If I Had A Record Label…Rawiya
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Imagine if you had a record label. You had unlimited funds to spend on A&R and development. You didn’t have to worry about album sales or stock holders. Who would your dream lineup be?
This is a question that we posed to some of our new writers this past week, and we will be posting their responses throughout the next few weeks. First up is our New York-based contributor Rawiya.
It’s an obvious choice, but Janelle Monae should be at the top of every record exec’s wishlist. With her blend of r&b, funk, and rock&roll, Ms. Monae has engineered a sound that fills a void in today’s pop landscape. Her recently released ArchAndroid LP, an eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2008’s Metropolis, includes references to old-school sensibilities, but with a modern approach. She easily appeals to a broad spectrum of listeners, and manages to accomplish the difficult task of impressing indie fans and mainstream listeners alike.
Francis and the Lights
Most of the world came to know Francis and the Lights after they supported Drake on his North American tour. But the band, and especially its lead singer Francis Farewell Starlite, has been an indie favorite since the release of Striking in 2007. Francis’ falsetto, which sits above simple drum patterns and r&b-influenced guitars, means comparisons to the Purple One are inevitable. But while Prince comparisons are usually unwarranted, Francis is arguably the only contemporary artist who even comes close. And with a production credit on Drake’s mega-hit Thank Me Later, it’s clear that Francis and the Lights have major hit power.
Blitz the Ambassador
Ghanaian-born Blitz the Ambassador is one of the few contemporary rappers whose music suggests that perhaps hip hop isn’t dead after all. Blitz delivers sharp, clever rhymes over soulful beats offered up by a full band, which even includes a horn section. The sheer musicality of his work has the potential to attract a diverse and multi-generational audience. But that doesn’t mean his music is diluted. Rather, he raps with a confidence and bravado that is reminiscent of early hip hop: metaphors galore, and a clear positive message.