“You had me shook up, look what we’ve become / Took what you wanted, but / Somehow, somehow, now I got self-love / Without a doubt I’m more than enough.” Intimate but viciously honest. Humble but surprisingly cutting and forthright. Indicating a desire to be there, but dizzyingly straying towards a feeling of self-comfort simply impossible to find when feeling a lust for the beat like she does here: we’re inside the mind of Gbeke in her new single “Top Priority” and a selection of verses that affected me when I sat down with it just this past weekend, and from my perspective, these words yield the sort of smooth R&B vibes that have the potential to launch her career into a new level of respect and appreciation from fans and critics the same.
Lyrics aren’t the only avenue through which we feel the intensity of Gbeke’s passion in “Top Priority;” truthfully, I think they’re made all the more tangible through the physical presence of the instrumentation, both backend and front. The bassline and percussive components in the song aren’t even all that indulgent, but when collectively joined with the other melodic elements in the mix, it forms the kind of sonic hurricane that most singers simply wouldn’t be able to stand up to on their own.
Without the kind of plasticity behind the board that a lot of her closest competitors in and outside of the underground would rely on when producing new music, Gbeke delivers catharsis seemingly around every critical bend in “Top Priority.” The vocal that she’s so eager to lend towards the conclusion of the single is astoundingly brooding and brash, but the freeing sense of coming undone it leads us to is beyond beautiful, and perhaps more so when enjoyed in the track’s companion video.
The music video for “Top Priority” merges the conceptualism of the composition itself with the personality of Gbeke’s performance when everything – both artist and the material – is isolated from all external influences. Here, she’s letting go of so much in the simplest of terms possible, making even the more reserved moments of powerful rhythm and rhyming sound like it’s coming from a human place rather than an artificially-faceted studio source. It’s applause-worthy, and by far some of the sweetest content I’ve heard from a non-mainstream pop musician in the last year
I hadn’t heard any of Gbeke’s previous work before getting introduced to her just this month via her incredible new track, but if what she’s been cooking up inside of the studio in 2022 is giving us a solid indication of what her future is going to sound like, I won’t be missing out on any of her upcoming output. This is a transitional and transformative period in the history of the R&B genre as we’ve come to know it through the years, but by staying away from the aesthetical pitfalls a lot of her contemporaries are walking head-on into, this purist is carving out her own place in the international hierarchy of profound millennial talent.
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