Only recently turned 18, London musician Kamal. is the next generation of UK R&B
After a breakthrough guest feature with UK rapper Dave, Kamal. now has his eyes set on his debut EP, war outside.
Age isn't something too important when it comes to introducing musicians to the world, but when a musician is being heralded as a newcoming force set to define the international R&B/pop worlds at only 18-years-old, it's worth paying attention.
Hailing from North West London, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kamal. is someone who has already caught our attention. Last year, he soundtracked the anxious unfamiliarity of lockdown with his unsuspecting single homebody, an inwards look at a quiet recluse whose thoughts wrapped around us with a hug of familiarity as the world descended into lockdowns: "Meant to make my days all eventful, but sometimes I can’t help but stay at home," its first verse sung.
Then, a further two singles titled about the party and autopilot added depth and evolution to the musician's introduction, solidifying his strengths in his off-kilter blend of R&B and indie-pop that's brought to life with potent and rich songwriting. He found fans in some of music's biggest stars while building a cult-like audience of his own; the latter increasing ten-fold as he joined UK rap hot-shot Dave for a guest feature on his single Mercury, welcoming Kamal.'s first charting song in the process of doing so.
"We had been back and forth on text and met up a couple times before that came to fruition, so I knew that he messed with my sound and collaborating was on the table," he told NME on the collaboration, after being listed by the publication as one of their 100 artists to watch in 2021. "When he hit me up for the song, immediately I was like ‘I need to do the vocals straightaway’, so I started drafting and writing stuff. It happened quickly, as soon as he sent me what he wanted me to work on, I got back to him within two hours with the hook I had written, and it all went from there."
Now, with charting success and an early introduction behind him, the London musician's eyes are set on war outside, a seven-track debut EP that captures the heart and soul of Kamal. at his best, and how he uses that to create magic. Including homebody and the previously-released lose, war outside is a stirring collection of tracks that feels synonymous with Kamal.'s brilliance, introducing him to those who have just caught on and, for everyone else, proving that he's a musician set to define and shape the future of R&B on an international scale.
The latter is a big call, but war outside proves him worthy of the acclaim. Written at home through voice memos and laptop production before being finished off on Zoom sessions, war outside makes magic out of the intimacy Kamal. brings to his work, depicting the complex highs and lows of a relationship with the emotional intelligence that's long weaved within his lyricism, but now, sits alone in the forefront, guided only by stirring productions that elevate his every line and lyric.
"It’s quite mellow for the most part and is split in the middle with an interlude, along with homebody which I also put in it. The first few songs are quite mellow, then the second half picks up a little bit in its own subdued way," he says to NME. "As far as how the project is experienced, I want people to listen to it start to finish for the first time. Then they can take it in as a whole body of work, like a cohesive thing that comes as a package. After that, I’m happy for people to just pick their favourites and slap them in a playlist."
As a start-to-finish experience, war outside is a journey. It switched between sounds and textures as the musician continues to find his musical footing; the R&B fibres that connect each of his songs still being present - and often in the centre stage - but occasionally, they're mixed with touches of indie-pop and gentle electronica, fuelled by a continued sense of experimentalism that pushes Kamal. outside of what we've heard thus far.
In saying that, no matter what texture the musician works with, you know his poignant lyricism is going to be the thing that reaches out at you. War outside is full of reflection and identity, from the longing romanticism of its title track - "Thinking of summer under the sun drinking Prosecco out on your patio," he sings - to the richness of lose, the EP-opener where things begin in trouble: "You really test my patience, you know it's hard for me to choose / I always get complacent and either way I turn, I lose."
It's clear there's something special here in Kamal., and if sound-definers like Billie Eilish and Dave are able to see it, then we don't doubt that you will to.
Take a dive into Kamal.'s debut EP now, as it arrives via Neighbourhood Recordings / Virgin Music Australia.
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