DJ Highlights

Top Choice: Alt Hip-Hop Artists

Since February is Black History Month, it is important that as music lovers we celebrate black artists and acknowledge the significant contributions and influence of African-Americans throughout musical history. This week, I’m giving attention to some of my all-time favorite alternative hip-hop artists. 

tobi lou

My favorites: I Was Sad Last Night I’m OK Now, Darlin’, Troop, Txt Me 

Listen if you like: Potsu, Doja Cat, BØjet, KYLE 

Tobi Lou is a triple threat of rapper, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Many of his music videos feature vibrant animation and his album covers display bright cartoon characters. Lou has produced three critically acclaimed EPs. Tobi Lou creates sounds reminiscent to me of Anime Beats, and he utilizes different adlibs and funky beats to create music unlike most other hip-hop artists. 


My favorites: California, Grey Luh, Lucky Strike
Listen if you like: Frank Ocean, Mac Ayres

Amain Berhane, stage name Berhana, released his first album HAN in 2019, three years after the release of his EP Berhana which first gave him traction in the R&B/alternative scene. HAN is a beautiful continuation of the dreamy, melodic music he previously put out. Most Berhana songs follow an in-depth narrative, sung soulfully, paired with subtle electronic influence that reminds me of Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE

Tierra Whack 

My favorites: Only Child, Pet Cemetery, Waze

Listen if you like: Noname, BROCKHAMPTON

The most notable thing about Tierra Whack is her voice and output of creative and unique tracks. Her sound is unlike most other female rappers/singers and there is an underlying sense of humor and fun found in most of her songs. Her album Whack World reflects this with tracks like Dr. Suess and Hungry Hippo. I definitely recommend listening to her music. 

Kari Faux 

My favorites: Lowkey, No Small Talk, IN THE AIR

Listen if you like: Princess Nokia, Noname, Justine Skye  

I first found Kari Faux in 2016 after she was remixed on No Small Talk with Childish Gambino. This led me to finding her 2014 mixtape, Laugh Now, Die Later. Her solo version of No Small Talk was recently featured on HBO’s Insecure. As an artist, she has exhibited continuous growth, but is most known for her sultry, nearly-monotone rapping and vocal harmonies. Her latest release is a feature on Amindi’s new single, Love Em Leave Em. Her iconic vocals and always-fantastic wordplay are truly stunning, definitely give it a listen. 

– Miranda 

New Album Review

Album Review: Which Way is Forward?

Review of Which Way is Forward? by Obongjayar

My favorite songs: Still Sun, Carry Come Carry Go, Frens

Listen if you like: British rap, Danny Brown, King Krule, Fela Kuti  

Obongjayar: a Nigerian, UK-based artist who weaves together mixtures of soulful rap and spoken word with Afrobeat and electronic influences. He completely defies genre while maintaining a relatable sound nostalgic of other British rappers and electronic artists. Obongjayar’s talent is discernible, he puts together a majority of his music by himself. 

The release of Which Way is Forward? comes after the release of multiple singles from the album. Although the album is short, it’s a beautifully constructed narrative of what black identity means in a modern society. These themes can be heard directly in the lyricism of Soldier Ant and 10K, which reflect on the intersection of the black experience with omnipresent issues of racism and discrimination.

Still Sun starts the album off with an upbeat electronic track reminiscent to me of Santigold’s L.E.S. Artistes. This song is simple, inspiring. Obongjayar repeats “I know who I am/This is not the end/I’m not afraid of anything.” This track persuades the listener to have strength even in the most difficult times. 

In Dreaming of Transit, he sings, “Hoping one day I’d fly away / Nobody told me I had wings.” He reflects on his upbringing and how far he’s come with deep vocals complemented by sporadic falsetto layered onto a drum-heavy melody. 

Carry Come Carry Go spins a distinctly electronically-influenced, Afrobeat melody. The song illustrates the loneliness of being away from a lover, there is a palpable longing in his singing, and the spoken word elements dispersed throughout the track. It is probably my favorite from the album, it is emotionally charged and a beautiful cumulation of the different styles that Obongjayar is known for. 

Frens is one of my favorite tracks because of the mix of drum beats, harmoniously layered vocals, and energetic rhythm. It reminds me of some of Kanye’s older, gospel-influenced music. 

Obongjayar has great potential as an artist and I foresee him gaining prosperity and increased influence as an artist. Definitely check the album out. 

– Miranda 

New Album Review

Mac Miller’s “Circles” Album Review

My favorites: Circles, I Can See, That’s On Me

Mac Miller (RIP) is an artist who will always be significant to me. I still remember discovering The Divine Feminine as a 16-year-old and realizing that our world was changing. The jazz rap, intricate drum beats, and soulful lyrics Mac used to weave stories of the strong women in his life, tales of love and devotion, still has an indescribable impact on my life. My younger self blossomed with the realization of my own value as a woman; I can still feel the shock to my system upon realizing that a male musician could align himself with feminism in a way that I identified with. 

On January 8, more than a year after his death, Mac Miller’s family announced on Instagram that Circles would be released later in the month. Mac had been working to publish Circles as a companion to Swimming (2018), and this posthumous release was a complement to his past discography. Much of the album was strung together using recordings Mac made before his death, and I believe he would’ve been proud of how it turned out. Jon Brion, the producer, worked for years to put together the album while closely following the vision he was originally presented with. 

There are so many themes within the album that tie together lose ends from Swimming and paint a picture of Mac’s battle with addiction and his periods of recovery, along with the pressure he felt as an artist. There is heartbreak, healing, and moving forward. This album gave closure to many Mac Miller fans like myself. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a try. 


Concert Review

6th Annual Sangeet Sagaar at NC State

Sangeet Sagaar is a South Asian A Capella competition held at NC State annually. The competition is hosted by Delta Sigma Iota, Inc. (the only South Asian interest fraternity at NC state) and all proceeds from the event benefit the charity Child Rights and You America. 

I attended Sangeet Sagaar this past weekend and the experience was unlike any other performance I’ve seen at State. This year, Sangeet Sagaar hosted six different competing teams and featured special performances by UNC Samaa and WDN Dance Team. Sangeet Sagaar is such a unique event because every competing team has mesmerizing choreography and they perform a fusion of Western and South Asian traditional and popular vocals. Each team filled the theatre with beautiful melodies and kept the audience enthralled throughout the entire show. 

This year, Hum A Capella from University of Texas won for the second year in a row. This team beautifully encompassed South Asian a capella with their well-practiced choreography, powerhouse vocals, and exceptional mix of South Asian- and Western-influenced singing. 

I would recommend anyone in the Triangle area to attend next year’s Sangeet Sagaar. It is truly an experience worth having, especially if you’ve never seen an a capella competition before. You can view their Facebook here and their website here.  

– Miranda


Friday Favorites

It’s been a rainy couple of days, meaning I’ve been binging on a lot of electronic and indie music to get through the gloomy weather. The following list contains the songs I’ve been listening to on repeat during the past week, and I’ve deemed all of them at least worthy of a listen.

Today (with Tirzah) – Mura Masa 

I love Mura Masa – he creates such gorgeous music that is always surprising me. This comes from his most recent album, R.Y.C., and the entire album has much more of an indie influence compared to previous, more vibrant/pop influenced albums. This song combines soft singing and nostalgic lyricism with gentle guitar strumming. It’s beautiful. 

4ÆM – Grimes

I’m in love with this song, and Grimes in general. She’s been on my mind lately because she’s having a baby with Elon Musk (!!!) and my Twitter feed is all over that. This song is so interesting because it’s influenced by both cyberpunk and Bollywood. I’m fascinated that she put these two themes together and made something that I listen to on repeat, especially in my headphones as I stomp around in the rain on these gloomy days. 

Talamak – Toro y Moi

This song fits right in to all the electronic songs I’ve been obsessing over. This is an old song of Toro y Moi that’s groovy and chill. I love the snippets of the song where he layers his voice. It’s a straight up bop. 

Shampoo Bottles – Peach Pit 

This song is a recent release and the vocals on it are captivating paired with the mellow instrumentals. This single was released last week and describes the loss of a relationship and the longing that comes with it. Definitely an interesting look at how Peach Pit’s second album will be, since this is the second single they’ve released from it.

Borderline (An Ode to Self Care) – Solange

Solange put so much love into A Seat at the Table, which is probably why I’m still listening to the whole album, but this song specifically for so long. The vocals are so pretty and the beat is simple, and Q-Tip featuring on it just adds to the greatness. 

Thanks for reading my Friday Favorites, hopefully you’ve found some new songs to check out. 

– Miranda 

Concert Review

Review of Scott Avett’s Exhibition

Scott Avett, co-founder of The Avett Brothers, is currently featured at the North Carolina Museum of Art for his exhibition, INVISIBLE. Although Avett is most widely known for his contributions to the band that he shares with his brother, Seth; he has gained prominence in the visual art community as well. Many fans of The Avett Brothers recognize his signature relief print artwork which has been featured many times on album covers and promotional products. 

The Avett Brothers is a folk rock band which originated in Concord, North Carolina in the early 2000s. The band has gained national recognition including receiving three Grammy nominations and three awards from the Americana Music Association. Rooted in traditional bluegrass and folk music found in western North Carolina, they also are clearly influenced by rock & roll. 

I visited Scott Avett’s exhibition, INVISIBLE last weekend. His artistic talent is evident and the exhibit focuses primarily on his work with relief printing. INVISIBLE includes pieces of artwork found on Avett Brothers albums and posters from their shows but also showcases portraiture of Avett himself and other members of the Avett family. Both his art and the discography of the band reflect universal ideas like spirituality, love, and loss in a beautiful way.

One room of the exhibit includes a display of the music video to Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, a song released in 2009. The song itself has been impactful to my life, its lyrics are motivational and reflect on the temporary nature of the world around us. The music video had a profound emotional impact on me, which is why I find the artistry behind the video so interesting. The artist, Ryan Mitcham, spliced together a compilation of over 2,600 images creating an animation from the canvas he physically painted. The music video depicts the rise and decline of an urban area, and its significance is indescribable. I highly recommend checking it out

Tickets for the exhibition are paired with the Mexican Modernism exhibit at the NCMA. The limited-time exhibition will close February 2nd.  

– Miranda

Sources: NPR, NCMA