That is the first word that comes to mind when I put on Masego’s debut album, Lady Lady. What else would you expect when the Virginia native describes his sound as “TrapHouseJazz”? It’s equal parts relaxing, groovy, and catchy. A pairing that I’m surprised no one came up with sooner, because this project proves it works on various levels. Masego gets to shine in his domain of love. And it isn’t just love. More specifically, it is the love of women.
While love can be a vague topic and is a commonly used theme, Masego stays consistent with the examination of the lady. From the lust filled sexual temperatures in the bedroom, to the emotionally blinding romance that grips the heart, to the curiosity of relationships that aren’t fully realized, Masego tells his lovely tale. And while he does explore the lady, he doesn’t try to spin lies. The accounts and feelings he sings all seem real. Whether all these tales are true or not is impossible to fact check, but he portrays it with enough passion to make it real.
In these stories, Masego can be a gentleman (“Lady Lady”), the playa (“Shawty Fishin’”), the experienced lover (“Prone”) or the youngin’ (“Old Age”). All different, but possible to belong to the same man. He doesn’t try to exaggerate these relationships or “situationships”, as some would say. They fit right into his wheelhouse and he gets to shine on each track. There isn’t one story out place because they are all sides that encompass him and add to the authenticity of the project’s tales.
When it comes to the music, it is superb. Masego himself plays multiple instruments like the saxophone, drums, and casual beat machine. Behind theses tales, Masego makes the sound on each track evolve and expand. And it’s easy to explain with the jazz influence – a genre that uses composition to fight itself. It’s ever changing, yet there is this steadiness to it. That is thanks in part to the percussion that leads the songs along. Nothing is the same and yet, they all flow into each other so well that you could probably mess with the tracklisting arrangement and still have a musically cohesive project.
The only section of the album that lends itself to that arrangement is the threesome of the title track, “24 Hr. Relationship”, and “Black Love”. The title track transitions into this ‘morning after’ situation that gets narration from both the sultry Kehlani and Masego himself. Afterwards, we get the only moment you can tell isn’t from real experience yet. “Black Love” is this desire. It is almost a goal to reach by Masego finally find his lady lady. But since it is currently out of reach, it is still a fantasy. He sings it with such longing, but also underlying peace. Simply put, it’s beautiful. After this tale, one that would end the album on that note of fantasy, his jazz roots provide us with a double encore with “Tadow” and the extended version.
Masego has crafted one of the most buttery, smooth records of the year. Jam packed with soul to ride to and the grooves to give your feet the two step. Masego can only grow and we’ll see what we have in store when he expands his lense. For now, I’ll stick to drowning in this lush sound.