Image from ThisisBlueprint.com
This post was published on nerdyscoop.com
In December of 2017, I went to go see Neo-Soul/R&B artist FKJ at the Metro in Chicago. After waiting for nearly an hour to see an artist I knew no more than a handful of songs, it was unexpectedly one of my favorite shows to date. The fervent aura of the room billowed extravagant dance synths emphasized with R&B grooves and an air of Soul.
Throughout the entirety of the show, everyone danced and felt the soothing sounds reverberate throughout the small venue, making it for one of the best nights I’ve had in a while. It was funny to hear someone standing right next to me, as he observed the whole crowd behind us, commenting on how he loved how “hipster Chicago can be.”
Video was taken at The Metro in Chicago (12/07/17)
A few months prior, FKJ collaborated with another Soul artist known as Masego. Another young talent of the modern Soul movement, it was nice to be introduced to the likes of someone of FKJ’s caliber. In the song Tadow, both of their talents emerged into one sound, pontificated by serene guitar grooves, hypnotic chords, and prolonging Jazz notes.
Video uploaded by FKJ (YouTube)
When I heard that Masego was releasing an album, I was slightly excited to listen to it. FKJ’s R&B sound relies more on improvised instrumentation rather than synthesized pattern construction. I can tell Masego follows the same practice. R&B may be one of the only authentic genres left to date due to that reason.
You begin to unravel the authenticity of the album in the first three tracks or so. The first composition is a typical minute-long homage to that authenticity. Masego unleashes an arrangement of piano play and harmonic instrumentation, almost as if it was meant to be an homage to early R&B or Jazz work.
The track I Had A Vision compels the aura of your typical R&B song, which is a nice throwback, whether intentional or not. Although seeing what Masego is capable of based on his earlier work, I felt he could’ve done better to introduce the whole project.
Image by soulbounce.com
That was the original thought until the next track played. The best way I could describe the track Lavish Lullaby is a modernized R&B song with elements of a subtle trap record. If you could imagine a Chicago trap song romanticized, this would be it. The track Old Age keeps throwing me into bewilderment. As I try to listen to the track multiple times, the track is externally fresh and catchy.
It holds the flavor of old Bop R&B. Although I felt like I have heard this type of R&B twist before, it seems reminiscent of pre-2010 R&B-related to the likes of Jamie Foxx or Omarion. It was refreshing to hear something aurally new, but at the same time remind me of the good old days.
By the time the album delves into the track Prone, I felt that I began to understand Masego’s intention with this project. With his amorphous talent of handling multiple instruments as well as refining his singing voice, Masego is obviously capable of perfecting more than one type of definitive sound. He crafted these tracks as “throwback” tracks because he’s able to do so, without sounding repetitive or insipid.
Image by mixtapemonkey.com
That thought persisted until I’ve listened to the next track, Sugar Walls. The song itself is the resulting manifestation of Masego’s innate sound. Based on what I’ve seen with his collaboration with FKJ, the song itself is surely in tune with Masego’s otherworldly musical thoughts; derailing away from the “throwbacks” for a brief moment.
The tune contains glimmering chords compounded with an exalting background voice and many seemingly nonsensical but moody voices in the background. This may be the most minimalistic song of the whole project.
The rest of the album expands upon the building blocks of his showcased talents. The rest of the tracks, such as Just A Little and Lady Lady are tracks with Masego’s personified sound implemented into them. Just A Little is a soft-spoken tune with airy production behind Dwanye Jackson’s benign and soothing voice and Masego’s seething and cool voice.
Image by vibe.com
The song involves airy production accentuated by a sensual guitar pattern, Masego’s nimble hook, and effervescent trumpet chords. The whole track is a spacious tune that fits well with serene evenings or joyous nights.
After capturing a similar feeling from the song Black Love, the album ends with the original and extended version of the infamous Tadow single with FKJ.
For the first or second album of an artist’s career, their attention is more concentrated on displaying their talents most of the time. They’re not yet at the stage where they could combat conventional music standards, or enhance their own sound.
That was the case for L.A. rapper Earl Sweatshirt for his first two albums, as well as R&B drummer Anderson .Paak’s first studio project. Masego is on the right track, with a few misses here and there, but overall shows immense potential for his upcoming years.
For Masego’s first years with FKJ as well as previous efforts, he’s already beyond his years when it comes to his work. With so many artists within the music industry battling out for the limelight, it’s an impressive feat. Hopefully, he’ll figure out different ways to fine-tune his craft, and so far, that seems to be inevitable.