Continuing from this post:
For the love of music
I love the unique ways music is made available to us. Besides YouTube, Spotify, Sound Cloud, Tidal et al, there are music platforms that discover and creatively promote underrated artists.
As an example;
The Shazam app. Sometimes it's mildly annoying when you hear a song you recognise, love the beat, remember the lyrics, know the artist but just can't remember the song. Shazam comes through in those moments. It's an efficient, genius platform that identifies any music playing around you. I've also discovered lots of new and really cool music this way.
So far sounds is a platform that hosts secret gigs and intimate concerts. This unique style has created local communities where upcoming artists come together to perform and share authentic music experiences. Rue Brown's performance of Sugar Baby/Make Me Smile is a whole mood. It sounds like Left Eye, Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse came together.
Colors takes things up a notch by providing a unique aesthetic music platform showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe. Sometimes they promote the most distinctive new artists, other times they feature well known artists. My favorite Colors show is Lianne La Hava's BitterSweet
Another fave of mine is Tiny desk concerts, a video series of live concerts hosted by NPR Music at well, you guessed it, a tiny desk. Summer Walker's session is one of my favorites -- only because she suffers from social anxiety but was able to deliver a great session.
It's an artist's job to reflect the times
What's the point if artists can't use their platforms for the right reasons, right? Thankfully, many take this responsibility seriously. I mean it's all good to sing about love and what not, but the world we live in isn't a bed of roses. From as far back as Marvin Gaye's What's going on, Arrested Development's Everyday People and The Cranberries' Zombie. These songs just hit different.
Beyoncé and Kendrick's Freedom is unmatched because the lyrics are timely and the delivery is passionate. Damian Marley's Speak life is a firm favorite. One could easily assume he's a true descendant of the Psalmists. The same Psalmists that sang songs with King David. The first time I heard it, it went under my skin, touched my soul and relaxed my spirit. He's like a chosen messenger.
There's a number of artists with truly distinct voices and I could never assume to know all of them; that said, these 4 are trending on my personal charts:
Have you heard Jhené Aiko sing? It's not just her music, it's her aura, expression and delivery. She's something of a force of nature. She's so dope sometimes I don't know what to do with myself. Take her song 3:16 for example. In an interview Jhené said...
I always catch 3:16 it’s crazy because its my birthday & 3:16 am is the time of night when I’m in my deepest darkest thoughts. She also said "3:16 happens to be one of the most translated scriptures in the Bible which is John 3:16." She stated "3:16 is about addiction and losing something that you love. It’s not just about addiction with drugs or love or anything, I wrote it to be interpreted however the listener wants to take it. For me it was just confronting my darkest thoughts regarding losing something that I can’t live without".
Billie Eilish, an 18 year old whose music is both delicate and deadly. Her 2019 debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go mashes her niche variety of grotesque dystopian-pop with wry, oddball observations about love and status. Ocean eyes and When the party's over are two of my best pieces of hers. Mostly because she treats them with the sincerity they deserve. If we're being honest, I think she deserves her own genre. Her voice is just a diamond. See what I mean in her live duet with Alicia Keys.
Imogen Heap has a track record for innovation in music, and especially for marrying human emotion with leading-edge technology beyond gimmickry. She's set her own bar high. When I hear a new release from her, it’s a challenge to listen intently, to absorb the myriad strands she weaves together, so repeat exposure is both necessary and ultimately rewarding. My favorite is her 2009 classic Hide and seek.
Tones and I's fun song Dance Monkey is more than the electro-pop hit everyone enjoys. The lyrics tackle the bad side of performing in public places for gratuities (busking). She was getting bullied by guys who thought she was taking their customers. It got so bad that she became anxious every time she set up her keyboard. Drunk people came past and yelled profanities at her and as a result, the negative outweighed the positive. Aside from her unique voice that many assume is autotune, she didn’t stop just because people were being horrible. I'm so glad because a story with a voice like hers should be heard.
Mum's the word
It's been more than 20 years since my mom passed. Surprisingly, I'm still conflicted about how I feel about her absence.
Should I be over it by now?
Is it normal to still feel the ache as deeply as I do even though so much time (20+ years) has passed?
My mom was terminally ill. The messed up thing about that is even when we're aware our loved ones will die because they're terminal, we're still shocked when they do; human nature I guess. For me, the cruelest things about grief is 'forgetting' the person is gone...and then suddenly remembering.
I've shared a few songs that pay homage to her in the most beautiful way. The different facets she represented for me and how I imagine she'd be if she were still here.
21 years - TobyMac
Banyabo - Rema Namakula
Dear mama - Tupac Shakur
Six degrees of separation - The Script
Evergreen - Yebba
W.A.Y.S - Jhené Aiko
I lost a friend - Finneas
Songs from the motherland
Ever get feelings you can't put into words? One of them is how I feel about living away from home (Uganda) and not feeling like I belong where I am (Australia) despite having lived here for a while now. Home is a less firm concept now. Moving countries alters a sense of belonging.
That's admittedly heightened my love for songs from various African countries these past few years. From Bongo flavour, to Kwaito to Afro beats, Afro soul et al.
I always look forward to the full experience musicians bring to the table. So many African musicians do this well, effortlessly even. See what I mean:
Charity begins at home -- Rema, Juliana and Bobi Wine are at the top of my favorite Ugandan musicians list. They've stood the true test of time. Aside from singing about love; their music delves into real societal issues about motherhood, politics, being a woman in a predominantly man's world.
Sauti Sol and Just a band bring me joy :) I don't just like them for their music, but I also love their DIY aesthetic. Have you listened to Suzanna and Winning in Life? Just beautiful.
When you go to West Africa, Angelique Kidjo, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade are queens. Forces to be reckoned with -- Here's a gem to give you an example.
Don't even get me started with Burna Boy!! He's the African Giant, woah! His unapologetic dedication to his craft is inspirational. Adekunle Gold and Jidenna are close contenders. Their music and personas are measured, thoughtful and engaging. Aside from their conscious effort to create timeless music, their style is a vibe -- thanks to their fusion of traditional Nigerian fabric with a modern twist.
Papa Wemba's Yolele and Show me the way are favorites. I listened to them as far back as high school. True classics from Central Africa!
When you head down south, Shekinah's gentle unique R&B style communicates a unique musical identity in a sonic landscape that welcomes difference and encourage alternate forms of expression. I especially enjoy her rap sung verses which I find are quite expressive despite being mildly poetic.
Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza who make up the Mafikizolo duo have cemented their status as one of the most iconic and legendary music groups in Africa known for their classic fusion of the genres of Afro-pop, Kwaito, Kwela and Marabi. Their delivery is exquisite and rich with culture and grace. Also, shout out to Nhlanhla really knows how to put together a great outfit.
Pieces of heaven
Hillsong music is like a magical bridge between heaven and me. A strangely legit feeling for me. Praise and worship feels real. Connected. Therapeutic even.
C3's song Skin and bone is a true depiction of how God brings hope to my soul. It melodiously speaks of how God transported Ezekiel—probably not literally, but in a vision—to a valley full of dry bones and directed him to speak to the bones. Ezekiel was to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and they would come to life, just as in the creation of man when He breathed life into Adam. Ezekiel obeyed, the bones came together, flesh developed, skin covered the flesh, breath entered the bodies, and they stood up in a vast army. The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s future national restoration. The vision also, and most importantly, showed that Israel’s new life depended on God’s power and not the circumstances of the people. Putting “breath” by God’s Spirit into the bones showed that God would not only restore them physically but also spiritually.
If you believe in God, read your bible and know that story, you'll know how breathtaking it is.
Your turn, how do you experience music?