Maybe you've been with us for a few installations of Soul Sessions or maybe this is your very first time joining me. Either way, consider yourself in a one-on-one listening session with the artists I've discovered this week and want to share with you. Let me know which gems had you really bobbing your head or smiling wide in the comments!
MC K~Swift feat. Mankind - "Killing"
James Baldwin said, "To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage." This song perfectly illustrates the rage of those adversely and disproportionately affected by killings in this time and in this place. There are no complex decorations or intricacies to this music. It's very straightforward, with no hook and a repeating guitar riff. MC K~Swift shows expert emcee skills without acquiescing to common ways of engaging the genre, and Mankind matches Swift's passion and ability.
Jairus Mozee - "EQUAL RIGHTS"
Also known as "J. Mo," Jairus Mozee has worked with everyone from Grammy-award winner Lalah Hathaway to BJ The Chicago Kid. His musical and production skills are stellar, however this gem takes his creativity even further. Chopping up commentary from black men and audio from actual violent interactions with police, it's almost as if J. Mo is scoring the soundtrack to our struggle with this one.
Kev Choice - "Blues for Blueford"
On his recently released project Love and Revolution, emcee, pianist and composer Kev Choice ends with this striking instrumental tune for Alan Blueford, another black person killed by the police. It's a beautiful tribute, evoking the sorrow, confusion and reflection that comes with each of these tragic events.
Sincerely Wilson - "Love Junkie"
And in these times, we all need a little more love. This is a beautiful tribute to the object of his affection. The alternative and soulful take on contemporary R&B makes this one of the gems you'll be happy to uncover, and one that can be listened to on repeat.
VanJess - "Adore"
Building a bridge between the girl duos and groups of the 90s that brought the soulfulness and the trap sound of present day black music, this is one of those gems that's both nostalgic and relevant at the same time. It almost goes in and out of R&B and hip-hop, making one curious if either of the group members is actually an emcee. Check out their other music to find out!
Chris Turner & the Dropouts - "Love"
One of the gems from their Love Bomb EP, Chris Turner & the Dropouts really build a layered composition that takes the listener on a journey with the protagonist in this story, who is grateful to be alive but is still searching for meaning and purpose.
Kyle Shedrick - "War"
This is one of those rare times when I don't mind the use of autotune because this is an inspirational song with a turn-up sound. Listen to this when you're going to that job you hate, interviewing for that dream gig, or any situation where you'll face opposition or challenges. Then, stand in a Superwoman/man pose for at least three minutes, and you'll be ready to conquer anything.
What songs have been stuck in your head this week? Share in the comments below!
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We're back for another edition of Soul Sessions, where I curate my favorite music on Soundcloud to keep your car, bus or train ride lit. Music can help turn your day around, get you in the zone before that important meeting or help you decompress at the end of the day, so why not use it! There's an abundance of talent out there, but here's a song for each day of this week.
Rose Gold - "Drive Me To Drink"
Has a relationship or breakup ever had you sipping a little more than you should? This song is for you. The musicality in the production is fantastic, and Rose leaves enough room for it to shine without diminishing her vocals at all. There's a dance going on here between the instruments and the vocalist that I very much enjoy.
Emily King - "BYIMM"
When things go wrong in life, sometimes you have to encourage yourself. That's what this song is about. It's a love song for you from you. BYIMM, which stands for "by you, I mean me," is another great tune from the artist that first brought us the inspiring anthem, "Walk in my Shoes."
DAJ - "i love you"
This song is about self-reflection and losing one's self in love. DAJ talks about waiting for the object of his affection to finally see him, but being willing to wait for that day. Just vocals, beautifully played piano and no hook, this is a great example of making a dope song without a bunch of bells and whistles.
ShezAr - "100"
Have you ever been super frustrated with someone you're feeling who you know isn't being fully honest with you? You're at that point in the relationship when they've gotta come 100 or step off. This tune will resonate with you. ShezAr keeps it simple, not even overly working the lyrical content here, but telling the object of her affection to keep it 100. That's it, that's all.
Adrian Marcel - "Don't Wake Up"
Adrian is back with another anthem for all of you fellas watching that beautiful woman continue to be mistreated by that immature boy. You're hoping that she'll finally see how much better you can treat her than this inconsistent guy, and when she does, you're hyped. This joint is basically the soundtrack for that guy. It'll make all you guys losing your girls to men who actually want to treat her well upset. HA, YOU MAD!
Lina Vonn - "Lust"
This is an honest song about being with someone just because they know how to put it down. Lina admits in the song that the person she's with doesn't stimulate her mind, everything they do gets on her last nerve, but she's allowing the physical attraction to lead her. It obviously leads nowhere, and she continues to vacillate between pleasure and frustration.
Shannon LeGrand - "Never Really Mattered"
She comes through with the fire every girl has when she's finally over the last heartbreak, has moved on to someone better, and that ex comes back hoping for another chance. She reminds him that he's made a big mistake, but she won't make one by letting him back in. It's over.
What songs are you loving this week? Let us know in the comments below!
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I'm back with Soul Sessions again, bringing you that good good from Soundcloud. Don't worry, there will always be something for everybody, because we want this to be your go-to list for new songs for your playlist this week. The talent out there is abundant, y'all. Here are some artists to listen to this week:
Javonté - "The Girl Everyone Knows"
This song is about the struggle of the popular girl. A lot of times she's the party girl or the talented girl, and in any case, she's the girl in the spotlight. Few people know her backstory, and fewer people care. They want to be attached to her shine for as long as it lasts, but she just wants go get away and find some semblance of normalcy. Basically, everything that glitters ain't gold. Javonté teams up with our favorite legacy singer, Alex Isley, for this insightful track.
Josh Collins - "Good Things"
I love super vibey stuff. This is song is what gets played toward the end of the week when you're gonna lay in your hammock eating mango or drinking iced tea. I enjoy Josh's voice, and though the production is very simple, it builds with the background vocals. The production is what I enjoy the most. I felt like I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean while listening to this! Definitely chill music.
Ki'Ki Steward - "Poetic"
Let's keep the vibes going with this jazzy tune! Ki'Ki goes all the way in, in ways that I really appreciate from vocalists. It's not about yelling or doing a bunch of riffs all over the place. She exercises control and makes great vocal and harmonic choices. I also appreciate this song not being over-produced. It's just her voice and an acoustic guitar, which gives her room to spread out vocally. Put this on repeat.
Arima Ederra - "The Boogie Man Song"
Will we ever get more music from Mos Def (more recently known as Yasiin Bey)? One of the only rappers who also sings in a way that I can accept — he's one of my favorites. If the reports are true, we'll get nothing else from the Brooklyn native, much to my chagrin. This song starts his second album, the much maligned Danger, and was my favorite song on the entire project. I enjoy this cover by Arima very much, and hope that if more musicians make reference to his music, he will feel the weight of his influence and impact and possibly return.
Talay Riley - "Not Enough"
Have you had your fill of Eric Benet or Maxwell this week? Me, neither! If you want to add another guy maximizing his falsetto, checkout Talay's music. This is that song where the guy is telling his woman all the ways that nothing will ever outshine her, nothing will ever make him stop actively ramping up his love for her, and that no one and nothing compares.
MUHSINAH - "Careless"
This is a serious departure from the MUHSINAH music that I've come to know and love, and I like this, too. There are obvious rock undertones here, which influences the vocal arrangement as well. It's a relatable track, as she starts off talking about how her friends call the manner in which she falls in love reckless. She's not trippin' off her friends 'cause she's 'bout to love you, boy. Get ready.
Tiffany Gouché - "Lose It (Live)"
I've heard some crappy live recordings. In fact, I'd say more are bad than good, because then we get to hear singers without any of the tricks of the studio. If we compare this live recording with the studio version of the same song, I actually like the live version better! The band takes it to another level, I think. Tiffany is one of my favorite finds on Soundcloud, and this song doesn't disappoint.
What are you listening to this week? Let us know in the comments below!
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Welcome back to Soul Sessions, where I've put together some of the best music found on Soundcloud for this week, no matter the genre. Because no artist wants to be "the next (insert name here)," I'm digi-crate-digging to bring you some of the best up-and-comers from all over. Take a listen and tell me what you think is fire in the comments below!
Chic Loren - "Right Here"
This is one of those beats that could easily overpower the singer, but Chic Loren comes in with that second soprano power. It's a hard-hitting love anthem for when your partner needs to be reminded that the adoration isn't dissipating, it's building (just like she does with those harmonies).
Paige Wells - "Runnin'"
I usually really dislike sampling, especially if the person is going to be singing over it (I'm less likely to dislike it if it's hip-hop). Paige Wells has me ready to change my mind as she uses one of my favorites, Adrian Marcel's "Weak After Next," to respond to his tune about the object of his affection running away from their budding relationship. It's an awesome take on why a woman might be unsure of giving her heart to a man, and Paige's voice definitely is complimentary to Adrian's. Collab in the future?
Ré Lxuise - "CHBYG"
So remember how Paige was talking about her hesitation for entering into a relationship with a guy? Well Ré Lxuise takes it next level when her guy keeps fronting and she's over it (CHBYG stands for "could have been your girl"). She was down for him, he played games, couldn't figure out what he wanted, and it just wasn't poppin' like that anymore. So, she hit the studio to let bruh know that he had the greatest her heart had to offer and he messed it up. The lesson here is that if you screw up a relationship with a musician, they'll just write a fire song about it and keep it pushing.
Desmond Owens (feat. QUEEN) - "No Pay"
What happens when you invest in your relationship, figuratively AND literally? Desmond Owens tackles being taken advantage of emotionally and financially in this traditional soul cut. I really appreciate the musicality in this song, from the vocal layers to the live instrumentation. I could have done without the rap verse, but only because I didn't feel it was necessary with this kind of vibe. The speaking part at the beginning accomplished enough, including humor.
Drew Vision - "Pills"
Drew Vision just wants to have fun and compares his love to pills in this upbeat tune. The song boasts that one night with him will have the lucky girl hungover and addicted. With an infectious bass line and some very cool musical transitions (especially in the bridge), this talented singer recently released a full project, Balance, which you can stream on Soundcloud. Balance also includes a "Pills" remix.
MAAD MOISELLE - "Black Ice"
Drew might be addictive, but MAAD MOISELLE says she'll have him slipping, sliding and falling, illustrating her love as the elusive and dangerous black ice. The synths and drum pattern give a nod to the '80s, but this song doesn't sound dated at all. This is an awesomely danceable song to put on at a girls night in or on the way to your favorite spot to grab drinks.
Tay Walker - "Where Would We Go"
I'm sure current events have many people contemplating their mortality. Tay Walker takes an introspective route on this song, wondering what happens when one transitions out of this life and off of this plane. He also takes aim at society, questioning the way we treat each other and our planet. It's poetic without being lyrically cumbersome and beautiful without being overdone melodically.
Let us know your favorite new songs in the comments below!
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Welcome to Soul Sessions, where I put together the best songs I've found on Soundcloud for the week of June 5-11, 2016, no matter the genre. Introduce yourself to some artists who will soon become your favorites, and comment below with your favorite new music as well.
JoJo Martin - "Run On"
JoJo Martin is a well-known singer in the gospel world who went viral this week when he was called upon to sing at a Kirk Franklin concert. JoJo has been battling renal failure, going to dialysis, and has been on the transplant list for a new kidney for the past three years. His solo at Franklin's concert was a heartfelt plea to a higher power, and this song is a continuation of his resilience in the darkest of circumstances. It's more inspirational than directly religious, making it accessible to all listeners. The lyrics are strong, and you can hear the determination in his voice.
Gwen Bunn - "Unofficial"
This is for everyone in a 'situationship.' Gwen has such an original and conversational way of talking about relationships. With Gwen also on production, this is a sonically solid song, however, it will have the listener yearning for the kick drum to drop. The drums tease that way throughout the entire track, making it feel almost like an interlude to something else.
Sia Amun - "Flowers"
If you want to get into a serious groove with some live instrumentation, then "Flowers" is for you. It's the first single off Sia Amun's upcoming debut album Blue Dream, which is dropping later this summer. I was happy I ran across this gem, because she's got great tone and makes good harmonic choices. I'm looking forward to more music from her.
1-O.A.K. - "Fall Down"
Everyone has met that partner who has been hurt, and as a consequence, has their walls up. If that person wanted to write a song to sing to their love, this would be that song. I'm not big on singers using samples in their production, but 1-O.A.K. makes it work with updated drums here. This one's definitely gonna be on repeat.
Lee Mo - "Don't Have A Reason"
Her tone is spectacular, and the production is reminiscent of older soul music. Feeling intuitively that her love might be looking at someone else and might hurt her, Lee laments her sorrow. Admitting that she has no reason for these suspicions other than her gut, she speaks to a woman's intuition spectacularly here.
Tiyi Christopher - "Curious"
This is one of those tracks that grew on me the longer I listened to it. The production is solid from the jump, but I didn't know if this was going to be one of those template "freak me" songs. Tiyi makes the song interesting, building throughout and referencing classic boudoir songs from the '90s.
Kiah Victoria - "Cold War"
Everyone faces different struggles. This song vividly describes the feeling that comes with thinking you're fighting a losing battle. Whether you're repeating bad habits or fighting your way back from a deep loss, this song will resonate with the feeling that sometimes even your own body is not on your side.
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In a world where marketing to niche audiences is a new key to success, Hamburger Helper has raised the bar again with the release of a full free mixtape available now on Soundcloud. What easily could have been a cleverly placed April Fool's joke is actually true and I must say it is incredibly and surprisingly lit.
#WATCHTHESTOVE https://t.co/nL2gQQaerv pic.twitter.com/fQAU5KATuq— Helper (@helper) April 1, 2016
The five-track listing is riddled with trap beats across well-laid bars about burning your lips from hot dishes of beef stroganoff and inviting a plate of cheesy mac to your next "Netflix and Chill" date.
Hamburger Helper is among brands who have figured out a way to reach audiences that are central to the culture and rev up engagement with their company. It didn't take long for everyone from Black Twitter to PTA moms to sound off their reactions to the #WatchTheGlove mixtape.
The mixtape dropped and no one was prepared.
@helper IN LOVE WITH THE GLOVEHAMBURGER HELPERFEED THE STREETS🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/IlU4cvmdBh— Bryce Bryce Baby (@BHall_31) April 1, 2016
And then you find yourself twerking and milly rocking to songs about cheeseburger macaroni.
"grippin them cheeks and they done. We not accepting no crumbs. it's hamburger helper or none." Yaaaaaaas, @helper! pic.twitter.com/mXkXifF7Ht— Dreana (@dreanabeana) April 1, 2016
When you listen through it a second, third, and fourth time and your mind still can't comprehend how these songs are so good.
I am so mad that Hamburger @Helper mixtape is actually fire 😩😩😩😭 pic.twitter.com/UGU2TMQscp— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) April 1, 2016
When you realize the game has definitely changed up.
How you let hamburger helper put out the best mixtape of 2016 @rappers— Matthew Mudshark (@Joe_Schmucc) April 1, 2016
Even T-Swift gave it a listen and we all know what happened after that.
Even Taylor bumping that new @Helper #TAYLORvsTREADMILL pic.twitter.com/J2qrU7rxe4— Fade Wilson (@CBturnedHeel) April 1, 2016
Needless to say, Hamburger Helper is definitely feeding the streets with it's first venture into the music industry and it goes without saying that I am definitely "In Love With the Glove".
Have you listened to #WatchTheGlove? What are your thoughts?
.@helper going crazy!!! 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/MHB2rGZlDR— CSG Worldwide (@iAmMrCarson) April 1, 2016
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America has been in quite an uproar from Donald Trump dominating the polls as a Republican candidate, revealing more racism than some expected in this country. Although released over 8 months ago, I stumbled across this political rap song, "Campbell's." I saw the cover art displaying Donald Trump and Bill O' Reilly's faces photoshopped onto a vintage Campbell's Soup ad and thought "Hm..." as I caught on to the catchy 1950s Campbell's jingle...and then he went off.
Rapper Z3ro The Comet didn't hold back as his punchlines fired off, touching on past events such as Rachel Dolezal, same-sex marriage, Bill Cosby and more. When the song hinted at some conspired events, I thought, Who hasn't believed a government conspiracy theory at some point?
Z3ro's rap is literally some chicken soup for the woke minds and a slap in the face to all Trump supporters. Listen below and stay tuned because I heard an updated version of this might be in the works.
What do you think of Z3ro the Comet's "Campbell's?" Let us know in the comments below!
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Earlier this year, Saul Williams' MartyrLoserKing dropped via FADER Label. The concept album follows a story about an activist hacker in the African country Burundi and is full of politically charged content.
Masego does some work behind the boards and drops some vocals on this one, flipping The Noise Came From Here, one of the stand out cuts on the album. He breaks out his saxophone riffs in certain parts of the song, also adding some melodic and rhythmic percussion to jazz up the vibe.
The single is going to be released for sale on on March 25th, but you can stream Masego's flip on Saul Williams' Soundcloud.
What do you think about Masego's "The Noise Came From Here" remix? Let us know in the comments!
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Multi-talented artists such as Tyler The Creator, Pharrell and Childish Gambino have paved the way for shy, nerdy, black boys to flourish, fully being themselves among the typical stereotypes of rap and hip-hop. Z3RO the Comet is hip-hop's newest innovator, continuing to build on that affirmation, inspiring new and progressive sounds.
Z3RO THE COMET is a nomadic New Yorker, gaining neutral support from every borough. Compiling a "space junk" of sounds, playing off nostalgic hip-hop and futuristic beats, he creates a sound relative to The Neptunes, but still with his original flair. Aside from being an artist, Z3RO produces, engineers and designs websites and graphics. With ideas light-years ahead of him, Z3RO is an overall inventor and innovator.
Born Terrance Stradford II, the name 'Zero' came about his freshmen year of college while teased by his peers. Sticking with the nickname, he made it his own by adding a '3' and 'The Comet' as he later developed into a hip-hop artist.
At first glance of "ARTchitect," you'll immediately notice Z3RO’s afro, two green and purple G-Shock watches on his right arm, and an accessory piece of a donkey, which is part of his DeadA$$ clothing line.
Apart from the looks, experiencing a Z3RO THE COMET show is very memorable. The creative comes alive with improvised beats and wild waves of nerf gun pellets being shot into a crowd.
This year acts as an execution stage of the many ideas Z3RO has crafted, perfected and kept under wraps. With the recent launch of THEJTPK, the collective he's a part of, the unified team assures to build and revolutionize for the future. Check out more of Z3RO below and listen to Installments to get a glimpse of his sound.
Stream INSTALLMENTS, a playlist by @Z3ROTHECOMET from desktop or your mobile device
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San Antonio-based R&B artist SPZRKT has dropped some more of his auditory gold. This smooth track, which lifts a sample from Sampha's EP Dual, is masterfully crafted by one of my favorite producers, Tyshane Thompson, with help from Elite808 Productions and a collective known as Mal Cres. The sultry saxophonist skills of Masego are on full display and help hold the song up as a blend of cool jazz and hip-hop. SPZRKT delivers with his trademark harmonies and the result is a song which you will probably have on repeat in your pre-Valentine's Day playlist.
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#WHITELIGHTYEAR Begins Today! I Will Release A Song Everyday Of The Year!
— Young 27 (@youngtwoseven) January 1, 2016
Yes, you read the above tweet correctly. Philly rapper Asaad is a man on a mission all year long. He's releasing a song every day of the year. Not 365 songs but 366, because it's a leap year. So far he has been a man of his word. He's released one song every day since the start of 2016. If you want to listen to someone who is conveying what the city of Philadelphia is all about through his music and not using his Twitter fingers to do so, then you should check out his songs...
I first discovered Alex Isley while digitally crate digging on Soundcloud, a practice that has led to the discovery of many amazing, albeit lesser known, artists. I listened through all of Love/Art Memoirs, Alex's then-latest EP. She was speaking to the lover in all of us on this project: Hopeful, deeply immersed, struggling with a broken heart. I found this project to have something for everyone. The biggest standout on Alex's EP was "Set In Stone," which chronicles the challenges of ridding one's thoughts of a love who loves someone else. The harmonies on this finale song are as ethereal as the rest of the album but follow the strength of the production with a strong and unrelenting kick and side stick snare. There aren't a lot of instruments, as to not disrupt or clash with her skillfully layered background vocals. And that is accompanied by her powerful but not heavy lead vocals. I recently spoke with Alex who told me that she began Love/Art Memoirs while pursuing a Jazz Studies degree at UCLA.
"I want people to connect to what I talk about in my music. I want people to know that they're not alone in situations; they're not the first and won't be the last. I take pride in my vulnerability and honesty in my music. I think it's important to be upfront and clear through my art and my passion. So, whatever the situation, if I can help someone to connect or identify with something, I think that can only help them in the long run," she said.
I think that I understand Alex's sound and the lineage behind it. She is the daughter of Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers. If we go back to classic Isley Brothers songs such as "Voyage to Atlantis" or "Summer Breeze," we hear where she gets her harmonic influence, clearly. Alex began classical vocal training at age 12 and attending LA County High School for the Arts where she would emerge as a jazz vocalist.
When asked what she hopes to contribute to her family's musical legacy she tells me:
"I hope to add to what I've musically learned from them. In being influenced by several artists, I definitely hope to carry on the foundation of what they've established, which in simplest terms is R&B/Soul. I think that what I've taken on for myself as an artist will hopefully add another dimension to their foundation. There's jazz, classical, and folk that I've been influenced by. Their sound is definitely rooted in versatility as well, and I think my influences can be an extension and continuation of that."
When I heard about her newest project LUXURY, I assumed there'd been nothing between Love/Art Memoirs and this forthcoming music. But, upon more research, I discovered that she'd released DreamsInAnalog shortly after the first EP. It sounds like a continuation of Love/Art, and, in fact, these two projects could have probably been condensed into one full length album. The similarity isn't boring like in the way that we find many artists of today making the same song over and over again. Alex has a consistent style. It's a matter of being able to immediately tell that it's an Alex Isley song when it comes on. She's mastered that. If you're obsessed with the television show Friends, like I am, the standout on Dreams will obviously be "Ross & Rachel." In this tune, she asks her lover why they can't have a love like that — where even though they fight and leave, they always come back together. It's creative and finds a way to infuse pop culture from a different medium into her music.
Alex is fantastic because she writes and produces her work — except for the remarkable covers she does in the interim between projects. Where many of us take issue with modern day R&B/Soul is that a vapid song about lust and sex takes 15 writers and 8 producers, where some of the most meaningful love songs of days gone by (such as *cough, cough* The Isley Brothers) had one or two writers and those people were also the producers most times! Not only does Alex bring the spirit of the in-depth love songs with her as the next generation Isley, she also continues to sharpen her craft as a songwriter and producer by being the sole creator on her projects. This is not to say that she eschews collaboration. One of my favorite songs by her is a collaboration with LA-based artist Jav0nte called "Running Back," produced by the incredible Jarius Mozee, who has worked with artists such as Lalah Hathaway and BJ the Chicago Kid.
"In general, being independent means responsibility and accountability. Financially, sonically, promotion-wise... in my case, every aspect begins and ends with me. It's great to take matters into my own hands, but I have to accept both pros and cons of that," she said.
The biggest question on my mind and probably every fan of Alex Isley's is whether or not she'll reach the heights of her father and uncles. The climate of music as she comes to prominence is much different than it was for her predecessors. While sonically it's agreeable that she has carried on the family name well, with the onset of streaming, downloading, and the over-saturation of the indie marketplace one wonders: Will her name be the extra push she needs to rise to the next level? Only time will tell.
Check out her new work, LUXURY, on her Bandcamp page.
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