Palo G — Alive
Multilingual rapper, songwriter and singer Palo G blends an honest, highly personal approach with deeply felt political ideals; a unique combination of intimate vulnerability and hip-hop swagger that’s as irresistible as the grooves and melodic hooks of her tracks. On the 6 track Alive EP from Nonostar Records, produced by Nonostar head Alex Stolze with instrumental support from labelmate Ben Osborn, her songs are stripped back to a minimal yet highly inventive sonic palette: an acoustic instrumentation with subtle hints of chamber pop and minimal electronica that casts Palo’s work in a stark new light.
Born in Marbella, Spain and now based in Berlin, Palo G’s new EP Alive follows a string of well-loved independently released singles while representing a bold new direction for the artist. Previously known as a rapper working with slick, soul-tinged old school hip hop production, here Palo’s sensitivity and craft as a songwriter take centrestage, with her singing voice just as present as rapping on songs. “Some of these songs were born in the classic singer songwriter way, with a guitar and a broken heart,” Palo explains. “Since they were written in intimacy, that’s how they have to feel.” Acoustic guitar and minimal piano are the dominant instruments throughout, providing rhythmic backing and picking out delicate counter-melodies; a stark contrast to her hip hop productions to date. The contrast is particularly evident in the new versions of existing songs: a reinvented take on Analogue Love draws on elements of tango and flamenco to create a melancholic yet powerfully rhythmic feel, while the reimagined Lonely, with its gently evocative string arrangement, shows the power of slowing down a song to bring out its emotional strength. When electronics do emerge it’s in the shuffling latin groove of Sol, the Arthur Russell-esque cello-and-kick rhythms of Til You Love Yourself, or the sparse synthesiser swells under piano track Alive. Stolze’s production uses minimal elements, but makes every single one count – finding shifts and variations to create layers of depth beneath the EP’s simplistic surface.
“These songs are connected through the same fight,” explains Palo. “The world we live in makes it hard to love ourselves; we have to fit into unwanted standards, be accepted by a society we never chose to belong to.” Palo’s lyrics return to these themes again and again, offering a romantic vulnerability that carries a formidable political force. I decided to be who I was afraid of, but deep inside I always adored, she sings on Throwback Thursday – an astonishing tribute to self knowledge and self-expression. Closing track Sol brings home the EP’s message with its exploration of the political strength of self-empowerment – ¿si no soy yo, pues quién va ser? (if it’s not me, who else will it be?); a reminder that we ourselves can bring the change we want to see in the world around us.