Introducing Kamal., the London teenager making aching R&B with homebody
With just a few singles under his belt, it's clear that the UK 17-year-old is onto something special.
Over the last twelve months, we've spoken heavily about increasing number of emerging artists specialising in R&B, especially so in Australia, where artists like Kaiit are getting ARIA Awards (her and Sampa The Great, who won in the rap categories, are the first women to win an ARIA Award in the hip-hop/R&B/soul realm) and others are stepping up already, such as A.Girl and Lara Andallo. It's clear that the global shift in hip-hop/R&B favouritism is beginning to impact Australia, and we're finding ourselves head-over-hills with new acts on a near-weekly basis.
This week, however, we're turning our attention to London, where the UK is also blossoming into somewhat of a hotspot for R&B's future. Over the last six months alone, we've seen musicians like Tom Misch and Jorja Smith cement their status within the neo-soul and R&B realms, while others such as Kamal. here, emerge as frontrunners for tomorrow; holding a sense of potential and promise that shines through his work, even just three tracks deep - a difficult feat to achieve.
On his 2019 two missed calls package - which included two tracks, decline and smilingdownthephone - Kamal. forged together a rich, bold R&B sound that places his woozy vocal in centre spotlight; production backbones that cement themselves in psychedelic-esque indie, organ-fuelled gospel, rich hip-hop percussion and so on forming the perfect underlay for his vocal to dance amongst, winning you over with every crooning lyric.
His 2020 single homebody, however, has the London-based 17-year-old at his peak. It's a slow-burning effort that forms a new peak for Kamal. and with it, the perfect introductory point to his work if you're yet to be acquainted. Raised in north-west London, Kamal.'s influence in the London's R&B world rubs off on homebody, bringing the slickness you'd expect from some of the city's heavyweights - Ray BLK, NAO, Connie Constance, Ella Mai - but twisting it into his own distinct way, formulating a sound that doesn't quite sit in any category as it does move amongst them, picking up flavours and textures as it goes.
However, no matter which gentle acoustics dance in the background or how heavy the emphasis is on the stirring percussion in the background, the focus is always on Kamal.'s vocal, and that's something that really shines on homebody. It's a single that really ushers Kamal. and his vocal into the spotlight; the allure and charm of his vocal moving amongst the swelling production underneath, which doesn't so much take away from his vocal as it does add to it, emphasising the sense of emotive longing that underlays the track's grooves.
The track - and its official video, filmed in his London home and directed by The Rest (slowthai / Joy Crookes / Kojey Radical) - touch on the comfort of being in your own company; Kamal.'s meditating in isolation and finding himself in the calm comfort of being in your own company, something which shines in the visuals, too.
Kamal. is someone remarkably special, so jump on him and his new single homebody below, and introduce yourself to a future star in the making before everyone else picks up on him: