By: Nour Al Saeid
From free-styling every Saturday night at the YMCA to releasing his debut studio album, Roy Woods has excelled in his music career and is rising to become one of the major R&B icons for Toronto today.
After almost a year of waiting, the 21-year-old singer from Brampton released his album titled Say Less on Dec. 1st, 2017.
The album consists of 16 songs, including three collaborations with other well-known artists. “Take Time” features 24Hrs, a rapper who gained millions of Soundcloud plays and toured with Blackbear this year. “Back It Up” features PARTYNEXTDOOR, a famous Canadian artist who worked with Drake for multiple songs. “Balance” features both dvsn and PnB Rock. Dvsn consists of producer Paul Jefferies and singer Daniel Daley, whereas PnB Rock is a solo artist who released an album in January. Some of these artists are signed by OVO Sound as well.
“What Are You On?” was the first single that was released. It starts with a beautiful, choir-like synthesizer in the back and after a few seconds, the beat kicks in and showcases a perfect R&B vibe that Woods usually goes for. It’s a fast-paced song, not as dark and slow as his older tracks. His articulation grows and his vocals become stronger in the second verse, adding more intensity to the song.
“Back It Up” is a collaboration that starts with a very heavy, low bass. Woods takes the lead with the first verse, his voice is raw and passionate. With the echo-heavy beats and drums, the song has a PBR&B sound that is much appreciated. PBR&B is a sub-genre that mostly consists of strong beats and a lot of synthesizers. Many artists in this category tend to sing about sex and love, which is the main theme of this song.
One thing that couldn’t go unnoticed was how small Woods’ part is. This made the song imbalanced because PARTYNEXTDOOR’s voice dominated the rest of the track, making Woods’ contribution very small. PARTYNEXTDOOR sang the chorus four times and also had two verses, leaving Woods with only 45 seconds in the song.
Despite that, the entire album is composed of different tracks, each having unique dynamic ranges. Songs like “Balance”, which features dvsn, compliments the OVO vibe that many Torontonians usually search for in music. “BB” and “The Way You Sex Me” have a slow and sexy rhythm with explicit and vivid lyrics.
A few tracks that don’t fit are “Little Bit Of Lovin” and “Something New”. They have an odd techno and pop vibe which doesn’t suit Woods’ sound at all, especially with their heavy use of autotune. Woods is known for having a dark and atmospheric energy in his music and these two tracks are the complete opposite. Compared to his older songs, these two were more pop-oriented, making them seem out of place in the album.
There’s a certain message that’s being portrayed in many of the tracks. Woods continuously mentions a woman in his life that only uses him for money and fame. In “Back It Up” he says, “You want me 'cause I'm in the limelight.” In “Medusa” he says, “All she like is gold” and in “Say Less” he says, “Money on sight now your eyes on gold.”
“What Are You On?” sets the tone of the entire album because the song is about a woman in his life who is only interested in his money and fame, which is most likely the reason why he released this one first.
The music video for “Say Less” was very symbolic as well. A rose is set on fire burns throughout the entire video, which is Woods’ way of showing how risky love is and how he’s not interested in committed relationships.
Overall, many fans are impressed with this project. Some songs should have never made it to the track list due to how pop-focused they were. The album could be better off without them, especially since they don’t fit Woods’ dark and atmospheric sound. However, the lyrics are bold and honest, sending a message to the girl who did him wrong. All in all, this is one of his best works.
Drake better keep his guard up, because Woods is slowly catching up to him.
This piece was edited by Valerie Dittrich