Here's what Rāwiri is jamming to this month...
Silk Sonic – Skate
Earlier this year, Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars’s collaboration delivered a smouldering ode to 70’s quiet storm with Leave the Door Open. For their latest single, the talented duo have cranked up the energy and the party elements but the inspirational time space is still very much intact.
Taking cues from some of Motown’s finest records, and adding a healthy splash of Earth, Wind & Fire, Skate is an exuberant and immensely satisfying ode to new love. It’s the type of musical come-on you’d imagine your parents might have listened to at the roller derby decades ago.
And if all that makes Skate sound like a daft and dated affair, well then, you’re probably not understanding the depth of talent on display here. Bruno Mars is as effectively charismatic as ever, while Anderson Paak channels cool in a way you only wish you could.
Contender for 2021’s song of the summer!
Normani ft. Cardi B – Wild Side
After a string of successful collaborations, Normani takes centre stage on Wild Side, a hypnotic and hubristic seduction song. Like a modern day Janet Jackson, the former Fifth Harmony star layers delicate vocals over a thudding beat and aching notes that pop in the background.
It’s that grown n’ sexy anthem that works well because Normani knows how to take control. “Take me for a ride, boy. Show me your wild side, boy…” she purrs, in one of the song’s more subtle overtures.
Like a late 90s Lil Kim, Cardi B is on form, dropping lines like “I could probably suck a watermelon through a straw”. It’s saying something that even the presence of the mighty WAPinator that Cardi adds to the spotlight, rather than stealing it.
It's female strength and sexuality and it sounds damn good.
Friday Night Plans, JJJ, Stuts – Prism
Tokyo-born pop/R&B singer Matsumi, under the artist name Friday Night Plans, teams up with JJJ and Stuts for a midtempo groove with serious replay value.
Musically, Japan is known most predominately for J-Pop but with the talented singer up front, and with seeming inspiration from Sade and Janet Jackson, mellow R&B is the order of the day.
Matsumi's vocals are delicate and smooth - invitingly so - as she tempers in and out of both English and Japanese throughout the track. You could imagine this song playing while the Tokyo cityscape blurs in the background of a late night drive.
WizKid ft. Tems – Essence
A homegrown legend in Nigeria while still in his teens, it was recent collaborations with both Drake and Beyonce that catapulted WizKid onto the international stage (over three billion streams on Spotify alone!)
The fourth single from his fourth album (2020’s Made in Lagos), Essence is an Afrobeat-styled R&B duet featuring the vocal stylings of Nigerian singer Tems. The flirtatious back and forth is undeniably charming with a swirling hook that encourages repeat listens.
Already the song has become the highest-charting Billboard hit of Nigerian origin and it’s not hard to see why. It plays big to US and European audiences who have grown up with male-rappers-with-females-on-the-hook tracks, while adding enough authentically African elements to make it truly stand out amongst its American counterparts.
If you don’t know WizKid outside of Drake’s ubiquitous One Dance, it’s time to get familiar.
Christopher Marciano ft. Candice Boyd – All Of Me
Ahead of the September release of his album Transparency, US singer/songwriter Christopher Marciano’s drops All Of Me, a burning ballad about the emotional trade of two lovers embarking on a new relationship.
Marciano’s voice is full and in fine form here, emoting nuance and detail in the verses. Collaboration partner Candice Boyd's assured harmony proves the perfect female perspective to balance the song.
Undoubtedly though, it’s the chorus that anchors All Of Me, and on it, Christopher unleashes a strong falsetto that resonates across the chorus’s major key.
An impressive, polished pop/R&B love song worthy of attention.
D’Sound ft. Macy Gray – Save Some
Norwegian pop band D’Sound have endured thirty years in the music industry, encountering cult and mainstream success, genre experimentation and line-up changes along the way. When singer Simone Eriksrud left the band in 2018, the remaining members sought to work with various artists instead of finding a singular replacement. Their latest track continues this trend and results in one of the biggest collaborations of their career.
Smokey voiced soul songstress Macy Gray brings her unique style and charm to Save Some, and it makes for an irresistible listen. Fusing jazz with soul, and solidifying the bassline with a strong pop style, it’s a hands-in-the-air, block BBQ affair.
It’s the type of up-tempo number that you could imagine Raphael Saadiq or Jill Scott taking on, and as intriguing as that sounds, there’s just something beautifully organic about Macy’s distinctive rasp that dusts the song with joy, and makes you wanna spin it again and again.
Check out all of this month's tracks on the RāViewz Spotify playlist!