Mic Drop: Music for Every Mood

Mic Drop: Music for Every Mood

TiKA – “I Would Die 4 U”
TiKA – “I Would Die 4 U”
Screenshot: YouTube

This week, fire-ass artists were coming out of the woodwork. Some released music videos that had me scratching my head and saying, “aren’t we in a global panorama?” While others released chill EPs and albums that had me laying on my floor and staring at the ceiling for a bit, contemplating the universe and also what I had to make for dinner.

The artists’ sounds draw from all over the world. From St. Louis based artist Smino to Congolese-Belgian singer/rapper/songwriter, Lous and the Yakuza. I’m always in awe of the diversity of Black music. I don’t know, it just never ceases to amaze me.

It was MLK Day yesterday and many artists released tribute videos (some weirder than others) that not only paid respect to Dr. King but shone a light on all of the stuff happening in the world.

Music has a way of affecting every mood, and this week’s selection is no exception, a diasporic blend of Hip-Hop, Dancehall, R&B, and Afrobeats in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Bobby Sessions ft. Lecrae, “Made A Way” (Remix)

Bobby Sessions ft. Lecrae, “Made A Way” (Remix)

This song is gospel-trap built around upbeat church piano and choir samples. Think standard trap drum sounds with tambourines and clapping thrown in every few counts for some extra churchiness. The high-energy piano melodies paired with the rags-to-riches come up story is something we’ve seen in hip hop before, but it takes on a different meaning with the distorted choir sounds that act as a refrain, cutting between each verse.


January 15, 2021, Def Jam Recordings (Hip Hop)

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Dolapo, Ms Banks, Oxlade, “Interest”

Dolapo, Ms Banks, Oxlade, “Interest”

North Londoner, Dolapo, gives off a Missy Elliot vibe mixed with traditional afrobeats in this new single. The music, while sexy and fun, is also fairly laid back. It’s an easy-going song that could hype you up but not hype you up. You feel? Dolapo gives off 2017 Beyoncé maternity photoshoot vibes with a sheer veil, ornate arched headpiece against a blue and red background. But the other outfits in the video are just as spectacular. It’s the edges, the leather and the thigh highs, for me.

January 15, 2021, Daddy Kool Recordings (Afrobeats)

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Ebhoni, “Hit This”

Ebhoni, “Hit This”

There’s a very specific type of dancehall/R&B/hip hop that comes out of Toronto (thanks, Drake) and Ebhoni embodies it in her new single Hit This. It could be described as watery for a few reasons. Her background and lead vocals are very flowing, there is an actual droplet sample incorporated into the percussion and the song makes you feel like you’ve been sipping on a fancy cocktail for the last few hours. The percussion, which comes in before the lyrics, is super laid back but easy to dance to. I’m not gonna lie, my favorite part is at the end (3:28) but that’s only because I’m a fan of anything that’s chopped and screwed. 

January 13, 2021, Ebhoni/True Panther-Harvest (Dancehall/R&B)

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Kosine & G Herbo ft. Marcus Black, “Kings” (Remix)

Kosine & G Herbo ft. Marcus Black, “Kings” (Remix)

This lyric video, made as a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., definitely serves its purpose. The remix kept the chorus of the original, which featured Idris Elba. The percussion is made up of an effortlessly looping drum line while the melody is composed of a wind section and a few different strings in the intro and outro. The lyrics have an inspirational yet somewhat desperate tone that absolutely reflects how we’ve all been feeling for the last ten months. G Herbo and Marcus Black rap about the events of 2020 including the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement as well as the election while using popular clips from the internet mixed with footage from different MLK speeches.

January 16, 2021, 2633899 Records DK (Hip Hop)

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KOTA The Friend, “Lyrics-To-Go Vol. 2"

KOTA The Friend, “Lyrics-To-Go Vol. 2"

This 15-minute full album is the newest release from KOTA The Friend. Each song has a sharp keyboard melody that cuts through the beat and is around the same volume if not louder than the vocals. Some tracks have an organic melody while others have more of a distorted sound. The most recognizable aspect of KOTA’s music is the types of beats used. It has a lay-in-bed-and-stare-at-the-ceiling vibe and a look-out-the-window-and-pretend-I’m-in-a-music-video.


January 18, 2021, FLTBYS (Hip Hop)

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Lous and the Yakuza, Joey Bada$$, “Amigo” (Remix)

Lous and the Yakuza, Joey Bada$$, “Amigo” (Remix)

This song is funky. Not to be confused with the genre funk, but has an overall funky vibe to the music. Joey Bada$$ features on the remix of Lous and the Yakuza’s single Amigo. The beats are very afro-Caribbean accompanied by plucking synths (imagine someone trying to pluck a nonexistent string and something beautiful coming out). This is a new sound for Joey Bada$$. He’s leaning into Patois lyricism while matching the French language from the main vocals.

January 15, 2021, Columbia Records (Afrobeats)

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Shae Universe feat. Kojey Radical, “Royalty”

Shae Universe feat. Kojey Radical, “Royalty”

This song pairs soft, Spanish sounding acoustic guitar with R&B beats and slow, deep vocals. There is an underlying urgency to the lyrics as the beat trips a few times to catch up, particularly around the first hook. The melody is sharp and hangs above the beat which sort of fades away, but is still a recognizable R&B/trap beat. The backup vocals play a huge role in the song. There are the flowing background vocals that add depth to the main vocals, and then there are the adlibs that add another dimension to Kojey Radical’s verse.

January 14, 2021, Asylum Records UK (R&B)

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Smino, “MLK Dr”

Smino, “MLK Dr”

Smino is really weird. As a disclaimer: I was in the top 1% of Smino listeners in 2020 according to my Spotify Wrapped, but I have to say this is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen him do. Puppet Smino pulls up, high as all hell and finds Puppet Martian Martin Luther King Jr. with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere St. Louis. Smino fixes the car-ship’s flat tire by blowing smoke at it, then offers martian MLK a joint, which he proceeds to light by snapping his finger. After that the two speed down MLK Blvd., up a ramp and into space in the “IHVADRM” ship. This video uses a 3-D animation technique called cell shading, leaving you with this feeling that you’ve just experienced a cartoon fever dream.


January 18, 2021, Zero Fatigue/Downtown Records / Interscope Records (Hip Hop/R&B)

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TiKA, “I Would Die 4 U”

TiKA, “I Would Die 4 U”

I cried for two weeks straight after Prince died. I also teared up when I heard this for the first time. Do with that what you will. It’s definitely a synth-pop song that she is turned into an R&B song. Her voice is like biting into something crunchy and delicious but then getting something smooth and sweet that you weren’t expecting. She is able to effortlessly stretching her voice so it creates a natural distortion, starting very soft and smooth and gradually moving to a more impassioned and powerful belt. The second bridge hits a whole new vocal plane and tone and shifts to a completely distorted megaphone effect at the end.

January 14, Next Door Records (R&B)

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Honorable Mention: Ariana Grande ft. Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, “34+35” (Remix)

Honorable Mention: Ariana Grande ft. Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, “34+35” (Remix)


January 15, 2021, Republic Records (Pop/R&B)

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DISCUSSION