Published Apr 01, 2020Since first releasing "Ra Ra" in 2017 and following up with her Higher Self EP in 2018, Montreal-based rapper Naya Ali has been slowly expanding her music world one song at a time. Though it would take three years since her first release, in the midst of panic around the world, Naya has released her debut album Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude).
Though this project is reportedly only half of the album, Naya Ali has placed her feet firm into its water and lets the crashing waves of rap and beats wash over her.
Self-described as an album that is "at times dark, at other times vulnerable and luminous, but always uncompromising," Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude) is ominous, notable in songs like "Godspeed" and "G.O.A.T. Talk" that highlight Naya's dynamic range. The previously released single "Get It Right" gets an update with veteran Quebecois rapper Souldia for a remix, while Naya pulls fellow Montreal artist Chase.Wav on the more sinister "Quick Flip."
Naya Ali is quick to show her dynamism by walking the line of rap and melodic rap-singing, and at times even singing, she relies a lot on catchy and repetitive lines rather than lyrical content that sticks. But even though that can be overlooked, "For Yuh" and "Shea Butter" are weighty missteps for a 23-minute album.
Though attempting to draw from dancehall, the upbeat "For Yuh" falls shorts and sways into tropical house and pop rather than proving its authenticity. Similarly, "Shea Butter," whose title alludes to a smooth, soulful sound, also floats into the pop world, falling far from the more cutting edges the album is built on.
If Godspeed: Baptism serves as a prelude to what else the Montreal rapper has in store this year, it's a great start — as long as Naya Ali doesn't get lost in the waves. (Coyote)