There’s something about being a ‘featured’ vocalist, a bridesmaid-bride scenario. There’s a risk of being defined by the artist they’re associated with – in the case of Jordan Rakei, the likes of Disclosure or Tom Misch – to the point that their own identity never manages to emerge. Can they properly strike out on their own without the aid of others?
On Cloak, Jordan Rakei dispels that myth within minutes. Midnight Mischief blows away anything he’s ever done before, his self-produced vibes having more in common with Thundercat and Jamie Woon than the electronic soul he’s featured on in the recent past. There are jazz influences, plays on time signatures, and a deeply rooted sense of soul that seems very much in the texture of his every breath.
That’s no understatement, and it’s quite an accomplishment. Snitch is a tremendous example of it all, cymbals playfully sweeping around Rakei’s kiss-off. Blame It On The Youth invites understated brass to its beats in a smart take on genre fusion. Like Woon before him, the emphasis isn’t on singles or chart-bothering; instead there’s a collection of simple, soulful missives which remain instantly accessible on songs like The Light.
For a debut, Cloak is a remarkable body of work. Even in quieter moments such as Rooftop, Rakei takes his journey at a leisurely pace but never feels uninviting. There’s a slight detour toward experimentation in the final leg, but it’s all forgiven for the richness of everything that’s gone before. There’s no room for Rakei to be a featured vocalist any more – this is a record that displays so much international-standard talent that to associate him with anything else from now on would be a massive disservice.