You may have noticed that things are looking a bit different here: gal-dem has given our beloved Five On It a rejig. Consider it a glow up – we’re moving to a monthly format to bring even more new music to hungry ears! Aside from collating recent musical highlights in this column, we’re excited to launch an extended Spotify playlist that curates the best tracks released each month. We’ve listened to new songs from across the world, traversing everything from pop and R&B to afrobeats and reggaeton, including artists from Japan, Argentina, South Africa and more. Be sure to turn off the shuffle setting – we’ve arranged over 30 tracks to guide you through thrilling international talent in a way that only a gal-dem selection can! Our first installment starts with heady clubhouse beats, before gradually winding down to more chilled pace. Check it out below or via on gal-dem’s Spotify page.
We are kicking off our new format with a spotlight on wonderful Honey Dijon, who is back with her third album Black Girl Magic. Dijon was pivotal in shaping Chicago and New York club culture in the 1990s, first as a DJ – soundtracking the runways of the likes of Dior and Louis Vuitton – and later as a producer. Her 2017 debut album The Best of Both Worlds captured the utopian hope of house music, a retrospective homage to, in her own words, the “cross-pollination of people and cultures” – something she feels is often missing in contemporary club scenes. It is this intrinsic insight into the heart of house music that has made her hot-property, contributing her skills to Beyoncé’s Renaissance and official remix of ‘Break My Soul’, helping to establish house’s current dominance of the mainstream.
As an album, Black Girl Magic totally captures the atmosphere of house music in its native habitat: a sticky club with loose limbs and lips, alcohol and freedom, a hot liberation from the weekday mundane. Seamlessly mixed to emulate its nightlife setting, its four-to-the-floor beats and sinewy rhythms are irresistibly coercive. Latest single release ‘It’s Quiet Now’ is as buoyant as ‘C’s Up’ is brash, while ‘Everybody’ carries the familiarity of classic piano house with an acidic twist. The album delves through the archives of the dance, providing vivid snapshots of the respective eras of disco, soul, jazz, and – of course – house. Pioneering Chicago House producer Mike Dunn adds to the tapestry, as do vocal guests Pabllo Vittar, Dope Earth Alien, and Eve (yes, that Eve!) to name a few.
“I dance for love, I work for love, I am love, mi amor,” says Kameelah Waheed in album opener ‘Love Is’, her spoken-word segment over soft keys that unfurl the longing of desire, and acceptance. “You are a whisper upon my fool lips, a crush, mysterious prince or princess, non-binary, legendary, your twist is my type,” she continues. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that dedicates itself entirely to honouring the emotional value of the dance floor. For many in the queer community, dance clubs represent freedom, self-realisation and transformation, and Black Girl Magic encapsulates their experience. It is a celebration of Black queer identity that is poignant, though most importantly, playful – a love letter to house, dance and romance.
Honey Dijon – ‘Show Me Some Love’ ft. Sadie Walker, Channel Tres
A standout single from Black Girl Magic, Honey Dijon’s ‘Show Me Some Love’ is an evocative stomper that epitomises club culture. Just when you feel you have it sussed, trippy keys shake up the production. Sadie Walker and Channel Tres’ understated and alluring vocal counterbalances the heady vibe.
Pabllo Vittar – ‘AMEIANOITE’ feat. Gloria Groove
With grandiose and freeing club anthems, the Brazilian queen is a titan of South American pop and is now dominating the international pop arena. She has collaborated with the likes of Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama, and performed at this year’s Coachella. Teaming up with Gloria Groove for ‘AMEIANOITE’, which translates to ‘ATMIDNIGHT’ the track mixes baile funk with chunky beats for a slickly punchy nighttime anthem.
Joji – ‘Die For You’
Plucked from new album Smithereens, ‘Die For You’ sees Joji at his most atmospheric. Poignantly bittersweet, the track pares back the production to allow keys to shimmer through psych-tinged, lucid daydreams, as Joji reminisces on times past and a life that has slipped by.
Kelela – ‘On the Run’
Five years after releasing her mesmerising debut, the return of Kelela has been almost as anticipated as the return of SZA (more on that later). With new album Raven coming in 2023, it’s time to get reacquainted. She dropped the first single of the album in September with the pared back ‘Washed Away’, while new single ‘On the Run’ recalls the evocative R&B of Kelela’s 2017 collection Take Me Apart. She’s back, and at her sensual best.
Tkay Maidza – ‘Nights in December’
Some would consider it too cool to be classed as a festive song, but ‘Nights in December’ may be making a classy play for the accolade. Tkay Maidza’s latest feels freshly warm amidst its catchy melodies, glitchy production and throwback tone, while capturing the throes of a new relationship. “I had a trip where I spent a winter in New York, and it was really beautiful,” shares Tkay. “So I almost wanted to recreate that feeling in a song.”
PinkPantheress – ‘Do You Miss Me?’
PinkPantheress’ unexpected trajectory has led her to distant shores over the past 18 months, but it is unlikely even she would have presumed to be collaborating with her musical hero, Kaytranada. Weaving acoustic percussion and guitars for a tone that is a tad more whimsical than her beloved breakbeats, ‘Do You Miss Me?’ proves a sugary sweet musing on desire.
yunè pinku – ‘Fai Fighter’
Over the course of the past year, yuné pinku has fashioned herself as a hot producer for trippy and intoxicating house-tinged electronica channeling the spirit of 90s rave culture. Opting to throw a curveball with this latest release, new single ‘Fai Fighter’ is indebted more to euro-pop and techno than its predecessors – yuné describing it as an “homage to the chaos of vulnerability”, feels particularly apt.
SZA – ‘Shirt’
Just like Kelela, new music from SZA has been missing for too long. Fans have anxiously pined for the follow up to her critical smash 2017 debut Ctrl, and now are finally sated with new single ‘Shirt’. First teased on an Instagram Story two years ago, big bass notes root the core of the track as SZA’s saccharine vocal weaves through tales of frustrations in love. Was it worth the wait? Of course.
MJ Nebreda – ‘Frida Kahlo’ feat. DJ Babatr, Yung Iverson
Miami-based Peruvian-Venezuelan singer and producer MJ Nebreda doesn’t make the type of music that one one can easily forget; one listen to ‘Frida Kahlo’ will prove it. Reinvigorating perreo – a “freaky” offshoot of reggaeton – the track features Yung Iverson and Arca collaborator DJ Babatr amidst pounding drums, brass interjections and whirling melodies. The first single from her new EP Amor en los Tiempos de Odio, ‘Frida Kahlo’ is the best kind of rush.
Rachel Chinouriri – ‘I’m Not Perfect’ (But I’m Trying)
Known for her delectable indie-pop, Rachel Chinouriri’s new single ‘I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Trying)’ is a delightful whirlwind of liberating turmoil. Following this summer’s ‘Thank You For Nothing’, the track sees Rachel deploy punchy drum beats, emotive guitar work and shimmering synths as she unpicks “the hesitation before diving into a situation”.
Listen to the extended playlist here!
We’ll be back next month with a fresh curation of the best new music.
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