On the 14th of this month, just three days before her birthday, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, better and professionally known as FKA Twigs dropped her first ever mixtape CAPRISONGS boasting seventeen songs. The mixtape is laden with renditions and recordings from friends and herself, offering words of affirmation, encouragement, love, and healing.
The 34-year-old admitted on an Instagram post on the day of the release, that when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe in early 2020 she had had a conversation with her team “hinting at that maybe [she] had hit the end of the road in making music and putting [her] insides on blast as [she] have done for the last few years”.
This statement is not so far off the mark, as over the years since the release of her first ever studio album LP1 in August 2014, the musical genius has, in every sense of the term, bared it all, lyrically, emotionally, and psychologically through song and performance.
So, it only made sense that after a time that was difficult for everyone around the globe, a time that found everyone plunged into a depressive state, that she brought something to the fore that immerses her audience into her own journey of healing.
The title of the mixtape itself has a piece of FKA Twigs as the singer-songwriter’s zodiac sign is Capricorn, which many believe is a great contributing factor to her being highly dedicated to her craft and exuding passion which can be felt throughout her work.
The authenticity of her work can be attributed not only to her hard work and fervour, but to her zodiac being an earthly sign, signifying being grounded, authentic and unwavering.
However, dare I compare the Caprisongs to a Capri Sun, because, whether you relate because you have recovered from a fender bender yourself, or you are currently caught in one, FKA Twigs’ Caprisongs definitely quenches exactly in the same manner an ice-cold Capri Sun would on a hot summer day.
The first track of the mixtape, “Ride The Dragon”, is kickstarted by the singer luring in the audience with an announcement that “I made you a mix tape”. This then leads down a path of a whirlwind of love that is packed with mystery but also aspects of finding oneself.
More than that, the song is about being a “boss babe” that knows exactly the kind of love she deserves, getting it on her own terms and it actually being beneficial and healing for her. The song, in hindsight, addresses a very prevalent and often overlooked problem when it comes to how women relate to romantic relationships, their role in the relationship itself and taking control of their happiness.
This is often due to traumas induced by a highly patriarchal society that seeks to subdue women to more subservient roles in relationships, and merely being recipients more than being capacitated and willing participants. FKA Twigs challenges this entire notion of take what you given, by rather saying, “I know what I want and how I want it, so it better be given to me exactly like that”.
“Meta Angel” on the other hand promises a totally different demeanour and attitude as compared to how the mixtape starts with “Ride The Dragon”. Here, a very sad, defeated, and despondent FKA Twigs is presented. She is overwhelmed by self-doubt and insecurity, which is something that is very common for people going through a depressive state and even a mild to severe depression.
She captures succinctly the need for reassurance, the need for a new hope and something to hold on to as she drowns in insecurity and self-loathing. The meta angel she so expressly needs presents an anchor, someone that she knows can help her return to her former self and be able to be the person she once was. The meta angel is a representation of restoring hope and belief in herself.
In the same way that a person with anxiety/depression would need to have someone to constantly reassure them and remind them to breathe. The lyrical genius of FKA Twigs is exposed in this angel not being any kind of regular angel, it being a meta angel.
An angel already is a supernatural creature, it is pure brilliance for her to make a supernatural creature into something beyond supernatural. This being a perfect representation of exactly how an anchor may seem to a depressed person.
With the mixtape featuring nine other artists, she could not have chosen a better person to feature other than Abel Tesfaye better known as The Weeknd. The Weeknd is famous for having the same candidness in expression as FKA Twigs. Both artists are able to turn pain and emotion into pieces of art that surpass our mortal imagination.
Testament can be made that both artists have been making music that has soothed the hearts of the depressed into a glimmering remission. “Tears In The Club” is right up FKA Twigs and The Weeknd’s alley as it explores experiences of a love that burns too hot, and its toxicity is as scathing.
The kind that pulls you in and out with every bit of excitement but requires you to visit the therapist’s office once it is finally done. The music video will leave you feeling that there definitely could never be a more perfect collaboration.
The explosive mixtape is concluded by a beautiful and emotional tribute of how love can be one’s saving grace. The song is a true reflection of how something can be a double-sided sword. FKA Twigs touches on suicide and how she has ultimately overcome it because now she can at least say it out loud that she wanted to die.
In this song I consider to be the closing remarks of the mixtape, she religiously explains with a reverberating soprano how she was consumed by darkness and for a while she thought it had taken over her. Alas, this chest that she finally is laying her head on right now has given her hope and happiness. She exclaims that what she is seeing right now is love in motion.
“Thank You Song” openly challenges the idea that you cannot give someone a reason to live. You, of course, are not the reason that they should live. However, making people feel listened to and heard, cared for and loved is the reason to live.
It can ignite a flame that was already dying and replenish a waterbed that had been dried up. That is the offering of healing that the FKA Twigs’ Caprisongs is giving, an offering of care, love and affection, whether romantically or platonically, because it is the fine between alive and dead.
It cannot be denied that FKA Twigs gives herself to her craft and her considerations of stopping making and creating for the world are justified, she has given and given. Caprisongs was a necessary project, not only to replenish her drying wells, but to offer hope to a world riddled by a pandemic and has left many in a state of despondency.
In her own words, Caprisongs really is “the bronzer in the sink, alco pop on the side, a cherry lolly, apple juice when ur thirsty, friends in the park, your favourite person, that one sentence somebody said to you that changed everything, a club pre-game, your bestie who is always late but brings the most to the party, meeting a friend at the airport, just togetherness…”.
The Caprisongs continue to quench our thirst, as we continue to drink. Listen to it below and stream + download it elsewhere here.
Words by Chulumanco Mihlali Nkasela