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Amel Larrieux's Sonic Ice-Cream

Amel Larrieux, Diriye Osman

Amel Larrieux is cooler than a fan. You could clock this when she rocked that primo Groove Theory baby-making melody all the way back in ’95, and a few years later when she hipped us to the infinite possibilities, the multiverses, contained within our core systems. This was a soul sista attuned to the synchronicity between the soil, technology, the toxicity of police states, the pursuit of our higher selves and, of course, space-age sex jams that pay homage to Sade, Minnie Riperton and Patrice Rushen whilst keeping the whole thing anchored in Larrieux’s ice-cool, pleasure-infused omniverse.

Her song ‘For Real’ is the unofficial ride-or-die, sista-hipsta anthem. Don’t believe me? Peep this flow:

‘I can't smile, can't dream like a child/ Can't feel safe in this wide world without you/ I can't go, can't disturb this flow/ Can't begin to know what I would do/ I can't see, can't find strength to be/ Rather not be me without you/ I can't deal, I can't even feel, without you I'm not real.’

And this is not an isolated case of blissed-outness. Here are a few more lyrical examples of Larrieux’s love for her man:

‘And a rapturous wave/ Travels through me/ Sending all my good sense south/ I begin to behave/ Like a star struck groupie/ And the words escape my mouth/ You’re the shhh...’

‘The flowers bow their heads/ The sun she blushes/ And she turns red/ Leaves are begging trees to be shed/ To fall beside you/ Words are shamed to be said/ And lips are craving to be fed/ Butter's not good enough for bread/ When you come through.’

‘I do take you as the one/ Miracle sent to grace these eyes/ I do take you ’til my earthly end/ And even then you’ll be the love of my life.’

Make no mistake: this is the sound of a woman who has been in love with her man for over two decades. It’s not just grown-folks love that she’s professing but lived-in love too, and that’s what makes the music so exhilarating. That the songs retain such a giddy playfulness is a testament to the sincerity of Larrieux’s persona, which makes space for the concept of ice cream every day, as well as deploying fantastical water imagery to describe music industry machinations, along with performative tics like giggles and her baby’s singing (Larrieux’s young daughters are part of her band), lending the whole affair an organic texture.

It’s genuinely exciting to witness an artist getting better and better with time. The closest literary comparison to Amel Larrieux is the Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat, whose work gets progressively more interesting and adroit with each new project. It’s important to support our independent artists and show them the love they deserve whilst they’re still here. Mrs. Larrieux, stay forever golden. I, for one, will continue to rock with you.


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