watch drake favourite ama lou get caught up in an la crime ring
The British R&B star-to-be just released a short film to accompany her new EP.
Welcome to i-D’s New Music column, where we tell you all about our favourite new artists so that when they get famous, we can be smug and say that we told you so ;)
Drake’s one off the biggest music monoliths in the game right now. His double album Scorpion averaged 10 million streams per hour on Spotify over the weekend, and then they plastered his meme-able face across every playlist for a day -- including ones he’s not in. Soul coffee? Drake’s face. Beast mode? Drake’s face. Independent Ladies? Sure.
So it’s probably quite the compliment for any young R&B artist to see the name Aubrey Graham pop up at the top of your merch order list, which is exactly what happened to Ama Lou.
Turns out, having Drake model your merch is just one step up from the two degrees of separation the young artist enjoyed recently -- she just hopped off a US tour with Jorja Smith, who popped up on Drake’s last album. But enough about who Ama’s connected with and how successful they are and whether they have great taste in merch. Because she stands on her own; a self-assured artist on the cusp of her own inevitable success, a chameleonic soundtrack to every part of your day.
Actually, though. Her debut EP is called DDD and stands for Dawn, and Day and Dusk. It features three songs, three moods, three different shadows on the sundial. According to Ama, dawn is atmospheric, surreal and eccentric. Tried Up, the track that represents it, foregrounds her powerful voice, hazily drifting across an constantly shifting background of beats, clicks, bass, synths and piano. Listen to it with your coffee, daydreaming as dust motes dancing in the shafts of sun streaming in. Day is vintage, fun and smooth -- its associated track Wrong Lesson throwing it back to notes of 90s R&B and hip-hop. Dusk is dramatic, wide and beautiful, Ama says, reflected in Wire: a sultry, yearning tune best reserved for after sun hours, bedroom eyes on, whisky in hand.
"It’s the Ama Lou grand introduction. To my personality, to my visions, to my space.”
But it’s not just the EP that’s all encompassing -- there’s a full short film to accompany it, which we’re premiering today. It’s a triptych of visuals, soundtracked by the three EP tunes hooked together. Written and directed by Ama and shot by her sister Mahalia John, it follows her playing a girl caught up in an LA crime ring. Aesthetically, it’s heavy on classic Californian imagery; dusty roads, old motels, vintage cars -- a platter of satisfying visuals that instill you with nostalgia, even if you’ve never been to LA in your life. “It’s the Ama Lou grand introduction. To my personality, to my visions, to my space,” she explains of the not insignificant decision to make an entire short film to accompany the EP. “I wanted people to see inside my head visually and through audio and production. And I think I’ve done that.”
Ama’s always been pretty proactive, teaching herself the chords to songs she liked and writing her first song, You Ran Away, aged just 11. “I can still remember it”, she says. “Classic banger, obviously.” At the time she was growing up in Hackney, an incubator of multiculturalism. “Growing up there was not siloed,” she explains of the diverse range of people and experiences she was exposed to. “The perspective that I gained was amazing.”
This worldliness is perhaps why she’s so adept at fusing music with a message. Before DDD she was referencing Eric Garner -- a black man who died as a result of unwarranted police brutality -- on TBC, or exploring ideas around gender performance in Not Always. Should music be political, then? “I think it’s important for people to talk about what they actually think about and feel is important... or even things they aren’t sure on. There’s a place for everything people want to say in music, whether it’s caused-based or not,” she explains. “As long as it’s real.”
With Ama Lou, it is.
Watch the short film for DDD below. At dawn, in the day and again then again at dusk.