It felt like April Fool’s Day just yesterday, but it seems that we are in the last innings of April, with sunnier settings not far away. Something like music, the sun has healing qualities to it when it appears in the sky to shine on us. To that effect, let us get you right at the end of another long week. Whilst Damola handles business elsewhere, I will take the reigns in a 5 For Friday that reintroduces us to some acts and gets us better acquainted with others. Without further delay, let’s get into this week’s rotation!
A2 – Not Mine / No Rush
The ever-pensive triple threat A2 checks in with another drop that has been anticipated like our imminent return to ‘normality’. This time around, he drops ‘Not Mine’ and ‘No Rush’ featuring close collaborator Etta Bond, as A/B side singles respectively. ‘Not Mine’ takes us deep into A2’s bag; the reflective, emotionally intelligent musings of a man backed by the sparse atmosphere provided by piano keys and soft percussion by way of NXGHTS. He speaks transparently about an engrossing love affair, “please don’t say your pussy’s mine, you know he’ll find out, bout all the freaky things at my house”, giving precedent of a smoother brand of hedonism. This one comes with a visual that is true to A’s artistic values.
B-side single ‘No Rush’ is a dreamy number produced by Mississauga producing phenom Neenyo (Drake, Future, PARTYNEXTDOOR). Given A2’s penchant for R&B and evoking feels, this seems a fitting choice for a B-side. Without the arrogant truth speaking on ‘Ackolades’, he almost sounds like a different artist, stroking another feather in his bow and his range is clear to witness. Etta Bond complements him well as we’ve seen on previous collaborations such as ‘Surface’ and ‘Never Did’. I feel that this will be a fan favourite on the highly anticipated LP Just So You Know – it’ll drop soon enough for us to find out.
Little Simz – Introvert
After a small break following her Drop 6 project that was released in the height of last year’s lockdown, your favourite rapper’s favourite Little Simz has emerged from hiatus to drop one hell of a statement on us. ‘Introvert’ is the lead single from her upcoming LP Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, which is slated for an autumn release. As expected from the North London artist, she weaves social commentary in with real-life experiences and her lyrical prowess, painting a picture of her reality. The way she tells her stories, it is not hard to relate to her words. Lyrics such as “man, it’s like they can’t sleep till our spirit is crushed, how much fighting must we do?” speak to the exhaustion in being a resilient people, in a world where injustice and gentrification are more commonplace than compassion. Despite the doom and gloom, she finds strength in her introverted ways and chooses peace over the chaos that surrounds many of us.
The Salomon Ligthelm directed visuals do an amazing job of capturing Simbi’s vision; grandiose architecture, flashbacks of the plight of the oppressed backed by powerful horns, precise choreography with the Yeezy Seasonesque threads. It sounds and feels like what it looks like; the avant garde in motion.
TSB feat. Unknown T and M1llionz – Jagged Edge
You know the name, so you must know the prominent producer tag that comes with it. The creative genius that has crafted production for some of our favourites – J Hus, Dave, DC – it’s only right that he steps out to demonstrate his artistry as the lead act. Tobi Oladigbolu, better known as TSB, has been building to his moment for a while now, and it’s only right that he brings two big hitters with him. His debut single ‘Jagged Edge’ is an infectious display of his influences in UK Garage, rap and R&B as he and co-producer Remedee masterfully flip a classic R&B slow jam in Jagged Edge’s ‘Walked Outta Heaven’.
Featuring Homerton’s Unknown T and Birmingham’s latest rising star in M1llionz, the former sets pace while the latter has no problem matching his energy on this cut. “I was swinging my jagged edge at the opps, same day I came back to you” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the sample and a reminder that dark humour is Unknown T’s bag. With a Femi Ladi directed visual that shows this trifecta looking like they’re ready for James Bond auditions, ‘Jagged Edge’ is surely a display of things to come. A full-length project perhaps? Time will tell.
H.E.R. feat. Chris Brown – Come Through
R&B songstress H.E.R. has been in a rich vein of form since her mystique-filled entrance to the forefront of the R&B scene. Clearly not content with resting on her laurels after a Song of the Year win at the 63rd Grammy Awards for ‘I Can’t Breathe’, H.E.R. taps up multitalented R&B stalwart Chris Brown for ‘Come Through’, a siren’s call that demonstrates great chemistry between the two singers. Produced by Cardiak, this song is a steamy one as both artists call to each other in no uncertain words for what may turn out to be the booty call anthem for this summer. The guitar strings and slow claps set the mood, as H.E.R. and Chris Breezy get in their respective bags. The latter retorts “fighting it off, you been fighting me off for weeks” to the former’s sweet call to “come through tonight”. This will serve as the leading single from her upcoming album. If Chris Brown can call this the “song of the summer” via his Instagram account, I’m curious to see what the rest of the album will bring.
Rachel Chinouriri – Plain Jane
Genre-defying rising star Rachel Chinouriri makes her debut on Nation of Billions this week as her latest project Four° In Winter EP is released for us to delve into the artistry. One thing that catches my attention with Rachel is her ability to evoke authentic emotions in her music, whether good or bad. “Plain Jane” is a show of honesty as she describes this song as her wanting to highlight her most toxic traits towards another woman.
The awe-inspiring visuals directed by Aliyah Otchere, do an even better job of bringing the chilling emotions to life. In a dark setting, Rachel and her conflicting emotions are captured in a variety of settings. In one scene, she is seen holding a beating heart, in another she transforms into Medusa to represent the stone-cold nature of women that are blinded by their toxicity towards each other, for the approval of men. Melancholy succeeds where genre labels would fail in capturing the mood of this song.