Loose Lips

Innerstate - Zaia

Nana’s Sunday Jams

Innerstate - Zaia

Banner artwork by the majestic Trav, all of Nana's jams are gathered in this playlist.


Yes Yes Sunday Jammers. Welcome back this way, hope it’s full of love, legal hugs and the best of chocolate highs at the top of sugar mountains. So, we roll out onto our last stop on my ‘Selects’ theme today so that means new places next week. The source of this week’s select is the thirteen-year-old in my life whose cultural presence is now firmly printed in my digital universe. All my e-platform recommendation lists are punctuated by angsty misery tableaux and Amanda Stenberg-led films. I tend to sit somewhere between bemused and irritated when I’m told that I might be interested in watching this or listening to that, but once in a while something pierces through the tough hide, something that makes me smile and reminds me to get over myself. Watching someone who you’re helping to shape is both beautiful and horrifying. Whilst it’s gratifying watching them take their steps into adolescence it’s also a constant reminder of how easy it is to become dry and overbearing, a reflection that pushes, even forces me to embrace things you might have otherwise pushed off with a manky stick.

Today’s track emerged from all that, so, thanks kid. It’s not a direct recommend but meddling fingers provided the impetus. The track is Innerstate by Zaia and I’m really glad to have made it to the party. I’ve had Zaia in my peripheral vision, but I just passed on by choosing to open other windows - see Dua Saleh and Papa Mbye - who both felt a little more realised, but I’ve realised that I was hasty, so I’ve doubled back and it was the right move. This guy is doing everything to reshape how Hip-Hop sounds and its ability to give voice to inner turmoil. Mixing genres, finding new middle points and producing bangers. 

This track is layered, offering slices of each element and giving way to none, it’s got pockets for dancing, headz nodding, sing out loud moments and oceanic introspection. I enjoyed the lyrical moments of poetic beauty, his feelings are out there, raw, chaotic, telling the intimate story of a person searching for themselves in amongst life’s layers and all the competing macro messages about who, how, why, what and on on on. It’s got pop high notes, hip hop flexes and funk tinges, a dreamy melody kept raw by electro, drum n bass/techno scratch moments, creating a juxtaposition between the lightness of the melody and depth of disjointed feelings being expressed. Zaia’s vocal sits somewhere between singing and spitting but he never loses his articulation, so close your eyes as he walks you down the corridor of his feelings and points to the moments that have shaped his experiences.

Musically speaking I think he has lot more growing to do, but that’s more of a statement of interest and desire to engage rather than a criticism. Zaia feels willing to grow and branch out, as a long-committed Hip-Hop fan, anyone willing to deconstruct the genre and give it new wings will always have my attention and respect. So, looking forward to hearing more from this Atlanta-based artist. Hope you enjoy it Sunday Jammers and new ground next week.