Hawa - Hadja Bangoura Music Album Reviews

Hawa - Hadja Bangoura Music Album Reviews
On her debut album, the Brooklyn-based producer and singer smartly and subtly remakes her sound, meshing R&B and New York drill in melodically refined and technically daring ways.

Hawa has never been shy about her ambitions. At 10 years old, the Berlin-born, Guinea-raised, and Brooklyn-based artist enrolled in the New York Philharmonic’s youth composer program and was, for a time, the youngest composer in the orchestra’s history. She quit the program when she was 15 because, she says, she “couldn’t make gay music in the Philharmonic.” Instead, she turned to rap and R&B, bringing her prodigious abilities and world-beating attitude with her. “My goal isn’t to be the best, it’s to take out the best,” she said in 2018. “It’s go big or go home.”

Hawa’s debut EP, 2020’s the One, showed signs of an artist still discovering the scope of her talent. While she proved herself to be a deft vocalist, able to beautifully bend notes in half and rap in messily precise patterns, the project’s often bland trap-pop production and cliched songwriting rendered it repetitive, suggesting unfulfilled promise. Still, if you lingered on any song long enough you’d likely catch a glimpse of Hawa’s immense, jarring talent: in her tenacious growl on “Frick,” for instance, or her gorgeous ad libs on “Get Famous.” It’s gratifying, then, to see her string together more than just great moments on her first full-length, Hadja Bangoura. Across its brisk 18-minute runtime, Hawa smartly and subtly remakes her sound, meshing R&B and New York drill in melodically refined and technically daring ways.

The production here is primarily courtesy of Hawa and her go-to producer, Tony Seltzer, as well as frequent collaborators Swaya and SYN. The sonic architecture is constructed from soft, solemn keys and skittery, re-pitched vocal chops; siren FX and sweeps sometimes creep into the mix, too, adding urgency to the album’s otherwise moody melodies. Even when drill-inspired drums stampede over the rest, like on the brilliant “Trade,” in which stacks of Hawa’s voice are sampled, distorted, and sped-up, there’s an emotionally cutting core anchoring these songs. The raw drums on “En Route” threaten to blow the beat open, but the jazzy electric piano and Hawa’s swooning harmonies convey a desperate longing that courses throughout the record like a curse.

Hawa’s emotive instincts are her key strength as a vocalist. Though her lyrics contain very few specificities or long lines of tension—the record’s most legible scenes depict raunchy sex or violent heartbreak—her delivery signals the commitment and resolve of someone for whom each syllable denotes life and death. “What do you want from me?” Hawa pleads in a stunning, anxious cry on lead single “Gemini.” It’s a brash, mesmerizing song that deepens with each listen; at first it scans as a trunk-busting revitalization of drill, then a raucous R&B ballad, and then, finally, the torturous and haunting sound of someone drowning in despair. On “Credits,” Hawa pesters a lover with a simple taunt: “Wouldn’t you like to know?” As the question repeats, her voice sinks further into a slab of distortion, panning right, then left, then trailing off in a tail of reverb. There’s no macro theme or emotional arc to contextualize what the song means, per se, but there doesn’t need to be. The best songs on Hadja Bangoura nuzzle beneath your skin, make you ache—replicating the immediacy of the feeling itself.

The back half of the album abandons drill experimentation and leans further into traditional R&B structures. “Ain’t U” boasts memorable melodies and bold production choices while also feeling slightly unfinished, like a demo waiting to be further fleshed out. So do “Progression” and “7 Deadly Sins Lust,” whose minimalism could use a touch more intricacy to achieve their full potential. At her best, Hawa appears unstoppable, like her goal to be the best artist in the world isn’t so far-fetched. Hadja Bangoura is a massive leap in the right direction, but its execution and attention to detail aren’t quite on the level of Hawa’s ambitious vision.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Hawa - Hadja Bangoura Music Album Reviews Hawa - Hadja Bangoura Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 15, 2022 Rating: 5


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