Boston based third-cultured Arab independent rapper Nadine El Roubi opens 2024 on a collaborative note with Brooklyn beat maker Shepard. “Calm Down” is a spicy, yet frank freestyle reflecting on society’s social fragility, capitalized colonialism and hypocrisy.
Shepard provides booming bass, alarming echos, and snappy high-hats for Nadine to seamlessly weave in poetic idioms, witty bars and candid lyricism for a quick introduction to new listeners. It’s also a sneak peak to upcoming project Freestyles Pt. 2: A Mixtape — a prequel to 2022 full-length mixtape Freestyles Pt. 1.
“Colonizer call for a free role? Funny. Who pick up when the phone ring? Money.”
“Calm Down” proves to be a strong addition for her 2024 slot, since the short video garnished 703,000 views and counting on TikTok. Her musical resumé includes: Esquire Magazine Middle East dubbing El Roubi “the next big thing“, features in Rolling Stone, a European tour, an artist residency in Beirut, Lebanon to name a few.
Florida artist and producers Icee Red and Flozigg teleport us back to the early 2000’s with stripped down electro-funk influenced single “Floor”. Flozigg’s groovy synthesizer riffs and bouncy drums are paired with futuristic chords to create a hypnotic, addictive instrumental. Ice Redd soon tells a story of a cat and mouse-like pursuit of dancing at a party. Although he encourages us not to get too attached, he also wants us to dance and vibe in the moment detailed in the track’s bridge.
This 2-minute track is reminiscent of the Neptunes’ large influence in Hip-hop. Like many, I wish this song was longer. Check out the creation process in a 13-minute video below.
Long Beach continues to be a hotbed for rising R&B talent. 25-year-old singer-songwriter-producer Tempest (Tatiyana Bello) continues to refine her sound built on addictive hooks, sincere lyrics and transparently tender vocals. Bello collaborated with production trio Louie Lastic, Los Hendrix and Jay James for an eerie yet gloomy production.
She tells a narrative of torn partnership and decisive desires based on a true story. Throughout the track, Tempest can be found wistfully singing lyrics: You were everything I wanted, till I got everything I wanted from you”. “Sorry to Say” reminds us that love can be blindsiding and unforgiving.
In the Lakewood Mall directed video, Tempest is captured in the catch 22 of euphoria and heartache. The split-screen approach allows viewers to identify their familiar realities: being the bearer of bad news or unfortunate receiver.
One thing is certain, Tempest has been a budding musical starlet. Check out her electrifying-jazzy performance of “Sorry to Say” with the Ghetto Kids courtesy of Village Music Group below. I recommend you also listen to “Young Playa Footage” and “Don’t Say My Name” on Soundcloud.
Los Angeles based composer and multi-instrumentalist Jay James has been focused on translating emotions into cinematic and serene compositions. Since graduating college, he had the opportunity to produce Lonr and B.K Habermehl’s “Right On Time” alongside Grammy-nominated producer Jeff Gitty and Payton Long which was featured on a new episode of Issa Rae’s HBO show Insecure.
Following two projects, It’s Beautiful and When All Is Said and Done, the Ghanian producer is currently crafting a third upcoming album — titled GLORY, which is set to release later this year. Today, Jay released its first video under the same name featuring themes of growth and maturity.
“Glory” is an ethereal blend of soulful jazzy instrumentation. Violins grace listeners’ ears as light high-hats transcend us into ethereal, hypnotic space. A pulsing metronome serves as a heartbeat bracing for what’s next. He builds on this energy with rippling bass-lines against melancholic keys to create harboring resentment. His production concludes with with vibrant electric guitar and crisp reverb.
He has also released a visual for the track directed by Noah Kentis.
Visually, the 22-year-old undergoes his own personal cathartic resurrection. Jay is found in a somber-lit room. There is a point of curiosity with a hole in the wall: how it got there and what caused it. Nonetheless, a dark figure possess the mind and space as an ominus incubus. He confronts this demon in a suffocated space.
Glory is about pushing past “the darkness” and inevitable harsh realities of life and allowing oneself to see and appreciate the light and “glory” in it.Jay James
This album will include inspiring elements of soul, jazz, and hip hop. Like his other bodies of work, listeners can expect GLORY to be versatile and inviting.