R’n’B superstar-to-be Kwaku Asante has found his musical footing. Fresh off a vibrant COLORS debut, he offers his new kaleidoscopic EP ‘Blue Solstice: Volume 2‘ to the world stage. The hyper-masculine, emotionless bad-boy persona has its presence in R’n’B, but the soul-stirring, joyful jazzy sound is uplifting to hear. Asante brings us just that – a balance of swag and introspection, grooviness and strength, and unquestionable vocal ability.
This EP cements the ‘Blue Solstice‘ series as pop, disco, afro, and funk-infused records that evidence his classic and contemporary idols. Asante has admitted a wide range of influences from Justin Timberlake and Radiohead to Marvin Gaye and Anita Baker. In addition, these artists share one common thread: a soulful approach to their art. You can hear Kwaku’s variety of musical appreciation across this project, helped by some incredibly polished production.
They say start as you mean to go on, so opening the EP with the delicious track ‘Strawberry Skies‘ perfectly primes new listeners. It’s impossible not to smile as string instrumentation builds the hype. Then, he jumps right in with ‘I know you’re sick and tired of dealing with so many egos,’. Perhaps Asante is talking to his lady love here, but he could also be talking to the listeners. He isn’t afraid to show vibrancy and soul, and he’s here to break the monotony in your playlist. This song is a joy.
Both ‘Inside Out‘ and ‘Until The Morning‘ showcase his vocal talent; his low register is so luscious. The latter makes you appreciate the depth of the North-West London vocalists’ range. Furthermore, years studying gospel and partaking in local choir singing are evident through his effortless vocal runs.
His skit in ‘Customer Service‘ breaks up the EP, giving a respectable nod to classic 90s/early 2000s records and mixtapes that did similar. It seeps nicely into ‘Brand New‘, a vulnerable yet chill record that exudes a Khalid, or Giveon vibe. Asante knows how to pen a hit, this being the turning point in the EP when listeners really recognise it. Just in case you thought you had him figured out after that track, he snatches listeners up into a higher gear, with pop-paced ‘Free Spirit‘.
It should be stressed how incredible the instrumental choices are on this EP. Just listen to ‘Love Crimes‘ to fully understand. The instruments make the track what it is, making it feel both angry and deeply emotional.
The two records that stand out on this project are very different. ‘Fun‘ is addictive and indulgent. It in some ways characterises the whole album. The theme of indulgence follows throughout this album, as Kwaku croons ‘we took a little fun way too far’. Moreover, it has all the ingredients to be the fan favourite.
Yet, ‘The Real Thing‘ is so raw and real. Further to this, the pitch changes and voice warping are great additions to this heartfelt tune. Kwaku sings “If it ain’t the real thing, then I don’t want no part”, and fans have no trouble believing him. It’s great to hear an artist in it for the art, for the expression, and for finding the strength in vulnerability. Overall, as this second ‘Blue Solstice‘ EP commences his inevitable route to superstardom, I’m certain pure creative confidence will set Kwaku Asante apart.