By Tyler Aleksandr Allen
The setting is Nola Darling on 23rd and Broadway. I’m sitting on a bean bag beside one of my best friends, surrounded by exposed brick with a 8x5, gold-bordered mirror across the room. From this description you would probably never have guessed that I was here for a concert, the SlackGaze Zine release concert, that brought together female artists of color and exceeded my expectations from the very beginning all thanks to a Brooklyn artist named XHOSA.
“Its a beautiful thing to have your own song to sing” are the first words we hear XHOSA chanting in Introduction. Her voice hovers over the melodic sounds of marimbas as she repeats those words and sways side to side.The repetition of the accompanying marimbas and drums creates the perfect ambiance for XHOSA’s poetic flow as she makes her music ambitions clear: to intertwine her sound and speech into one motion of expression. A motion that translated to the crowd of about 25 swaying side to side in bodily agreement.
My favorite song of the night was one that I later found out was called RAWWW. Her voice creeps back into the mic with more confidence than before belting - “I feel close to you”. A phrase that can be interpreted in a literal sense because of the fact that the crowd was maybe 3 feet away from her. However, on a deeper level there’s this feeling of closeness that comes about because of the decision she makes to express herself to us through her sound. Just as XHOSA and the crowd, including myself, understood and appreciated this closeness, the sound became disjointed and morphed into an up tempo rhythm that got the crowd turning up, which in turn encouraged XHOSA to push her performance even further. The intimacy of the performance created this beautiful symbiotic relationship that allowed us to take the performance where we wanted to go.
RAWWW danced around in my head as I headed back uptown on the 1 train and as soon I got to a computer I raided her Soundcloud. Of course I relistened to the songs that I heard from the concert but the other songs surprised me in the best way possible. Versatility is often essential in artistry and her earlier work Heavy Psyche is more uptempo and rock induced while her delivery is predominantly rap. Her 90s stylized rap flow complements the rock music that allows songs like Wicked and Why War to invoke a conversation between the two seemingly exclusive genres. From the music that I’ve heard from XHOSA so far, I just can’t pinpoint or define her style. That’s a reality that I’m more than fine with since no matter what style she chooses, she manages to express herself beautifully and comfortably.
Listen to XHOSA here: https://soundcloud.com/xhosa-music
Like XHOSA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/XHOSAMUSIC