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“Elevate” from Sammie B

If you’re old enough to remember vintage Kanye – the guy who kicked it with Twista and experimented with the limits of his melodic depth on a regular basis – you’re going to feel some similar vibes when you listen to the new single “Elevate” from Sammie B this July, but not necessarily because of the aesthetics she’s melding together. As a rapper, Sammie B is drawing inspiration from elements across the pop spectrum that, when fused against a beat like the one we’re hearing in this track, make for quite the immersive listening session, no matter your interest in hip-hop in general. This is a hard genre to shape on your own, but with her dynamic skillset, that’s exactly what this artist is doing right now.

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“Elevate” has a couple of broad swings on the backend that are supported by a vibrant percussive force, but this is by and large the most efficiently mixed single I’ve heard all year long in terms of its bassline. The last few years have ushered forth excess like no one could have imagined with bass-born indulgences, but that’s not something you’re going to encounter for even a second in this record; if anything, the way the bottom half of this single has been produced, it feels almost too slim to have the kind of sway that it does. The rhythm is bright, but the actual command Sammie B has over it (with nothing more than her voice, mind you) is downright epic from beginning to end.

There’s a passiveness to the verses in the first half of “Elevate” that demands a closer look after a couple of listens, and in the long run, I think it’s quite indicative of the emotional statement Sammie B is trying to make here. Her delivery is putting a stamp on the narrative in this performance just as much as any of her actual statements are, which is a talent that a lot of her underground peers just aren’t able to muster up regardless of how much time they’re spending in the recording studio trying to hone their skills. This is natural, unforced, and constantly imposing its sterling tightness on us, which is something I wish I could come across a lot more often in this business.

Genre labels have traditionally only kept the best and wittiest composers and performers from expanding into territories that scene politics tend to keep them out of, which is why I’m very hesitant to brand Sammie B with any specific titles other than artist this July. Her core creative values take something from soul, funk, R&B, pop and, of course, hip-hop, but to tether her identity to any one of these schools over the others would be to dismiss the vibrancy of her sound – and, more pressingly, what she’s doing with it before our very ears in “Elevate” and its parent record Elevated. Time will tell for certain, but right now I think this is an artist you can safely bet on hearing a lot more of as the year unfolds.

Mindy McCall

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