By Devyn Springer

Montreal-based singer, songwriter, and MC Meryem Saci has recently released an exciting new single “Concrete Jungle” from her upcoming mixtape. The mixtape, titled “On My Way,” is set for a June 1st release and is Saci’s first major solo project outside of her world renowned hip-hop collective Nomadic Massive.

On Concrete Jungle she delivers an interesting mix of pop, hip-hop, and house influences culminating into a melting pot of a sound. The beat feels fresh and exciting, particularly reminding me of something I’d hear remixed and vogued to in the Brooklyn ball scene one Saturday night. There is a noticeable queer house influence that runs throughout the song as she raps over the drums and vocal samples, an influence that makes the track an exciting precursor to the entire upcoming project.

The beat perfectly matches the Hala Alsalman directed, upbeat, dance-filled music video that accompanies the song. The video shows Saci dancing, singing, and rapping in her living room, afro curls bouncing all around, while noted hip-hop dancer BBoy Remind dances his way down the sidewalks.

The video is uplifting and relatable. While Saci shows off her ability to rhyme like a 90s hip-hop diva in one minute then belt impressive vocals the next, the light and purposefully whimsical composition of the video feels like you’re watching moments of emancipatory joy. As Meryem dances, smiles, lets her afro bounce freely, vogues in the mirror, and looks out her window in wonder, you can’t help but me reminded of the freeing and emancipatory feeling the dancing gives you.

The Algerian-born, Montreal-based Afro-Arabian describes music as “therapeutic” to her life, saying it is a source of expression and detachment from labels. I first heard Saci on her sultry R&B hit “Float,” then a year later got the chance to meet her when I helped bring her and fellow rapper Akala to speak at the African and African Diaspora Studies Conference at Kennesaw State University. She is as sharp speaking about race, gender, hip-hop, and politics as she is behind a microphone. And if her past work, as well as hearing her talk and seeing her perform in person, is any indication of what her upcoming mixtape will sound like, then I am more than excited.