|Listen to GRADUATION album by Ockley|
In this new era it feels as if there’s no solid boundaries anymore. In many aspects, that can be a good thing, at the same time it can leave the landscape feeling rather confusing. In music for instance, our entire generation has come up hearing certain genres and recognizing them right away whereas now, the artists are willing to experiment with their sound. As a result many acts we consider rap actually sound like a fusion of 70’s rock, soul and pieces of neo soul. While risky, it does open the doors for something new, but it begs the question, what defines R&B these days?
I grew up listening to groups from the 1950’s all the way up to the 90’s and fell in love with the music and how it had evolved. Each decade building upon the foundation the previous generation paved for it to thrive and change with the times. I’d be lying if I said I knew which R&B acts stand out today because at this point every genre, from hip hop to country seems to borrow from one another leaving only the artist interchangeable, the songs themselves sound very similar to me. Over the last few years there’s been acts who have carried the R&B mantle for only for a short time. While all of them are good in their own right, there seemed to be something lacking when it came to the projects overall connection to the audience. Not saying that there’s any quick answers here, but knowing this leads me to the next step which is digging a little further and seeking the raw vocals I’m looking for to ease this dilemma.
With that being said, I was fortunate enough to come across this album being streamed titled “Graduation” by a singer named Ockley. From the first track, “100 Everyday” his melodic voice comes across with a particular sincerity accompanied by a fierce determination to get his message out with every note. The thing that sets Ockley apart in my mind is, that even though his sounds sound like a throwback to what I feel has been missing, he himself was born in Lusaka, Zambia. Thus the bonus for the listener comes with hearing R&B with an international viewpoint. That is made clear as he sings in what I assume is his native language on the track “Tikondane” and while I don’t know what he’s singing about, I feel that song in a way I can't quite explain. On songs like “Singla Mama” “She Told Me” and “Tikaonana” it’s his story telling ability that I am drawn to. These songs stood out to me because it allowed me to escape and reflect upon my own experiences through his melodies. The go to tracks for me are “Africa” “Time Flies” “Amanda” and “Show Me Some Love” as they all have their own unique sound to them.
What I love about this album is that the content is completely unexpected and at the same time, exactly what R&B needs to energize itself. This is an album that you can just put on ands listen to whether you're heading to the club on a Friday Night or just going for a drive and looking for a soundtrack. If this is a graduation, I’m curious to know what Ockley has in store for the next stage.