One Track Mind: Farma Wesley, “Feng Shui”
Standout Track: The YouTube single “Feng Shui,” which reimagines Sade’s pop/R&B standard “Smooth Operator” as a male rap boast. Underneath Wesley’s vocals, the beat surges with digital high-hats and a warped sample of “The Wandering Songstress” sung by Zhou Xuan, a Chinese movie star of the ’30s and ’40s.
Musical Motivation: The son of Liberian immigrants, Wesley doesn’t refer directly to the Chinese “wind-water” discipline of feng shui in the lyrics, but his goal was to honor it sonically. The song’s Fredericksburg-based producer, Bodi (pronounced “body”), has been working closely with Wesley for about a year. “I basically call myself the air,” Wesley says, “and he calls himself the water.”
Diamond Life: “Everybody’s riding this Aaliyah wave, and this SWV wave, and nobody’s really touching up on Sade, because nobody really knows about her unless it’s somebody who knows music, or it’s somebody who grew up on Sade,” the 22-year-old Northern Virginia Community College student says, noting that his mom is a big fan of the Nigerian-British singer. “Even girls that don’t know about Sade, they start to listen to it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I like that.’ She just knows how to hit the soul.”