Kamaal Williams (a.k.a Henry Wu) will release his third solo album on Black Focus. Stings, which spans 11 tracks, is rooted in the South London jazz scene that birthed him, but “levitates into the impressionist symphonies of Claude Debussy,” we’re told, “and the cosmic realm of futuristic hip-hop and electronic beats.” The project began during the pandemic when Wu purchased an upright piano. For the first time in his career, the Peckham-bred artist was fully independent. No label or booking agent in his ear. We’re told it’s the product of isolation, reflection, and spirituality. Its title is partially a play on the strings that vibrate throughout the album. But it’s also an allusion to the difficulties he has overcome in the last several years. To be stung is an unpleasant and unwanted attack. Yet when a wasp stings, it drops to the ground and immediately dies. In a sense, it’s an act of martyrdom, which Williams identified with in terms of his live performances that consumed every ounce of effort and concentration. It’s also a reference to the struggle that has forged Williams’ identity. After three albums, Wu began to search for the reasons underpinning his desire to continue performing.
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