The duo Blv3d likes to use unique spellings for its song titles. This EP includes “Circl3s,” “Alon3” and “C3L3bration.” Although the number ‘3’ appears in every song title, the act is actually a male/female duo. It consists of Fr33dom (see those 3s again?) and Nita Gill.
“C3L3bration” begins with complicated percussion track. It includes the line, “So happy that we made it.” Hence the ‘celebration’ in its title. The song includes a rap that recalls a time when there was no money, so financial success is a part of what this song’s celebratory equation. “I remember when I didn’t have cash at all,” Fr33dom recalls at one point.
Blv3d likes to kick off its tracks with Nita Gill’s soulful singing voice, and then counter this vocalizing with Fr33dom’s rapping. This contrast, although popular in pop music right now, is nevertheless a worthy one. Instead of the sameness of, say, just a lead soul singer alone, the rap part gives the listener sonic variety. “C3L3bration,” for instance, takes on a whole different groove once Fr33dom steps into its mix.
“Circl3s” opens with a rap-y female vocal. Unlike the celebration expressed with “C3L3bration,” though, “Circl3s” is more about emotional confusion. The song’s rap suggests there is distrust in this relationship. It’s as though there is no forward motion in this particular romantic partnership. “I keep going round and round,” the chorus complains. Musically, the track begins with – one assumes – a keyboard instrumental intro. It sounds, believe it or not, a little like an accordion or a melodica. This unusual instrumentation stands out the way melodica-accompanied dub tracks can sometimes sound.
With “Alon3,” the pair sings about struggles with loneliness. It’s crazy to think humans can have so many contemporary forms of communication, yet still feel alone. The internet, for instance, which exponentially increased human interaction, has actually enhanced aloneness. Just because someone has innumerable Facebook ‘friends,’ for example, one might not actually have enough real friends. Cyber touch can never replace the warmth of true human contact. Like the other two tracks on this EP, “Alon3” features a memorable auditory intro. In this case, it sounds like a town clock chiming, of all things. The sound of a clock is a reminder that this person is living in social silence, perhaps. Have you ever noticed how hypersensitive you are to sounds whenever you’re all alone? When it’s just you in a room, for instance, you can hear every tick of a wall clock. Similarly, the character in this song can hear all the outside sounds going on, as a reminder of utter aloneness. Sad.
It’s easy to imagine any one of these songs getting played on pop radio. The intersection of hip-hop and R&B/soul is so prevalent right now, it’s nearly impossible to think of one without the other. There was a time when R&B/soul artists added a rapper to their songs, just to make them seem cool. These days, though, hip-hop and other pop styles are equal partners. When you add in an EDM artist, this usually completes the collaborative trifecta. Blv3d has its finger on the pulse of contemporary pop music and sounds fully poised for success.