Where Matt’s 2018 album, NappyTalk, rounded out his vision for Black masculine self-love, Love & Nappyness examines the various ways love appears in his life. “The goal of the project was to take the love song and flip it on its head,” says Matt. “Love songs tend to be cliche and cookie cutter, I wanted to put my own spin on the love song and make it real and genuine.”
Love & Nappyness is a strong and vast evolution from the critical investigation Matt found himself at with NappyTalk. The EP sees Matt at his most vulnerable. It’s unlike anything he’s ever created. “I wanted to combat the various ways toxic masculinity has told rappers and men like myself that we can’t discuss our struggles in different areas of love and the insecurities that come with self-love and loving others.”
The sonic production of Love & Nappyness evokes love, a conscious decision Matt made early on in the writing process. With his newfound vocal expressions, in addition to background vocals provided by Chicago-based singer MonAeirie (also a cast member of The Chi), Matt employs both voice and live instrumentation in ways that are entirely new to his recorded output. “I wanted there to be a mix of live instrumentation and new age hip-hop vibes,” says Matt. “The piano is the first instrument I learned how to play and it reminds me of the love that my family showed around the time I was learning it at 13, so I wanted as much piano on the project as possible.”
These production decisions are immediately apparent on EP opener, “St. Matthew”. Though no longer an avid believer, the track is an open conversation with God. “I was raised a Christian and God’s love was the first love I was taught by my parents, grand parents, and church family,” saysMatt. “My belief began to spiral when my friend Tacarra lost her life in a car crash when I was 15 years old. The song touches on that and stands as my first conversation with God since that incident. I am expressing my different insecurities with those who are ‘suppose’ to show me love in my life and hoping that the ‘unconditional love’ I was taught about is true and remains when I’m feeling loveless.”
“Love Wrong”, a sequel of sorts to NappyTalk standout “Shea Butter Baby”, “is a letter to the same woman ‘Shea Butter Baby’ is written about, and is supposed to stand as the real representation of our relationship that ‘Shea Butter Baby’ didn’t detail. In it I acknowledge that I was never taught the proper way to go about a relationship, so I love wrong. But because she loves wrong just as much as I do, I am willing to work with her and get it right together.”
“Ain’t No” and its follow-up track, “Myself”, are a couplet. Intended to show the different ways self-love manifests as one grows and matures, “Ain’t No” features braggadocio cockiness as a representation of self-love in a direct callback to Nappy Talk, while “Myself” acknowledges that, underneath the machismo, there is pessimism and self-doubt. “If I spend more time intentionally loving myself and acknowledging my flaws, I will be more equipped to love a partner and all others,” explains Matt.
The EP closes with “Shotgun”, another track which recalls Matt’s elementary and high school days and how “my different friendships from that time manifest in the love that I show to my friends today.”
For those in the Chicagoland area, Matt will celebrate the release of Love & Nappyness with a release show at Schubas on Sat. August 17th. Tickets are available for purchase here.