#7SONGSAWEEK REVIEW / by Noor Kalouti

Happy Holidays, my friends, whichever holiday belongs to your culture! I hope you are making the most of it and enjoy this brief but well-deserved vacation! For those of you who are hustling on the holidays, this roundup is for you. This week’s curation starts with some new hip-hop from 21 Savage and JJ and ends with some peaceful tunes from Yann Tiersen and Alanna Matty.

21 Savage: monster (ft. Childish Gambino)

This track comes off 21 Savage’s highly anticipated album i am > i was which he dropped on Christmas Eve through Epic Records and Slaughter Gang LLC. Childish Gambino starts off the track with reflections on the current state of the hip-hop industry, cluing us into his reasons for planning to move on from his music career.  Axl Folie & DJ Dahi co-produced the track—a nostalgic instrumental for Savage and Bino to do what they do best.

Elixir: Wiki, JJ, Obongjayar

Ratking’s Wiki teamed up with London MC JJ (Jesse James Solomon) and Nigerian-born artist Obongjayar for this new track, ‘Elixir’. Dropped in early December through XL Recordings and produced by the distinguished Felix Joseph, this brief (but epic) track is an inspiring collaboration between three very different musicians. I’m already a big fan of Obongjayar, whose hook in this adds a culturally powerful dimension to the track. I find the quality of JJ’s south-east London accent very emotional; his dark, and monotone timbre clashes beautifully with Obongjayar’s colorful vocals. Wiki’s verse is, frankly, out of place, but it doesn’t disturb the track’s overall quality. Still, I would have wanted a longer song with only Obongjayar and JJ.

The Talkative Mailman Can’t Read: L’Orange

What a peculiar track; everything including the title, the arrangement, even the album art is quirky! I discovered L’Orange through his collaboration with Jeremiah May on the expansive project The Night Took Us In Like Family. On this instrumental, J-Dilla’s influence on L’Orange is clear, these looped samples could have easily been found on Dilla’s landmark album DONUTS. My only complaint about this beat is that it’s too long for how repetitive it is, though I appreciate the quirkiness of the whole experience. This track was released earlier this month on HHV Records.

White Water: Poppy Ajudha

Poppy Ajudha is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) UK jazz-vocalist trending today. Her work is not only musically sophisticated, but it’s also generated from her intellectual passion for identity, culture and social-justice. In this ardent track, Ajudha explores topics of immigration and the forced westernization of the migrant—definitely not a light topic, but a relevant one for UK audiences. This jazz-fusion piece was released on Ajudha’s new EP Patience, which dropped earlier this month. If you haven’t listen to her music, please make an effort. Independent artists/activists like Poppy Ajudha need our support!

Give to Receive: Rachel Foxx

Like many others, I discovered Rachel Foxx through her powerful single TO YOU released in 2016. Her latest single, Give to Receive, was released in late November on Infinity Records. This track demonstrates Foxx’s legitimacy as an R&B singer in this day and age, her music is very authentic in that sense. I thoroughly enjoy listening to this young lady’s voice, although I find that she doesn’t explore new musical realms—this hinders her growth as vocalist or potential collaborator. She tends to stick to this new-age R&B and it’s a shame because she has the right voice to move through genres.

Loved You First: Alanna Matty

It is unlike me to share music from the folk genre, but this soft piece that is reminiscent of Jeff Buckley moved me deeply. It’s my first time hearing of Alanna Mattis—a singer-songwriter from Toronto. I don’t want to say much else about this song, it’s so innocent I’m afraid to taint it with my analysis. Simply, you should know it was an independent release that dropped last week. Enjoy, and try not to cry (it’s hard).

Tempelhof (Single Version): Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen’s musical career has been split between albums and film soundtracks, the most iconic being his work on the Amélie soundtrack. “Tempelhof” was recorded in Tiersen’s new Ushant (a small island on the Celtic sea) studio, and it incorporates field-recordings from Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. This tranquil piano piece will be part of Tiersen’s newly announced, 10th album ALL, out February 15,  mixed and co-produced by Depeche Mode and Erasure producer Gareth Jones.