Music Monday, 7/18: Jorja Smith, Kelela, Natasha Kmeto, and Azekel.

Music Monday, 7/18: Jorja Smith, Kelela, Natasha Kmeto, and Azekel.

This week, we explore a lot of feelings. Opening with the inspirational “We Shall Overcome” speech from Dr. Martin Luther King, we take a moment to remind ourselves that we can and will overcome the recent tragedies by banding together and fighting. We remind ourselves that we can be heroes with Janelle Monae’s David Bowie cover, “Heroes” and move into different territory as we progress. We chose to close with an incredible Blood Orange track, revisiting the recent Georgetown release, with the offering “By Ourselves,” in which poet Ashlee Haze delivers a deeply passionate and moving reading of “For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliot Poem).” Beyond that, we visit many new artists who are doing incredible things.

“For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliot Poem)”

a brief history of womanhood in hip hop
or
your favorite could never
or
for colored girls who don’t need Katy Perry when Missy Elliott is enough

3rd grade. I’m in the hallway, when I’m sure I shouldn’t have been and Cory White comes up to me and asks “Yo! Have you heard that new Missy Elliot track?”
I reply “Who is Missy Elliot!?!”
at the time my parents only let me listen to the gospel and the smooth jazz station
but that day… i went home, ran upstairs to my room
and closed the door (a cardinal sin in a black mother’s house)
and waited on TRL to come on
then it happened. metallics and a black trash bag fill my TV screen
and I hear the coolest thing I’d ever heard in 8 years of living
*beep beep, who got the keys to my jeep… Vrooooommm!*
at that moment I had my life figured out
I was going to grow up to be Missy Elliott
I spent the next decade of my life recording and rewinding videos to learn dance moved
passing that dutch
getting my freak on
and trying to figure out what the hell she was saying in work it
there were so many artists I could have idolized at the time
but Missy was the only one who looked like me
It is because of Melissa Elliott
that I believed that a fat black girl from Chicago
could dance until she felt pretty
could be sexy and cool
could be a woman playing a man’s game
and be unapologetically fly
if you ask me why representation in the media is important
I will show you the tweet of a black teenager
asking who this “new” artist is that Katy Perry brought out on stage at the Super Bowl
I will show you my velour adidas sweat suit and white fur kangol I begged my parents for
I will show you a 26 year old woman who learned to dance until she felt pretty
feminism wears a throwback jersey, bamboo earrings, and a face beat for the gods
feminism is Da Brat, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, and Angie Martinez, on the “Not Tonight” track
feminism says as a woman in my arena you are not my competition
as a woman in my arena your light doesn’t make mine any dimmer

Dear Missy,
I did not grow up to be you
but I did grow up to be me
and to be in love with who this woman is
to be a woman playing a man’s game
and not be apologetic about any of it
If you ask me why representation is important
I will tell you that on the days I don’t feel pretty
I hear the sweet voice of Missy singing to me
pop that pop that, jiggle that fat
don’t stop, get it til your clothes get wet
I will tell you that right now there are a million
black girls just waiting to see someone who looks like them

Azekel may not be a familiar name yet, but he will be. The East London singer songwriter has recently collaborated with famed trip hop group Massive Attack but has recently released his own EP. We have featured “Stuck,” the second song off of the second volume of the Raw EP series. Azekel explores the dynamics of a strained relationship in the song which he wrote and produced himself. “It’s about being in a relationship that somehow you feel compelled to stay in and being drawn back even through the rough patches,” Azekel told The FADER, who premiered the song. “I produced the beat to be a mirror of the raw and emotive lyrics.”

Natasha Kmeto is a queer femme electronic artist based in Portland, Oregon. A darling of the Coachella, SXSW, Bumbershoot, and other festivals, Kmeto blends R&B with dance and pop, creating incredibly sensual dance tunes reflective of the modern audience. She composes, produces, and performs all of her music entirely by herself, however Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio had a hand in the creation of the 2014 release, Inevitable.

South London-based British vocalist Jorja Smith is part of the new vanguard of R&B. At a mere 18 years old, Smith is creating a new space for herself by helping to re-imagine the genre, injecting soul-meets-electronic elements that creates a jazzy vibe all her own. Her sound simultaneously hints at the past while looking forward. Still juggling a barista day job, Smith is the opitome of the millennial hustle.
Kelela broke out onto the scene in 2013 with a mixtape in which she layered her own vocals over DJs from Fade to Mind and Night Slugs. She earned critical praise for the mixtape, including that from WYV favorites and Kelela’s contemporaries, Bjork and Solange Knowles. A first-generation Ethiopian-American, Kelela was raised in Rockville, Maryland but has been based in Los Angeles for the majority of her career, working primarily with electronic and hip hop artists from all over the world. Her sound reflects the space in which she has existed between two cultures. “I’ve always wanted to interrupt the space—more than sounding like anything, my commitment has just been to fuck it up.” Kelela told Pitchfork’s Ruth Saxelby in an interview.

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