Didn’t Belong to Rap
By FILIP DROZDZ | November 30, 2019
Cover photo from volkskrant.nl
FKA Twigs is known for her quite original taste in fashion.
In regards to September and October, I stated that Hip-Hop had the most worthwhile albums. As November comes to an end, I can confidently announce that this month’s theme was rather different. The two albums selected as the most interesting releases in November contrasts with the exuberant rap projects from September and October. This time we are up to a more subtle and emotional, yet enthralling journey through the meanders of personal art.
MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs
MAGDALENE is FKA Twigs’s second full-length studio album and also a comeback to her last EP which was released in 2015: M3LL155X.
It isn’t close to being a homecoming though; MAGDALENE is a huge step forward from the debut LP1 and a testimony to the enriching, although painful development that FKA Twigs has undergone. On MAGDALENE, FKA Twigs explores the character of Mary Magdalene to whom the album owes its name. Magdalene is a vivid but rather enigmatic persona, and she was one of the most loyal of Jesus’s followers. But, there was an accidental twist in history. Pope Gregory misrepresented and stigmatized Mary Magdalene as a “sinful woman,” and led to the diminishment of her accomplishments. FKA Twigs identifies with Magdalene because her fate was not so different from her own; in terms of love, she feels like all the effort she put in to prevent it remained unrecognized and overlooked. The narrative develops throughout the album, though, delving into different types of mindsets (e.g. heartbreaks) that parallel Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR. However, stylistically, MAGDALENE is more reminiscent of artists such as Bjork (Fallen Alien) or Kate Bush (Mary Magdalene). Overall, FKA Twigs’s recent venture in music has turned into a very sonically compelling record. It is brought together with a converging, moving narration which keeps the listener captivated from the beginning to the very end.
KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka
Michael Kiwanuka’s unique style which merges R&B, folk, jazz and sounds borrowed from his Ugandan heritage, is accountable for earning him a spot on this list. As the artist himself disclosed: KIWANUKA was therapeutic for him. The idea to simply name the album after his surname was done to make a statement about genuity – Kiwanuka doesn’t see much sense in creating any kind of a persona or alter ego. Instead, he tries to stress the importance of being true to yourself; self-acceptance appears to be a main point of interest, which is reflected throughout the album’s narration.
What is worth noting about self-acceptance is how it brings about peace and lays a foundation for further growth. Despite being so deeply personal, KIWANUKA encapsulates many universal truths regarding self-acceptance, dealing with loss and facing defeat. All of this being accompanied by empowering, masterfully crafted musical arrangements may act as a remedy for any confused or worried souls trying to find themselves in life.
I am fully aware of the fact that there was probably an abundance of other albums in November that could have made it to the list. Don’t get me wrong, I listened to more records in the last month, but they didn’t resonate with me as much as these two did. Maybe one day, 20 years from now, I will find out about an album which was released in November, 2019, and I will feel ashamed for overlooking it. I will make sure to apply necessary corrections if that happened, but until then, this is my final verdict!
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