The festival made an impressive sold-out debut.
One of Top Dawg Entertainment’s latest signees SiR imbues each track with an unparalleled soul. The Inglewood-bred artist has built a dedicated following with Her and Her Too, with even more smooth content on the way.
“Something Foreign” recruits fellow TDE member ScHoolboy Q for a true late night vibe. The two sway over piano-led production from Saxon, allowing listeners to get lost in a blissful experience. Director Jack Begert builds upon the ominous atmosphere to bring the track to life. SiR also hints at his next release slated to arrive on January 19.
SiR will also be heading on tour with Miguel and Nonchalant Savant in the new year. Check out the video for “Something Foreign” and his upcoming tour dates below.
Flamingosis continues to dazzle fans with his ability to craft soulful instrumentals. Drawing inspiration from the likes of J Dilla and Flying Lotus, the New Jersey-based producer has kept his hotstreak alive and well with Bright Moments and most recently A Groovy Thing.
Following their cheery summertime collab “Glide,” Flamingosis returns with Ehiorobo for “Stowed Away.” Their latest effort stands as the third single from their forthcoming joint album, showcasing their dynamic sonic chemistry. Ehiorobo’s warm vocals melt over a steady groove to create the perfect end-of-the-year tune.
Stream “Stowed Away” below.
Chicago’s songstress Ravyn Lenae captures the essence of soul and suave with each release. Her ability to string together warm harmonies allows Ravyn to truly shine with her impressive vocal work.
Building upon the momentum of her Monte Booker-produced Midnight Moonlight, Ravyn returns with another saucy track titled “Sticky.” As the first taste of her forthcoming Crush EP, executive produced by Steve Lacy of The Internet, “Sticky” showcases Ravyn at her finest. Refreshing melodies trail over Steve’s guitar-led production, blending to form a bundle of sonic nostalgia.
Stream “Sticky” below and expect Crush on January 26.
Ravyn Lenae – Crush EP
3. Computer Luv (feat. Steve Lacy)
4. The Night Song
5. 4 Leaf Clover (feat. Steve Lacy)
Rayana Jay of Richmond, CA has been steady killing it all year. Her effortless croons and taste for a wide range of production envelope listeners in a soothing trance that’s sure to have her making even greater waves in 2018.
To round out the year, Rayana returns with the official music video for “Magic.” Directed by Adrian Per, the ROMderful-produced standout from her Morning After EP is a modern twist on a ’70s vibe, topped with doses of classic call-and-response breaks throughout. Keep your eyes peeled for a few cameos as you’re dancing along, too.
Check out the video for “Magic” below.
Coming to the end of their first headlining tour, Mike B. and Ken Nana are still full of energy and ideas. The duo, united under the neon-lit name MIKNNA, has had a landmark year since dropping their debut album 50/50 (Side A) back in 2016. Since the release, Mike and Ken have embarked on a tour sprawling from their hometown of Los Angeles all the way to Stockholm and Berlin.
In between international flights, the two have carved out enough studio time to cook up “Mona Lisa,” “Cues,” and “MPH,” all of which received major attention following their release as singles. Industrious and dedicated, Mike and Ken haven’t looked back since their chance encounter on the street brought them together in the studio. From the outside, MIKNNA comes off streamlined and natural. However, the duo faced a massive uphill challenge growing MIKNNA from the ground up. At its core, Mike, Ken, and their group of friends and family behind the curtain have grafted since coming together to define what MIKNNA means to them and what it should mean to listeners.
I caught up with Mike and Ken before their show in Berkeley to chat about what the path leading up to their solo headlining tour, what they’ve learned since hitting the road, and where their group is headed:
“We linked up two years ago. I came out of work for a break and Ken was just skating down the street. The chances were so random, and at the moment we were like ‘we need to get into the studio and do some work ASAP.'”
Ken and Mike found an instant chemistry after hitting the studio together. Ken found in Mike the type of complimentary and consistent vocalist he had long been looking for. In Ken, Mike was able to link up with a versatile and experienced producer whose musical style just as capable as solo work as it used underneath Mike’s vocals. The difference, however, between linking up for a few songs and committing to each other as a duo is huge. Mike and Ken had their work cut out for them cultivating the chemistry and balance that MIKNNA boasted on its debut album. Ken emphasizes the importance they put on cementing this chemistry before anything else.
“Before we started making music we sat down and had a long conversation about our styles, our backgrounds, and what pushes us to make music. We really took that time to get to know each other and feel it out to find that balance.”
The time and work put into crafting MIKNNA shows through. As a group, they have an incredibly salient conceptual drive. From the music to videos to press photos, MIKNNA is a shadowy, neon-lit fusion of classic R&B and neo/electro-soul aesthetics. Outside of the group, Mike and Ken work with their team to create their collective Nana Lifestyle, another conceptually driven creative brand born out of the coming together of minds from different backgrounds and influences. As Ken describes, “the whole package” is evidently important to the entire team. Mike places a similar importance on connecting the minutiae of their work to the broader elements.
“A lot of it comes down to our taste level and what we want to do aesthetically and sonically—it all needs to be complimentary or it doesn’t work.”
The balance between Mike and Ken has racked them up millions of listens on leading singles such as “Trinity Ave” and “302,” as well as over half a million streams on their most recent release, “MPH.” With the numbers to back them, Mike and Ken took the next step in translating their studio chops to the stage on their tour.
“You really have to be on your game all the time. There’s no lower gear you can be in when you’re performing, but it’s a challenge that helps to motivate. Really we just try to take it one day at a time. Work as a team trying to think about how we can just elevate and move forward. That’s the fun part! Figuring it out.”
On the stage in Berkeley, MIKNNA look as comfortable as anyone. Ken, vibing and stationary at his drum pad and mixer cuts a distinct silhouette opposite Mike, who bounces around the stage with verve and enthusiasm. Playing through 50/50 (Side A), MIKNNA boast the same intimacy live that their studio work benefits from. The duo make it a point to engage the audience, creating an atmosphere that buoyed and was buoyed by the performance. Mike and Ken are up on stage to enjoy themselves and their music over anything else. At one point even taking and audience request to play “Mona Lisa,” they both came off relaxed and positive, relishing the moment and how far they had come. With shows on November 29 and 30 in LA and San Diego respectively, MIKNNA look to finish off 2017 and their tour strongly.
“What’s next? Just working to finish up the next project and a lot of new music. Think of it like an evolution of everything that we’ve gone through over the last year, building and working out the kinks. And hopefully we can keep up with our consistency. We’ve been grinding, but consistency keeps us all on the same page so everything can keep moving. We’re excited.”
Coyly describing the upcoming project, Mike and Ken can’t seem to stay away from the word “fun.” Mike characterizes their work as a “sonic vacation.” At their most simple, the musicians behind MIKNNA are music fans. Their technique and style helped them cultivate a unique and eye-catching sound, but it’s also an entertaining endeavor for two super musicians. Evolution, coalescence, fusion—however you characterize MIKNNA, what is undeniable is the pure enjoyment that drives the group. From top to bottom, the MIKNNA team’s appreciation for and ability in their trade is evident on stage or over headphones.
2018 looks set to be a big year for MIKNNA. Before then, catch MIKNNA’s closing shows in Los Angeles and San Diego here, and revisit 50/50 (Side A) below.
Ahead of his first headlining tour, berhana is continuing his hotstreak with the visuals for “Grey Luh.” The track comes from his self-titled debut EP, pinning the blossoming singer-songwriter in the spotlight as he serenades with his tender croons. berhana sways over tropical production from Sapphire Adizes, capturing listeners as he rolls through the undertakings of love.
Peep the video for “Grey Luh” below, directed by Sam Guest.
Earlier this year, Cautious Clay emerged into the scene with his self-produced single titled “Cold War.” Following up with “Joshua Tree,” the New York artist continues to impress with his tender sound.
Germany’s Soulection representative IAMNOBODI recently unveiled his own spin of “Cold War.” The fresh flip is just as enjoyable as the original, accentuating Clay’s serene vocals with sparse piano chords and trickling percussion. The duo combines their talents to create a truly emotional journey through a forest that’ll have you vibing along.
Stream IAMNOBODI’s remix of “Cold War” below.
It’s been nearly two years since Pell dropped his last project LIMBO, but anxious fans won’t have to wait much longer for new music. As the first taste of his forthcoming girasoul EP, the NOLA artist returns with “chirpin’.” His slick verses glide over gentle and piano-led production from Rahki, painting his search for love past touch screens and social media. Pell’s set to top off the year with a triumphant victory lap.
Check out the video for “chirpin'” below and expect girasoul on December 8.
From his Four The Better EP to singles like “Street Walker,” IshDARR has been on a roll all year. His latest offering, titled “Moon Girl,” stands as the opening track from Kitsuné Afterwork, Vol. 1 and appears alongside tracks from Raiza Biza, Chynna, and more. IshDARR carries his confident flow over trickling production from Skater and J.Robb, detailing a new relationship in his life. With his full-length debut scheduled to arrive next year, IshDARR continues to hold us down.
Stream “Moon Girl” below.
When your favorite artists tour together, there’s always a part of you that hopes they have time to hit the studio. Last month, Smino and T-Pain brought this fan dream to life with their saucy remix of “Anita,” a true standout from the former’s blkswn album.
In celebration of Black Friday, the duo returns with a bundle of colorful visuals for the tune. T-Pain opens with his suave lines, followed by Smino building upon his original verse. With their matching outfits, the two tour a set filled with beautiful women to create an overall fun time.
Check out the video for “Anita” below.