The eclectic urban artist – eighteen year-old Imani Wj Wright, from Baltimore – has his own blog and clothing line, but long before those achievements were realized, he had been cultivating his musical skills with passion. This ongoing growth includes his time on scholarship at the Peabody Institute, and The Lyric Opera House of Baltimore, where he wrote an opera titled ‘Industrial Love’. Wright also spent an extensive stint at the American University under the auspices of the Washington National Opera.
Imani Wj Wright currently has 3 singles doing the rounds – “Unplanned”, “Consistency” and “Started”. Wright’s particular brand of Pop/R&B is more akin to murky atmospheric soundscapes punctuated by pulsing beats and floating searing vocals than the type of radio friendly stuff that his contemporaries are putting out. The music is ambiguous, melodic, and debauched. He really allows himself the freedom to go where he wants and not forcing him to produce a radio single.
You might get a slow burning, bass-frequency dominated, brooding soundscape like “Started”, and then be flipped into an electronically driven upbeat pop track such as “Unplanned”, only to slip into a slinky piano ballad called “Consistency”.
These two latter tracks also sees Wright playing the saxophone. These three songs will resonate across a wide cross section of music fans, because of their left-field attitudes, swathed in a bundle of mystery. Musical ambition of this kind demands a lot from the listener, so it will keep you engaged as you try and figure out just where Imani Wj Wright is taking his craft.
Wright’s creative songwriting is pure gold: simple at the core but teased out by his extravagant production into something entirely new and exciting, sometimes challenging but always interesting.
His music has the type of crepuscular groove you’ll find at a party still going at 5 AM, after the lights have burnt out and all that remains are empty glasses and a few lingering couples against the wall.
These single feel a true labor of love, more genuine than more prominent R&B stars. But perhaps that is due to Wright’s anonymity. The music stands before the image – indeed, defines the image – contrary to so many other artists.
Imani Wj Wright’s almost nonchalant treatment of the themes in his songs and the knowledge of his own artistic capabilities, seems fresh, awe-inspiring, and at times, even scary. And it is all laced inside some of the most mind-blowing R&B production we’ve heard in years.
This is clearly not music made for the catchy hooks, as Wright focuses on the musical embodiment of his themes. These moments are subtle, and it takes a different mindset to appreciate them. Listening to Wrights creations is the ultimate form of escapism that so many of us flock to music for.