Five years following the release of their self-produced EP The Story, King returns with their first full-length album, We Are King. Emerging as a one-stop creative shop-in-demand, writing, arranging, producing and performing all of their ambient mood music, the glorious girl group, comprised of twin sisters Paris and Amber Strother and sistafriend Anita Bias, remains authentic to their story. Proteges of Prince, how the dominos have tipped over in their favor leading to his mentorship once the who’s who of the industry heard and started sharing their music is well documented in articles and interviews. The most important part of that story – his recommendation that they not compromise their art – is a testament to the supernatural vision behind their work. Though it’s taken a few years in their cosmic lab, with We Are King they’ve created the type of music that hushes and soothes any doubt of the existence of #blackgirlmagic. “Planning a pilgrimage to my native land…” begin the lyrics to the last song on the album, a statement that sets the tone to the fanciful eargasm journey that you will embark on while listening to this record in its entirety.
A body of work that warrants pressing play and letting the twelve songs have their way with you, We Are King is a fine representation of the Los Angeles-based trio. Paris Strother, brilliant multi-instrumentalist and producer, creates a vibe that has been called ‘Utopian’ and ‘all-encompassing’ in nature, allowing Amber Strother’s and Anita Bias’ vocals to really come to life unencumbered. With an artistic process that has developed organically for the group, King is jazzy, retro R&B of the eclectic vein, though not quite vintage. Think Zhane, Vanessa Williams, Lisa Fischer or Janet Jackson meets Erykah Badu and Janelle Monae with influences of Little Dragon and Sade. All of these singers wrapped up in a super ethereal collection of futuristic imagery and revelry project King as the next generation of soulful songstresses.
The foundation of the album is established in three songs that were originally included in their 2011 release. “The Story”, “Supernatural” and “Hey” each have their extended mix onWe Are King, featuring a mixture of slow interlude intros, hand clapping undertones, and lullaby-like groundswells of repetitive lyrics. Each song delicately yet deliberately unravels its story of love gained or love lost, world travels, and the confidence of being in the right space to live your destiny. “The Right” and “The Greatest” both feel like sunlight or summertime, like so many of the songs do. On the contrary, “Red Eye” and “Love Song” give after hour vibes as talk of international rendezvous and romantic escapes unfold. “In The Meantime” starts with a melodic videogame-like intro, but settles into such a meaningful ballad. Then there’s “Carry On” and “Mr. Chameleon” both snappy in their own distinct ways. Two album standouts for me would be “Native Land” and “Supernatural”.
In a 2013 interview, when asked why the group is called King instead of Queen, Paris answered: “We wanted to challenge the notion of what you think of when you think who’s in charge. It was the first and only name to come to us. King. It’s so strong and it had such strong impact on us after we came up with it. Initially, we didn’t sit down and think we need to be this or that. We are King.”