A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.
Julia Hale, Reader intern
Tierra Whack, Whack World Tierra Whack has been in my rotation since she released “Toe Jam” in 2015, but she confirmed me as a superfan in May with Whack World. The audiovisual album consists of 15 one-minute songs, each crammed with vivid imagery and accompanied by an equally vivid video. She supplements her animated flow with catchy choruses that she sings R&B style. Sometimes she’s self-consciously quirky—on “Fuck Off” she puts on an exaggerated southern accent—and sometimes she addresses serious topics, such as the death of a friend in “4 Wings” or suicidal thoughts in “Dr. Seuss.”
VanJess, Silk Canvas In July contemporary R&B duo VanJess, aka Nigerian-American sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike, released their debut album, Silk Canvas, putting a twist on the genre by incorporating dancehall and EDM. They layer soulful alto vocals over lively house-inspired beats on “Touch the Floor” (featuring Masego on sax), “Through Enough” (featuring a verse from GoldLink), and “‘Til Morning.” Meanwhile, slower songs such as “Filters” and “Addicted” seduce with intricate harmonies and impressive vocal ornaments.
Burna Boy I became a fan of Nigerian singer-songwriter Burna Boy in September, after he dropped the single “Gbona,” which pairs his deep baritone with a jazzy instrumental. When I explored his other work, one track caught my eye: “Heaven’s Gate” from the 2018 album Outside. It features UK pop singer Lily Allen, whose light, controlled harmonies layer perfectly over Burna Boy’s brisk, bouncy singing.
Julia is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Tatiana Hazel, singer-songwriter, producer, and fashion designer
Girl K Chicago band Girl K are one of my favorites right now. I’m honestly shocked they haven’t received more attention. I discovered them because we were in the same Remezcla article about Latinx musicians from Chicago, and when I clicked on their video for “Division Club” I instantly had to listen to the full album, Sunflower Court. Girl K obviously aren’t from the west coast, but they give me beach-rock vibes—it’s amazing.
Yaeji I found Korean-American electronic musician Yaeji through a series of YouTube recommended videos and was hooked by her song “Raingurl.” This New York-based artist produces her own music and also has a great DJ set. I went to a concert of hers at East Room earlier this year, and it was wonderful to see her in an intimate club setting.
M.I.A., Arular First of all, how is M.I.A. effortlessly bodying so many genres at once? Her debut album, Arular, came out in 2005, and I still often look to it for production inspiration when I get stuck in the process of making a beat. I love how abstract the music can get while still maintaining structure. As good as M.I.A.’s later mainstream-appeal singles are (hello, “Paper Planes”), Arular has got to be my favorite album of hers.
Tatiana is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .
Melo Makes Music, recording artist, singer-songwriter, and producer
Jelani Aryeh, “Where We Go” A friend of mine recently sent me a track called “Where We Go” by this up-and-coming San Diego rapper and singer. I immediately fell for the lush but simple rock ‘n’ roll-inspired instrumental, and the songwriting kept me coming back. I definitely recommend people check it out!
Sara King, “Midsummer Night” If you enjoy atmospheric instrumentals and soothing vocals to match, then Dallas singer-songwriter Sara King needs to find her way onto your playlists. I really enjoy her song “Midsummer Night”—whenever I need to start my day with some dream pop, this is first on my list.
Kenny Hoopla, “Lost Cause” Kenny Hoopla is my most recent discovery and has been in heavy rotation ever since. The Milwaukee rapper just dropped the video for “Lost Cause,” which is the perfect blend of all my favorite genres! Don’t sleep on this—it’s so worth it. v