Here on New Music Friday we have our top five albums that are out today.
1. ‘Fire in Little Africa’
Fire in Little Africa – a groundbreaking album of original material, written and recorded by a collective of Oklahoma hip hop artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre – will be released on May 28 by Motown Records/Black Forum in partnership with Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Centre® and Woody Guthrie Centre®.
The 21-track collection gets to the truth of what happened on May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob descended on the streets of Greenwood — then a prosperous Tulsa neighbourhood known as Black Wall Street — and burned down the business district, destroying roughly 1,500 homes, killing hundreds and leaving thousands of Black Tulsans homeless. For years, this historic, albeit dire, chapter was left out of classrooms and textbooks as the city attempted to erase this part of its past. The artists heard on Fire in Little Africa get to the truth through urgent songs, recalling stories told and stories lived in hope to usher in a new era for Tulsa as they help the community process this generational trauma through music.
“Fire in Little Africa is a powerful and timely project that provides a platform and outlet for the incredibly talented and thriving music community of Tulsa, Oklahoma,” said Motown Records Chairman & CEO, Ethiopia Habtemariam. “Carrying the legacy of the Black Wall Street community, Fire in Little Africa is a body of work filled with purpose and prolific storytelling. I am honored and feel privileged to have Motown Records/Black Forum partner with Dr. View, the Bob Dylan Center and Guthrie Center to release this impactful hip-hop album.”
2. Kitt Wakeley ‘Saints and Sinners’ out now
With a fearless and adventurous approach to music, Oklahoma native – composer Kitt Wakeley – creates an electrifying amalgamation of orchestra, rock, EDM, and piano, resulting in an epic cinematic vibe that ignites both our emotion and imagination. His impressive accolades include: Indie Channel Music Hall of Fame Inductee 2021 and many more besides. When Wakeley isn’t writing and recording for his own projects, he is in high demand producing pop, rock, and country tracks for other artists as well as producing TV & film soundtracks and trailers. His forthcoming album “Symphony of Sinners and Saints” promises fans an elevated orchestral musical experience and features two key track collaborations with rock guitar legend Joe Satriani.
Expanding on the use of live orchestration in Wakeley’s previous album, 2018’s “Midnight in Macedonia”, “Symphony of Sinners and Saints” is characteristically huge and, like it’s predecessor, includes the London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, and conducted by Cliff Masterson (Little Mix, Kylie Minogue, Il Divo, Oasis.) This was a goal Kitt had set himself early on, he says: “I knew I wanted to do something bigger and better than the last project, which was with the Macedonian Orchestra and Choir. That gave me a lot of credibility with many of my peers. Therefore, I wanted to build on that momentum. So, I set goals and I mention them out loud in front of others. When I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. It holds me accountable.”
3. Sinéad Harnett ‘Ready Is Always Too Late’ out now.
Ready Is Always Too Late, the second album from breakout R&B star Sinéad Harnett, is out today via The Orchard—listen here.
Featuring previously released collaborations with EARTHGANG and Masego and VanJess, as well as the more recent singles “Last Love” and “Hard 4 Me 2 Love You” and today’s focus track “Anymore” with Lucky Daye, Harnett’s highly anticipated second studio album Ready Is Always Too Late celebrates her journey to embodying the best version of herself. Empowering songs with messages around individualism and unity exist alongside vulnerable snapshots of Harnett’s less confident past self, painting a picture of evolving self-worth that requires time and care to cultivate, all the highs and lows included.
“Ready has often been an excuse, and one I didn’t want to use anymore,” Harnett says. “I wasn’t ready to be proud of the skin I was in, to find my inner confidence or to truly practice self-love. But I’m doing it now and it’s an ongoing, crazy and unpredictable journey that I’m grateful for.” Harnett’s hope is that her listeners will accompany her on this journey so they can begin to figure out where they are on their own.
Harnett also shared her cover of Aaliyah’s “At Your Best (You Are Love)” earlier this year in honor of the late singer’s birthday and was highlighted in People’s list of emerging artists to watch in 2021.
4. Grace Aimi shares epic debut EP ‘Picnic’
One of the most enchanting new voices in pop music, Japan-born singer/songwriter Grace Aimi has released her eagerly awaited debut EP PICNIC. Out today via Capitol Records, PICNIC showcases the 20-year-old artist’s bright and airy but emotionally honest brand of R&B-leaning pop. Listen to PICNIC HERE.
True to its title, PICNIC embodies a beautifully breezy sound, perfectly capturing the sensation of lazing about in the sun with your friends and loved ones. At the same time, the EP’s six songs often find Grace reflecting on her experience in heartbreak, revealing her deep sensitivity and radiantly hopeful outlook. “I want to show people there’s a way to go through something bad and still come out happy,” says Grace. “I can feel sad or lonely, but there’s a perfect world out there that I just need to go find.”
Merging the intimacy and imagination of bedroom-pop with the lush and languid grooves of R&B, PICNIC includes previously released singles
5. 21 Pilots release new album ‘Scaled and Icy’