your next cookout, rooftop party or really any other festivities where you would like to get people to dance.

However, when I started writing about the first song, I realized that there’s a deeper message that I am supposed to share with you today. And let’s be real, I wouldn’t be me if I would only give you a bunch of catchy dance tunes without at least including one that has a deeper message to it.

So the song I want to share with you is “Maayaa” by Juls, Tiggs Da Author & Santi. This latest work of one of my favourite, favourite, favourite producers Juls (British-Ghanaian producer & DJ who’s responsible for some amazing tracks by Burna Boy, Show Dem Camp, Mr Eazi, Maleek Berry, Eugy) is dedicated to the amazing, beautiful and inspiring poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer Maya Angelou. According to him, the song is “dedicated to every bold black woman who is never embarrassed or ashamed to boast about their success and achievements, confident in their own skin and never scared to speak their mind”.

And so I want to take this opportunity to share one of my favourite poems by Maya Angelou here with you to underline this powerful message, which is so, so essentially needed in today’s times where too many songs are objectifying and diminishing women.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
If you’re a woman reading this, I hope this resonates with you to the point that you understand that this poem is describing YOU, and if you’re a man reading this then I hope it inspires you to make a conscious decision about treating every woman you meet like the phenomenal woman that she is.

 

Watch the beautiful video to the song here….

 

 

 

High on a low tide with Leven Kali

If there’s one thing you should do this weekend, it is to listen to this new 11 song project called “Leven Kali: Low Tide”! Having already dropped singles like “Do U Wrong” with angel voice Syd and the two related love songs “Nunwrong” and “Sumwrong“, I was wondering how much more greatness this album could even reveal.

But the creative Leven Kali does certainly not disappoint. After starting off with an appropriate warm “Welcome” intro, consisting of his oddly familiar signature sound, Leven jumps right into “Mine” singing, “It’s been three whole weeks, since I saw your face, and girl I need you here, when I call your name”. What I love about Leven is that he manages to write the most beautiful laid back love songs without sounding corny at all. He just seems to speak his mind and heart with realness and honesty and makes showing emotions look cool.

I also love the fact that he likes to make references between his songs. Just as “Sumwrong” is the sequel to “Nunwrong”, “Mine” can be seen as the sequel to his previous track “Yours“, which he also references in the third verse of “Mine” when he sings “I know everybody wanna have the world babe, but I just wanna hear you say I’m yours”.

Next off is “Cassandra“, which has a nice little groove to it and makes the most classy use of autotune that I’ve heard since T-Pain. The following intro “ardnassaC“, yes you’ve guessed it, Cassandra backwards, functions as a musical extension to the song and shows Leven’s attention to detail and love for sound. The intro “My Pen” probably includes one of my favourite lyrics “I’m a victim of my past life”…aren’t we all? “My Offer” is definitely a highlight of this project, with its acoustic emphasis on all types of jazz instruments for the first 2:50 minutes of the song, followed by a call to tell someone you love them.

On “Mad At U“, Leven is giving us a completely new perspective on fighting in a relationship, by singing “I’d rather be mad at you than be faking and be hanging with someone new, it’s really not the same I hope you feel the same”. By describing the relationship as a movie and the fights as the parts that he doesn’t like and wishes he could rewind, he is expressing his love through the good and the hard times and it’s beautiful.

And then finally, before finishing off with “Sumwrong“, Leven Kali is serving us a romantic slow jam with “1 On 1” that manages to introduce the Leven Kali sound into the familiar R&B soundscape and that electric guitar solo starting around 3:28 is truly giving me life.

So all in all, an amazing breath of fresh air Leven Kali project that will be playing on repeat throughout the years. Find the music video to “Do U Wrong” below to catch a vibe.

Trip to Ventura

The moment I heard Anderson .Paak’s new single “King James”, I knew this album was going to be good. The energy of this song conveyed through soul with soul and a message is both positive and strong. It makes you smile with hope. That’s meaningful and so, so relevant. So when I woke up this morning and listened to the eleven songs of Ventura (don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s eleven by the way) I was surprised by the lightness and playfulness of Paak’s new project.

Starting out with an angelic choir and promising drum roll the first song of the album “Come Home” let’s the listener dive right into the VIBE. “I’m begging you please come home, no one even begs anymore” he sings and André 3000’s eloquent spoken poem is the cherry on top for this Sundae vibe track. Next is “Make It Better” with Smokey Robinson which is about reviving a love that is slowly getting rusty, “and it’s easier to run away than to look for what would make you stay, do you want to make it better, do you want to stay together?”. I feel like this is going to be a hymn of hope for a lot of couples, at least that would be nice. Opposite to this, on “Reaching’ 2 Much” with Lalah Hathaway, Anderson .Paak is giving up hope and talking about walking away from a relationship.

Not limiting himself to one topic, this album feels like lots of different snapshots and stories from his life. Speaking on relationships, struggles, his career and lessons he’s learned like protecting his energy (“Yada Yada”), all in all this album is much lighter than some of his previous projects where he spoke much deeper about his hardships. A feature I was especially pleasantly surprised by, was Brandy on “Jet Black”. Let me tell you, this clap-along song will definitely be played at a lot of rooftop parties this Summer. “Twilight”, produced by the legendary Pharrell Williams, embodies that 90’s vibe by the Neptunes and is a lovely tell of a mutually supportive relationship, “You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way”. However, the most surprising feature of the album is definitely on the 11th song. Anderson .Paak makes Nate Dogg come back to life on this one through unreleased vocals. Ironically, at the end of the track, you can hear him tell Paak to erase his part. Well we’re glad he didn’t. R.I.P. Nate Dogg.

Fun fact, if you were wondering about the dot in Anderson .Paak’s name, according to him it stands for detail. That’s why I advise you to pay close attention to the details of “Ventura”. This is definitely a piece of work that will reveal new layers of sound and meaning with every new listen. Also, I think it’s very special that Paak used a picture with his son Soul Rasheed as the artwork for this album.

That’s it from me. Enjoy!