Queen Naija - EP
Fresh On The Scene, Queen Naija Sounds Classic, A Sign Of A Changing R&B
R&B is getting better, from 2018 going into 2019, with superior melodies and soul. Jorja Smith, Daniel Caesar, Elle Mai, and Queen Naija are all fresh voices bringing perhaps an older style to the game – that of the nineties. I have often felt that some of the greatest R&B came from that era, and artists like Queen Naija seem to agree. I am really pushing for this neo-neo soul as I call it, and on her self-titled Queen Naija - EP, Naija finds the right mix of romance and urban-edge which sounds so old school, but still considers modern ears tuned for Trap rhythms. Everyone should be happy here – and while I may lean in a little more to the songwriting of Daniel Caesar, most of Naija’s material captivated me, as she sings with a good amount of range about subjects that also have a fair amount of range. Motherhood is explored alongside tracks about breaking up, or falling in love again. The rhythms are mostly mellow, perfect for slow dancing, and also storytelling, which Naija shows she has a knack for on “Medicine.”
Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned
Queen Naija gives a message to all cheaters by exploring the circumstances of her own failed marriage, plunging herself back into that misery of betrayal, confronting her man and turning the tables on him with some illuminating lyrics; “I'ma call up Brian, I'ma FaceTime Ryan / I'ma text Lorenzo and I'ma leave you cryin' / don't get it twisted I can play this game too / how would you like it if I did the same to you / same to you, yeah?” I love how she calls out these names, and wonder if they really might be the names of her ex-husband’s real friends – I mean, Lorenzo is a pretty specific name. I wonder if this conversation really happened, or if she, by way of musical therapy, is fantasizing about what she would have said if she could turn back time. Her words are very wise, and the truth is, I have talked to guys before who said they cheated on their girl, and when I asked them, philosophically, how would they feel if the girlfriend acted in the same way, most of them said they would not be able to handle the same thing happening to them. It’s a one sided selfishness – and must have been both frustrating and heartbreaking for the singer to go through, especially as she expresses how loyal she was being; “swear I cannot win for losing / I been out here being faithful / I always got this on lockdown / but that ain't been keeping us stable.” And therefore, she flips the tables on him; “So I guess I know what I gotta do / give you a taste of your own medicine (hey, yeah).” Revenge sounds good on this track, thanks to Naija’s cool vocals and the low seductive beat.
The Instrumental Vibes Are So Good On A Few Of These Tracks
On “Karma”, Queen Naija’s voice breaks in such a cute and husky way, over a delicious beat that features a bass line going lower and lower for more seduction. While the rhythm is satisfied for awhile with a simple snap of the fingers, when it really starts to cook, the metallic Trap comes rolling in, making such a chill-out song brighter and bouncier. The instrumental vibes are noteworthy on this EP – and while they aren’t the busiest melodies in the world, the ones that work here have plenty of layers to warm up your soul with. The melody is super sweet on “Butterflies”, sonically describing exactly what it feels to have that fluttery feeling inside, yet it’s not all fun and games, as the precious feeling can be a blessing and a curse; “I hate it, it gets me frustrated / wanna say just how I feel / but don't know how you would take it.” A modern Trap beat also accompanies these flowery instrumentations, but it is a brighter groove pattern than a dark one. Even though she is afraid to admit her feelings, she feels ready to take a chance and reveal everything; “But every time I see you, I just wanna risk it all.” As much as I love that her style is more melodic, there is a part of me that feels that if she was a real artist from the nineties, she would be slightly boring compared to the many other artists who showed a little more life, but it’s the small victories I count on as R&B slowly ascends from its downtempo despair.
She Looks Young, But Sounds Like A Fearless Mom
While I would have preferred for less Pop convention on the track, there’s no denying how heartfelt the and emotional the vocals are on “Mama’s Hand”, which contains some of Queen Naija’s best deliveries as she boldly belts out her love for her little boy, promising to protect him at all costs. The song’s melody is strong, just like that of a mother’s love, if you should be so blessed. Before all of the marching and soulful crescendos though, the track stirs quietly, almost like the gestation of creation that begins to grow, as a young woman begins to feel the bond getting stronger and stronger during pregnancy. Naija sings “when I first laid eyes on you / when I heard your heartbeat too / oh I never knew, I could witness an angel so beautiful”, and we feel how true these words are, certain that a love like this is like no other. As the song builds, Naija backs this notion up; “from the very moment you arrived I felt something new inside / I developed a love that was so unconditional.” Soon, the chorus breaks in, and so do loud claps and echoing drum rhythm, which I feel symbolize the strength of a woman, who goes through the ordeal of carrying a child, birthing it, and then raising it, often alone, in America at least. To hear Naija, she wouldn’t have it any other way; “and I promise to give you everything that I have / there's not a dream in this world you can't accomplish or grasp / I will cross any ocean before I let you land.” While the sentiments are universal, and certainly heart warming, I do wish that the melody had more creative notes, and the arrangement wasn’t so faux epic – as this song sounds less like R&B and more like a Broadway climactic showstopper about following your dreams. Therefore, though I dig the message, I am not emotionally connecting with the content, whereas on a song like 2Pac’s “Dear Mama”, I am absolutely moved, not just by the hook, but by the sadly sweet melody – which sounds to me much more like a mother’s tender love.