Kojey Radical & Mahalia's Water is Artistically & Socially Profound
Evan Dale // May 15, 2018
We often spend time and effort covering the immensely complicated, beautifully sewn patchwork of the current British scene and needless to say, we still know almost nothing about it and never really will. There's less to know and more simply to derive and contemplate. That's art.
But here are our notes: it's spectrum is indefinable stylistically as the epicenter of the expanding post-genrefication era, the most consistently influential contribution locale to neo-soul and modern jazz's explosive rises into the popular realm, the most musically diverse population of creative artistry in today's scene, and a hub for particularly socioeconomic and politically slated expressionism in light of a rise in global issues centered around nations like Britain and the US. With the never-ending stream of unique and important auditory expression flooding from the UK, it seems as though there's something in the water.
It seems that way as well to Kojey Radical and Mahalia - two artists who would be named especially keynote to the UK sonic landscape if polls dabbled in such arenas.
Radical, who also has passionate plays in the world of fashion and a creative collective specializing in video production, is one of the most dynamic music artists in the globe even when his alternative pursuits are not counted. There are very clearly no bounds to his creative mind, and that same sense of boundlessness informs his musicality. His work effortlessly floats across the graveyard of traditional genre, exploring sounds and styles at his will without ever losing a step in quality. His recent work ranges from a collaboration on South London jazz vocalist, Poppy Ajudha’s debut project FEMME, to a particularly high-energy single release, If Only, which celebrates both the musical strides of his Ghanaian and British roots.
Mahalia, who has been making music since she first picked up her acoustic guitar at 13 and has been a figure on the transcendent British scene for years, experienced a particular surge of success with last year’s Sober. And since that release, the hot streak has only continued. One of the most unique vocal approaches in all of music, Mahalia has become a staple artist of particular intrigue and focus when discussing the future of music in the UK. Akin to Radical, Mahalia’s youthful artistry is defined by a lack of classic definition – making music the way it should be made – from the point of view of an individualistic, evolving person whose consistency is only expected in terms of sheer quality.
The fact that two such unique and important young artists have come to collaborate is not surprising, but it’s hard to believe the world really deserves such a blessing. Their single release, Water, is not only the type of collaboration that works as a multiplication of each individual's incredible talent, but is also one with a purpose that extends, as most of their prior personal work has, into discussions of even further importance.
The light-hearted, jazzy production built of an analogue drum kit and a colorful backdrop of trumpet play comes by way of acclaimed London producer, Swindle, and sets the stage for both Radical and Mahalia to do what they do best. The two have every bit as much chemistry as any romantic collaborative pair in memory, but Water is of a different set of thematic exploration. In fact, if anything but a romantic ballad, Water is a track of heartbreak and loss - though not for any person - instead for the times. Radical’s rough and emotionally-driven delivery balances well with Mahalia’s more classically crystalline vocals, but where they find even ground is in their lyrical prowess aimed at addressing a series of social issues being felt not only by their respective nation, but all across the globe.
Rising costs of living, racial privilege, the Flint, Michigan water crisis, and the fickleness of gimmicky trends in the internet era are all brought to the attention of the listener by the end of Radical's first verse. And though the consistent discussion of issues needing to be overcome for universal growth in the modern era continues to be unearthed through the song's duration, the vibe of the song isn't the least bit forced or off-puttingly political. In fact, the balance struck by Radical and Mahalia's unparalleled artistic ability when weighed against the sensitive subject matter somehow manages to come off as rather summery and bright.
Certainly by design, the song isn't only meant to be listened to, but also truly heard.
According to Radical, Water and its prior release, If Only, are simply the first step of something much larger, so needless to say, expect something undeniably artistic and socially-charged in the near future.
And of course, be on the lookout for the next release in Mahalia's consistent stream of groundbreaking stylistic expression.
Both artists have come to be living definitions of the impressive artistic gait of the modern UK scene.