Next week, New York City-based singer and dancer Rahel will release her debut album, Alkalai. It's one of the best things I've heard in 2015—something like '90s R&B melodic structure as filtered through the Cocteau Twins' Treasure. That's a very base way to put it, I know, but I'm using that as shorthand until I write more once you can hear the full album. Besides, writers will be tempted to place it into the category of underground, gloopy R&B—liquified R&B, as the New York Times' Jon Caramanica once described Tinashe—but Rahel's album is not really like that. It's brighter, gleamier, more concerned with self-approval than submerging its emotions.
The first single, "Serve," dropped last May, and now we have a video. It's not even the best song on the album, to be clear, but it's an ideal intro track—it shows how open and clear Rahel's voice and approach to harmonies can be, and it only gets more clarion from here. And it's a good intro to the sensual control that permeates her music: "Take me out for lobster, I'll consider it a date," she sings. "No [something I totally can't parse]/I want you on my plate!/Serve it up." The actual lobster in the video is representational; she smashes it in the end and wears it like a trophy on her neck. You know what time it is.
This is out on Camp & Street, the label run by New York rapper and dancer Le1f who, full disclosure, still owes me $60 from 2009. (IT'S AIGHT THO.)