Hot 97’s own DJ Enuff and host Shani Kulture keep the monthly tradition of breaking new artists alive as this past Monday at SOB’s was another “Who’s Next Live” showcase.

In the past, having been blessed by the likes of J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Travis Scott and many more at the start of their careers, this past Monday however was a soulful selection of singers and rappers from diverse backgrounds. Headlined by Bibi Bourelly, and featuring Anik Khan, Lauriana Mae and Annalise Azadian, this showcase was all about soul, art, and diversity. Shani Kulture started the event and set the tone with a deep quote that let you know just how ready these artists are.

 

“We don’t make them next, they make themselves,” he added before the show took off.

 

Photo By Iri Brown

Annalise Azadian, previous American Idol contestant was the first to grace the stage as her voice commanded attention, showing her vocal and artistic range. Performing with multiple instruments, the standout was the singers’ song “Work in Progress”, which has over 200k plays on Spotify. The audience’s reception of Azadian’s style was indicative of the entire event; showing love for art. Azadian who partially lost her voice and woke up ill days before Monday’s showcase wasn’t in the best spirits about her performance; the audiences support willed her to perform 3 songs. Whether it’s an ode to past love, or deeper emoting records, Azadian’s voice and delivery will definitely keep her on the radar for a while to come.

 

Photo By Iri Brown

Wielding a bat and being backed by a band, Lauriana Mae was the second act to grace the SOB’s stage. Mae’s energy and presence was UNDENIABLE with her first record “Ya Neck” a slow building energy packed record about redemption, from her City of Diamonds EP, this set the tone for her set. Her loved ones in the audience right front and center showing support, the crowd was mesmerized by the vocals and the overall musical arrangement from her band. Previously collaborating with B.O.B, Kwame, and Cee-Lo Green, her past professional experience’s definitely showed in her music delivery. Every song felt like an experience into a different part of Mae’s artistry. In particular, the record “This Time is Different” caught everyone by surprise and you couldn’t help but move. The biggest takeaway from Mae’s performance was to watch her feel her own art as she performed a refreshing feeling that pulled each attendee into what she had to offer. Mae performed 7 records with as much energy as the first, ending her set with the lead song from her new EP Can’t Go Back, taking no one for granted was the message behind this record and from the looks of it she’s enjoying the ride and not looking back at all!

 

Photo by Iri Brown

Not to leave the guys out in this showcase, Anik Khan represented for Queens and his Bengali heritage. Anik Khan the third act has been pushing his new album, Kites that which carries a sound of a far reaching range. One word can sum up Anik Khan – ENERGY! His stage presence could only be topped by how the music hit. The only rapper in Mondays showcase, Anik showed he was more than comfortable, addressesing the crowd in between records using traditional Bengali music to show the transition from rap to dancehall, and overall where his musical styling can be traced to. Culture is something very deep to Khan, as he expressed,

 

“I believe culture is the most divine form of education in the world”.

 

Bridging the diversity gap by using party records that use influences of different stylings while being cohesive is no easy task but for Khan he makes it look easy and still finds time to charm the ladies in the process. We see you Habibi!

 

 

Photo By Iri Brown

 

And headliner of the show, Bibi Bourelly commanded your attention the moment she touched the stage. The singer songwriter is most notable for writing Rihanna’s 2015 hit record, “Bitch Better Have My Money”, as well as the songs “Yeah, I Said It”, “Higher”, and “Pose” for her sixth album Anti. Despite this critical acclaim, Bourelly is as grounded and as relatable as her music denotes. Opening with ‘Ego” from her 2015 EP Free The Real (Pt. 1), Bourelly ruled the crowd. Never appearing to be overwhelmed, sitting alongside her guitarist, she gave us a few records that showed the artist is the powerhouse a few know her to be and the rest of us will soon come to learn. Her infectious melodies and hooks and empathetic lyrics solidified and embodied the intention of showcase, being true to your art and delivering that art with purpose. Bourelly’s music hits a nerve and you just can’t stop listening so much so that at the demand from the audience for an encore she came out and delivered her current hit, “Ballin” written when she was just 19 years old; further capturing the essence of the millennial struggle, as whether millennial or baby boomer everyone knew the words. A sign of the growth to come for Bourelly.

Super dope night for a super dope event.  We can’t wait to see Who’s Next.

 

Jerome Gayle