ojerime is a 90s r&b princess for the internet age

The self-made south Londoner just dropped another banger.

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Apr 18 2018, 4:14pm

Ojerime’s earliest music memory is watching Mariah Carey’s Honey and thinking, ‘I want to be like her.’ Fast forward a few years and the R&B’s still there, but the south Londoner’s take is more slow, sticky treacle than Mariah’s sunny, upbeat bops. The snares are heavier, the melodies less uptight and the sound darker. Regardless, it still tastes damn good: “I’ll give you all this flavour in public,” she oozes on Handle, which just dropped today.

It’s the second track off her forthcoming EP and typifies what we’ve come to expect from her sound. There’s murky melancholy, the butter smooth vocals of 90s R&B queens like Brandy and Aaliyah, and the subtlety of someone who’s remarkably -- and justifiably -- self-assured. There’s a bit about 50 seconds in where her rap-sung lyrics end, the beat stops and you’re left hanging in anticipation for a few seconds -- the aural equivalent of a slow, suspenseful coin toss. Finally, it drops back with a satisfying kick alongside Ojerime’s vocals, which have been cranked up a notch. It exemplifies the song’s essence: it’s not showy, it doesn’t try too hard, it just glides along with a lackadaisical ease that manages to exude equal parts ‘IDGAF’ and ‘bow down, bitches’.

“I grew up in Brockley, south-east London,” Ojerime tells i-D. “The British music I grew up listening to was very raw and has a honesty to it.” Blaring out of the US, it was 90s R&B trios like Destiny’s Child and SVW that made their mark -- so much so that out of everyone in the world, Ojerime wishes she could play her music to SVW’s Coko. The progression from fan to creator was an organic one. From singing all the time as a little kid, the Londoner later began uploading cover songs to YouTube, before mining the depths of the Internet for more obscure samples and producers to help shape her sound. In 2015 she released her debut EP, Ojerime: The Silhouette, and in 2016 backed it up with fang2001. The title looks a bit like a noughties hotmail address, which is fitting. The same electronic Internet aesthetic translates to her tunes, which are underscored with heavy synth and intriguing loops. All in all, she makes it pretty hard for people to put her in a box, something she seems completely aware of when she describes her sound as “just a collision of my influences.”

She’s not much more forthcoming when pressed on other details. How does she want her music to make people feel? “Good.” What’s in store for 2018? “More.” Thing is, she doesn’t really need to give more away. Everything you need to know is right there in her tunes -- a rich bucket of gooey treacle. Dive in.