“I’d rather be single, after everything that I’ve been through…”
KABBA! If you’re a British pop nerd, you likely know and love her already. You might just not realize it yet.
Perhaps you know the 26-year-old British singer-songwriter, born Aminata Kabba, best by her previous stage name: A*M*E. Still not ringing a bell for some of you?
Alright, then: history time.
KABBA kicked off her music career after moving to the U.K. from Sierra Leone as a child, eventually meeting longtime collaborator and fellow pop genius MNEK – one of the few men we absolutely do stan ’round these parts.
The two clicked, created some tracks together, and birthed early blogosphere-beloved cuts like “City Lights” (memories!), which eventually caught the attention of Take That legend Gary Barlow, who signed her to his imprint.
She went on to release bops like “Play the Game Boy” (more memories!), and was named a nominee for the prestigious BBC Sound of… list in 2013.
Quickly afterward, she shot to No. 1 with her smash “Need U (100%)” with Duke Dumont, then went on to do more solo songs, including the still amazing “Heartless,” as well as providing more features, backing vocals and songwriting contributions over the years – including “Beautiful Stranger” for f(x), being the K-pop stan she is – and, more recently, M-22‘s absolutely killer “White Lies.” (She also notched a casual Top 5 hit with KSI‘s “Really Love” last year.)
But don’t take my word for it! Ask her what else she’s been up to…
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By 2019, the Artist Formerly Known As A*M*E announced that she’d be going as KABBA now, reclaiming her Sierra Leonean name, and kicking off a new chapter with a self-titled debut EP last year, right before…well, the world changed.
A year and a half later, KABBA’s now back with a new track: “Rather Be Single,” the kick-off of a new era, and the first song from her forthcoming EP Note to Self, which is coming soon – and she’s coming in hot.
The MNEK co-penned and produced song is exactly the stuff one would imagine two ’90s-early ’00s pop/R&B nerds would conjure in the studio, supplying a summery flair and an instantly familiar throwback vibe (shades of Mary J. Blige, and girl groups like Destiny’s Child and Danity Kane) while flicking a jaded middle finger to the ones who didn’t deserve her in the first place.
“‘Cause if I gotta give my heart to this guy and that guy / I don’t wanna play no part, I’m too tired, too tired / You know it takes a while to let down my guard / ‘Cause every time I let it, I fall so hard,” she croons on the relatable ode to having reservations before going all-in for yet another dud.
But it’s not all hesitance and hurt. In fact, this is one hell of an empowerment anthem, as KABBA remembers exactly who she is, and why she’s not about to waste her time: “I hang up when I see his name calling / I’m a woman of high importance / So I’mma need no trouble, no torment.”
The endlessly quotable track hits the spot for anyone else who’s burnt out from the dating scene, dodging undeserving losers aplenty and holding on tight to their self-worth in the process. It also just knocks: that chorus, especially, instantly hits.
“I’ve literally been through the wringer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best that I be by myself for some time and discover who I am and just love myself a little bit,” she tells Clash of the track. Relatable, queen.
Look: single life can be pretty lonely, but if it’s responsible for birthing instant bangers like this, then go ahead and keep the apps off your phone, KABBA. It’s clearly working.
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