Published on February 17, 2014 | by Rosie Atkin

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Album review: Cut 4 Me

★★★★

Kelela sings on stage.

Solange Knowles has shown her appreciation for Kelela’s music. [Flickr: Michael Lei]

There has recently been an exciting development of alternative R&B; one that is more jagged and dynamic than the homogenised, Timbaland-produced sounds that we have grown so weary of.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, Missy Elliot et al – especially Missy – but to appeal to the pickier magpie music-lovers, there has been a need for an amalgamation of internet born styles.

Let’s face it, our generation have a melting pot of genres available to us at the click of a button, and we are hard to please.

Enter the beautiful Kelela – the producer’s dream. Intelligent, with a vocal range to melt the most hardened of souls, this dreadlocked princess of new wave R&B has arrived from across the Atlantic, providing us with a mix tape to get lost in.

She has been the darling of the music press ever since her emergence; lauded by Loud & Quiet, featured in Crack Magazine, with Pitchfork waiting with baited breath for every new move.

With a clan of super-producers – Bok Bok, Jam City, Kingdom – this lady is connected.

Solange Knowles has even shown an appreciation for the talented artist, featuring Kelela on her Saint Heron compilation – the ultimate seal of approval.

Naughty alter ego

Kelela has received much love from the music press, since her emergence. [Flickr: Chevy Anderson]

Released in October, Cut 4 Me serves as the naughty alter ego to sugary commercial R&B offerings. Confidently sexual, yet vulnerable and coy in the flicker of an eye, this mix tape depicts modern sexuality from a refreshing perspective. And it’s so sexy.

Kelela’s lyrics are dark and sumptuous, conjuring damp bedroom scenes in the track entitled Cut 4 me, and depicting the cat and mouse aspects of sexual politics in the minimal Do It Again.

Kelela’s vocals can be simultaneously smooth and chilling, writhing around melodies, carving new and unexpected directions.

Keep It Cool is a synth romp, evoking the casual power-play of internet-age relationships, unwilling to label things “until we surrender”.

Floor Show, produced by Girl Unit, displays Kelela’s potential for angelic choral highs – paired with deep bassy blows.

For fans of Faith Hill, Tracy Chapman and old-school Mariah Carey, there is so much to love here. Cut 4 Me is addictive, strong and defiant – it’s music to seduce the cynics.

So let it seduce you.

 

 

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