Allow me to re-introduce you to Joyce Wrice. The L.A.-based San Diego-native is a singer-songwriter who captures beautiful melodies with ease. Her soulful voice is like an expressive brush that paints pictures with her words.

“Growing up, I was so fascinated by wordplay and writing that could make you feel as if you’re going through what’s being talked about,” Wrice writes via email. “I was so little but I could still feel the sadness in songs by Tamia and Brandy, even though I hadn’t even experienced romance or heartbreak. That’s so powerful to me.”

Wrice’s new album, Overgrown, has been praised by a number of music outlets for the way she mixes lyrical life experiences over productions from D’Mile, KAYTRANADA, and James Poyser. Her project withstands the fast-paced, here-today-gone-tomorrow digestive trait of today’s music listeners, harkening the musicianship of artists from decades prior.

Joyce Wrice

“A lot of the music I love was created in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and early 2000s,” Wrice shares. “I’m so inspired and motivated by that type of impact and aim for longevity for my own artistry as well.” 

One of the ways she plans to go the distance is by following this simple rule all songwriters can learn from: “Do your best not to overthink and be pressed about creating something good. Enjoy the process and have fun!”

In paying tribute to our favorite songwriters who so easily stir up emotions ith their music, this week’s The Playlist has bops for the lovers, the up-tempo two-steppers, and all audio adventurers.

1. Jazmine Sullivan — “Mascara”

Up first, Joyce digs into her bag by presenting Jazmine Sullivan’s “Mascara” from 2015’s Reality Show. “The idea of putting herself in the mindset of a gold digger and stereotypical Instagram model in a satirical way is so funny to me,” Wrice writes about Sullivan’s penchant for deconstructing archetypes. Set around the framework of reality TV, “Mascara” is a towering anecdote that needs to be added to the Library of Congress. “She’s one of my favorite writers and definitely on my list of writers I want to work with.”

2. Lucky Daye — “How Much Can A Heart Take” (ft. Yebba)

It’s safe to say that Lucky Daye’s pen game is top tier in the male R&B category. Table For Two already has listeners wanting more, but this delicious duet featuring special guest star Yebba makes a song about petty, toxic habits sound so good. Smoother than shea butter on a Sunday morn, “How Much Can A Heart Take” is a soundtrack lovers and cynics can appreciate just the same.

3. Lauryn Hill — “Ex-Factor”

A go-to classic, Lauryn Hill’s pen was full of vibranium ink when she wrote this standout from her five-time Grammy-winning album The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill. “The lyrics are so real and relatable,” Wrice confesses. “It is a timeless song that pierces my soul. I remember listening to this a lot during a break-up in college.” If there is a moment where you’re in need of reflection (or a good ass cry), Hill’s astonishing work of art will serve as a masterclass in songwriting.

4. SAULT — “Son Shine”

There’s no greater feeling than how SAULT makes me feel—especially when “Son Shine” is shining on me. Not much is known about this British band of Black & Proud creatives, but what appears as truth is that music heads are pulled in by their use of retro-modern psychedelic soul and righteous Afrobeat riddims. Channeling a bit of ‘80s-inspired gospel and purposely placed pop, the instrumental production alone is enough to get you off your seat. Add in lines like “Your love’s protecting me” and “I think God’s crying when it rains,” and you’ll be thankful to have been born a true forever living original.

5. D’Angelo & The Vanguard — “Really Love”

“Really Love” was the first single from D’Angelo since 2008’s “I Found My Smile Again,” and the first under the banner with The Vanguard. This song is another reason why the soul singer-songwriter can do no wrong when it comes to writing about matters of the heart. “This song is so romantic and beautiful! D’Angelo [and Kendra Foster’s] writing and his voice on the track makes me feel like I have butterflies in my stomach,” Wrice professes. “Even if I’m not indulging in anyone at that moment, this song makes me feel good and sway my hips with a glass of red wine in my hand.”

6. Devin Morrison — “With You” (ft. Joyce Wrice)

Full disclosure: Bussin’ means “tasty” in Floridian. With that said, those who have yet to experience the sounds of Devin Morrison, well, you’re in for a treat. Featuring this week’s co-curator, Joyce Wrice, the two effortlessly glide on “With You,” a luscious mid-tempo groove, and settle the listener in for a sonic wave of goodness. It was on triple-repeat when I first heard it and stays in rotation as a way of championing the chemistry and coolness of this talented songwriting tandem.

7. H.E.R. — “Damage”

With H.E.R. impacting the charts, it is extra rewarding to see it be for her pen game and not just because she fits snugly into a box. “Damage,” a song that ushers us one step closer to an official debut album, is built around Herb Alpert’s “Making Love In The Rain,” and made emotive by H.E.R.’s smoky yet flirtatious tone. “The lyrics to ‘Damage’ resonate with me so much because I’m very loyal and love hard when I’m into somebody,” Wrice writes. “When H.E.R. says, ‘Just be careful what you take for granted / Cause with you me know you could do damage,’ I felt like she was speaking to me. I went through something similar to what she was singing about.”

8. Michael Kiwanuka — “Living In Denial”

Michael Kiwanuka is a living treasure when it comes to delving into the reality of being an African who feels out of place. His 2019 self-titled album explored identity and issues with self-confidence, and on “Living In Denial,” Kiwanuka writes as if he’s penning in his diary and reading aloud for clarity. As someone who is a work-in-progress in this area, the brave experimentalist offers some hard-won self-knowledge that is an inspiration to me in my journey. This is doctor-recommended and approved music right here.

9. Mereba — “Sandstorm” (ft. J.I.D)

This song is endlessly satisfying and catchy AF. The Spillage Village singer-songwriter continues to amaze and impenetrate the listener’s ability to enjoy every note thanks to her pen and pleasant harmonies. “To this day, I still am in awe with this record,” Wrice says about the song from Mereba’s The Jungle Is the Only Way Out. “Both Marian [Mereba] and J.I.D have amazing pens. The metaphors and poetic ways of writing have moved me so much [that] I almost teared up when I first heard it.” Add in those elegant piano melodies and irresistible chords and you’ll know why this entire record is just magical.

10. Greentea Peng — “Mr. Sun (Miss Da Sun)”

South East London singer-songwriter Greentea Peng is a plant-powered sista with soul. On her 2019 summer-hazed single, “Mr. Sun (Miss Da Sun),” Peng’s plush vocals still smooth out the rough edges that are being felt now in 2021. Jazzy and full of light, Peng creates wide open green spaces and warm weather vibes all in one take. Tea, some small shade, and a nice backyard patio are ideal accompaniments for you to have on deck when you play this fantastic song.

Catch new editions of ESSENCE’s The Playlist on Fridays and follow us @ESSENCE and @KevitoClark on socials to stay in tune with us online.


Loading the player...