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Nolo Grace (feat. Sean Kingston) “Wake Up”

Collaboration starts and ends with chemistry, and what Nolo Grace and Sean Kingston have in the new single “Wake Up” is absolute fire in this respect. Although this is Grace’s song, Kingston steps up to the mic for a guest spot in “Wake Up” that feels heaven-sent and perfectly matched for the vocal style his counterpart is putting forth at center stage. With a dose of cerebral pop, a lot of soul, a little hip-hop, and a dash of R&B elegance, this track and its music video chip away at stress with a kind of melodic wit I can only describe as being ethereal.

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The bass here is pretty big, but luckily for us, Nolo Grace knows exactly how to use it to her advantage. She’s bouncing her verses off of its tonal presence much as anyone else would the percussion in the background, which grants the bassline a little more stock beside the drums and allows for the backend of this mix to feel larger than life (even though it’s rather minimalist in comparison to the club tracks I’m spinning this month). It’s agile and meticulous movement, and something only a natural-born talent like her could pull together.

Sean Kingston’s vocal addition to this mix is critical to giving this song a rich finish, especially with regards to the harmonies he helps to create in the latter half of the track. He isn’t aggressive with the lyrics, but actually quite delicate, weaving them into the fabric of the synth melody with a calm, cool, collected attitude a lot of his younger pupils could stand to learn something from. It backs up Grace beautifully but doesn’t steal the spotlight away from her pipes, which would be hard for almost anyone other than a player of Kingston’s caliber to do in all fairness.

The music video is a little more surreal than the source material is, but it gets away with a few indulgent moments just on the strength of its soundtrack and how well it syncs up with the imagery. Every frame feels deliberate and not aesthetically overexposed here, which could make some people feel like its cosmetics are a little jagged for the mainstream, but to me, it’s so much more art house than it is YouTube-edgy. The bread and butter of this release is the music itself, and the video reflects that no matter what angle we’re analyzing it from.

I immediately fell head over heels for the vibe in “Wake Up,” and while it’s one of only two singles we’ve heard from Nolo Grace to date, I think it’s evident that she’s finding her footing as a recording artist rather quickly. This and “Miss Perfect” both introduce us to a player who doesn’t need much help sounding like a million-dollar melody-maker, and if she can work with talent on the same level as Kingston’s in her next project, I believe we’ll see her develop into a top-tier star in the pop genre a lot sooner than later.

John McCall

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