Music

Genre-defying artist Amaarae breaks down her new album

The musician of the moment opens up about the themes and process behind 'THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW'.

Ghanaian-American artist Amaarae has been making waves over the past few years with her genreless sound, mellifluous voice and outspoken take on gender. After the success of her Passionfruit Summers EP in 2017, she’s back with her debut full-length project THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW.

Below, she exclusively breaks down each track on the release. 

D*A*N*G*E*R*O*U*S*

I wanted to start off the project in the ballsiest most rock and roll style ever. I wanted it to have this Bring It On energy like an angsty squad of cheerleaders going off. What better way to do that than to have a mob of women chanting “F*ck it up sis!” It’s motivational, it’s gutsy and it’s the beginning of my message: I can’t be stopped, I won’t be stopped and neither should you. This track is a motto, it’s a way of life and a message to all the girls listening to go ahead and FUCK IT UP SIS! 

 

FANCY 

If “DANGEROUS” started the race “FANCY” would be the all-star runner that took the baton to the finish line. When KZ (producer, co-writer) first played me this song, I lost my mind instantly! In just a quick second he had managed to communicate exactly who I was and how I was feeling at that time through this record. He was like this is the shit women need to hear from you” and he was absolutely right! It’s that joint that you put on when you’re getting ready to go out, when you’re getting ready to ace that exam, to ask for that promotion, do that job interview, go on that date that you know you are about to dress to kill for! It’s for the BOSS BITCHES. 

 

FANTASY ft. Maesu and CKay 

“FANTASY” is a big fiesta tune! The marimbas, the way the drums sway; they have this cha cha cha vibe. It takes me back to when we first made the record in Gran Canaria and what the energy was like when we were there. The tropical feels, the fresh fruits, partying into the early hours of the morning and heading to the beach for a swim at dawn. We had an amazing time in Gran Canaria and this record is the clearest indication of our time there.

 

LEAVE ME ALONE 

We’re at the point in the project where we’ve been having a little too much fun and there’s a need for a sober moment. “LEAVE ME ALONE” is that moment when you’re high in the middle of a party and then all of a sudden you begin to feel introspective and you start asking yourself, “Are these people really my friends? Do they care about me? Do I care about them?” Overall, It’s a freedom record. It’s just about wanting to live your life and be left to do so. There’s so much going on in the world this year. We all need a break or some form of escape and this song speaks to that desire. It’s about having the space to breathe, process and get your mental and emotional states right. 

 

JUMPING SHIP ft. Kojey Radical and Cruel Santino 

“JUMPING SHIP” was a record Kojey had for a while and he didn’t feel like it was for him so I took a stab at it and we turned it into one hell of a record. Kojey is interesting because he has this pop-intelligent side to him that he rarely lets his fans see and I’m excited for them to get into that version of Kojey Radical on this song. “JUMPING SHIP” is one of my favourite records on the project because it’s a total 360 from the sound people have come to expect from me. This record is fast-paced. It’s for the dancefloors. It’s sexy and sullen all in the same breath. I love seeing people react to it. I started teasing it on my IG Lives and Twitter and every single time people would hound me about when the record was coming out. 

FEEL A WAY ft. Moliy and Mel

This is a really sexy song. “FEEL A WAY” is a record that you hear when you’re tipsy in the dance and you just want that moment to yourself to vibe out. The lyrics really compliment this energy; “this liquor make me feel a way now/ fuck up the place / tell them motherf*ckers not today.” It’s like I’m drunk and I feel way too good for you to get me down, so leave me alone if your energy isn’t right. 

 

TRUST FUND BABY 

This is my absolute favourite song on the project and it’s my favourite moment as a writer because the lyrics go so hard. It’s sexual but it’s playful. It’s also cheeky and witty. It’s for the ladies, man. It’s one of those things where it’s like yo, if you got that fire pussy – speak about it. Let the city know you’re the one with that splah! And let them know how privileged they are to be the only one you’re bringing it out for. 

 

HELLZ ANGEL 

First of all, I want to give the biggest shout out to Miho Moribayashi of Hi-Posi. Miho is an incredible composer and songwriter and the core melody of this record was sampled from Hi-Posi’s “Bokude Haritai.” Miho is so so so so so incredible and she was very sweet and genuine – when we cleared the sample she asked if she could get in touch with me and she told me how flattered she was that we sampled her record and how much she loved HELLZ ANGEL. I’m hoping we can get her in the video somehow (given the travel restrictions). 

 

CÉLINE ft. Kyu Steed and 6IX 

Everyone thinks “CÉLINE” is some kind of girl and that’s a cute notion – but it’s about money and the lust for finer things. If you follow my Twitter, you know how much I love money because I tweet about it all the time. So I had to put it in a song.  

 

DAZED AND ABUSED IN BEVERLY HILLS

This song is short and sweet but it’s also really deceptive. The title says one thing and the song sounds like the complete opposite but if you listen really closely to the lyrics it’s describing a toxic love affair with drugs. 

SAD, U BROKE MY HEART 

This is my second favourite record on the project. Around the time I wrote this, I was in love with Wizkid’s “Joro” and as I was writing this record I thought to myself, “What if I wrote this like I was writing it for Wizkid” and that’s where that whini whana hook came from it’s something he said casually in the record and I just thought to play on that. I love how easy going and tropical this record sounds. I love that I sound really sad over such a breezy instrumental.

 

3AM 

The opening of “3AM” feels like an underwater trip. It’s insane. It reminds me of InDeep’s “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” the way there’s this one hook that repeats all throughout the song. It’s pure disco energy! I’m glad that we could marry progressive house melodies on afrobeat drums, I really enjoyed bringing these two worlds together. 

 

SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY (*STARRING MOLIY*)

One night I was on Instagram and Yinka Bernie, a beast Nigerian producer and artist had posted this beat on his Instagram. I immediately hit him up to ask if I could use it. For a while I couldn’t figure out what to sing on it – so I just shelved it. Then a miracle happened. I came across Moliy’s EP online and I was like, “Wow, this girl’s melodies are so incredible. I need to send her this record and see what she does with it.” We planned a session just to listen to some music and see if we would catch a vibe. I sent her the track on my way to the studio, by the time I arrived she had done the hook and two verses and I was like. “Well okay, damn, say less!” At that moment I knew she was the star of the record and I needed to give her that space to shine. 

 

PARTY SAD FACE/ CRAZY WURLD  ft. KZ and Odunsi (The Engine) 

And the party ends here. I think this is the saddest party song to ever exist in the universe but it’s a cruise. When I listen to it, I feel like all the little elements are jumping at me and i’m riding this magic dragon throughout the song – it’s enchanting. 

This song transitions into “CRAZY WURLD”, the outro of the album. I just wanted to give one last badass punk moment. It’s random and unexpected. I love that! I love the lyrics here as well. It’s like after the party ends at 3 am but you decide you’ve still got some more hell to raise then you come staggering the next day at 8 am!

 

Listen to THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW here

12 November 2020