Best New Music: Libianca Gets Real About Mental Health On “People (Check On Me)”
aural healing for those in need
aural healing for those in need
For 22-year-old Libianca, the success she enjoys with her single “People (Check On Me)” is the product of years of hard work and commitment. It is also another testimony of the power of social media platforms to catapult music acts into internet-aided stardom (see CKay’s “Love Nwantiti”). Officially released in December 2022, the track began gaining traction on social media; on TikTok alone, the videos tagged with Libianca’s name have amassed over 75 million views. Aside from all those factors, what makes “People (Check On Me)” a clear standout is the song’s subject matter: it is a topic that reminds listeners that they are no different from the next person who wears the biggest smile in public but weeps in the privacy of their home.
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On the song’s intro, Libianca shouts out her hometown of Bamenda in Cameroon. After that, the words that follow immediately suck you into the song. “I’ve been drinking more alcohol for the past five days/Did you check on me?/Now, did you look for me?/I walked in the room, eyes are red and I don’t smoke banga/Did you check on me? (Did you check on me?),” she sings. Those words are simply Libianca’s reality but it carries an accusatory edge that confirms to the listener that they are involved in the song, whether they appreciate it or not. You are forced to think of the persons you know or have met who fit the description of Libianca’s words. That instant relatability is one of the song’s strongest points.
In case you didn’t know, Libianca is no newcomer to the music business. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States of America to Cameroonian parents, she started playing musical instruments and getting vocal lessons from a young age, and around 15, she signed to a record label. She is also a sound engineer, songwriter and creative director. Last year, she was a participant in The Voice, an American singing competition, where she was tutored by American country music act Blake Shelton and performed covers of SZA’s “Good Days,” The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears,” Billie Ellish’s “Everything I Wanted” and Doja Cat’s “Woman.” During the show’s Blind Auditions, Ariana Grande, who was one of the coaches, had told Libianca: “You’re so good, you’re so beautiful, I’m obsessed.”
On “People (Check On Me),” Libianca addresses depression and anxiety. “Nobody wey know the paranoia oh/‘Cause I put a smile on my face/A facade you can never face (Ooh),” she sings. It is common knowledge that nobody readily puts out their woes for the world’s consumption. The act of faking appearances or emotions is a skill humans have perfected for many, many years. What would be expected, though, is that family and friends are one’s confidants but that isn’t always the case because sharing familial and personal ties doesn’t make a person’s internal turmoil decipherable. Libianca seems to know this when she sings, “And if you don’t know me well, well, oh/You won’t see how buried I am inside my grave.”
Sonically, Mage the Producer offers Libianca a soundscape that captures the hopelessness that saturates the track. The mid-tempo rhythm strays into the path of Afropop with Libianca’s Soul-tinged vocals and emotions colouring the tune. While Mage the Producer plays behind the board, ace British-Ghanaian record producer JAE5 mixes and masters the song, ensuring that the instrumentals and Libianca’s vocals are a perfect fit.
In today’s world, the internet has become both a blessing and a curse. Multiple social media platforms have made lives easy and made connectivity possible as people scattered across continents can communicate with a single click. Whether it concerns business, social, political or romantic interests, distance is no longer a problem; intentions are expressed and understood without hiccups. On the other hand, it has contributed to a more insular world, where people and real-life situations are mostly sources for viral content and nothing more. It is these circumstances that fuel the world of Libianca’s “People (Check On Me).”
Three days ago, Libianca released the music video to the song. The Ceojay-directed music video, which is an in-house production handled by Libianca and her team of video directors and photographers, mirrors the moodiness of the song. In the opening sequence, Libianca rises from sleep to start her day while she goes on to prepare food and invite her friends for dinner. By the end of the video, Libianca’s friends fail to show up and she remains indoors, dejected and alone. A piece of advice appears on the screen, encouraging viewers to check on their people because their “sense of kindness can break the wall of isolation and the feeling that no one cares.”
At the moment, Libianca is signed to RCA Records and JAE5’s 5K Records; it is a major step up for the previously indie artist, which means more attention and opportunities. Other music artists, including Nigerian singer BNXN, have expressed appreciation for Libianca’s craft and have done covers of “People (Check On Me).” Libianca’s song calls on listeners to remember our humanity and that for the time we are on earth, we are all we have got.
Stream “People (Check On Me)” below.
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