Whilst it feels as though 2020 is never ending, neither is the music. We enter the fourth and final quater with some more strong releases carrying us into a well-earned weekend. Bryson Tiller has released a follow up to the smooth, slick ‘Inhale’ in the lead up to his anticipated album, whilst the ATL-based Spillage Village have returned with JID fronting the new ‘Shiva’ track, amongst a bunch of other drops. So sit back, relax, and take in this week’s 5 For Friday. Love, NoBs.
Mustafa – Air Forces
Air Forces by Toronto-based crooner, Mustafa the Poet is a sombre, timely ode for the community, for family. Mustafa uses the popular Nike shoe as a metaphor for his friends and/or family members who may be involved in tricky business. Mustafa opens with: ‘’Don’t crease your Air Forces / just stay inside tonight / you know what’s happening outside’’. Toronto is a city plagued by crime and Mustafa doesn’t want his loved ones being involved – fearful they may never come back.
It is smart writing – anybody who likes creps knows once your Air Forces have a crease in them, it’s over. He powerfully uses an everyday dilemma to impart real-life significance. The visuals match the beautiful writing – opening with a shot of ladies in hijabs counting up cash, before cutting to a top-down shot of a group of young boys in luminous white Air Forces, ominously walking down the stairs out of their block, into the world Mustafa wants to shield them from. It is a heartfelt piece – written and delivered with soul. It’s a reminder of what really matters in life.
Stalk Ashley – The Open
Jamaican R&B singer-songwriter, Stalk Ashley builds on an impressive run with the release of ‘Open’. There’s a new wave of Jamaican talent breaking through the airwaves and Stalk Ashley looks to be next up.
The vivid, ethereal imagery riffs on her sultry vocals and hazy production. Throughout the video, Ashley changes outfits, in a similar vein to Missy Elliot to express the rich feeling in the vocals – and to express how her mood changes throughout. With images of flowers budding and mirrors, growth and duality seem to be at the heart of Ashley’s pen. There’s a recurring scene where Ashley is on one side of a door in full bloom, and there’s an ex-partner out in the dark on the other side. Basically: the doghouse isn’t a nice place to be. Stalk Ashley makes sure she lets us know what’s being missed on the other side.
Spillage Village – Shiva
Atlanta-based collective Spillage Village have finally returned. Their debut release ‘Bears Like This’ is a highly slept-on release from a mega talented bunch of rappers and producers, featuring EarthGang, JID, Mereba and sometimes the illusive 6LACK.
On this new cut, they’re going through the motions, expressing everyday realities “I got more than fifty shades of grey / Livin’ in a house of blues / Takin’ it day by day / Livin’ any way I choose” says Doctur Dot. They’re living how they want to live. Considering what’s going on outside, there’s no time to live any other way, really. JID is the superstar on this track – he’s been a top-tier rapper since he arrived on the scene, but he’s also in his singing bag, with his melodies floating all over this chorus – almost Nate Dogg-esque in his deliveries. With Johnny Venus’ production rounding off this all-star line up, this song is perfect for rainy days, accompanied by your thoughts.
Bryson Tiller – Always Forever
Bryson Tiller is back. People have been waiting for his third album to drop, but it looks like he’s in classic form as he gears up for the eagerly-anticipated release.
On ‘Always Forever’, Tiller is speaking to a past flame who doesn’t give him the vibes he’s giving her “I tried to give you a little less of my time / starting to feel I’m not right in my mind / wish you had feelings like mine …”. He’s chasing but she isn’t reciprocating the energy. It’s this honesty that won Bryson Tiller waves of fans, with his triple platinum debut ‘Trapsoul’. Tiller’s pen remains clear and incisive on what he’s going through, “On all memories and all the moments / When I look back to them it’s hard to focus”. Tiller’s position in the R&B hierarchy remains very high, in many ways he’s speaks openly about the situations that have made him, feigning bravado, to tell stories that are relatable for everybody. Tiller says his new cut is dropping this fall. Perfect timing.
Berwyn – 017 Freestyle
London-based rapper Berwyn is deep in his bag on’ 017 Freestyle’. His ability to merge intelligent bars with emotive, almost film-like narrative is on full show.
Sat having his hair braided while reeling off lines directly to the camera, he tells us “he’s been about since Jay made Reasonable Doubt” to set the scene. Following up with “I left school and went straight into the family business, where I learnt how to build a future off half an ounce”, these lines of raw reality land heavily atop the piano-led production.
Trinidad-born and proud, the flag of his home island sits in the background while Berwyn recites his past and current truths. He laments on his education “it wasn’t my fault I wanted to go to uni / it was the government who said I wasn’t allowed”. But really, the whole song stands as a riposte to that sentiment. Berwyn’s pen is sharp and whip-smart, with double messages and mixed meanings everywhere. He knows his purpose is bigger than his environment “I know I was destined to be more than another dealer…”. Building off his debut single ‘Trap Phone’ – there is a lot to come from Berywn. Keep it locked.