Welcome to the Election Tuesday episode of Top Shelf Music’s Artist #HotList, with your host Alexia Johnson. Considering this week is all about Democracy, the catharsis of the most heated and aggressive U.S. election to date, Alexia has compiled songs centering around political action from up-and-coming artists of all genres.
“Thunder Clap” — I Am Kazayah
Formerly Princess Kazayah, I Am Kazayah’s “Thunder Clap” came out originally in late 2019, yet we have chosen it for this week’s #HotList because of her growing fame and as a mention to her much-anticipated debut, self-titled album set to release in March 2021. Her next song release, “Sweet”, will drop in December of this year. Kazayah has a blended upbringing — a true representation of the American family. Her parents, born in Jamaica, immigrated to the United States before she was born, making her a first generation American. Her musical style is influenced as such, with a classic mid-century reggae sound, not to mention her soprano voice is perfect for light and soulful harmonies. She has an almost angelic lightness to her vocal tone. “Thunder Clap” was produced and released by Germany’s own Oneness Records.
Genre: Roots, Reggae
For fans of: Sara Lugo, Empress Rasheda, Cherine Anderson
“In My Feels” — Jehry Robinson
“In My Feels” was released off Robinson’s debut album, 20/Twenty, on October 28th and debuted at #28 on the iTunes Rap charts to no one’s surprise. Jehry has been making waves in the underground music scene for some time and you may have seen his name floating around. He has done singles with notable rappers, such as Joey Coo, Krizz Kaliko and, most recently, Tech N9ne. Tech was so impressed, he signed Jehry to his label, Strange Music. Robinson describes his latest album as taking a new approach at a multi-genre level, stating, “I’m taking all of those genres and emotions and fusing them into one sound. You’ll get the happy side. You’ll get the depressed side. If there is a reggae vibe or rock energy, that’s just how I felt that day. That’s the blueprint of what ’20/Twenty’ is: I’m leveling up this hybrid and bringing it to the next plateau.”
Genre: Rap, Hip Hip, Pop
For fans of: Dirty Heads, Macklemore, Cisco Adler, Swayze
“Estamos En La Lucha” — Free Radicals, feat. Karina Nistal
This song off Free Radicals‘ latest album White Power Outage was selected carefully with the current political climate between the United States, Mexico and countless refugees from all over the world. The theme of this song is about injustices that occur at the hands of immigration mismanagement. Regardless of one’s political stance, I think we all can agree that the world is at a crucial tipping point. People are waking up to the systemic injustices that have occurred over the last 100 years and are drawing lines in the sand. We cannot sacrifice our basic morality and human decency, regardless of real (or imagined) national security threats. Have we gotten so far away from our humanity that we will continue to stand aside and allow the mistreatment of refugees and political asylum seekers to suffer at the hands of ICE because of our own fears? We cannot allow these actions to go unchecked and unchallenged any longer. Regardless of political beliefs or where you land on the spectrum of politics, this is a moral issue we all must face. We must not let our fear compromise our American values and we must hold ourselves to the standard that we would hope another country, or person, would treat us in our time of desperation. Willful ignorance of preventable injustices will no longer be tolerated in a world we build for our future going forward.
Genre: Underground Hip Hop, Jazz, Chill-Hop, Old-School
For fans of: Immortal Technique, Eyedea, Dilated Peoples
“Hydrate” — J. Latley, feat. Dizzy Wright
J. Latley is a rapper from the San Francisco Bay Area, with roots in Los Angeles, CA. He describes his music as laidback, with soulful and eclectic style truly representative of Bay Area culture. Thus far, he has worked with notable artists, such as The Grouch, Zion I and Andre Nickatina — just to name a few. “Hydrate” is the second track that has been released off of J. Lately’s forthcoming debut full-length album Winnebego, set to release in Spring 2021. “Hydrate” features Dizzy Wright and the notable production talents of Space Cadet, and is a true representation of both Dizzy and J’s outlook on their careers: the fine line that must be walked between cherishing a moment and chasing a dream. As humans, we often get obsessed with the destination and do not take the time to “Hydrate” our souls and minds. This song has a great message about taking the time to reflect and hold space for gratitude along the path of our dreams.
Genre: Hip Hip, Pop, Alternative
For fans of: Hopsin, E-40, The Grouch, Zion I