On Inner Warrior, Rhita Nattah channels her truth. She shares a glimpse into her state of mind on the project…
By Emmanuel Daraloye
The first paragraph of Rhita Nattah’s bio on Spotify reads more like a diatribe: “No Manager, No Label, No Paid Ads, No Promo.” A tirade of a discontented artiste who fought off several obstacles to get to her present moment.
The last words on this bio captures the fans, and perhaps critics: her debut extended play, INNER WARRIOR, is now out. The title is in capital letters. Readers would be right if they called it an outcry, or a deliberate attempt for emphasis. Inner Warrior is the genesis of the expected meteoric rise of a yet-to-be-known artiste.
Rhita Nattah’s name struck a chord in me. I knew I had heard the name, or listened to one of her songs, prior to the release of this project. In the course of writing this review, I got the answer to my question. Nattah had appeared on the title track of Terry Apala’s Aare. The spiritual track was enlivened by her throaty vocals, which is a fine mix of Apala and Soul music.
Rhita Nattah is gorgeous. She tends to capture you, even before you check out her songs. Most of the cover arts for her previously-released songs feature her photograph. She stares at you. When the music finally comes up, you get the second dosage of wonder.
In her quest to be distinct from the rest, Rhita Nattah chooses uncommon song titles. They are scattered on this project. The titles seem to tell us her state of mind.
On the surface, you might find it difficult to place the profoundness of the lyrics of Nattah. It takes some level of self awareness to understand her battles: self, society and life.
The opening song, “Garden,” finds Rhita Nattah self-reflecting. Guitar picks lead the instrumental, and it plays for more than eight seconds before her voice comes up. It’s too short for the message to sink in. Nattah seems to be in a rush. The message on this song scrapes over, and you wonder if this was a deliberate attempt to rush the listeners into the next track.
What does it mean to be lonely in a crowd? Rhita Nittah might have just found the answer to this ironic question on the second track of this project, “On My Own.” The track is punctuated by gangan drums, with the artiste stating how she has battled loneliness all this while. The phrase, ‘on my own,’ is repeated so many times that it sticks. A song like this continues what she could not finish in “Garden.” The instruments of “On My Own” are deeply acoustic, and sharp. The sharpness and the mixing makes it a beautiful delight on this album. The resonance of the lyrics takes it to another height.
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Rhita Nattah plays around drums so many times on this project. Most of them hit so hard that you can’t differentiate if they were played with the hands or a computer was put into good use. The message on “The Calling” rests on self-awareness. The drums lighten up what she says, and they flow with the track sequencing. Do you know why you are called? Like one of the lucky few, Nattah seems to have just known that. She is not ashamed to say this while she also states her drawbacks.
Although Rhita Nattah might be based in Morocco, her views speak global. She is in tune and sympathetic with what happens all over the world. “Murder Your Show” is a protest song about the state of the world. It is a plea for love among people. The problems of the world seem to be unending; regardless, Rhita Nattah is all out to have fun: murder their show! The lyrics of the song are scattered and hardly convey her intentions. It finds Nattah doing too much. Her attempt to present words in a clandestine way is confusing. It almost defeats her good intentions.
Nattah’s lumbering vocals welcome you on “Truth.” The hard-hitting drums are my favourite aspects of the song. It highlights her relationship with books and her self-awareness journey. The brisk, Trap-enhanced production of “Old Flame” takes this project to another level. It shows Nattah’s dynamism with sound. The song addresses a former romantic partner. The tone is solemn, the lyrics are acerbic and straight-to-the-point.
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“Fear Nothing,” a soulful, guitar-enhanced track, brings Inner Warrior to its end. This time around, Nattah’s vocal articulation is clear, and the words are discernible, lightly inspiring. It is the kind of song you put on repeat when afraid to make some decisions. On multiple listens, you observe Nattah might have just created a tune for those who are losing inspiration while navigating life’s challenges.
On Inner Warrior, Rhita Nattah channels her truth. She shares a glimpse into her state of mind on the project. In this current state of global upheaval, you find a project like this quite interesting. Nattah’s sound is more fixed into Soul and R&B than any other genre. Like the music-inclined soul that she is, Nattah blends the genres with some Western and North African elements: gangan, mbira, bendir, and others.
The mixing and mastering of the songs are done in such a way that the instrumental and samples all come out well. They shine on their own. It’s all down to the artistry of Rhita Nattah. She knows what she wants and sticks to that on Inner Warrior.
Now more than half a decade in the music scene, it’s exhilarating to listen to Rhita Nattah’s debut body of work. As expected, she gave the fans more of herself. This shows an artiste on a solemn sonic journey.
Lyricism – 2
Tracklisting – 1
Sound Engineering – 1
Vocalisation – 1
Listening Experience – 1
Emmanuel Daraloye is Africa’s Most Prolific Freelance Music Critic. He has over 500 album reviews in his archive.