This week’s edition focuses on the sunny side and brings comfort, warmth, and protection to your earbuds.
“These days, I am listening to music very intentionally, as an escape or as a way to recharge,” artist and all-around fly human being Shay Lia tells me during our email back-and-forth. The 27-year-old singer-songwriter has a refreshing voice and her inclusion in the music game has resulted in us dancing in joyous unison. Especially during these trying times where everything seems to be falling apart at the seams, this Montreal musical maven uses melodies to massage the masses and “bring us closer to the sun.”
“This year has been so frustrating and full of uncertainty and that made summer feel way too short,” she shares, including a link to her latest project, SOLARIS. “As an antidote to uncertainty, I’ve been focusing on music that offers the warmest vibes — music that makes me feel free.” With that in mind, this week’s edition of ESSENCE’s The Playlist focuses on the sunnier side of the sonic streets and highlights songs that fill us up with warmth and happy feelings.
“These five songs make me feel free. They are not the type of songs I play when I’m in a specific mood. They bring me comfort, protection, hope, and love — just like the warmth of the sun does,” she says. While the world may be looking for solace in other temporary things, we hope that this playlist gets you through those dark moments and enables you to put your positivity to the forefront. Enjoy!
1. Roy Ayers — “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”
For Shay’s first pick in this very, very special edition of ESSENCE’s The Playlist, she chooses the sunshine-y vibes of Roy Ayers, telling me via email, “This is a classic! I listen to it the same way the character Dr. Dre does in the opening scene of ‘Straight Outta Compton,’” which means a relaxing vibe to be had by all who listen. “The lyrics are so perfect, as simple as they are, [and] they truly convey how we all feel on a beautiful warm and sunny day.” Even if it is a gloomy day on your block, all you have to do is play this song and watch as the shine comes from within to clear those clouds away!
2. Maségo — “Silver Tongue Devil” (feat. Shenseea)
Uncle Ségo SZN is fast approaching as the polyglot musician, Maségo, follows “Passport” up with this new cut called “Silver Tongue Devil”. Featuring the Shenseea, better known as the “Jamaican Princess of Dancehall,” these two talents bring listeners along for a ride to the crossroads. Filled with tropical and irie sensations, “Silver Tongue Devil” is just the second offering from the star’s upcoming project, which promises to take us through a journey that laments new life, new love, and new reflections. It is Maségo’s evolved interpretation of traphousejazz and I encourage you all to ride the wave.
3. Joyce Moreno — “Jóia”
“I love her voice so much,” Shay shares about her second pick, Joyce Moreno’s “Jóia.” It says a lot about the French-East African talent, whose recent five-track effort, SOLARIS, is full of imaginative melodies, lines, and riffs. “This one is special because it’s all about the a cappella. The harmonies are so beautiful that it forces you to listen. The magic is in her voice and the beauty of Brazilian Portuguese.” In these trying times, if you’re overwhelmed and stressed, Shay’s suggestion of “prioritizing music that makes you feel carefree” could be the right thing to take you away to that (quarantined) special place in your mind.
4. Emotional Oranges — “All That” (with Channel Tres)
Emotional Oranges and Channel Tres connect on this supremely dynamic jam called “All That,” which I’ll be playing well into the next few weeks. If you’re unfamiliar with the mysterious L.A. duo, please be sure to follow me on Instagram — I’ll get you up to speed. A certified bop, these three critically acclaimed creatives send “cuffing SZN/hook-up” vibes all over this record. With these three getting ready to take over 2021, my suggestion is to get you vitamin C up and stay limber for all those dance-worthy grooves to come your way.
5. Khruangbin — “Connaissais de Face”
If there is one thing that Shay and I have in common, it’s her third pick — “Connaissais de Face” by Khruangbin. “I couldn’t help but be drawn to the track because it sounded so familiar and reminded me of Ethiopian music right away,” she says via our email exchange. “I looked into the sample and indeed, they used ‘Bey Tirigñe’ (Call Me) by Mahmoud Ahmed.” This band does deep dive into melodies unlike any other in the game right now, which shows why Shay Lia’s ear is also in a league of its own. “Genres don’t mean anything anymore [and] Khruangin created something very authentic and special with this track.”
6. Seba Kaapstad — “Konke”
Mello Music Group‘s multi-national, multi-talented neo-soul quartet, Seba Kaapstad, return from their 2019 effort Thina with a new single for a new album! “Konke,” which translates to “everything” from Zulu, represents the bold manifestation they look to create in 2020 and beyond. Full of bright colors and beautiful verses, singers Zoe Modiga and Ndumiso Manana shine over their bandmates’ — Sebastian and Pheel — incredible instrumental. If you’re a lover of that sense of wonder, “Konke” is a song that’ll make you want to try it all.
7. Tiwa Savage — “Dangerous Love”
“Tiwa’s song embodies excellence to me,” Shay shares about the Naija superstar artist for The Playlist. “Her voice shines and is very rich and warm. She’s taking us on a journey and you can’t not dance to this — the drums and guitar move you.” Like Tiwa Savage, Shay’s voice elicits the body to move in fantastic and rhythmic ways and if you don’t believe me, listen to “Voodoo” featuring her and Buddy. “[There are] so many layers to the song and showcases an undeniable understanding of composition and dimensional songwriting.” Translation: Keep this jam in rotation and watch how quickly you’ll be transported to another world.
8. ENNY — “Peng Black Girls” (feat. Amia Brave)
Hit the snooze button and stop sleeping on my bad gyal ting, ENNY. The South East London rapper, singer, and songwriter’s third ever single, “Peng Black Girls,” continues to sprinkle that special brand of magic and empowerment that only Black women can do. In a year where we are separated by the pandemic, plus attacked on all sides from skin-folk who ain’t kinfolk (ex. Water Cooler) and politicians look to make a come-up, Enny and her co-star, Amia Brave, make a song about self-love and beauty that is much needed on the airwaves across the globe. Play this poignantly beautiful track for anyone within earshot, and add these rising stars to your must-play list!
9. Erykah Badu — “In Love With You” (ft. Stephen Marley)
Shay’s last pick for ESSENCE’s The Playlist is an oldie and a goodie. “I love how simple and romantic this song is,” she shares about the Erykah Badu-Stephen Marley pairing. “It feels like [they] are in the room with you [and] sounds like an acoustic version of something so natural and familiar.” For fans who are also in love with the Djiboutian-Canadian musician, being able to appreciate her collection of work sounds just as soulful as this classic tune. “‘In Love With You’ is an example of a brilliant mix of genres. I love that this is more of a duet and less of a ‘feature’. In letting the “magic speak for itself” as Shay says, this chune is all emotion over perfection and should never leave anyone’s rotation ever.
10. Growing Concerns Poetry Collective — “Come To Me Open”
Big shout-out to “Pitch Me Sam” for putting this group on my radar. Comprising of Jeffrey Michael Austin, McKenzie Chinn, and Mykele Deville, the Growing Concerns Poetry Collective is a mixture of prose, positivity, and purpose — and I love this soundscapes they’ve created. On “Come To Me Open,” this mixture is performed beautifully while exploring the virtues of collective transcendence. It’s the way that they blend Afrofuturism, hip-hop, and originality with this experimental work of art… for me. Be sure to listen to their new album, BIG DARK BRIGHT FUTURES, which is rooted deeply in the Black American experience — and is out right now.