Kwaku Asante’s Debut Project, honeycomb is Timeless Soul
Evan Dale // Dec 7, 2019
Bubbling out from underneath the floorboards of London’s scene-leading Neo-Soul spectrum, Kwaku Asante has spent the past year introducing his one-of-a-kind sound to the world. With a bombardment of near-monthly singles, he’s explored the range not only of his own auditory aesthetic, but that of Neo-Soul and R&B’s future in tow. And akin to many modern Neo-Soul and R&B artists who are in many ways driving the direction of music at large, Kwaku Asante is pushing boundaries and experimenting with a lane not necessarily new, but undoubtedly so to the now generation of vocalists and songwriters.
It all starts with his voice. And Kwaku Asante’s is instantly recognizable. Defined most by an incredibly deep, sultry register that often draws comparisons to Al Green and Barry White; second by an ability to infuse his deliverables with raw sensuality and emotion that draws comparisons to a slew of the same names; and third by an ability to utilize his gift and Neo-Soul’s foundation to bring something new to a modern cut, and something timeless and rare to soul music’s storied past. Kwaku Asante’s 2018 and 2019 seem like the beginning to a career filled with promise and unbound by the constraints of trendy stylistic explorations or a what’s-hot attack.
Though the road towards his debut project likely started at youth and the beginning to a firm music career debuted with 2018 single, The Way That You Move, the march towards honeycomb as we now know it can be traced back to Molasses. The first of three leading singes that now mark the project’s six-track listing, it was also the first that exhibited a particularly sex-oriented thematic exploration.
There were, of course sensual bouts before it. 2018’s Fantasy is a sultry ballad. But Molasses in accompaniment of fellow honeycomb single standout, Sunday, left something to be unearthed through innuendos, but mostly highlighted a Kwaku Asante comfortably marching onward in his role as a sexual soul singer. But, it’s deeper than that.
honeycomb may be driven by sexual themes, but in as many ways, it’s propelled forward by delineations of love and loss, rounding out the greater project as a raw, telling, and relatable image of relationships that all listeners can associate with. Thematically, it’s balanced.
Musically, it is too. Where honeycomb’s opening track, AWOL tells the story of a partner in crime missing in action, it brings back one of Kwaku Asante’s first signature song structures. Grounded by an incredibly simplistic, and even more emotive bassline, and exploding with compositional bouts that bring strings, guitars, and drums into focus, Kwaku Asante’s silky vocalism weaves in and out of instrumental waves. The result is an unparalleled emotional ballad that doesn’t quite evoke sadness, but melts a listener’s heart with overwhelming emotion more adjacent to a feeling of attempting to make sense of a particular trying chapter in one’s life without the accompaniment of the one person that could make it easier. .
It’s deep, unnerving, and thought-provoking. But Kwaku Asante’s warm delivery and genial penmanship make it digestible and necessary as an addition to a greater Neo-Soul and R&B scene too focused on emotion’s spectral ends – the extreme highs and lows – the unimaginable sex, the unrequited love, the irreparable heartbreak – and doesn’t dive deep enough into the everyday grey areas that more truly define one’s life. Here, AWOL and the entirety of honeycomb at large, shine.
The last of three leading singles, Primrose acts as the mirroring balance to AWOL. A simple, positivist hook that always returns to Kwaku’s powerful register belting ‘something that I’ll never forget; keeping my head above this water; keeping me warm’, Primrose brings forth memories of the ambiguity and relatable antics of Seal. Think of them anthemic, emotional, yet projecting non-specificity of Crazy or Kissed By A Rose, and it’s easy to see the same sort of popular writing ability and emotional power in Kwaku Asante – especially in tracks like Primrose.
From the hyper-sexual like Molasses, Smoke & Mirrors, and Sunday; to the emotionally down-tempo like AWOL and The End; to the upbeat and positivist Primrose, the structure of which may one day come to define his mainstream audience, Kwaku Asante does nothing with honeycomb without experimenting and exhibiting his range musically and thematically. In a modern Neo-Soul and R&B scene that prioritizes delicate deliveries and high range in its male vocalists, Kwaku Asante instead puts on display the ability of a timeless low register in soul music.
honeycomb emerges as not only an incredibly detailed tale of love, life, sex, and loss, but also as a glimpse into the many stylistic directions Kwaku Asante is capable of and may very well come to explore further in a career bound for uniqueness, vibrancy, and innovative influence on his fans and his peers.