Artist of The Week 11/05/2019
Mona Haydar is a rapper, poet, activist, practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She teaches classes, gives lectures, leads retreats and workshops, does readings and performs her work. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan and has since lived in Damascus where she studied Arabic and Islamic spirituality then went on to live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico at Lama Foundation and then in the Redwood forest of Northern California. After completing her Masters in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Theological Seminary in New York City in 2018, Mona and her family relocated to Marrakech, Morocco.
Her EP, Barbarican was met with great reviews upon its release in 2018. The lead single, Lifted is a visual glory telling the story of what it is to lose and then find yourself. The song was written at a time when Mona was suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her second child.
Billboard critics named Mona Haydar’s debut song, Hijabi (Wrap My Hijab) one of 2017’s top protest songs and then later named it one of the 25 top feminist anthems of all time. Mona is an emerging rapper, activist and artist. Growing up in Flint Michigan as a Syrian American, Mona developed her sound which is deeply rooted in her intersectional identity and sensibilities.
Artist of the week 09/23/2019
Princess Nokia is the alias of New York City native Destiny Frasqueri, a rapper whose proud individualism is related in confrontational, often humorous style. Prior to naming herself after the brand of phone made available to low-income earners in the U.S., Frasqueri went by the names Destiny and Wavy Spice, collaborated with the likes of Ratking, and became known for offhanded tracks such as “B***h I’m Posh” and “Yaya.” After label interest heightened her skepticism of the music industry, she changed her alias to Princess Nokia and built a fan base with the mixtapes Metallic Butterfly (2014) and Honeysuckle (2015), as well as an EP, 1992 (2016), all of which were independent titles. A remastered and expanded edition of 1992, 1992 Deluxe (2017), arrived on the Rough Trade label almost exactly a year after the original edition. Frasqueri toured extensively — including club and festival dates across Europe, Scandinavia, Asia, Oceania, and the U.S. — in support of the release. The following year saw the release of the mixtape A Girl Cried Red, which saw Princess Nokia delivering an amalgam of emo and hip-hop. In the two-and-a-half minute song, “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)” addresses everything from soul talk, to her inspiring soup-throwing incident, chews out domestic abusers and racists, and seamlessly squeezes in a shout out Colin Kapernick (porque why not). Here we see an ever-confident Nokia, born Destiny Frasqueri, take the beauty pageant world by storm with a frank attitude, and ‘fits that flip-flop between her tomboy, girly-girl aesthetics, while she pays tribute to Santeria and Afro-Latinas. The classy, dreamy film format her team opts for allows for an old-school feel in which we peer through her altering glasses, exposing us to a pageant in which women of color reign supreme. Frasqueri also takes a moment to establish herself as a role model in the act’s finale – paving the way for little girls who look like her to find themselves, whole and bold, in the stage of their choosing. “I’m not a political activist. I’m not, I’m a healer.” Giving herself time after a successful takeoff rather than trying to ride that wave, Nokia evidently could care less about industry imposed timelines and agendas. This next phase of her artistry, she says, will “center her role as a healer and bruja.”
Notable tracks: “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.)” “Tomboy” “Brujas” “For the Night” “Kitana”
Artist of the Week 09/16/2019
“A Dream is U” (Debut Album)
Francis Lung describes his new album as “a kaleidoscopic dreamscape recorded in full audial Technicolor, swimming with strings, harmonies, silver saxophones and merry go-round guitars. it’s the record I’ve always wanted to make”. Released later this Summer via Memphis Industries, Lung’s much-anticipated debut album ‘A Dream Is U’ is bold and ambitious, a magical musical journey informed by the greats but also one that is wonderfully idiosyncratic, the sound of a multi-instrumentalist tying together all manner of influences into one beautifully crafted album.
‘A Dream Is U’ is the first fully-realised Francis Lung record, a studio undertaking brought to life with producer Brendan Williams (Dutch Uncles, GoGo Penguin), a colourful patchwork of vision and ingenuity. “Before we started recording I knew exactly what the arrangements were in my head” Francis says, reflecting on the time spent devising his new work. “It was kind of my mission to capture everything as it was in my imagination”.
Touching upon the universal themes of addiction, faith, and love in all of its confusion, ‘A Dream Is U’ is a collection of characters and stories that plays out something like a Harvey Pekar comic strip; an obsessive chronicle of daily lives twisted into new shapes by the unique mind and manners of their narrator. With flashes of striking colour and an ever-present wry smile, Francis Lung has created a debut album that drifts between simple acceptance and exuberant yearning for more. At times boisterous and radiant, elsewhere contemplative and brooding, ‘A Dream Is U’ feels like being awake in dreams, like stepping outside of the daily rotation; like shadows leaving their dancing bodies to waltz away to their own tune.
Artist of the week 09/09/2019
Mikaela Straus (born December 19, 1998), known by her stage name King Princess, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer from Brooklyn, New York. She is signed to Mark Ronson’s label Zelig Records, an imprint of Columbia Records.
Notable Tracks: “1950”, “Talia”, “Cheap Queen”