So it doesn’t seem like five minutes since we last celebrated Normani’s return, perhaps under the naive presumption that we would soon be rolling in a deluge of new music from a long-awaited, highly-anticipated, and finally-dropped debut album. Alas, eight months on from the release of ‘Wild Side’, and we are still here waiting, impatient and none the wiser – but with the wait between ‘Wild Side’ and her iconic single ‘Motivation’ clocking in at over two years, the sabbatical is, at least, shrinking in size.
Fortunately, new single ‘Fair’ salves the burn for a while longer yet, and shows a side to Normani we haven’t met before. Having enlisted the talents of fellow popstar Cardi B for her previous outing, ‘Fair’ scales back the scope to focus all attention on the former Fifth Harmony singer. Opting for simplicity over grand production, ‘Fair’ is underpinned by sturdy swells of bass and chunky beats for a sound that is a classic concoction of late 90s-00s R&B and is as emotive as it is timelessly opulent.
In a recent Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe, Normani tearfully opened up about being scared to be vulnerable, and challenging herself to embrace such within her music as a result, reflecting that growing up in the public eye as a member of Fifth Harmony led her to force herself “into this idea of perfection to protect myself.” She adds “this is the first time I’m free falling, in a sense, and it’s scary” and that ‘Fair’ “captures me in the [vulnerable] moment as I was experiencing it”, with the day of writing and recording it being “too raw” for her to go back and listen to.
“Normani’s soft side is just as captivating as her wild one”
“People may feel that they may not know that much about me, but that’s just what makes me feel safe,” she explains. “It’s tricky because it’s so triggering. Every time I listen to this song, it literally just takes me back to a very specific moment, and in a sense it’s reliving it all over again, but it’s more important for me to be able to share and let my fans and anybody else that is going through the same experience [know] I too feel the same: I’m literally no different.”
The video for ‘Fair’, too, is the antithesis to the intricate high-budget production of ‘Wild Side’. Captured by the lens in black and white, the camera zooms into Normani’s face, her close-up catching a resilient intimacy in her eyes and showing that she is wiser in the knowledge of her hurt – and ultimately better for it.
“I needed to go through some stuff to give the most authentic version of myself,” Normani stated in her Zane Lowe interview, reflecting that she is a far different person at 25 than she was when she joined Fifth Harmony aged 15. As it turns out, her soft side is just as captivating as her wild one and, if ‘Fair’ is anything to go by, that debut album will be worth every extra second of time.
Normani – ‘Fair’
Compared to her previous single, last year’s hot and heavy ‘Wild Side’, new single ‘Fair’ shows a far more vulnerable side to Normani. A count-by-number of luxurious R&B, the track is undeniably sensual over its intimate production and sparse beats, showing off Normani’s vocals to perfection.
Koffee – ‘Shine‘
Landing with her highly anticipated debut album Gifted – which is finally released today – Koffee returns with new outing ‘Shine’. Leaning heavily into the reggae roots of her Jamaican heritage, the track deploys simple guitar work over 808s for a sound deceptively light-hearted, as Koffee extends an urgent plea for peace in adversity.
beabadoobee – ‘Talk’
With word on the street that her second album Beatopia is imminent, it’s apt for Gen Z icon beabadoobee to return with another addictive track. Following in the wake of this year’s earlier release ‘Silver Into Rain’, new single ‘Talk’ captures bits of 90s indie (say, Elastica or Pavement) with the sugary sweet overtone of Bea Laus’ vocal, whilst living your best life. “Generally it’s about doing things that aren’t necessarily healthy or great for you,” shares Bea. “But you can’t help indulging.”
Princess Nokia – ‘No Effort’
We’ve not heard much from Princess Nokia in a minute; the New York artist has kept fans waiting since her 2020 double release Everything Sucks / Everything is Beautiful, last sharing the Yung Baby Tate-featuring ‘Boys Are From Mars’. New single ‘No Effort’ sees Princess Nokia at her braggadocious best, with hard-hitting beats and relentlessly punchy delivery, as she reminds the East Harlem skateboard locale why they’d be stupid to sleep on her.
EFÉ – ‘KIWI’
Another artist sitting quiet following the drop of their 2020 EP What Should We Do This Summer?, EFÉ is back with the dreamy sound of ‘KIWI’. Continuing to fulfill the promise of a carefree existence amidst breezy guitar work and delectable melodies, the latest track by the Irish artist comes topped by a playful video that sees a girl on a quest for independence, and falling for the things that scare her.