If you're like me and you don't value your life very much, you may be the type of cat who follows the news. And if you are that type of cat, the last few weeks may not have been very pleasant for you. Between the conclusion of the highly emotional Trayvon Martin case and the sexual harassment accusations lodged at San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, it may seem to the naked eye that the world has gone mad.
This should come as no surprise to you, but I'm a big, fat music nerd. So for me, when times get tough, what I often do is start digging -- digging for music, digging for answers in music, digging for some magical combination of sounds that could ease the weight on my soul (pardon me as I get spiritual). Of course, the first artist that crossed my mind was Stevie Wonder, and you'd be doing yourself a world of good by listening to Visions." But the first local artist who crossed my mind was rapper Miki Vale.
Vale originally hails from Oxnard, Calif., but has been in San Diego for many years now. The sister of the experimental rapper/singer Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime) also frequently experiments with delivery, going back and forth between rapping, singing and a spoken word-esque mode. She has a soulful, melodic style with a whispery voice, well-suited for the sort of jazzy, neo-soul music that acts like the Roots helped create in the mid-'90s.
She dropped her most recent release, The Good, the Bad and the Lovely, back on Valentine's Day of this year. As such, the short EP (there are four songs and an intro) follows the trajectory of a relationship: initial attraction ("The Next") to a deeper love ("Special Way") to rocky times ("Worth It?") and, finally, to the end ("Love").
Despite the romantic focus, I still found its greater theme of love to be valuable in these trying times. Whatever your stance on various issues, it's hard to deny that we could stand to have more love in our lives. In addition, Vale, by tackling the ups-and-downs of love, reminds us that though we may feel down now, we are bound to pick back up again. Finally, the intimacy in her voice and her music helps ground us in those times when the bigger picture can feel overwhelming.
If you're looking to do some soul searching, you should do some searching for this EP.
Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog sdRAPS.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.