Artist: Xavier Omar
Listeners looking for alternative R&B that’s a little more thoughtful and vocally developed than artists such as PARTYNEXTDOOR and Bryson Tiller, can find just that in Soulection affiliate Xavier Omar, F.K.A SPZRKT (Spazzy Rocket). Omar has made a name for himself amongst heavy SoundCloud listeners and amassed a strong following in the past two years. He has released numerous singles on the free music streaming service, and also released a collaborative EP with Brazilian Soulection producer Sango called “Hours Spent Loving You” in 2015.
Omar has been relatively quiet this year aside from a few features (“All I Need” on Noname’s “Telefone” tape). However, he just released an EP titled “The Everlasting Wave.” On the project’s lead single “Blind Man,” Omar showcases his powerful vocals that don’t shy away from high notes, as he uses his chest voice to reach pitches that most popular vocalists would shy away from belting, which is unique because over the past 10 years the trend in popular music has been to lean on floating notes in the falsetto register.
Omar nimbly bobs and weaves his way through his verses, vocalizing flows reminiscent of Detroit rapper Big Sean’s in the song’s pre-chorus while he describes his love interest’s soul as “so beautiful a blind man can love (her).” Soulection producer J-Louis lays down the foundation for this track, delivering the distinct “Sound of Tomorrow” that he and his Soulection counterparts have pioneered, consisting of ambient, jazzy vocal samples over heavy-hitting bass and understated yet powerful, carefully layered drum beats with rough high hats and strong snares that fall effortlessly into the foundation of the sonic landscape.
If you’re looking for a soundtrack to a late-night drive, netflix-and-chill nights or for an easy listen while you do homework, look no further than Xavier Omar.
Alex Silva, Contributing Writer
JME, or Jamie Adenuga, and his brother Skepta founded the London-based label Boy Better Know (BBK) in 2005 and since then, have been influential in the rise and recent resurgence of UK grime. With singles like “That’s Not Me,” “Man Don’t Care,” “Shutdown” and many more, these Nigerian brothers have put grime on the map, making an imprint on U.S. radio waves.
Compared to other grime artists, however, JME’s subject matter is not as dark, rapping about Pokemon, and appearing on stage in full iron man suits. However, this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be taken lightly, as his last album, “Integrity>” had five chart-topping singles. The album is a throwback to the roots of grime, consisting of the hallmark aggressive and fast flow that grime artists have come to be recognized by, primarily because of JME. The genre is definitely a different and new experience that most American listeners aren’t used to especially with the accents turning off a lot of people but that doesn’t mean we should discredit it. James Edwards, the founder of the British music channel SB.TV, put it best when he said, “Of course grime’s got that accent and slang and that localized experience — Americans have an accent to us too, but that hasn’t stopped hip-hop from becoming a global phenomenon.”
-Osama Khan, Staff Writer
Artist: Junior Kimbrough
For those seriously invested in the blues, Junior Kimbrough is a legendary name. Hailing from rural Mississippi, Kimbrough became an acclaimed blues musician through word of mouth, when buzz around his live performances held in his home started going around. His first full-length LP “All Night Long” was recorded in 1992 when he was about 85 years old, and his legendary status had already been created in the annals of the deep south as one of the finest bluesmen of the last two decades.
And make no mistake, Kimbrough’s blues is arguably the most heart-wrenching blues put to tape. His first album, recorded by Robert Palmer in an abandoned church — the acoustics of the church lent itself astonishingly to capturing Kimbrough’s the relationship between his somber vocals and piercing electric guitar chords. His vocals rise from the bottom of his chest, but ween out as they stretch out over the instrumentals, which are provided by himself and his son. Kimbrough’s guitar riffs are absolutely stunning, giving shape and structure to the malaise he expresses vocally.
-Faraz Rizvi, Arts & Entertainment Editor