Tag Archives: Toronto

Lets Go To Higher Ground With POLUN and Gracie Ella

Toronto-based producer POLUN and just outside of Toronto-based artist Gracie Ella comes together for a modern groove in Higher Ground. Now this is POLUN’s debut as a producer (based on his Spotify profile) and this track really goes in. The soft, smooth voice of Gracie fits the groove. And one other thing I love is how clear she comes off. Even in the runs, there isn’t a lot of vocal gymnastics (if that’s a thing). I can follow where she’s going. They say that POLUN is a hip hop producer, but maybe he can hang around for a little while longer and give us some more R&B jams.

Adria Kain Revisits Ocean After Being A Few Years Away

Toronto-based artist Adria Kain is back at it again with her single Ocean, a reprisal from a version done years ago. This track is number two on her upcoming debut album ‘When Flowers Bloom’ which is supposed to be releasing this January. The guitars that are in the background, Adria’s deep voice, and slow cadence really tugs at your heart. 

Adria Kain

“It’s beyond me how this song came full circle. I remember where I was in life when I first wrote it years ago. I knew it was a good song, not quite my favourite, but it had an important message that I think even went over my own head. I wrote it from a place of sadness. I wanted to create a voice for myself. One that I could run to whenever there was no one else. One that would create a platform big enough for me to exist in without boundaries, like the Ocean, because what’s bigger than that really.”

Adria Kain

I love that Adria decided to come back and do this song over. It’s interesting that songs may never change, but it’ll mean different depending on the person and their recent experiences. That’s how art is. And how compelling that this concept can be applied for the one who created the particular piece of art. Experience, such from Adria, can breathe new life into something she’s done years ago. I love the track and it’s something you can just relax to as it plays.

Edit: I watched the video the day of release and the people who put the video together did an excellent job. I can see why Adria can be so conflicted. It seems as though she was happy with them both and as the viewer, I felt that. Now I have that picture in my head of what Adria may have felt writing and singing this song.

Adria Kain and Lelia Dey Creates A Classic

Toronto artists Adria Kain and Lelia Dey come together on this laid back grove in Classic. It was the production that really had me and racked my brain for some minutes because it reminded me of another song. Then I realized it was Changes by 2Pac. The tone created by the piano is so amazing which is backed up by the bass guitar. I’m not saying they are exactly the same, but it gets me into a similar mood.

Adria Kain
Adrian Kain – (Photo Credit Kiylana Dickens-Ling)

That sound and production is fitting for the title ‘Classic’. And Adria is riding that beat so well. She gave a smooth delivery that felt buttery. Also, credit to Lelia for coming in the second verse to drop some lines. The lyrics aren’t that exciting, but vocal and musical arrangements bring the song over for me.

I wanted to create something not only for myself, but to help uplift and remind all black women that we are loved unconditionally regardless of experience and societal views, and to encourage the idea of continuing forward in all that we aim to do no matter what tries to interfere because we are classic examples of royalty and anything is a possibility. This video represents just that, two classic black women sharing special time together and uplifting one another in as many ways possible during a day in the city.

Adria Kain

Finally, let’s talk about this music video. It’s just a POV shot from beginning to end and it threw me off at first. However, I liked it. It was unique and I appreciate seeing a video shot this ay, It was just a day-in-a-life type of deal and it was just relaxing as the song’s production and theme. I also want to say I peeped the Kung Fu Tea, the best commercial tea spot known to man (Not an official endorsement). Also Adria grabbed the mask before leaving out. You still gotta protect yourself out there. 

I love the entire project and really like the song.


By the way, I’m still on my paternity break from the blog. So don’t expect any regular updates for a while. But it does feel good to do a little typing.

New Music Friday 7/23 – 7/30 Featuring a l l i e and Daniela Andrade

I knew from the hook of DNA that a l l I e and Daniela Andrade gave us something special. The Canadian connection between these ladies has delivered, preemptively, the best track in a l l i e’s new project. The production feels so new and ethereal and that has my brain just tingling. One of the other things I love about the track is how they deliver the chorus in different ways. The expression of the voices when they “beg” and “DNA” are either held notes or comes in high and leaves low. It doesn’t leave a stale after taste.

via Soundcloud

What’s interesting with the lyrics is that they sing about not begging for the other person’s love. In fact, they are singing how the other person wants it and how they should be working for it.

Show me what you know about it; Tell me that you can’t go without it; (Tell me why)

a l l i e ft. Daniela Andrade – DNA
via Soundcloud

It sucks that there is no music video for this because I can only imagine the scene of two strong women in a l l i e and Daniela coming through on set and when all of a sudden either one comes out and says I could never beg. It’s not in my DNA.

Cover Art Nominees: Week 80

We are almost at the end of another week. But a small congrats that we’ve been doing this for 80 weeks. That’s a long time. Let’s start off with Floridian Kilo Kish and her latest single American Gurl. One of the most spiritual-elevating collabs I’ve heard in a long time with a l l i e and Daniela Andrede and DNA. We also have Indian artist Peekay working with Jonathan Edward to release her latest single You Don’t Have To Try.

I really REALLY love this playlist and I hope you do too.

These Are The Desperate Times of Mighloe

We have finally gotten the chance to listen to Mighloe’s brand new project (third to date), Desperate Times. When you have had an artist on your radar for so long listening to every dropped track, you get to a point where you want to reach the finish line. So congratulations for Mighloe for getting to her finish line. This EP consists of seven tracks. Two we covered already are Don’t Call Me and Rainy Days.

Picture by Nilly

The first track from the EP is Stolen Paradise and this is like a tale of two halves. I’m not an expert on the music range, but it sounds like the exact same melody for both sections but maybe played at a lower speed the second way through. I really like how mellow it feels production-wise. And it cements, to me at least, her sound for me. If someone told me that she was a front-woman for a rock or indie-rock group, I would have believed you. The producing team behind this project Late Night Drive and Dean Vision were spot on.

Picture by Nilly

Cruel has such a laid back vibe to it all. What’s so interesting about this track is that the acoustic version is better. I think the emphasis on the words she gives in that performance was amazing and speaks to something else that I sense from Mighloe. She has to be a hell of a live performer. She could have given something similar to the studio version, but no no no. The stage presence (in a forest of all places) and the ability to add more to than what required of her own talent is so evident. Even in her other two music videos, she loves the camera and performs well even when it’s just her on the screen.

Desperate Times and Euphoria has an interlude feel about them. Call it a mantra if you will or something that feels ethereal in your head. Especially during Desperate Times, this track is a bit hard to hear the lyrics because of the effects placed on the track. On top of that Euphoria is on that same wavelength especially with the strong guitar presence. It’s a nice change of pace coming from Cruel and Don’t Call Me and then going to Rainy Days.

Picture by Nilly

We are going to finish with the last track of the EP, Into The Tide. It has that smokey soul feeling with this track. At this point of the project, you can honestly say that she has taken us all on a journey and is riding us off to the sunset alongside Dean Vision on the guitar. 

Picture by Nilly

Unfortunately I don’t have the lyrics for any of the tracks, but you know what, the music is amazing. There is a true partnership with Mighloe, Dean Vision, and Late Night Drive in terms of the final product. I recommend this EP based on the diversity of sounds and the range of talent Mighloe gives. I appreciate that there are no tracks that feel samey. The production never felt like it was lazily put together. Give Desperate Times a listen.

APPLE MUSIC

Emanuel Is Gonna Take His Talents Worldwide

We have today the final single to be released from Emanuel’s debut album Alt Therapy (releasing on June 16), WORLDWIDE. The production from this track feels ethereal and modern in a way. The slow pace with Emanuel’s long-held notes on the end of each line feels like he’s grabbing for something deeper on the inside of you and me. It’s really meditative in a way and credit to him that he alone has the talent to do that with his voice and not solely depend on the beat. The chill vibes from this are insane. 

Emanuel Worldwide (2)
Photo provided by Norman Wong

“During that time, we were really dreaming out loud in the way that we would talk about our futures and in the way that we were trying to summon this grand reality. This song was really born from the deep want to take the music to the world.”

Emanuel

That sentiment is what I took away from listening to the track and its words for about 10 or times. Sometimes you have to put your goals and dreams out in the universe and chase after them. An audio vision board if you will. Emanuel is naming all of these places that he wants to go and take his music too. Fitting for the title “Worldwide”. There are two lines that I want to bring attention to. 

“I’m tryna see you down in Ethopia, I’m tryna go home”

And he says “I’m tryna go home three times for emphasis. He wanted to make sure that stood out and I would like to know why. Besides Hotel California, why does Ethiopia mean so much to him. The only way you could perceive it is that among all the places in the world, Ethiopia is where he feels one with everyone. Where you can relax and just be yourself. You can go to shows everywhere, but your fans may just see the artist you are. But at home, you know the people there will see the person inside and not the persona the world sees. There’s nothing like coming home after being gone for so long.

Emanuel Worldwide
Photo provided by Norman Wong

“This past year has been a great learning experience for what it means to really manifest something and be appreciative of the things you’ve been able to uncover and draw from within yourself and make reality,”“But even though we’ve manifested certain aspects of the song – and that’s a beautiful thing – it still wants to be seen out in its fullness. ‘Worldwide’ is a song of affirmation and it’s become a prayer to be able to continue until all of those goals are met in their completion.”

Emanuel

There is power in affirmation and self-motivation. It’s songs like this that can empower other people to want to become more than what they are right now. It doesn’t necessarily have to be location based, but in general, if you want to improve yourself in some way, this is one way to do it. Be mentally strong and prepared to chase your goals. I, myself, feel this way because this song is essentially the Blog’s namesake. The things Emanuel talks about is something I aspire to do. To reach out to so many people all across the world. So this song holds a dear place in my heart. If I ever get into podcasts or such, I may have to ask for permission to use the hook for the show.

About The Artist

With over 21 million global streams, the first-generation Canadian has had a breakout year establishing his artistry through meaningful, expressive music in a time he describes as a “renaissance of beautiful black art in the world.” Since releasing his debut single ‘Need You’ one year ago, Emanuel has achieved international acclaim for his undeniable talent and introspective, emotionally charged music. Released at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Need You’ quickly became an early quarantine anthem as people from over 20 countries submitted personal videos and photos for the collaborative music video curated by Golden Globe-winning actor, musician, producer and Executive Producer of Emanuel’s debut album Idris Elba OBE.

Before even releasing his debut EP Session 1: Disillusion (shared with the world on Juneteenth), Emanuel was named Apple Music’s New Artist of the Week, one of Amazon Music’s Artists to Watch, a Soundcloud Featured Artist, and a Spotify “On The Radar” Artist. Following the release of the EP, Emanuel became the first ever artist to be chosen for Spotify’s On The Radar program in Canada and was also named the Beats Artist of the Week.

 In October of 2020, Emanuel released ‘Black Woman’, the first single from his sophomore EP, alongside a digital portrait series that honoured Black female leaders in the Toronto’s artistic and advocacy communities. The portraits towered over Toronto’s Yonge & Dundas Square for the first week of release on a bespoke Spotify billboard, the first ever of its kind. Alongside the December release of his Session 2: Transformation EP, Emanuel announced that legendary Motown Records would be his U.S. label partner.

After making several end of year lists (including EARMILK’s Best Songs of 2020Complex’s 25 Canadian Artists to Watch Out For in 2021 and Rolling Stone India’s Top 100 Songs of 2020), Emanuel’s momentum has only continued into 2021. With the achievement of his first JUNO Award nomination for Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year and the upcoming release of his debut full length album ALT THERAPY, Emanuel is positioned to have another massive year of artistic growth and accomplishment.

Cover Art Nominees: Week 70

Well everyone, we finally reached another milestone. 70 weeks (unofficially probably more) of the Cover Art Nominees series. We have the return of a former Cover Art Nominee artist Yarah (January 8-15) and her latest single ur dumb. We have Dutch producer Full Crate and artist SABRI with Tell Me Why. We also have Indonesian artist Jacqueline Caroline and her second single of her career, Vibe With U, featuring NSG. Enjoy this week’s nominees.

BLK Wants You To Stay Awhile and FWM

A brand new girl group from Canada named BLK has released their second single in their young career, FWM. I was looking at the group and I was certain that I’ve seen them before, which is true from their debut single Got It, which came out last year. I really love the vibe from the track. FWM gives off something a little more intimate and gives us, the listeners, views of a different side of BLK.

BLK FWM

When you get to the lyrics, all the concepts of love are moved to the side for this one night. BLK even acknowledges that this guy is probably full of it:

Fuck all that love shit you be talking bout; Like the seasons you be changing; Fuck all that love shit you be talking bout; Summertime sadness

BLK – FWM

But it’s not like you still can’t have fun when the same thing is running through the mind. So here is this group calling their shot and with all the confidence running through this song, no way the guy is gonna say no.

We’re strong women of color who are bringing something new.”

Bexk

“There is no template to what a woman should be.”

Lilac X

“We are changing the narrative on women working together.”

Korahjay
Left to right: Bexk, Lilac X, and Korahjay – BLK

Here is my worry and hope for BLK. I worry because there isn’t a great track record of R&B girl groups in the modern era. It must be hard because you just don’t hear about them or flame out after a song or two. Then you end up having individuals start on their solo careers and see some success. One example is the German singer Rola who was a part of Sistanova and only had two albums 10-15 years ago. There is also Danity Kane who was the first girl group to have their first two albums debut top of the Billboards (2006, 2008). It’s crazy to think of such accomplishments when you still have Destiny’s Child and TLC. Then you have the TOTAL’s, En Vouge’s, SWV’s and etc.

The 90s was a good time and there is my hope for BLK. The thing I keep seeing people associate with them is they have the 90s vibe about them. As good as I love that hype, Korahjay said something that we can hear shining through their music:

 “We’re not trying to chase a certain vibe, sound, or look. We are just being ourselves.”

Korahjay (BLK)

If I want to hear that 90s vibe, Spotify will provide. But it’s good to know BLK can deliver it if they want to. More importantly, I want to hear something new and original and that is their goal.

Lilac X, Korahjay, and Bexk

There is something that I’ve noticed over the past several years and people becoming more receptive of R&B girl groups (or duos in the case I’m about to make). Halle x Chloe and VanJess are the two I’m referring to. It could be because these two duos are also sisters, but songs are long enough to get more than one person their shine and make great music. Why can’t we have talented R&B girl groups as well?

My heart goes to BLK because I want to see them win. Because if they are successful, we may get to a place where we have more groups making good music. And BLK can also say that they were on the forefront of the second wave. Lastly, I probably shouldn’t have any favorites, but Lilac X and the pre-chorus… It was so good. Looooooove her voice.

More About FWM and BLK

Bexk, Lilac X and Korahjay stun in their newest fun and flirtatious R&B single released under MADE IN SAUGA®, featuring a brand new music video, directed by MTV’s award winning director Aaron A. Produced by Andrew “Pops” Papaleo and Lincoln Blaché, the hypnotizing, melodic track speaks to their unabashed sexuality and fearless individualism, that captures these women calling out to their partners (and the world) to “f*** with them”. 

Ushering in the renaissance of modern, female-led girl groups, BLK is a breath of fresh air for the scene, combining their shared talented across performance, songwriting, production and vocals to create music that uplifts and encourages their fellow women to be confident, cool and unapologetically themselves. An exciting new contender, the trio’s music spans across contemporary pop through to 90s R&B, delivering irresistible vibes and killer looks always with a greater mission in mind.

All three artists have Canadian roots. Bexk, a fashion design student from Toronto’s East End, is of Bajan heritage. “I’m the savage,” she admits—employing her nickname as something of an alter-ego, “I fight for our best interests at all times, and encourage others to speak up.” Korahjay is a self-described free spirit from Montreal who comes from a Jamaican family. Her moniker, combining words from scripture and a family name, means power. Lilac X, whose exponent represents self-empowerment, considers herself a citizen of the world.

UPDATE 5/11/21: BLK Dropped a new music video for FWM. I noticed that we are seeing a lot more music videos of people and groups at a photo shoot. I like the concept. Take a look at their new music videos.

Mighloe’s Love Burns Bright Through The Rainy Days

Mighloe comes back with her second single, Rainy Days, which will be a part of her upcoming EP, Desperate Times. This track is intimate in its approach because of Mighloe’s delivery of the lyrics. It was noticeable in her previous song Don’t Call Me and it’s one of the attributes that makes her so unique. You combine her voice with the production of the track, you get really pleasing sounds for the ears. Late Night Drive and Dean Vision have done it again with the production. The guitars from these two really do stand out with their sounds.

Photo provided by Nilly

Rainy days’ is about opening yourself up to requited love! A love that goes both ways. It’s sweet and sexy and drenched in obsession. It’s about begging for the rainy days, for the sorrows because in those desperate times, when we are weak; is where our love is the strongest

Mighloe – Rainy Days

Now here is an interesting concept where you are looking for the rainy days to show just how strong your love is. In one way, it seems biblical. It’s easy to have faith in God (or whom or whatever your higher belief is) when life is going according to plan, but it’s a test when it gets rough. Does your faith fade as the rain comes in or does your love persist in spite of the current circumstances?

Another way I saw this song was a response of sorts to New Edition’s Can You Stand The Rain. 

On a perfect day I know that I can count on you; When that’s not possible; Tell me, can you weather a storm?

‘Cause I need somebody who will stand by me; Through the good times and bad times; She will always, always be right there

New Edition – Can You Stand The Rain
Photo provided by Nilly

And here comes Mighloe with her response with all conviction saying I am that woman who has always been there providing these things for you. For her, it’s not a question, but assurance that her love is rock solid even through the rainy days. It could have been a matter of having a “AHA!!” moment and realizing after going through the rough times that it only confirms the feelings she’s had within. 

Why oh why oh why did it take so long for Mighloe to love on them? It sometimes takes being in a weak and vulnerable state to show just how strong it is. And in this song, she gives it in spades.

Bandcamp