Photo: Todd Cole
I’m sure Ethiopian singer Kelela Mizanekristos has been on aplenty radars since she emerged with her mixtape, ‘Cut 4 Me,’ featuring her collaboration work with Los Angeles based DJ/ producer Kingdom. This beautiful loc’d beauty is now based in L.A. however she was raised in Rockville, Maryland, the only daughter of Ethiopian parents who had emigrated to the States in the 1970’s. Her early impression of music was an encounter with her first cassette of Tracy Chapman’s self titled debut album. “The album cover fucked me up,” says Mizanekristos. “After getting images of every other black women thrown at you—pop stars like Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson—you get this. I looked at it forever while listening to the album, continuously trying to wrap my brain around this woman.” –Pitchfork
If you are a lover of an era that produced Aaliyah, Brandi and Mariah Carey (Mimi in her “like baby with pacifers” era) then you will enjoy Kelela’s honey soothing voice with just enough raw guttural edge blended seamlessly with electronic that will have your ear buds clamoring for more.
Photo: Erez Avissar
Listen to the lilting stride of the eight-string guitar rendition of her song, ‘Enemy’ with Tosin Albasi and I can’t help to think of a certain artist who is “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty.” You can’t help but smile when you hear the breathtaking melodic cadence of Miss Mizanekristos’s voice.
Photo: Mitchell McLennan (including previous image)
Sometimes the best lyrics are blunt, in your face and barely leave any room for interpretation. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a crazy visual stemmed from lyrics that have you scratching your head, raising a quizzical eyebrow and trying to comprehend the macabre genius of the lyricist who thought to weave words in such a way in the first place. (for all those Ghostface Killah & MF Doom fans) However some days when it seems like nothing is going your way and you want to throw on a joint that leaves no room for confusion and emotes Herculean feelings that get you through that moment then there are some artists who are definitely making waves in this movement and in all the right ways. Welcome to the penmanship of Kelela – “You know we give it up/ but love is not enough/ They always acting up/ we keep on lettin’ ‘em/ I called you on your bluff/ but you be holding tough/ I need someone who knows/ someone who gives a fuck.”
Photo: Todd Cole (including previous image)
Now let Kelela take you to a high that you won’t want to be released from.
Photo: Nick Hudson (including previous image)
The world is constantly evolving and in the world of music nothing could be truer. Sometimes these days all is needed for a commercial hit is pretty face, twerk capabilities and the ability to utter vowels in the studio in the hopes the producer will create a semblance of a Streisand like arpeggio. Is Kelela a pretty face? Most certainly but remember the days when it was cool to let the music speak for itself?
Well I think Miss Mizanekristos does just that.
**About the author:
I’m thrilled to be joining Urban Bush Babes as a music contributor. I will be choosing an ‘artist of the month’ as well as writing on music related topics. Most of the UBB audience knows me as Cipriana’s identical twin sister, those I’ve met in the music world know me as TK Wonder, an electronic rapper and singer, however I am also a writer. Under our father’s strict upbringing, as children and teenagers, my sister and I were forbidden to hang out with our peers outside of extracurricular activities. We were the epitome of a hermit. So thinking our life was akin to a hermit we found comfort in a creative realm of writing and drawing at a very young age. Growing up Cipriana at a very, very young age had the innate ability to draw…I mean draw anything ya’ll! I was a lover of books and began writing poetry at the age of six to penning novellas, novels and screenplays strictly for my personal enjoyment by the time I was thirteen. It wasn’t until I moved to NY I began to perform, starting off with spoken word poetry for a few years, which evolved into rapping, singing and songwriting. I currently perform and tour overseas every summer and I’m incessantly meeting new artists and hearing new music. Since the world I live in is quite musical I thought my best contributions could be music related.