I don't talk about music very often, which is surprising considering how much of a big part of my life I would say it is. I listen to music all day, every day. My best purchase of the year has been my Bang & Olufsen Play H6 headphones, partly because my grandparents always mistake them for a pair of donuts, but mostly because I can block out the world around me and get lost in what I’m listening to.
A bizarre thing happened yesterday. Often when I sit down at Keiran and I’s shared desk, I pop his iMac on to play music in the background whilst I work away on my laptop. He’s very particular with his iTunes library, and whenever I add my favourite artists in to make playing their albums a little easier, he deletes them hours later. I even tried to install Spotify so I could blast my everyday playlist (it’s called ‘Loading…’ because it defaulted to that when I fucked up typing, and I’ve just never changed it back), but when he turned on his iMac and saw the icon on his desktop, I heard him exclaim ‘NO. WAY. Getting rid of this shit now’ from the other room.
Anyway, on a routine load-up yesterday I noticed that of the 15 artists that had secured a spot in his library, none of them were women. Not one. There wasn’t even a Rihanna in the mix, despite me often finding him veryyy, veryyy slowly scrolling past pictures of her on Twitter. This wasn’t out of malice. He wasn’t actively excluding women from his library, but he wasn’t actively seeking them either. He could do better, that’s for sure.
Luckily for him, he lives with me, a person who loves women, and loves music. Put the two together and we have the sweetest harmonies of all (you can tell when I’m passionate about something because I get so carried away with communicating how much I love it). And look, it’s Friday, it’s nearly the weekend, we’re feeling good - but do you know what else we’re feeling? Ready to champion some sick female artists, who, in turn, will make us all feel sassy as fuck with their words, ideas and creativity.
P.S. Thank you to the queen that is Megan Ellaby for writing about three front men to swoon over, inspiring me to talk more about music myself.
Jumper - Zara
Trousers - Old ASOS
Boots - Old Zara
27 year old SZA (pronounced ‘si-zza’, like a pair of scissors - real name Solána Imani Rowe) is an American singer songwriter and the creative maestro behind the certified-gold album CTRL. Her lyrics are honest and vulnerable, whilst also being defiant and confident, and she explores as much of herself as her relationships with other people throughout the entirety of the album. One of CTRL’s highlights for me is ‘Doves In The Wind’ featuring Kendrick Lamar, a song dedicated to the power of the pussy and how there’s so much more to offer between two people than just sex alone. Another firm favourite is Supermodel, in which SZA discusses the insecurities of an ex putting other women above her, how she dealt with the situation and how it went on to affect her, reflecting ultimately on the regret that she struggles to be alone.
She’s fierce, clever, creative and strong, and as of 2017, is set to take over the world on her own terms. My absolute inspiration right now.
Walsall-born Jorja Smith is a 20-year old force to be reckoned with, having already collaborated with the big dog, Drake, and been featured in every alternatively cool publication going, from i-D to Clash to Antidote. She’s spent the year navigating the festival scene and is currently supporting Bruno Mars on tour in the US, before embarking on her own sold out tour next Feb. Amazingly, she’s doing all that without releasing an album. That’s how sick she is. ‘On My Mind’ - Jorja’s collaboration with Preditah - addresses that transition of seeing the light post-relationship, and cutting out a toxic ex-partner who, essentially, was trash. Another favourite, ‘Teenage Fantasy’, listens as a love-letter to our teenage years, desperately in a rush to find ‘love’ and chasing boys that we probably didn’t even like anyway.
Jorja has a voice that will cut through you and impossibly infectious ‘I’ll do what I fucking want’ style to match. 10/10 says IGN.
Jhene Aiko is a name that I’ve known for years now, but that has only recently made its way onto my everyday playlist. My friend Camilla and I share quite similar tastes in music so we often send artists and songs to one another to try out, and shortly after Jhene Aiko’s album ‘Trip’ was released in September, it popped up in my messages with high praise. With super-smooth vocals and whispery chill beats, my favourite songs so far are the popular ‘Sativa’ featuring Swae Lee - a track which is essentially about weed, I’m not going to lie, but beneath that is about focus, creativity, sensuality - and While We’re Young, which addresses the reckless abandonment of being young, carefree and in love.
For peak levels of chill, sweet sexiness and Friday night introspection, Jhene Aiko is the one.
Rita Ekwere (stage name RAY BLK) is the Nigerian-born, London grown singer-songwriter who was not only the first unsigned artist to win the BBC’s ‘Sound of’ award this year, but also went on to release her acclaimed EP Durt on her own label. Oh, and she’s only 24, with an English Literature degree to boot. Impressive, right? I love RAY BLK’s powerfully refreshing perspectives in her lyrics, not least so in Chill Out which subverts the “typical” perception that women want more from relationship when men seek success in their careers. The lines ‘I know, it hurts your ego/ To know, that I let you go/ I don’t, want you anymore’ sound all too similar to stories we’ve heard from men about women “catching feelings”, but here RAY BLK is in the position of power. Similarly, ‘Durt’ talks of a toxic relationship whereby both partners are cheating, aware of the infidelity, and bitterly continuing the relationship regardless, but all from the female perspective.
Her words are effortless, insightful and honest. Worth a real, good, proper deep listen.
Another recommendation similar to Jhene Aiko, Sabrina Claudio has a voice like velvet and she qently oozes aching lyrics over the top of understated rhythms. After releasing a series of singles on SoundCloud throughout 2016, SC quickly rose to success and released the incredible EP Confidently Lost, going on to be featured by Apple Music for their “Up Next” artist feature throughout the entirety of last month. Impressive, considering she’s only 21. One of my favourite songs is ‘Orion’s Belt’, which is an impossibly sexy and breathy promise to a lover that if they relax control over their emotional and physical uncertainties, then they will be moved to an out-of-world experience (a.k.a. best orgasm ever). Confidently Lost is another gem, and Claudio’s most popular song. It opens with ‘I’m alone but I’m not lonely/ Comfortably indulging/ And trying to get to know me’, which is indicative of the central thread of the song: that getting to know and understand yourself is a nurturing, enlightening process, and that you have the power within yourself to craft your own identity, disconnected from other’s influence over you. It’s about finding who you are in a luxuriously moreish and enjoyable way.