Naya Ali Reaches New Heights with 'Godspeed: Elevated'
Published Sep 13, 2021Rapper Naya Ali has spent most of the summer on the road promoting her sophomore album Godspeed: Elevated. Travelling inwards to further her personal growth is the overarching theme of this eight-track project recorded between Montreal and Toronto. Making a significant departure from the more accessible pop stylings of her debut Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude), Ali has elevated her rap game with this mature offering.
Opener "Air Ali" sets the bar and gets the listener ready for takeoff. Assertive in her raspy delivery, Ali raps, "Lately I've been feeling so low, but I'ma be right / Ain't no more feelings involved, I'm gonna take flight." Throughout the album, Naya oscillates between healing self-preservation and aspirational manifestations in both mood and lyrical content. The rapper moves in and out of flow pockets, establishes melodic hook structures and navigates through a variety of production all while maintaining a sombre aesthetic. The modern horn stabs on "Stop Playin" are in stark contrast with the slick guitar licks of "102 Bus It" that reflect the traditional Ethiopian jazz of Ali's heritage.
Amidst this artistic turbulence, Naya keeps providing the conduit with her unique vocal tone and personal storytelling. The hook from the grimy "Another One" resonates profoundly with those who have followed Ali's career from the start: "I ain't go pop, not another one / This is for the real, not the other ones." With bangers like "Str8 Up," it is evident that the relentless spitter who introduced herself to the Canadian hip-hop scene with 2017's Higher Self EP has gone full circle and returned to that original essence.
The influence of the 6ix's burgeoning rap movement is felt on "Toronto's Gold," while the introspective "King" is perhaps the most elevated cut on this short, yet very impactful project. While listening to "Light Switch (Outro)," which serves as a soft landing on this creatively acrobatic plane ride, the listener will certainly get a sense that Naya Ali has cemented her creative approach.
From BET overtures, to being the first Black woman anglophone artist to perform on the nationally televised ADISQ ceremony, Ali's crossover efforts have paid dividends without denaturing the raw emotion of her music. "I ain't go pop, not another one / This is all thrill, know there's more to come." (Coyote)