RāViewz: Music | May 2021
Here's what Rāwiri is jamming to this month...
H.E.R. - Fight For You
As her star continues ascending, R&B mainstay H.E.R. can officially add Oscar winner to her collection of accolades with Fight For You, the lead single from the movie Judas And The Black Messiah that just picked up the statuette for Best Original Song.
Co-written, co-produced and co-composed by the singer herself, Fight For You channels gritty soul, funk and Motown from the best of the 60s and 70s, and contains a message just as poignant and necessary as the Civil Rights era torch songs that inspired it. "Freedom for my brothers, freedom 'cause they judge us," she pleads, heading into each chorus.
Far from low mood though, this track, with it's deep bass line and sharp brass additions, pack an up-tempo punch that makes it an intriguing and uplifting listen.
Tank - Can't Let It Show
Any male R&B singer worth their weight has a good 'shouldnta let you go' jam in their repertoire. Tank, whose charting career enters its third decade this year, has made an impressive career out of them.
Not that it's hard to see why. Despite never quite reaching the mainstream levels of John Legend or Joe, Tank is a consistent hitmaker on the R&B and Adult charts and his vocal work is exceptionally executed, both on noteworthy adult contemporary covers (I Can't Make You Love Me) or slick new school trap tracks (When We...).
He returns to the stage with Can't Let It Show, a heart-skips-a-beat platitude of regret and remorse at love gone by. It's familiar territory but it's given an edge with a smart sample of Maxwell's This Woman's Work, and a corresponding falsetto range that will no doubt please his long-term fans.
Happi - For Me
Living up to his namesake, London artist Happi's latest single is an up-tempo Afrobeat-meets-pop-soul affair with an irresistibly easy charm.
"All that you require, that is my desire," he sings in dedication in the verses, before dispensing of hater's claims the relationship won't last, and heading into one of the catchiest hooks of the year so far.
Happi's mission is to bring positivity to the masses with his music, and here on For Me, a generation of Afrobeat aficionados have a glorious dancefloor jam that will likely soundtrack a million healthy relationships.
CHIKA - Cinderella Pt. 2
Less than a month ago, Chika announced her retirement from the music industry. She'd spent the past few years building up her name with exceptional music, TV work and fashion collaborations, but the the toll of internet trolls has proven too much. Will the retirement be temporary or is this the last we'll hear from the Berkeley-educated artist?
Well, if the sheer quality of this year's Once Upon A Time EP is anything to go by, we can only hope that Chika returns after some much-needed rest. Of equal parts style and substance, her push for the equality and recognition of race, gender and mental health are carried by strong hooks, pulsating beats and infectious melodies.
Cinderella Pt 2 is great evidence of this. Clocking in at just over 2 minutes, this pop/soul jam is almost a streams-of-consciousness admission of affection, with Chika delivering a warm, heartened vocal at the chorus. It's the type of song you hear when caught up in a daydream about the girl you can't stop thinking about.
While we wish it was twice as long, it's a pretty compelling reason to play on repeat.
Queen Naija ft. Ari Lennox - Set Him Up
After a stack of R&B hits in 2019 and 2020 from her album Misunderstood, Queen Naija is back in 2021 with the first release from the deluxe edition, as she's come through with an assist from fellow songstress Ari Lennox.
The result is a female duet in the truest sense of the word, where each woman discusses the love of her man, only to discover they're singing about the same dude, and then plot their revenge.
It's the song that the final seconds of Brandy & Monica's The Boy is Mine video promised but didn't elaborate on, and here we get to see both Naija and Ari have a tremendous amount of fun: throwing shade at his tattoos, swapping Tom Ford scents, and dropping Beyonce-as-Foxy-Cleopatra references.
It's a slick, stylish track and the vocals from both women - as always - are in fine form.
Giveon - Heartbreak Anniversary
Despite being released over a year ago, R&B crooner Giveon's Heartbreak Anniversary has been given new life these past couple months due to Tik Tok virality, which is oddly fitting, given the lyrical scheme of the song.
Pared down on the percussion, and with a haunting piano line, this R&B ballad showcases a moving and tortured performance from Giveon as he relives and revisits the sustained heartbreak from a year before.
"Balloons are deflated, guess they look lifeless like me... we miss you on your side of the bed," he sings, resignedly. "Don't wanna let you out my head..."
The perfect song to wallow in self-pity on the anniversary of your heartbreak.
KiDi ft. Kuami Eugene & Patoranking - Spiritual
He was already making waves across Africa before 2020's Say Cheese broke him through into international attention, and Spiritual, the latest single from KiDi, looks set to continue that trajectory.
Ghanian-born KiDi gets help from fellow countryman Kuami Eugene and Nigerian-born reggae star Patoranking, and the result is a first class Afrobeat track with one of the catchiest refrains of the year.
"Oh my God," they sing at the chorus, "girl your love is spiritual", and after just one listen, you'll no doubt be singing it right along side them.
Check out all of this month's tracks on the RāViewz Spotify playlist!