AfroPop R&B Star Sarina Gets Vulnerable in Hypnotic New Single “Blame Me”

AfroPop R&B Star Sarina

December 10, 2022

Haitian-American Pop princess Sarina stopped by to chat with Ahriel Nari about her single “Blame Me” for Real Mumbo. The Silver Spring, Maryland native shared lessons learned in her music career, what makes a great songwriter and also played This or That! Check out the full interview below!

O-Slice Delivers Unparalleled Performance at Annual Inner Circle 7

O-Slice Inner Circ

By Ahriel Nari
Photos by Jada Imani M
October 20, 2022

O-Slice in front of a sea of fans (Photo by Jada Imani M)

O-Slice’s annual Inner Circle is an event you do not want to miss! Every year you can depend on her to deliver a high energy, premium performance and Inner Circle 7 did not disappoint!  The evening started off with DJ Sero providing the perfect soundtrack to set the tone for the night. As people poured into the door, our lovable and charismatic hosts Tamara B & Hasani made it clear we’re having fun tonight.

Tamara B
Host Tamara B (Photo by Jada Imani M)

After a cream of the crop open mic session, the multitalented Samwyse took the stage. He mesmerized the audience with hypnotic renditions of fan favorites including his latest single “Time”. Up next was the radiant Jimani Luv. After O-Slice personally gave glowing reviews, Luv graced us with her angelic R&B sound as she teased unreleased songs.

Jimani Luv
Jimani Luv (Photo by Jada Imani M)
O-Slice Fan

And then it was time.

The number 7 is a highly spiritual number that represents a person’s inner wisdom and fullness in life. It also symbolizes the bridge between the human world and angels.  So, it was only fitting that O-Slice and her band wore white.

O-Slice making her grand entrance
(Photo by Jada Imani M)

Since the last Inner Circle, O-Slice has released her album Goodmorning, Goodnight. The crowd was screamsinging hits word for word along with her including “2TheMoon”, “One&Only” and “Moonchild”. The night wouldn’t have been complete without the unofficial Inner Circle Anthem “10toes”. If you missed the epic night, you can relive it below:

Love, Ballad — Meet the Sensational R&B Singer

Ballad

by Ahriel Nari

September 23, 2022

Ballad is the answer to an R&B lover’s prayers. He captures listeners’ ears and hearts alike with his effortless falsetto. Born in Angola, Ballad was always surrounded by music. His Dad was a wildly successful DJ in Angola, so he was exposed to many different types of music starting at a young age. When Ballad was seven years old, he moved to Brockton, MA, a town right outside of Boston area.

As a follow-up to the hit song “Orange”, Ballad has released his latest single “Lemonade”. In this song, he smoothly coos about the sweetness of his lover over a vibrating bass and bouncy instrumental. I got the chance to chat with him ahead of the release of “Lemonade”. Check out the interview below:

Where did the name Ballad come from?

I’m pretty bad with coming up with names. I’m the person where if we’re playing a game and we have to make up a name, that will take a lot of my time. But I feel like whenever I do come up with something, it’s meant to be. So for my name, I had gone through so many iterations of very terrible names…

Wait! I want to hear some of them!

Ok so one of them – this was back in the J. Holiday days – so I had P. Harmony. I was really rocking with it even though I knew that wasn’t it. For me I wanted a name that had to do with music in some way. One night, I was looking in the mirror and I asked myself, “What do you like?” and I was like “Well I love ballads…Okay then: Love Ballad…no, that’s too long. Ballad…okay” and I just stuck with it.

Who are your musical influences?

Every time I’m asked this, there’s no way I can go without saying Michael Jackson. That was the first. I became a huge Prince fan, huge Sade fan, huge Marvin [Gaye] fan, huge Stevie [Wonder] fan, D’Angelo, Maxwell, Usher – like those names helped me find my voice. I could relate to so much of what they were sharing.

One thing I find cool about you and your music career is that you’ve seen a lot of success on social media. Congratulations on that first and foremost. I feel like every artist has their own feelings about it. How do you feel about the role social media plays in a music career nowadays?

I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to have to be on there. We wanna create, ya know? We wanna create and then we wanna give it to you. That’s where I was. One thing that switched for me is when I saw the community that you can really build around yourself by putting yourself out there. The misconception that I had was that I just had to sell who I am. For me now, it’s more of sharing who I am with people who want to listen to me. I’m an introvert and I have to say the community that you build is so supportive – they got your back. To be able to have that connection – it can move so much. I love it now but I had to learn who I was in it instead of trying to follow what the trends were and what everybody else did. I was just copying and pasting because that’s what I felt like I had to do to get out there but it switched. I’m kinda just doing me and I figured out how to do me in a way that works. If every artist can get that and stay true to that, I think they’ll feel the same way that social media is incredible.

My favorite song of yours is “Orange”. I’m currently obsessed with this song. I do have to ask why is it called “Orange”?

It’s one of my most vulnerable songs. I wanted to speak on a time in my life. I wanted to be as vulnerable as possible about what I was feeling in that moment. I wanted to peel back the layers. So, metaphorically, it’s me peeling back all the layers, me bringing myself to this person and letting them know how much they mean to me. The fact that I want to reconcile, the fact that I want to be held accountable, and I wanna work on something better – I’m peeling all the way down to that. On another note, I’m a Fall type of person. Orange just really gave me Fall vibes. Orange just resonated with me

How do you find the content matter for your songs?

I don’t. I’m starting to do that a little bit more because I’m starting to be more intentional when writing. For the most part, in the general sense, when I create it’s really on a subconscious level. Whatever needs to come out, comes out in the way it needs to. Whatever the music is calling me to do, whatever my spirit wants me to say in that moment, I let it come out. I’m very much a lover so I speak a lot on love so I’m being more intentional in the HOW I speak about love in ways that aren’t stereotypical.

Which of your songs mean the most to you?

“Wondering”. It’s kind of like in the same vein but not as dramatic [as “Orange”]. I call it one of the healthiest love songs I had. “Jasmine” as well. When I made “Jasmine”, it was such a feelgood moment for me. I was at a Thai restaurant earlier, got something to eat – everything just felt really good. We came back to the studio and my producer was playing some sounds. He happen to stop on one and the flow of it was so special to me. I’ll never forget that, especially what it became. It’ll always be one of my favorites.

Follow Ballad on Instagram (@mrloveballad). “Lemonade” is available on all streaming platforms. You can listen down below:

Christian JaLon Teases Powerful New Visual Album for MINE

Christian JaLon

By Ahriel Nari

Christian JaLon is multifaceted generational talent. The Chicago-native singer/songwriter got her start in music in the church. Drawing influence from artists such as Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, The Clark Sisters, and Beyonce, Christian has forged her own lane in music by blending gospel, jazz, and poetry. Upon the heels of her upcoming visual album, she chatted with me about what’s to come:

How did being raised in Chicago shape you musically?

We are very, very big on jazz. In our Bronzeville neighborhood, we have a big photograph of Nat King Cole on the side of a building. We have statues playing instruments in the middle of the street. Our jazzy tone helps us to cultivate sounds around that. We be steppin’ and stuff like that. We be groovin’ and we smooth with it. Dare I say, some of the greatest artists have come out of Chicago.

Your last album MINE was a nice blend of spoken word, jazz, and R&B. Tell me about what went into the making of it.

One of my homies, Wax, produced all of Vinyled Love. After Vinyled Love, we stayed in contact and he sent me the production for “Mine”, the very first song on MINE. I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t even have a project planned out at that point. I was just like “I really like this” and I was going through heartbreak. Instead of writing so many more songs about this person, this heartbreak, this sentiment, I wanted to write a song to myself. So that song alone is why I decided that the entire project was going to be about me, my God, the way I love people and me being there for other people. I wanted to change the atmosphere for myself and hopefully it reaches somebody else.

You’ve previously discussed that you’re turning Mine into a visual album. How did you come up with this concept?

LEMONADE!!!! I remember when Beyonce released Lemonade. I had a performance of my own that night. I went out and I sang but right after I got done, I rushed home. I stood right in front of the television.

Can you share with us anything that’s coming down the pipeline as far as the visual album?

One of the songs is entitled “Unmoved”. For the visual album, I have decided that my band and I are going to revamp the production. I’m really wanting to step into my rock star bag. So, I want this to be like the introduction to that – like “Oh, she’s rockin’ and rollin’”

You have dope merch that says “Don’t forget to rest”? What is the significance of this phrase to you?

I have a card that I send out with the merchandise and it says “with restoration, you need to rest. With restoration comes surrenderance and submission to God. You have to be able to give things to Him in order to take a back seat and allow things to pan out. It’s okay to sit down. It’s okay to be still. It’s okay to not always be in control.

So, you’re also an author! What is your book Amen about?

Amen is a book of poems, just my thoughts. I actually put that on the cover – “A book of poems, just my thoughts”. It was literally about heartbreak and coming back into myself after said heartbreak. The next book that I’m working on is attached to Mine and then the one after that is entitled Home. All of those books signify me being able to be restored. They’re about taking the time to look at situations for what they are, embracing and accepting them after having my temper tantrums and throwing fits and crying. It’s me just coming back. Amen was the start of that trilogy.

One thing I admire about you is your transparency about your relationship with God. Do you ever feel like you have to compromise that in order to navigate the music scene?

GIRL NO! Absolutely not! There have been times where people who were at the top have seen me, recognized me, and wanted me to do things. I would say, “Oh no, I’m good.” Then they would say, “Oh it don’t look like you good”. It’s like when those type of people try to enter in, it actually pushes me closer to God. What God has for me – that’s exactly what I’m gonna get and it’s not gonna come with any turmoil. It’s not gonna come with anybody discouraging me. It’s gonna come with people who believe in me. Everybody who I have on my team right now, I kid you not, God just dropped in my lap. I asked for these things maybe once or twice and very easily these people came. So, I ain’t never had to compromise and will never start compromising.

What are your plans for 2022?

I plan to have a live show. It’s going to be an online show, of course. It’s not just because of COVID but also because I’ve learned that I’m not a huge fan of performing in front of so many people anymore. I think COVID heightened my desire to kind of just show up. When COVID wasn’t a thing, I was already performing, get off stage, get paid, go home. I didn’t stay around to kick it or to talk to nobody. I do plan on doing a digital live performance for MINE. I’ve already got the whole set up and it’s really, really beautiful. Then, I want to release at least the first single from my upcoming album with my band and that will be entitled Letters From My Heart, Written From a Place of Healing, From a Place of Honesty. I am so excited for that one! I feel like if people loved Vinyled Love then they’ll love this album ten times over.

MINE is on all streaming platforms. Follow Christian on social media (@ChristianJalon)

Kenneth Cash Releases Performance Visual for New Single “Patience”

Kenneth Cash
By Ahriel Nari

Brooklyn-based artist Kenneth Cash is definitely someone that needs to be on everyone’s radar. Managed by hip-hop legend AKTHESAVIOR, Kenneth is forging his own lane with his unique brand of R&B.  Although he only has four singles at this point, each song demonstrates his versatility. His newest single “Patience” is a melodic track in which Kenneth ruminates on whether to end a relationship that no longer serves him. The visual, shot by Waqas Ghani, is reminiscent of a home video, which accentuates Kenneth’s introspection in the lyrics.  Check out the video below: