Have you ever heard a song that was perfect down to the bass line? It grabs your attention immediately and all outside activity becomes muted. A few weeks ago, this phenomenon befell me when I heard “Where Would You Be” by Ghanaian artist, Yaw. It can be found on Apple Music and Spotify.
Let’s start with the instrumentation. As a former percussionist, I’ve been trained to listen to every single part of the song to make sure it flows, and there is no part of this arrangement that sounds out of place. The strings draw you in, nice and softly, and then gradually build into a smooth transition into the first verse. Then the electric guitar meshes seamlessly with the aforementioned bass line. Then, those vocals that sound like chocolate whipped cream encapture you. Makes you wanna slow dance in the living room, or do slam poetry at your local pub.
While I was doing research for this song, I found a version that was recorded by composer and music artist, Khari Lemuel, which is also commendable. However, Yaw, whose full name is Yaw Osei-Owusu, has a wonderful stylization and range that really bring this song to new heights. He and Lemuel have collaborated on a few other projects, and both are more commonly known as gospel artists. They haven’t built much of a following in America, but the moment I heard this song, I had to know where it came from, and where I could find more like it. Now, it appears this song is a deviation from the artist’s most recent work in terms of subject and composition. It could only find it on other producers’ collections, most notably Brownswood Bubblers Three.
This song has proven to be deeply personal to me, as I can relate as the woman he’s singing about, as well as to his point of view. He’s asking the woman he’s in love with where she will be when he’s ready to settle down and become established. Last week, I wrote about “Baby, please don’t leave me” songs. This is the response, the “You need to get it together” song. On one hand, he’s making the case that if she wants to leave and flourish as a single woman, by all means, she has every right to do so. Though, at the same time, he’s not going to wait around for her to be “ready,” because that’s an unfair request to make of someone.
While this may be an applicable lesson across all generations of romance, I’ll make the claim that this theme is especially relevant in terms of millennial dating. We have this concept of the “talking stage” which has been used countless times as an excuse to be inconsiderate of others’ feelings in the name of independence. Potential lovers get let off the hook for trashy behavior because they’re not “official” and nothing is defined. This method of dating creates a cycle of bitter and untrusting singles afraid to open up and be vulnerable. The “talking stage” is helpful when used to get to know partners and gauge whether or not they’re soulmate potential. However, when used as a limbo phase between partners, where you don’t feel obligated to be completely honest about your intentions, it proves to be toxic.
This brings me to my favorite line of the song:
But the time wasn’t right
And you wanna have fun
Sugar, please do your thing
Don’t let me stop you none.
The petty realness can be heard in Yaw’s voice. I felt this in my soul. If you don’t see yourself doing the long term thing with someone, it is completely okay to tell them that in plain, yet respectful English, or whatever your native language happens to be. Be clear about what you want, so you can avoid being made to lead someone on. Let this song be a reminder that romance is only complicated by confusion and miscommunication, two things that can be avoided with honesty and consistent behavior. You can be completely in love with everything about someone, but if they can’t reciprocate those feelings, it’s a sign you might want to fall back.
Don’t forget to check out our Spotify and SoundCloud accounts @geeksofcolor! This song can be found in the “Geeks Have Feelings Too” playlist, which is there for you whenever you need an expression of your emotions in ways you can’t articulate on your own. Also, be sure to follow me @taloriastiffin on Spotify so I can keep you updated on even more rare gems!