Masego's critically praised self-titled sophomore album was released earlier this year to fans' delight. Leaning on a cool, breezy, and smooth production, this 44-minute album highlights the singer's distinct musical delivery, which is steeped in neo-soul, R&B, and jazz. Through the album, Masego demonstrates his emotional and musical maturity via subjects of pursuing one's aspirations, looking for Black love, discovering oneself, and the scrutiny of contemporary fame.
Now, in response to the album's critical praise, Masego has released four remixes that provide an alternative take on some of his original tracks. With the help of Kweku Sanderson, Grammy-nominated producer Kooldrink, Pocket, and Jamie Brown, the tracks "What You Wanna Try," "Say You Want Me," and "Black Anime," the Grammy-nominated artist gives an already excellent compilation a new look and vibe.
To ride the wave of his successful sophomore album, Masego will kick off his headline Europe/UK Tour called "Where We Goin?" in 2024, where he will visit Berlin, Milan, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, and many more cities. In the meantime, however, you should definitely listen to the stellar Masego album, and give a listen to Masego Remixes.
"What You Wanna Try (Kweku Saunderson Detroit Mix)"
I was intrigued and annoyed by this song's melody when I first heard it. I was intrigued by the distinctive sound of the tune, but I was also annoyed because there was, somehow, a familiarity behind the tune that I couldn't place. Nevertheless, after giving it some thought, I discovered that the familiar melody was lifted from "Tom's Diners" and given Masego's unique trap-jazz twist.
This tune is simply the beginning of Masego's musical brilliance. Cleverly, he produced a tune that felt familiar and brand-new by layering his original beat and flow over parts of the well-known track. When it comes to Black love, he appears to be asking the same questions that he asked himself in the song "Mystery Lady" from his last record.
He wants to know what she's willing to try, and he's prepared to give it to her, whatever that may be. A partnership? There he is. A fling? He is also able to accept that. The song is welcoming and forces you to want to find an answer to whatever question the artist poses.
With layered vocals, a drill rhythm, and an inverted echo of the singer repeating the first chorus over a variety of instruments, Kwekku Saunderson's remix has the most club-like vibe. Since this is the most significant song modification of all the remixes, the charm and sensual qualities typical of Masego's music aren't as evident here, which may leave the listener wanting more from the remix than from the original. However, its interpretation is still worth the listen, as it is intriguing to hear Saunderson's version of the single over a Detriot House beat.
"What You Wanna Try (Kooldrink (Amapiano) Remix)"
Masego's song "What You Wanna Try" is featured in this remix over an amapiano beat. The dance-like element of the single is emphasized at the beginning of the song, but when Masego enters, the song is almost as alluring as it was in the original. Why? This is largely due to being absorbed in the Afro-dance rhythms for such an extended period, that when the singer eventually makes an appearance and extends a warm welcome, it feels as if he is extending a sense of companionship following the protracted periods of isolation.
Since it seems like the more collaborative of the two remixes, I might appreciate this one a little bit more. Though it sounds more like Saunderson than Masego, the first song isn't a terrible cover. Nevertheless, despite maintaining Masego's self-assurance, the first song lacked the singer's easygoing charm and swagger when pursuing a lover. That's why it wasn't as interesting as this one, which manages to keep the charm and lyrics that make Masego so appealing and enjoyable to listen to, while also veering toward club-like sounds.
"Say You Want Me (Pocket Remix)"
Prior to Study Abroad: Extended Stay, Masego occasionally performed songs with elements of Caribbean music, although not as frequently as he does these days. In this single, Masego draws on his Jamaican roots in the original "Say You Want Me," playing a lively Afro-R&B groove that feels like warm sunshine. However, it is precisely because of this emotion that the song is so brilliant and flows so naturally, making the message all the more devastating for his pursuer. Masego takes the lead on the song with a player's mentality, talking about leading ladies on, while competing for their attention at the same time. There are times when he seems invested, changed even, but he quickly implies—almost tauntingly—that it was all just him lying to her.
The backing vocals, which are contributed by Ambré, Ari PenSmith, Mannywellz, and Destin Conrad, only serve to emphasize this point as they act as possible echoes of Masego's affections—only for them to learn that the voices are just an endless part of Masego's inconsistent actions.
The Afro-R&B is dropped in favor of a faster-paced, more energetic party song in the remix. This rendition of the song has some appeal, even if it's not as seductive as the original. Like other club hits, its irresistible rhythmic quality is the primary attraction. You won't be able to sit still, even if you don't like the song; and don't get me wrong, not enjoying this song is a big "if" because even in this rendition, you can't help but think that Masego meant something else for his lover, even if he is explicit about what he intended.
After this, it is impossible not to hope that he changes and searches for a greater romance.
"Black Anime (Jamie Brown Remix)"
In its original version, the opening of "Black Anime" has a piano riff that possesses a dream-like quality. Lasting only forty seconds, its melody brings the audience to an alternate reality full of grandeur and wonder that showcases the value of using one's imagination and how this exploration can foster new ideas that may contribute to one's success. Though, the melody does not nurture this idea alone. Instead, when Masego's vocals finally emerge, he gives off an impression of expansiveness mixed with the feeling of a distant, maybe illusive dream.
This is done when he uses the familiar tune from "The Cha-Cha Slide" to lull his audience into a dream-like state, illustrating the addictive nature of pursuing one's desires and "money dreams" through a captivating cycle of pleasurable contemplation.This song's Jamie Brown remix is intriguing since it produces the same engrossing loop as the original but in a novel and intoxicating way. This version instills a sense of urgency and agitation, rather than lulling us into following our aspirations through this infinite cycle of repetition. For example, if we don't achieve our goals with a swift and nearly frantic energy, they cannot materialize at all.
By the time the well-known tune of "The Cha-Cha Slide" appears during this performance, it seems as though Masego has reached a point of exhaustion and is being forced to take a break after working nonstop for many nights, only to have the cycle repeated the instant his eyelids open, again.
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Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
This post is in partnership with Amgen.
The seemingly simple task of taking a breath is something most of us don’t think twice about. But for people who live with severe asthma, breathing does not always come easily. Asthma, a chronic respiratory condition that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs, affects millions of people worldwide – 5-10% of which live with severe asthma. Severe asthma is a chronic and lifelong condition that is unpredictable and can be difficult to manage. Though often invisible to the rest of the world, severe asthma is a not-so-silent companion for those who live with it, often interrupting schedules and impacting day-to-day life.
Among the many individuals who battle severe asthma, Black women face a unique set of challenges. It's not uncommon for us to go years without a proper diagnosis, and finding the right treatment often requires some trial and error. Thankfully, all hope is not lost for those who may be fighting to get their severe asthma under control. We spoke with Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq. and Jania Watson, two inspiring Black women who have been living with severe asthma and have found strength, resilience, and a sense of purpose in their journeys.
Juanita Brown Ingram, Esq.
Juanita Ingram has a resume that would make anyone’s jaw drop. On top of being recently crowned Mrs. Universe, she’s also an accomplished attorney, filmmaker, and philanthropist. From the outside, it seems there’s nothing this talented woman won’t try, and likely succeed at. In her everyday life, however, Juanita exercises a lot more caution. From a young age, Juanita has struggled with severe asthma. Her symptoms were always exacerbated by common illnesses like a cold or flu. “I've heard these stories of my breathing struggles, but I remember distinctly when I was younger not being able to breathe every time I got a virus,” says Ingram. “I remember missing a lot of school and crying a lot because asthma is painful. I [was taken] to see my doctor often if I got sick with anything so I was hypervigilant as a child, and I still am.”
Today, Juanita says her symptoms are best managed when she’s working closely with her care team, avoiding getting sick and staying ahead of any symptoms. Ingram said she’s been blessed with skilled doctors who are just as vigilant of her symptoms as she is. While competing in the Mrs. Universe competition, Juanita took extra care to stay clear of other competitors to ensure she didn’t catch a cold or virus that would trigger her severe asthma. “I would stand off to the side and sometimes that could be taken as ‘oh, she thinks she's better than everybody else.’ But if I get sick during a pageant, I'm done. I had to compete with that in mind because my sickness doesn't look like everybody else's sickness.”
Even when her symptoms are under control, living with severe asthma still presents challenges. Juanita relies on her strong support system to overcome the hurdles caused by a lack of understanding from the public, “I think that there's a lot of lack of awareness about how serious severe asthma is. I would [also] tell women to advocate and to trust their intuition and not to allow someone to dismiss what you're experiencing.”
Jania, a content creator from Atlanta, Georgia, has been living with severe asthma for many years. Thanks to early testing by asthma specialists, Jania was diagnosed with severe asthma as a child after experiencing frequent flare-ups and challenges in her day-to-day life. “I specifically remember, I was starting school, and we were moving into a new house. One of the triggers for me and my younger sister at the time were certain types of carpets. We had just moved into this new house and within weeks of us being there, my parents literally had to pay for all new carpet in the house.”
As Jania grew older, she was suffering from fewer flare-ups and thought her asthma was well under control. However, a trip back to her doctor during high school revealed that her severe asthma was affecting her more than she realized. “That was the first time in a long time I had to do a breathing test,” she describes. “The doctor had me take a deep breath in and blow into a machine to test my breathing. They told me to blow as hard as I could. And I was doing it. I was giving everything I got. [My dad and the doctor] were looking at me like ‘girl, stop playing.’ And at that point [it confirmed] I still have severe asthma because I've given it all I got. It doesn't really go away, but I just learned how to help manage it better.”
Jania recognizes that people who aren’t living with asthma, may not understand the disease and mistake it for something less serious. Or there could be others who think their symptoms are minor, and not worth bringing up. So, for Jania, communicating with others about her diagnosis is key. “Having severe asthma [flare-ups] in some cases looks very similar to being out of shape,” she said. “But this is a chronic illness that I was born with. This is just something that I live with that I've been dealing with. And I think it's important for people to know because that determines the next steps. [They might ask] ‘Do you need a bottle of water, or do you need an inhaler? Do you need to take a break, or do we need to take you to the hospital?’ So, I think letting the people around you know what's going on, just in case anything were to happen plays a lot into it as well.”
Like Juanita, Jania’s journey has been marked by ups and downs, but she remains an unwavering advocate for asthma awareness and support within the Black community. She hopes that her story can be an inspiration to other women with asthma who may not yet have their symptoms under control. “There's still life to be lived outside of having severe asthma. It is always going to be there, but it's not meant to stop you from living your life. That’s why learning how to manage it and also having that support system around you, is so important.”
By sharing their journeys, Juanita and Jania hope to encourage others to embrace their conditions, obtain a proper management plan from a doctor or asthma specialist like a pulmonologist or allergist, and contribute to the improvement of asthma awareness and support, not only within the Black community, but for all individuals living with severe asthma.
Read more stories from others like Juanita and Jania on Amgen.com, or visit Uncontrolled Asthma In Black Women | BREAK THE CYCLE to find support and resources.
I was sitting on the floor, in the candlelight. It was a random December evening and the house was quiet. It was just me, my records, and my wine. There I was, reflecting on 2019, and everything that went on that year in my life.
My mother's unexpected passing at the top of the year, the new exciting job that I was so ecstatic about, not working out. My boyfriend's father passing a month later. My world was literally shattered at the start of a year that I looked so forward to.
And the wild part is that the year progressively became more and more difficult.
I sat immersed in the moment, continuing to reflect.
Wishing I smoked or even had ganja on me to cleanse the year. This wine and candlelight will do.
Anita is blaring. She makes everything better.
A few months prior to this day, I made a note in my phone labeled, 'Two Thousand Nineteen'. It had items listed that had a major effect on me in a year's time frame. When I added them all up, the total came out to 29.
I figured if I saw it written out loud, I could wrap up those 29 negative things, and throw them out with a simple 'delete' option. But in reality, they were there whether I deleted them or not.
I didn't say much to anyone throughout the year, even though I knew they just wanted to make sure I was okay. Text message responses got slower. I tried with everything in me to give myself just a few months to get back to normal. But every high was met with just as many rock bottoms. Every plan I made for myself was thrown to the side. I had fallen into a silent depression over something only the universe and a higher power had control over.
And I needed to figure out how to heal, but had no clue where to start.
After all, there was too much to do, I was on a mission to be promoted to a director-level position within my industry in a year. I had all these events I needed to plan and network for, buying a new car was a priority, and I needed to find a board to sit on. There was absolutely no time to be anything other than what I had always known: an industry hustle.
Go, Charmin. Figure out how to buy that property and help build this other brand. Also, go be a good friend, go check on your family. Go. Go.
And one day, it occurred to me: like sis, you're not going to be able to accomplish anything. So, stop. Especially now. Especially inthis headspace.
I remember that moment like yesterday.
It was so unfamiliar, yet a moment that would ultimately reshape my outlook on life. But I knew it was what I needed.
We as women say that we need a break all the time, or we need a vacation to get away from everything. This time was different. This time, I needed healing. I decided then and there to take a break from everything. So, I metaphorically packed my bags and told my dreams I'll see you in a year.
In the initial stages, being ambitionless was tough. Our generation is so programmed to always go after the bag. It's almost as if we have some soul tie to advancement—and I was no different. I knew I had to structure out a plan if I was going to succeed.
My plan was written as:
Do things that make you happy.
Give people who give you the most peace, the most time.
Find a purpose.
And as a grand finale, create an escape plan from everything you need an escape from.
This allowed me to be more aware of what potentially stressed me the most. I knew my stress triggers would present themselves and I'd act accordingly to what was revealed.
Now, to clarify, my break was not an opportunity to be a bum and sit home and wallow in sorrow. This was instead a time to not directly work toward any of the goals that I've had for myself, and that had developed over the course of 33 years.
My only goal was to work on nurturing my mental health.
So, I would often unapologetically leave work and take myself to the movies, or on lunch dates, I'd spend time researching local activities. I discovered new podcasts and worked on forming new habits. I focused on actively redirecting my thinking to more supportive, positive places. I am someone who never buys anything for myself, so I rediscovered shopping (I know, right). I would visit family 600 miles away or invite them into my space (major key). And I spent time seeking experiences and activities such as skiing road trips (experiences were also a huge factor).
Slowly, I began to feel welcomed back into my body. Soon, meaning returned back into my consciousness.
Ladies, I've learned that it is okay for us to take a moment. Just step outside of yourself and take a moment. Not every hour of the day has to be dedicated to "winning." Sometimes, what we're after is silently killing us. As adults, if you think about it, we deal with so much trauma, yet dust ourselves off and continue to work in mental chaos. I personally sought refuge in my home, simply because it was where I was happiest. And combining my home life with activities that I learned to love out loud, satisfied my healing process.
Today, I am happily back in the swing of life. My year is complete, and I am on a path that I literally had no idea I would be on 365 days prior. Everything is looking up. And that's all I wanted. To look up.
At the time of this article, I hadn't visited a therapist just yet, but maybe one day. I know that's probably where this final stage of healing lies.
But for now—just for now—I can truly say that packing those metaphorical bags to take that year off, saved my life.
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Originally published on March 15, 2020