by Louis Chavey | October 5, 2020
Welcome to Low-Key Likes, a digestible music recommendation column that features one song, artist, and album that are relatively unknown and fall under a unifying theme or genre. For each of these, I will give some background information, a brief description, and lastly, provide reasoning for why they are each worth a listen. This week, we will be focusing on R&B music with the song “Aladdin” by Ant Clemons featuring Pharell Williams, the artist Giveon, and the album Ology by Gallant.
“Aladdin,” featuring Pharell Williams, is the fourth track on Ant Clemons’s first solo album released in February 2020, HAPPY 2 BE HERE. “Aladdin” sounds like it belongs to the soundtrack of a futuristic video game. Anchored by a bouncy synth piano line and a simple yet effective trap beat, Clemons’s airy vocals are everywhere on the track: they are the center of attention during the captivating choruses but also take a back seat during Williams’s and Clemons’s respective rapped verses. This song is undoubtedly a happy track but not in a boastful or overpowering way. Clemons and Williams, unanchored by any worries, float as carelessly as the layered synths and vocals they sing and rap over; their joy is genuine, palpable, and infectious. Give the song a listen, and hopefully, their happiness can make you smile with them.
A relatively unknown artist, Giveon Evans, mononymously known as Giveon, is an artist that appears to be on the brink of true stardom. Since releasing his debut EP Take Time in March 2020, he has been steadily amassing a passionate following; his popularity has only increased proceeding a coveted feature on mega-popstar Drake’s song “Chicago Freestyle,” which was officially released on all platforms in May 2020 but was published on Youtube and Soundcloud back in February. Evans’s main selling point is a captivating rich baritone voice that would make him unique in any era of R&B, let alone the current crop of auto-tune R&B singers. While his songs revolve around the typical topics of love and heartbreak, his songwriting tackles them with a refreshing diligence. In Evans’s interview with Genius on YouTube, he broke down the lyrics of his song “LIKE I WANT YOU.” Evans said that he intentionally matched the intensity of his delivery with the song’s structure. A blossoming R&B star with raw passion and attention to detail, Evans is bound to pull at your heartstrings with his smooth, bittersweet ballads.
In April 2016, Christopher Gallant, better known by his stage name Gallant, released his debut studio album Ology, an alternative R&B record that draws its influences from the 80s and 90s R&B but still pushes ahead. Ology grabs a hold of your ears throughout the whole record. This is not an album you can put on while doing homework; every one of these songs demands your full attention. Gallant consistently delivers some of the most breathtaking vocal performances I’ve ever heard, each one seemingly more heartfelt and powerful than the last. The instrumentals are as extraordinary as Gallant’s vocals, perfectly complementing the timbre and intensity of his vocals with a range of synths, pianos, backing vocals, and crisp drum hits. Many of these songs build into awe-inspiring crescendos where the full range of emotions—the pain, the aimlessness, but also the hopefulness—in Gallant’s voice permeate your ears. Although Ology may not be a collection of songs that blend to create a specific ambiance, it is irresistible in its constant peaks of raw, untamed passion.
While “Aladdin,” featuring Pharell Williams, Giveon Evans, and Ology may be unfamiliar songs, artists, and albums, their vocals, lyrics, and tunes provide an intriguing experience that music enthusiasts will not regret listening to!