I've wanted to fit James Blake into this playlist for a while now. But when I thought about how people might be listening to this playlist (in the car, at work, chilling at home, etc), much of Blake's catalogue didn't seem appropriate. It's not that his subject matter or style didn't fit the playlist (his obsession with heartbreak actually made him perfect for it), but it's how he composes his tracks. You can't just throw on most James Blake records in the background, or they will sound like a bunch of unstructured noises. Listening to James Blake took focus. Many of his songs feel like you're walking through a winding haunted house, you never really know where you're going and new sounds keep popping out at you. I'm a big fan of Blake, I think his music is incredible, but tough to listen to. Until now.
On Friday, Blake released his fourth studio album, Assume Form, and that's where our track this week comes from. "Can't Believe The Way We Flow" might be one of his simplest tracks to date, and not coincidentally, his most listenable. It centres on a short loop from The Manhattans' 1977 R&B hit: "It Feels So Good To Be Loved So Bad", in which the the protagonist is begging his lover for one more chance. While The Manhattans tell a story of a heated love gone wrong, Blake chops this narrative for his own use. It's less of a story and more of a moment, in which Blake can't believe how lucky he is to flow with his partner so naturally.
As he explained in his Beats 1 interview: "It’s a pure love song, really. It’s just about the ease of coexisting that I feel with my girlfriend. It’s fairly simple in its message and in its delivery, hopefully. Romance is a very commercialized subject, but sometimes it can just be a peaceful moment of ease and something even mundane—just the flow between days and somebody making it feel like the days are just going by, and that’s a great thing." This is a shift from Blake's "sad boy" image that made him famous and eventually a punching bag for some critics, who lamented that he couldn't get over his heartbreaks. With "Can't Believe The Way We Flow" and Assume Form, Blake has finally has found the love he's craved for so long. And on Twitter last weekend, he thanked the woman responsible for it.
You can learn more about James Blake here:
About the curator - Cormac McGee
Cormac McGee is a DJ, artist manager and concert promoter based in Toronto, Canada. He’s played in front of crowds from 10 – 1,000 people and has run concerts with some of today’s top hip hop artists, including Drake, Future, Mac Miller, 6lack, Ab-Soul and more. He also runs the Music Den at Ryerson University, a business incubator for entrepreneurs in the music industry.