Soca artist Nailah Blackman may have her feet firmly planted in a genre that also serves as her birthright — her grandfather Ras Shorty I is credited as its forefather — but her love of various influences keeps her on the pulse of everything from trap-tinged R&B to baile funk on her debut EP, The Reel. Released today, Blackman is also premiering the visuals for its first single, the perfect summer bop "Sweet and Loco."
After being on the road non-stop since her 2016 breakout collaboration with soca vet Kes, "Work Out," Blackman says she made use of studio spaces around the world — including makeshift ones in hotel rooms to complete the EP. "You know when you have a will to do something, nothing can really stop that," she says.
While the project has obvious soca influences, Blackman pulled inspiration from a handful of genres to piece it all together. "Even though I am an ambassador for soca music, I love so many different types of music and I intend to at least try every one of them," she explains. While she dabbles in r&b on songs like "Kills" and trap on "Break It Down" alongside Trinidad James, she flips to Portuguese on the baile funk-inspired "Boujee." "With this project, I thought to just give a taste because they’re all different sides of me and that’s the reason why I called it The Reel because it’s like I’m auditioning for a role; I want to be in the spotlight and this is my reel."
For Blackman, a family name deeply entrenched in the history of soca, The Reel offers her a chance to create a history of her own. "It’s all great to be local and support local but Caribbean artists are much more than just soca, dancehall or reggae," she explains. "We should be free to express ourselves however they see fit and find success. I want to be the one to make other young Caribbean artists feel okay to be themselves and see success doing what they love."
The Reel is available now. Watch the video above and stream the project below.
All images via Janais Cartier.