Originally published for The 405.
In honour of the release of Solange’s seminal record A Seat at the Table, we’re celebrating black womanhood this month, with the help of some amazing black woman making amazing R&B music.
As well as new music from Solange, we’ve got brand new tracks from South London sensation Ray BLK, newcomer Indiah, the one and only seductress Tiara Thomas, Berlin-born hitmaker Bibi Bourelly and soulful Brit School grad Cherée.
Solange – ‘Cranes in the Sky’
Solange hit us with one of the best albums of the year this month. A Seat at the Table features guest spots from an array of her famous pals including Sampha, Kelela and Lil Wayne – yep, there’s a Solange/Weezy collab on there and it’s great.
The album focuses heavily on identity, personally and within a greater social context, and so during the making of the album, in a journey of self-discovery, Solange moved to New Iberia, Louisiana where her grandparents grew up and travelled around Africa in order to gain a deeper understanding of herself and her roots. ‘Cranes in the Sky’ is one-half of the two visual accompaniments to the album, alongside ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, both directed by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson.
Both videos are typically Solange, with vast, grand shots, dance breaks and lots of zooming. Common, who recently added a verse to the track in an unofficial release, described ‘Cranes in the Sky’ as having “the sound of forever,” and the same can certainly be said for the album as a whole.
Ray BLK – ‘Chill Out feat. SG Lewis’
Having recently been nominated for Best Newcomer at this year’s upcoming Mobo Awards, South London’s Ray BLK has solidified herself as one of the biggest urban breakthrough acts of the year. If it wasn’t obvious enough that she was going to be huge when she dropped ’50/50′ at the end of last year, she then collaborated with, another of South London’s biggest successes of the year, Stormzy on the ode to South London, ‘My Hood’.
She recently performed both tracks on Later… with Jools Holland, making her the fourth unsigned artist to have ever performed on the show. ‘Chill Out’ is the latest single to be taken from her debut mini-album Durt, due out 28th October, and sees her collaborate with Liverpool-based producer SG Lewis. In keeping with this month’s theme, Ray BLK said of the track: “I feel like women are told how to live and act based on societal pressures which stems from male privilege and this song challenges that.”
Indiah – ‘I Got You’
From this year’s biggest breakthrough act to undoubtedly one of next year’s biggest breakthrough acts, 20-year-old London-based singer Indiah released her debut single ‘I Got You’ this month. Just like many of the world’s biggest popstars before her – Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Alessia Cara, to name a few – Indiah has spent the past couple of years releasing acoustic covers on YouTube but she has finally made the big move into working on her own material and has proven herself as more than just another young YouTube wonder.
‘I Got You’ is all electro pop synths, dreamy vocal harmonies and positive lyrics, resulting in that perfect balance of upbeat and chilled out. Watch out for Indiah in 2017.
Cherée – ‘Please’
It may have its fair share of critics but the Brit School has undeniably produced some of the most successful British musicians over the years, particularly female singers, with the list of grads including Adele, Amy Winehouse, Katy B and Jessie J. The latest songstress hoping to add her name to that list is 20-year-old half Ghanaian, half Scandinavian Cherée.
‘Please’ showcases the London-based singer’s delicate, soulful vocals over a sparse electronic beat and details the conflicting emotions experienced during a break-up. The track is taken from Cherée’s debut EP L-EP1, due out 18th November, which she says “was written when I was really confused about my definition of love and lust – the whole EP is about me trying to un-blur the lines between the two.”
Tiara Thomas – ‘OTW’
If you haven’t heard ‘Bad’ by Wale then not only are you missing out on one of the best slow jams of modern times, it’s also likely that you’ve been sleeping on the track’s guest star Tiara Thomas – one of the only women in the world who can pull off the purple lipstick and eyeshadow combo – for a long time now.
Luckily she’s graced us with a new, equally raunchy track ‘OTW’, with Swagg R’Celious on production: a man clearly fond of acronyms, having previously produced Kehlani’s track ‘FWU’. I mean, It’s pretty obvious what this track is about but let’s try and keep it PC and just say it’s definitely a late night jam, if you catch my drift.
Bibi Bourelly – Ballin
Bibi Bourelly is a force to be reckoned with. She has already ticked off quite a few major boxes in her short career, including working with Kanye West, featuring on a track with Lil Wayne and writing songs for Usher and Rihanna. In fact, you probably know her as the young songwriter behind Rihanna’s hit, and one of the most popular catchphrases of 2015, ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’.
Bibi may have been ballin’ bigger than Lebron then but her latest single is all about ballin’ on a much tighter budget: she talks about getting fired, sleeping on sofas and eating ramen noodles, but still staying awesome. The track is taken from her upcoming EP Free the Real (Pt. #2), the follow-up to Free the Real (Pt. #1), due out next month.