à˜HENRY Claims His Throne in 'My Turn to Be King'
Photo: Julian Murray
One of the travesties of this sordid business of music is how songwriting talent is encouraged, at times coerced, to provide content for already established, signed sealed and delivered artists. Success is so difficult, so fleeting that as soon as it becomes a reality, you are rightfully nervous about how best to sustain it. Yet, sometimes, you come across an artist that refuses to let prior success mellow their resolve, one that absorbs all the negativity and pandering and creates positivity from it, an artist mirroring the spirit of his hometown of Oakland, California, occasionally down but never defeated. That artist is à˜HENRY, a first generation Nigerian-American, whose latest album My Turn To Be King, released via Boom.Records is a statement not just of ambition but of responsibility as well.
Immigrant stories in America are beloved, beguiling, and bequeathed by the prior generation, a gift of hope that plays out as a narrative to everyday actions and triumphs, and for à˜HENRY, this was no different. His father, born in Nigeria, who eloquently shares the story of his lineage from kings on the track "Oyekanmi," wanted his son to be a traditional professional, a lawyer, a man of title and dignity like his forbearers, but upon falling in love with the djembe drum as a child, à˜HENRY found his true calling, music. Throwing himself into a zestful Oakland music renaissance, coming up with celebrated peers like Kehlani, Zendaya, and H.E.R., his approach from the beginning was not just purposeful but a form of therapy birthed from creation, a continuation of his origin stories by another medium. The positivity and concern for community is feverishly felt in his music, but even more so in his person; this is a man looking for people to do more, to do better, a sense of responsibility a crown imbues.
“We’re all kings and queens, we’re all royal. Royal are people that run shit have self-love and confidence. Royal is about being a boss. This project is also about self-love, as in, do not be ashamed of where you come from. I want this album to inspire people to be themselves because no one can dim a light that is meant to shine. I know my music will make a mark in this world. And to me, that’s powerful. It’s time to claim my throne!,” shares à˜HENRY.
My Turn to Be King heard in full is a proper legacy builder, a vessel propelling the energy and optimism of à˜HENRY's message and travails, kicking off with "Made It Out," a reminder that life is about overcoming. Its intimate nature is distinguishable from his prior work for a standout reason; he wrote it for himself. Unlike prior work, whose value was as much for the shopping of said songs, then published only when they didn't land with others, the collection of songs that comprise My Turn To Be King embody a journey of a man, inspired but not fulfilled, grateful but not satiated, well traveled but not there yet.
Filled with gems, standout singles "Belong To Me" and "All You Need" are proper R&B standouts amongst standouts, both timeless and current, a proper ode to love and its all consuming effects. Brimming with both Oakland alumni and afrobeat instrumentation, My Turn To Be King, when allowed to spin as a whole, is a soulful collage of optimism, human spirit, and effort.
Listen to My Turn to Be King below: