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Mwika Bulaya

SINGLE RELEASE: FKJ – ‘Leave My Home’

WORDS BY: MWIKA BULAYA

Leave My Home is the brand new single released early this month as an ode to changing your surroundings for something new. The single isn’t worlds away from French Kiwi Juice’s (FKJ) previous works, prior fans of the artist should expect the same attention to detail that has been given to his other projects.

The Tadow singer references how he has to change his surroundings after being in the same place for so long. The ascending vocals may be representative of this journey beginning at one place that is comfortable but reaching another that is much more fulfilling. The French multi-instrumentalist did not disappoint with this track. A simple yet faultless production and fusions of jazz and electronica take centre stage to create a piece that is perfect for any mood.

 

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🙏🏻 Paris

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Much of the single is focused on the music as many of the lyrics are repeated, with little distinction between the verse and hook. Yet, this doesn’t seem to matter so much as the vocal harmonies that run throughout the track hold their own. In true FKJ style, the track transcends you to a place of utter relaxation where you can free your mind of all worries for the next 4 minutes.

Honourable mentions of this brand new single have to go to the steady percussion, soothing bass and the guitar solo that demands to be heard. Vincent Fenton, better known under the moniker of FKJ, has kept to his reputation of making music that you can vibe to alone or with friends, and this single is no different.

With this new single, FKJ shows no sign of slowing down. The 29-year-old is reinventing the music scene, blending your favourite genres into one that only he has found the key to. The French-artist will be making another appearance in the UK this year at Lovebox festival which is sure to be unforgettable.

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ALBUM RELEASE: Maggie Rogers – ‘Heard It In A Past Life’

WORDS BY MWIKA BULAYA

Heard It In A Past Life is a piece of a reflection written, arranged and co-produced by Maryland native, Maggie Rogers. The debut album from the 24-year-old presents itself as a collection some of life’s uncertainties: love, anxiety and self-image.

The opening single Give A Little does exactly that – not too much is given, to begin with, creating a sense of curiosity of what is to come. Rogers eases us into the project with this song as her effortless vocals are layered with harmonies accompanied by a slightly electronic feel. Within the 12-track album, Maggie Rogers reveals so much of herself and her experiences which is not so common within debut projects. We slowly begin to learn about her feelings towards entering the music industry in songs such as Overnight and Light On. Both are incredibly candid accounts of Rogers’ journey so far and how her new found fame and success has affected her.

 

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for a few hours, everything made sense. thank you MR ✨

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An honourable mention must be given to the single Alaska that put Rogers on the map when it was first heard in 2016. This song caught the attention of music mogul Pharrell Williams when he heard the track during a masterclass he held at NYU, the university that Rogers attended. Inspired by a real-life hiking experience in Alaska, Rogers accounts a time where she took a year long break from music and learned more about herself. Self-discovery becomes a repetitive premise as the album goes on.

Much of the project feels as though the same template was used to begin with and then branched out into versions of a similar sound. Rogers often uses distinctive folk accents as well as the experimental use of electronic beats which shouldn’t work but somehow it does. One thing that can be taken from Heard It In A Past Life is that Maggie Rogers knows how to write a relatable love song. In Say It, Rogers sings about a crush that is quickly turning into something more than that – it’s almost becoming an infatuation, this is suggested by the lyrics: “I cannot fall in love with you / I cannot feel this way so soon.” A feeling that many of us have had.

Past Life is arguably the most vulnerable of all the tracks on the album. Rogers presents a heart-wrenching piece that is stripped back to reveal her haunting vocals. It is a truly special song hidden between two powerful vocal performances in the track list. Here, she reflects on what life once was before her success.

The album closes with the song Back In My Body and is a near-perfect ending. The uplifting track is about returning to your true self after going through periods of hardships that she experienced whilst touring. It is simple yet effective song about finally being grounded. Heard It In A Past Life is a beautiful and honest album – Maggie Rogers is definitely one to watch this year.

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negro swan

REVIEW: Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Words –  Mwika Bulaya

London-born Dev Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange and previously under the moniker Lightspeed Champion, has created something of a piece of art with his highly-anticipated new album, Negro Swan. The new release is Hynes’ fourth solo studio album as Blood Orange,  which has come just two years after the critically acclaimed Freetown Sound.

The album cover itself is an indication to the direction that Blood Orange aims for with Negro Swan: A black man in a white do-rag donning angel wings – standing out but somehow fitting in, in his own way. As expected by case of his previous projects and albums before, through the album artwork alone, Hynes has paid extra attention to detail. Negro Swan is no exception.

Hynes gives his own unique take on love, life and self-perception in this thought-provoking 16-track project. With his velvety-smooth falsetto running throughout, juxtaposing with the harsh realities of life that he addresses, Dev Hynes has created something special.

Beginning with the single ‘Orlando’, we are slowly eased into a body of work with an endless number of layers. The slow tempo allows the listener to find their feet to begin with before being swept up in addressing gender norms, challenging stereotypes of queer people of colour, and a guide of how to authentically be yourself.

Negro Swan has an old-school feel to it, especially with the inclusion of Jazz, Funk and Hip-Hop fusions with melting vocal harmonies. This mood is mostly found in tracks such as ‘Charcoal Baby’ and ‘Vulture Baby’, both of which feature a constant drum pattern and soothing vocals. Interestingly, there are also elements of 80s synth-pop and electronica with the inclusion of songs such as ‘Chewing Gum’ and ‘Out of Your League’.

Hynes incorporates several mini-monologues from different artists speaking openly about life. No effects, no façades, just honest speech that allow listeners to be immersed even more into this progression of self-love. One monologue included in the album is by Janet Mock, a writer and transgender rights activist who introduces the first single from the album, ‘Jewelry’. She states: “We were not ever welcomed in, we were not invited, Yet we walk in and we show all the way up…”. This idea sums up much of the theme running throughout Negro Swan – from the artwork to the music & the featured guests, Hynes addresses the common problem within society that there are still many people who don’t embrace the differences in others despite these differences making people who they are.

Features on the Negro Swan include household names like Diddy, A$AP Rocky and Steve Lacy (amongst others) – musicians all from contrasting years in music history with their own unique take on the album that seem to fuse the body of work together. Diddy brings forward an air of old-school rap whilst A$AP Rocky adds his own modern twist. In contrast, 20-year-old Steve Lacy is a fresh, new, vocalist and manages to create an upbeat and soulful standout feature in the album.

The album ends with the track ‘Smoke’, a complex yet simple addition, led by only vocals and an acoustic guitar. A space to reflect on the unapologetic, imperfect and relatable compilation that is Negro Swan.

Listen in full, below.

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