Emma Beko's Vulnerability Makes 'BLUE' a Quebecois Hip-Hop Standout

Emma Beko's Vulnerability Makes 'BLUE' a Quebecois Hip-Hop Standout
8
A member of Montreal-based hip-hop duo Heartstreets, Emma Beko's solo debut, BLUE, gives listeners a vivid glimpse of her world. As vulnerable and soft as she is strong and powerful, the Peruvian-Canadian artist sings about her life without censoring herself, exposing her inner doubts and exploring her troubled teenage years.

Opening with "Demo," Beko goes into explaining how she often has to comply with the tastes and current trends of the music industry to be taken seriously. Yet, her album is exactly not what you would expect from any mainstream artist. Every song is delivered with a strong punch that hits listeners in the gut, almost as if she wanted everyone to share in her past pain and experiences.

Beko bares it all. Her voice is powerful, resonating throughout while following the beat and the rhythm of every one of her songs without skimping out on emotion. Her delivery is heartfelt. Every line she sings reflects her state of mind. Assisted by appearances from other Quebecois artists (Rymz on "Party" and Karelle on "Alma"), the album tells Beko's unique story of loneliness, fear and risk.

Produced by Beau Geste, BLUE is one of those gems straight out of Montreal's hip-hop scene that Beko is making a well-deserved place in. She delves into her pain in "Alma," she speaks of being a high schooler in New York in "MHS," and openly talks about her relationship with depression and substances in "Salute." Though some songs break the flow of her album — "Ukulele," is a more uplifting track in its musical composition, juxtaposed with sad lyrics — BLUE is still an impressive album from a promising hip-hop artist on the rise.

The album's closing track, "Weird," leaves a lasting impact. Beko wonders what a 15-year-old girl thinks at night before going to bed — she imagines her having a crush, getting high and experiencing what a teenager thinks "love" is. The song explores the fears of teenagers too, fears that linger into adulthood, especially the fear of always being alone. Beko revisits her own experiences as a teenager, but it's easy for listeners to relate too.

BLUE establishes Beko as one of Montreal's brightest hip-hop artists who should be followed in the years to come. She shines in this first release and gives us an excellent and raw debut. (Independent)