Some of you with good musical memories might remember Lulu James. For a while, in the sort of circles that some people would describe as ‘tastemakers’, Lulu’s name seemed to be everywhere. It was easy to see why – she had enormous vocal talent, personality and some fine songs to go with it. She even cropped up on this blog a couple of times and I managed to see her live at The Great Escape Festival (on a stage alongside Chvrches and MØ) and at a rather magical set at the House of Barnabas in London.
However, such is the nature of pop music that sometimes artists, irrespective of their talent, just don’t break through the way that the tastemakers think they will do.
Now after some time away Lulu is back with a new name to signify a new project. Thankfully despite the re-brand she’s not trying to cover up her past existence or work, something that some artists attempt and I personally find a little bit odd; there’s nothing wrong with your art heading in a different direction or changing but accepting the past is just as important as moving into the future.
And 3rd Culture Kid does see an evolution for Lulu musically. After going back to Africa, (she was born and lived in Tanzania until she was 6) and reconnecting and rediscovering her roots, she’s uniting the two worlds she comes from through her music and singing; partly in her native tongue.
Less 21st century soul (as her style used to be categorised) and rather more international leftfield pop, MTO (which means rivers in Swahili) represents the first fascinating offering from her under this new guise. If you’re a fan of the likes of Ibeyi you may well latch onto this pretty quickly and for those who want to lose themselves in dance, there’s a rather infectious remix by Kidnap (formerly Kidnap Kid) out there as well.
I’m streaming both tracks because after repeated listens I can’t decide which I like more. The remix is rather easier to connect with at first but as you delve further in the original is perhaps the deeper and more long term listen.
3rd Culture Kid - MTO
3rd Culture Kid - MTO (Kidnap Remix)