The immortal Prince, keeper and curator of all things sexy in R&B, once gave a key piece advice to the next generation of pop in a 1982 interview. "The most important thing is to be true to yourself, but I also like danger," he said. "That's what's missing from pop music today. There's no excitement or mystery."
Unfortunately, his words stay relevant for a large swath of pop. But every year new disciples arise determined to live this mission: 2017 meet NoMBe.
Real name Noah McBeth, the rising R&B singer and producer is a breakout talent from Th3rd Brain artist management, home to Gallant and Zhu, currently rolling out singles from his upcoming They Might've Even Loved Me. It's an album of love songs of all shades and valences, each dedicated to a different woman in his life, including girlfriends, past crushes and his godmother Chaka Khan.
His latest is "Freak Like Me" a stabbing funk, blues and R&B collision, like Prince by way of Gary Clark Jr. Its premiering here on Mic, along with a 360 music video that hones more of kinky, lo-fi vibe onto the track.
In a recent phone conversation discussing his latest music, NoMBe talked a little bit about the inspiration behind the track. "It's very '60s to me, with the tiger [roar sample] and the subject matter," McBeth said. "I love that fuzz distortion, from Jimi Hendrix to some of the Black Keys and Tame Impala, felt to have that dirty guitar line with that drop that makes it feel more contemporary."
Production-wise, he says he aims for Flume, but for the songwriting, he sticks with the classics — Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Prince.
As for the video, it came together with a spontaneity befitting the song's playful, grungy vibe. Reps from 1215creative's VR team partnered with NoMBe's creative director, Cathleen Cher, called up the artist to see if he'd be game to try filming something with one of Google's Odyssey 360 cameras. They got choreographers and dancers on the line, and 24 hours later they had a video.
In the past, NoMBe's explored a range of subjects in his music, from friends' experiences with addiction, his family, his upbringing. However, he feels it's no coincidence that inspiration for an album focusing on the women in his life came to him at a time when women in this country have emerged as a leaders of the resistance.
"That's the beauty of culture and the zeitgeist — things just come together like that," NoMBE said. However he's quick to point out that it's "not a feminist album," though he identifies as a feminist and believes in equality.
"These are songs about very particular, real people in my life," he said. "I want people to listen to [the upcoming They Might've Even Loved Me] as a whole body of work, to extract as my opinion about our role in this world and how we should treat each other." He'll be rolling out a new track each month, until every story is told.
More Mic premieres
Mic has worked with artists to premiere a range of works over the years. Via our music section, Poliça debuted its "Wedding" video, which offered a Sesame Street-style lesson in police brutality. Producer We Are Temporary shared a vision of Kesha's music stripped of her alleged abuser Dr. Luke's production and replaced it with a darker soundtrack reflecting the violence of their relationship. Sons of an Illustrious Father showed the world "The Opposite of Love" with a gender-binary-defying dance video. With a foreboding Donald Trump clip, Wintersleep captured the uncertain future the world faces under his administration in its "Amerika" video.
March 20, 2017, 4:36 p.m.: This story has been updated.