In her debut EP ‘Black Skin Lullaby’, Canadian-American artist Chewii has explored the emotional toll the events of 2020 have left upon her and the Black community. This collection of songs were all recorded after the Black Lives Matter movement rose up following the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the United States, “When the movement sparked up, I rose with it and for three weeks I locked myself into the studio and immersed myself in the emotional grief of the moment and put all that emotion and pain into
the creation of this project. I felt it was my duty as an artist, as Nina Simone once declared, to reflect the times.”
‘Black Skin Lullaby’ is an empowering collection of songs that tell the story of a woman in pain and the hurt caused by the world around her and her community. ‘I Am A Black Woman’ is hauntingly beautiful with smooth guitars supporting Chewii’s ethereal vocals and echoing harmonies. A throbbing beat comes in only when the vocals are absent, to really allow the song’s message to be heard and not swallowed up by an unproductive melody.
The EP’s title track, ‘Black Skin Lullaby’ follows the fluid ‘I Am A Black Woman’ with a more energetic construction. Hollow samples and a warped beat throb beneath Chewii’s vocals that take charge of the track and really enhance the strength of the message being conveyed. This energy is then transferred over to ‘State Of The Nation’, where sharp percussion is scatted above a dominant beat that charges forward. ‘State Of The Nation’ may not have as many electronic influences as ‘Black Skin Lullaby’, but it does share the same spirit, which is instead presented by subtle synths and eerie atmospherics.
‘Crooks & Castles’ takes the EP into a more dreamy territory, closely emulating the subject matter of which certainly lives in a dreamlike state that many people, including Chewii, would like to wake them up from. Swirling synths wrap around clicking percussion and twinkling samples that dance above the vibrating beat throughout the track. The beat in ‘Crooks & Castles’ isn’t as heavy as the beat on ‘State Of The Nation’, but it still makes an impact and the whole composition still paints a picture of something dark hiding behind a haze of sweetness.
‘Black Skin Lullaby’ ends on a surprisingly upbeat note with a cover of Cat Stevens’ song ‘Wild World’. Over the years, this song has soundtracked some of the most confusing and confronting moments in the world and so it’s definitely a good note to end this strong EP on. The light guitar flows over the deep bass with light synths blending into the varied percussion that pronounces itself during the chorus. It’s a unique take on the classic song and one that will stick with you because of how sombre and optimistic it is.
Chewii said that it was her duty “to reflect the times” with ‘Black Skin Lullaby’ and that she certainly has done. This EP is a snapshot of one of the most horrific moments of Black history and will live on as a reminder of the events that occurred during this traumatic time. Chewii has poured so many emotions into this EP and for that, we can only thank her because this is truly a piece of work that needed to be made and shared with the world.