It started in 2021 when multi-instrumentalist Kamal. picked up the novel “Open Water” by Caleb Azumah Nelson. Although the Northwest London native had been releasing music online since 2019, he had yet to drop a complete project. But after being inspired by the novel, a semblance of an idea quickly formed as he submerged himself into his talents. so here you are, drowning is what came of those sessions, the debut mixtape by Kamal. that sees him move away from being an acclaimed collaborator for fellow British artists and into the role of singer-songwriter.
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Previously released “free flow” gives Kamal. a smooth introduction for what’s a minimal and resourceful mixtape. Featuring his signature ukulele, an instrument he picked up on right before releasing his first song, he clues in on an alleviated and alluring private encounter over inspired hip-hop production. The vibe of it all is very much relaxed and easygoing, serving as a slow introduction into Kamal.’s inner thoughts.
“better” leans into his pop sensibilities perhaps more than any other song on the ten-track mixtape. The production, in particular, feels carried over from mid to late 2010s pop music and is not unlike what’s expected from an Omar Apollo or Justin Bieber single nowadays. The only distinction between Kamal. and the others is the fact that he’s still fairly new without many years of experience behind him.
If anything, so here you are, drowning is a testament to using the most with so little. Out of the entire mixtape, not one song goes over 4 minutes, leaving little room for dragging or loss of interest. Even for “drown,” the longest song on the mixtape, there’s only a simple drum rhythm and piano to lead Kamal.’s soft voice through calm waters. Kamal. himself is trained in the piano, having learned it young as he picked up pointers from his favorite neo-soul singers. The inspiration carries over, where Kamal. relies all on his own when bringing his vision to the mainstream.
Words: David Sosa
so here you are, drowning by Kamal. is available now on streaming services. A new “white wine” music video is also available through his YouTube channel. For more on what’s next, follow Kamal. on Instagram.