2020 been a difficult year to navigate. Before our lives were threatened by a deadly disease, and now systemic racial and gender-based injustices, life was already crazy enough. Collectively, we all face a wide variety of obstacles on a daily basis, and now when you add the unease due to the aforementioned, there seems to always be something going on that’s trying to pull you down.
The pandemic has drawn us farther apart physically, yet somehow connected us online. The past week has shown that we all have a common interest to make the world a better place, following virtual and IRL protests in response to the death of George Floyd and the horrific assault and killings of young girls in Nigeria from Uwa Omozuwa to Tina Ezekwe.
There seems to be difficult news to consume at almost every turn, and the cycle of constantly digesting horrific news and graphic images can be detrimental to one’s mental health. The other day, I read somewhere that currently, your diet isn’t solely about what you’re eating; but also about the news you consume, the conversations you have, the music you choose to listen to daily and literally any information you’re willingly plugging in to has the power to change your social diet.
On the chorus of “Energy”, after baring his soul, Runtown directs us “back to the dancing”, and sometimes, it just be like that. Music has proven time and time again to be a conduit to healing, and whether it’s the song lyrics that resonate with you or a beat you can get lost in, you’re likely to hear something that will make you feel better.
Last week, when it was all going down, we provided you guys with a care package filled with tips and advice on how to unplug and take care of yourself considering everything that’s going on. This week, while things seem to have calmed down a bit, we’re all still triggered and aware of the horrible realities we’re facing, so we’ve gone a step further and providing a music care package to get you through these difficult days.
There’s a lot going on at the moment, make sure you take care of yourself.
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Kojo Cue – From My Sisters
We can all admit that the world is a bit more shit than usual for women right now, and that’s why to start out, we want everyone to hear from Ms Fu, Anae, Dzyadzorm & Raphaella, who brought our collective voices together in this song. Although it was released back in November last year, it could have dropped today and still be as relevant.
A lot of the time, women are made to feel shame about how angry we are at a system which has been designed to keep us down, and this song in light of the past week is the perfect reminder of just how justified we are in our anger. We must do our bit to dismantle, disrupt and discuss, and the track which starts off with “Listen to the stories, you can feel the pain in our eyes”, presents the perfect starting point.
SOLIS – “Can’t Breathe”
SOLIS’ brand of lo-fi bedroom pop music is incredibly important, her messages are poignant and powerful. On “Can’t Breathe” she encapsulates perfectly what most of us may be feeling at the moment, the world is spinning fast but SOLIS’ angelic and undulating vocals are here to guide you through feeling your emotions until you can let them go.
Tems – “These Days”
Tems’ latest single couldn’t have come at a better time. The deeply reflective and sombre number is fitting for these uncertain times, and makes for the perfect background for when you want to slow down and look within. With a clear confession of how she’s feeling towards a sour relationship, Tems has put forward a kind of vulnerability that validates yours and has created something that could replace a late-night conversation with your homegirls. Thank you Tems.
Dave – “Psycho”
Dave didn’t get a Mercury Prize in 2019 for no reason. His stellar and deeply intuitive project ‘Psychodrama’ saw him delving into themes of family and identity in an almost therapeutic manner. On the project’s “Dreams & Nightmares” style opener, “Psycho” he bares his soul so honestly that it’s infectious. Dave mirrors everyone’s state of mind, speaking about spirituality, systematic injustice, mental health, identity crisis and more in the span of 4 minutes, without missing a beat. For anyone who’s finding it difficult to find a moment’s calm, Dave’s therapy rap is the perfect soundtrack to get those feelings out.
Nonso Amadi – “Free”
Nonso Amadi’s thing is love songs, and although “Free” is another love song, Nonso Amadi manages to capture a universal feeling; the need for freedom. With current social distancing requirements, the world is a different place from what it once was when this song first came out, but the message is still clear. Even while reliving heartbreak Nonso Amadi’s voice is soothing—resigned but optimistic.
Deathproof – Gigi Atlantis
The calm flippancy in which Gigi declares “fuck, the method’s a madness”, and “ain’t finna die, so we ride” on “Deathproof” is exactly what you need to wind down to this week. The BOJ-assisted song finds the balance between chant-ready declarations and promoting resilience, singing, “Nobody Said That It Would Be Smooth Sailing” – which indicates that it’s a song made for both the artist and the audience. The world is upside down for everyone right now, and Gigi seems like she’s giving herself the push we all need at the moment.
Naira Marley – “Mafo”
It would be a disservice to the entire Marlian community to not include the President’s most uplifting and assertive song so far. If we know about any musician’s struggles, it’s Naira Marley, and his jovial attitude towards it all tells us everything we need to hear. On “Ma Fo” he’s telling us not to panic, and to always stand our ground because life is fucked up. Young Jonn’s infectious beat makes it impossible for you to sit still whilst Naira Marley is telling us to ‘stay happy and se jeje’ . The storms never last.
Tomi Thomas – “Shaken”
Tomi Thomas has a gift. His uplifting vocals and memorable lyrics will always catch your attention, and keep you captivated in the song. “Shaken” is the gift that keeps on giving, it’s a powerful message for listeners to remain strong and bold even in the face of troubles, is incredibly touching especially now. Even though our faith is shaken, we will not be moved in these times.
Odunsi The Engine – “Wetin Dey/Better Days”
Odunsi’s double drop “Wetin Dey/Better Day” is the exact kind of music you would call rhythm and blues. “Wetin Dey” is upbeat, catchy, fun, and memorable with the colourful accompanying sure to bring a smile to your face, while on the flip side “Better Days” is a desolate tune more fitting for the times we are in. Much like Odunsi and Wani, we’re all praying for the better days to come and restore hope to the bleakness we’re all feeling.
Runtown – “Energy”
Runtown’s “Energy” is the vibe you need right now. His superpower is his ability to get us in our feelings, whilst wanting to turn up and this track makes the perfect summation. It’s the exact song that’s reflective of the artist’s mind, where he speaks about adoration for a love interest, but also flexes on naysayers and ‘enemies’ with platitudes such as “so I say, no man can take my joy away. I just wanna make more money and live my life my way”. Think we can all relate.
Dami Oniru – “Nowhere to Run”
Dami Oniru’s latest single “Nowhere to Run” is a marker of the unprecedented times we’re all collectively navigating through at the moment. Rather than give up hope, Dami Oniru is telling us directly to engage in deep self-reflection, which is always the prerequisite for growth. Speaking to the NATIVE, she shared that: “The song is about rediscovering your power and finding strength in your weakness and just remembering that whatever the situation you are going to get through it”.
Burna Boy – Ja Ara E
This song starts off with wise words, “Your body go rest o, pa tell pikin o” which basically tells us that we can’t cheat nature. Earlier on, we spoke about how what you consume affects your state of mind, and if you don’t intervene, your body (mind in this case) will do what it needs to regardless. Later on in the song, he also gives some more solid advice, telling us to: “Look around in all the places you go to, stand your ground and stay solid like Ogun. Watch your back and do what you’re supposed to, take care of family and people you’re close to”. It’s important for us to stay strong at the moment.
Odunsi & Tems – Decided
When the song dropped back in April, we were weeks into quarantine when life was very confusing and people were grasping for any bit of grounding they can get. The past week, similarly, has felt a bit like that, and there’s a heaviness in the air that’s hard to place and navigate.
We’re at a point where we’ve been made to confront our immediate reality and contribute towards making a collective change to the injustices whilst dealing with the tragic deaths and y’kno, a pandemic. As our Best New Music selection that week, we said it was the perfect song for self-reflection and that’s every bit as true right now as it was back in April.
Skepta & Wizkid – “Bad Energy (Stay Far Away)”
Skepta and Wizkid’s first official music collaboration “Bad Energy” was undoubtedly the talk of the town that year, due to the catalytic effect of this fusion of two rich sounds. While when it dropped, it was the perfect soundtrack for summer parties and beachside living, with lines that made the perfect Instagram captions. Today, however, we quite literally need the positivity the song exudes, and we’re begging the bad energy to stay away.
Nasty C & T.I – “They Don’t”
This seemed like a befitting number to close this care package series. South African rapper, Nasty C has teamed up with rapper, T.I for a deeply sombre and reflective number titled “They Don’t”. The song directly addresses the racial injustices going on in the US, and urges listeners to remember the names of all those we have lost (Say Their Names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and countless more). The proceeds from the song will be going towards Unity Freedom and Solidarity Fund.
Stay Safe everyone.
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Tami is living in a black mirror episode and can’t seem to wake up. Tweet your fave female artistes at her @tamimak_