Mic Drop: Masterful Musicians Makin' Moves

Mic Drop: Masterful Musicians Makin' Moves

Ai Bendr “Coffee”
Ai Bendr “Coffee”
Screenshot: YouTube

We’ve got a lot going on here, and guess what? I’m here for it. Black women are dominating the first week of May’s charts, floating between different genres and but putting us in our bag and taking us back out. Music is intersectional as all hell, but we knew that already, so it’s time to talk about an aspect of music that holds us all together: the movement.

Each song and video this week brings us a different type of movement. This can be defined as the way that the music physically makes your body move, or the emerging feels that might spark a certain movement, or even the type of movement that makes you have a change of heart.

Now, let’s talk about Willow freaking Smith. I was her age when “Whip My Hair” played incessantly on the radio and thought she was the coolest person in the whole world for shaving her head—and begged my parents to let me shave mine. Suffice to say, I kept my hair. But now, that same level of bad-assery is coming in clutch and giving Janet Jackson-meets-TLC-meets-Kourtney Kardashian’s boyfriend (Blink-182's Travis Barker, who appears on her new single).

But so. much. cooler.

The movement continues as Spice, the self-anointed “Queen of Dancehall” steps out onto the stage with none other than Sean Paul and Shaggy. Their newest hit, “Go Down Deh” screams party and any summer that we’ve had up until summer 2020—so maybe it’s a good omen. That vibrant and joyful energy is carried over to Ai Bendr’s track, “Coffee,” though in a much different way.

So yes, we’re making moves, starting movements and being emotionally moved this week. Are you ready?

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Ai Bendr – “Coffee”

Ai Bendr – “Coffee”

Iced—or hot—coffee anyone? Ai Bendr seems to like drinking and making a steamy cup of joe in this fun and romantic video for her latest song, “Coffee.” The song feels like a blooming flower emerging from an ever-present desire for love and romance in our lives (at least, in the aesthetic sense). From her flirty vocals and boppy beats to her infectious smile and style, Ai’s vocals will have you hooked—as will the sharp and melodic hook. Bendr’s visuals embody what young love looks like and coupled with her optimistic lyrics, this is the type of song to jump around to and sing with all the volume turned all the way up and the windows rolled all the way down.

April 30, 2021, UMGRI Interscope Records (Pop/R&B)

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Bobby Sessions – “Cog in the Machine”

Bobby Sessions – “Cog in the Machine”

Sessions has been handing us bangers all of 2021. “Cog in the Machine” delves into the monotonous day-to-day life of a man working for someone other than himself. The overall lyrics and tone manifest a way of life better than this one and give encouragement to those trapped in a similar “down on your luck” situation. As always, Sessions’ masterful music production gives the song a mysterious yet open and mainstream-pop vibe. Of course, the visuals are always flawless, from the choppy footage of a city’s moving parts to the different locations where Sessions takes us on the journey of his come-up.

And the white man yelling, “what the fuck” is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

April 30, 2021, Def Jam Recordings (Hip Hop)

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Ebhoni – “Weston & Leona (Break From Toronto Freestyle/Girl With the Tattoo)”

Ebhoni – “Weston & Leona (Break From Toronto Freestyle/Girl With the Tattoo)”

She has the confidence and energy that I wish to embody for, well…ever. Ebhoni is “unfuckwithable” yet approachable, talking about her experiences with bullying and harassment while showing us her designer jewels and acrylics in a red lit room. It’s very “Gen Z neon lights” mixed with “old school raps and rhymes.” Her vocal delivery is a combination of a hard-hitting flow and very melodic singing.

“I lost my grandma December 2020 & with this pandemic I haven’t really been outside. This song & the beat encompasses me, me growing up to this point,” notes Ehboni in the video.

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Justine Skye – “Twisted Fantasy (feat Rema)”

Justine Skye – “Twisted Fantasy (feat Rema)”

Justine Skye makes music you could add to any playlist. “Twisted Fantasy” has the type of melody you can’t help but sing along to; her vocal range is full of dips and runs and a fun dynamic point of view. The combination of typical R&B beats combine with dancehall rhythms to create a danceable vibe that only increases after the hook.

Now, wanna know a little-known secret about The Root staff? We absolutely love airhorns. So that hook is just *chefs kiss* for me. It separates the song between its two movements—Skye’s sultry verses and chorus and Rema’s ass-shaking dancehall beats.

April 30, 2021, Nynetienth LLC, Anthem Entertainment

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Mereba – “Rider”

Mereba – “Rider”

Mereba’s enchanting hit, “Rider” feels sensual and mentally and emotionally empowering all at once. Her soft vocals resonate deeply with the flowing harmonies. The melodic drums intertwine with the other rhythmic and monothematic percussion. In what seems to be a different direction than her past music, Mereba’s lyrics seek to grab hold of a true love while operating in a time of chaos. Mereba “boldly steps outside her comfort zone to seize the apple of her eye. In return, the singer aims to become the ultimate partner for her beau,” according to a press release provided to The Root. The song, which emanates both romantic and self-love, enchants the listener, driving them not just to think about what they are hearing, but how it could truly apply to their day-to-day lives.

April 29, 2021, Interscope Records (Pop/Soul)

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Shelley FKA Dram – “Something About Us”

Shelley FKA Dram – “Something About Us”

I truly stan soulful Dram—well, Shelley FKA Dram. When I first heard he was switching his tune and his direction, I was a bit skeptical, but now after listening to a few releases and having a real understanding of his growth, I have to say I’m a fan. This funky, bass-slapping, foot-tapping track has a fiery drumline and an a capella horn section that blows its melody out of the water. His soulful and raspy voice cuts through and above all of the noise of the instruments. At this point, he would tell you that what you needed most in your life was a link to view his latest album, which has graciously been dropped here.

April 30, 2021, Atlantic Records (Neosoul/R&B)

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Spice, Sean Paul, Shaggy – “Go Down Deh”

Spice, Sean Paul, Shaggy – “Go Down Deh”

Not that anyone knew how to act before, but the promise of a real summer 2021 got people acting up. It certainly makes me wanna go out and get into a whole lotta nonsense, that’s for sure. Queen of Dancehall Spice bodies the entire video and easily outshines the vibrant, neon club where the video takes place. Sean Paul and Shaggy deliver a different dimension to the track with their own signature styles that make listening to and vibing along with it that much more enjoyable. It’s not a dancehall video without the dancers, and the ones on this set do not disappoint. It’s everything you’d want and more from a video for this type of track and from the looks of it, summer 2021 won’t know what hit it.

May 1, 2021, VP Records P&D (Dancehall)

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Tobi – “Family Matters (feat. Flo Milli)”

Tobi – “Family Matters (feat. Flo Milli)”

Tobi is feeling the family love on his new track, “Family Matters,” and right on time for Mother’s Day, too. In an anthem and ode to his loved ones, the rapper says, “I do anything for the loves of my life / my mother, brothers, my baby daughter and wife.” The sentiment is followed by his declaration to those he loves, “fuck it / imma do the most.” Flo Milli comes in with fire bars professing her own type of love—the love she has for herself and the trajectory she is on. The contrast between the two is honestly kind of funny but in reality, they’re speaking towards the same thing—do the most and get the most.

April 29, 2021, Same Plate/RCA Records; Pulse Recording (Hip Hop)

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Willow – “Transparantsoul (feat. Travis Barker)”

Willow – “Transparantsoul (feat. Travis Barker)”

Wait a minute! I am here for “rocker” Willow. If there is one thing the Smiths have always done, it’s foster and nurture the creativity in their children, so when Willow famously shaved off her hair as a twelve-year-old because she “was so done,” we should have seen this era of “rock and roll-ery” to arrive. The alternative and pop-punk style track calls out the fake people who have tried to embed themselves in her life. Visually, She’s giving us major Janet Jackson in “Scream” vibes mixed with “No Scrubs.” Willow’s next album is set to release this summer and I am truly hoping that we get to see more of this energym because it’s everything.

April 27, 2021, MSFTSMusic/Roc Nation Records, LLC (Pop-Punk)

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