Kaash Paige Introduces Essence’s Official Cuffing SZN Opener Playlist
Kaash Paige

It’s hard not to notice the changing of the seasons with climate change calamities happening all across the country. And if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for any peaceful reprieve that you can find. As we all begin to trade in our short sets and swimsuits for Patagonia jackets and faux-fur Telfar durags, it is my pleasure to announce the beginning of Cuffing SZN!

Yes, yes, you may be murmuring to yourself, “Cuffing season is from October to March, Kevito,” but in these unprecedented times—we are all in need of some love and affection. This week’s co-curator, Kaash Paige, knows a thing or two about relationships, as the 19-year-old R&B phenom has throngs of fans who keep tracks like “Love Songs” and “Soul Ties” on repeat.

“I’m super single [laughs]. I’ll be in a fake relationship from time to time, but I only wanna be cuffed up when the late nights hit,” Paige shares when asked about celebrating the season via email. The urge to connect with others is heightened with COVID-19 and fear-mongering at elevated levels, leaving us to avoid situationships for the ease of socially distanced conversations, FaceTime kisses and, of course, great music. With that said, Kaash Paige and I are excited to share ESSENCE’s first Official Cuffing SZN Opener playlist. These 10 songs are meant to be played with the volume set to red light special to push away those lonely cabin fever blues.

“‘Unthinkable’ by Alicia Keys [is my song]. You never know if you’re gonna get past the talking stage with someone so it’s just ‘Unthinkable,'” Paige offers to let her crush know she’s feeling them. This reflects the variety of flavors she chose to kick off this boo thang celebration. If you find your mind floating toward the desire to hold hands and have a cuddle sesh along with apple cider doughnuts right now, you’re not alone. “I’ve been super good at keeping my health up,” Paige says when asked about staying active despite all the masks and mandates. “I take ginger shots every morning and drink hot lemon water. I’ve been getting tested a lot too, and thankfully every time it’s been negative.”

We hope this year’s Official Cuffing SZN Opener playlist serves as the soundtrack for love and companionship in your rotation.

1. Miguel — “Come Through And Chill” (ft. J. Cole & Salaam Remix)

Kaash Paige’s first pick is a classic that the streets clamored for and continues to get play even now. “Remain a free agent,” she shares when asked about advice for those in draft pick mode. Miguel and J. Cole serve solid two-step vibes that will have any would-be lovers showing off their footwork over Salaam Remi‘s saucy grooves.

2. Shirazee — “Right Thang” (ft. Busiswa)

The Benin-born and raised singer-songwriter not-so-quietly shined in his feature appearance in Beyoncé’s Black Is King and The Lion King: The Gift album. On “Right Thang,” Shirazee and the iconic poet from South Africa, Busiswa, collaborate on this Afropop bop that will have you and your Cuffing SZN draft pick dancing up a sweat to keep warm.

3. H-Town — “Knockin’ Da Boots”

Kaash takes it back to Texas with her second pick for ESSENCE‘s official Cuffing SZN Opener playlist. H-Town‘s body-rocking, sway-gathering romp continues to defy time by remaining a signature song for any generation’s cuffing season playlist.

4. Aminé — “Easy” (ft. Summer Walker)

If you haven’t added Limbo by Aminé to your rotation yet, you’re heavily sleeping on one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. Truss mi, people. “Easy,” which is low-key a Cuffing SZN MVP song, finds the Portland, Oregon rapper opening up about the difficulties of love alongside Summer Walker. The two give this track a live jazz room feel, a perfect vibe for the socially distanced lover in you.

5. Brent Faiyaz — “Lovely”

The Parked Car Convos singer-songwriter chose this deep cut Brent Faiyaz song for the early AM lovers. “I’m super single [laughs]. I’ll be in a fake relationship from time to time, but I only wanna be cuffed up when the late nights hit,” she shares. On “Lovely,” Brent relates that vibe to almost falling in love in the club because we like cuffing season, feelings change.

6. Durand Bernarr — “Volume” (ft. KAYTRANADA)

Let me add to Kaash’s late night groove with a freshly baked offering from Durand Bernarr. “Volume,” produced by KAYTRANADA,” is a slinky and bouncy groove that adds some spice to your night of music making. “Let me turn the fire down” is such an OG Cuffing SZN line you and your special someone should already be nuzzling by the end of the first verse.

7. PARTYNEXTDOOR — “Wus Good”

Kaash Paige’s second-to-last pick is another oldie-but-goodie from that boi PND. “Wus Good / Curious” is a song that should command more attention from the people. But as a Cuffing SZN Opener, PARTYNEXTDOOR‘s effort adds a melodious atmosphere to a night shared with that cool likkle ting you like.

8. Oxlade — “DKT”

Would it be Cuffing SZN without any Ariwo or pepper spice? Oxlade is a rising Afrobeats singer-songwriter who arrives right on time with the perfect vibe for those romantic nights. “DKT,” or “Dis Kind Thing,” is an addictive R&B concoction, which finds Oxy singing about his search for his love. You’ll happily grab that special someone next to you in an attempt to slow dance as this one plays on repeat.

9. Steve Lacy — “C U Girl”

For Kaash’s last pick, Steve Lacy‘s “C U Girl” is a good one to choose. The standout guitarist, singer, and songwriter has been instrumental in giving up close-and-personal songs like “Some” and “Special Affair” (as part of The Internet). But on “C U Girl,” your chance to tell that person you like them over this combined funk and R&B with lo-fi as extra seasoning is choice, and a nice way to introduce Lacy to a new listener.

10. Savannah Cristina — “Gold Mine”

Miami’s own Savannah Cristina is a bold and robust vocalist who is making her presence felt in the R&B world. With “Gold Mine,” this oldie-but-a-goodie closes out ESSENCE’s Official Cuffing SZN Opener playlist, using a sultry soundscape and a nineties-styled groove that will bring you closer to the one you wish to adorn with love and play footsie with as the temperatures drop.

Catch new bi-weekly editions of ESSENCE’s The Playlist on Fridays and listen to @KevitoClark‘s (Un)Official Cuffing SZN Opener playlist on Apple Music and Spotify.

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