“Elevate” by ayoka

Progressive R&B is finally seeing women dominating on every level of the game, and this is no doubt thanks to a vibrant underground scene producing the likes of ayoka and the unique generation of players she’s representing. In her new single “Elevate,” ayoka works a “Studio”-style beat into the corner only to make her voice the catalyst for the lurching groove we find in the hook. She’s got no time to wait for the pulse of the drums or a bassline to set things up for her – she’s eager to nail a harmony down and entice us ever closer with a lusty lyric.

Official Website: https://ayoka-music.com/

The verses in “Elevate” aren’t particularly over the top, and they’re never the exclusive point of attraction in the mix at all; the vocal that brings them from ayoka’s heart and into our own is what makes them powerful at every stop in this track. The beat, as previously noted, is stylized after her own words and the stealthy manner in which she arranges them into pure poetry, which comes in stark contrast to the synthesized rhythm so much of the competition would have invited into a song as smooth as this one is.

Though the tempo is deliberately slow and restrained from coming undone, it has to be this way for ayoka to swell the tense atmosphere her singing creates in the chorus. For her methods, timing is everything, which is why “Elevate” has a plodding, almost predatory vibe that gets us feeling excited right from the jump. While she’s still developing a trademark sound, it’s clear that she’s closer than a lot of other rookies would be just after giving her compositional skillset a closer inspection. There’s confidence here, especially in places we’d normally expect to hear youthful hesitation.

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/venus/1538311509?i=1538311513&ign-gact=3&ls=1

“Elevate” is absolutely one of my favorite late night jams at the moment, and even with all of the harmony-heavy tunes hitting record store shelves this month, I’ve yet to find another track from a likeminded rookie quite as playable as this one is. I like the energy ayoka has when she’s hitting a hook with equal parts venomousness and contrition, almost like she’s repping two distinct emotional subtexts that are only discoverable by listeners relating to the tone of the music. She’s a complex player who still has so much ground to cover, but right now, she’s number one on my list of young R&B artists to follow.

Mark Druery