BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
When it comes to music, I'm always listening. Music isn't just a song someone produced, it's the footsteps down the hall, the rain on the roof of a bus, the clicking of laptop keys. When musicians truly understand this, and understand the poetics to every sound that happens around us, and realizes it's music, you know you're about to get a gift.
This is why you really need to listen to Lateef Dameer's album First Kiss. Its nine tracks are all beautiful, individual pieces that mesh together jazz, soul, hip-hop, and poetry. The album starts with the sound of the ocean and sweeps through the different beats, whether piano or electronic or different voices, it all blends together seamlessly as part of one narrative. One of my favorite songs is "How I Feel Today, Pt. 1" featuring poet Elisabet Velasquez, whose words are powerful, and whose voice delivers something right into your ribcage.
The last song, "Clean," ends the album perfectly, with the lyrics and refrain that repeats: "Maybe we can't start clean."
Maybe. Maybe not. You get to decide.
You can listen to and buy the album below (and read an interview with Lateef with us here):
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016) and the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere.