It is only his debut album, but Def Jam signee Elijah Blake is everything but unknown in the music industry. In fact, he is the man behind many songs from artists such as Trey Songz, Rihanna and Rick Ross. His probably biggest success as a songwriter was with Usher’s hit “Climax”, which reached number one on the Billboard charts, and his popularity has increased constantly ever since.
Sean Fenton, as he was named at birth, was born in the Dominican Republic, but raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, and during his teenage years, Blake started to get involved in the music game – with success. After having released a mixtape and an EP over the past years, the singer-songwriter has finally stepped up in the business by releasing his very first studio LP, titled Shadows & Diamonds.
The reason for calling the album Shadows & Diamonds certainly has its reasons. According to Blake, he was in a rather dark place when he first lived away from his family which is why he needed to find light, and also not feeling good enough to be in the music industry was the reason the singer felt upset at times. But then self-confidence hit him again all of a sudden which finally led to the ‘Diamonds’ part of life.
The classy contemporary R&B album comes with 14 tracks in total with only one featured guest artist. That is Dej Loaf on the track “I Just Wanna” which has already been released as a single not too long ago. Especially outstanding on Shadows & Diamonds is Blake’s incredible falsetto and the diversity of the melodic sounds and as for the production on the project, many producers were happy to contribute their sounds, including the likes of No I.D, Happy Perez, Salaam Remi, and C4.
Shadows & Diamonds starts off with the title track, followed by “Everyday”. This one is kind of critical towards singers that also follow the contemporary R&B genre as Blake states in his lyrics, “I see all of these wanna-be hot R&B singers / I swear you all sound the same / They start from the bottom, so far from the motto / You n***as’ll never be Drake“. Also, the talented 24-years old artist is clarifying that he only trusts those who have been with him from the start and doesn’t care about gold diggers who are only after his fame: “when they see money, man they all start actin’ strange / So f**k with the ones that f**k with you”.
“The Otherside“, the third track off the record, is about Blake’s girlfriend catching him cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend. As a result, his new girl leaves him and decides to go to ‘the otherside’ to get romantically involved with his ex-girl. “I was like ‘man, oh shit, my new girl f***in’ with my old chick’. We both bad, so she switched, packed her bags, said she had to take a trip to the otherside, the otherside, the otherside“. This song is the perfect example that Karma may indeed come right back at you.
Also “Drop Dead Beautiful” is also worth mentioning. Even though it comes with an up-tempo beat, it is a very melodic song. Blake sings about the dramatic but foreseen end of an intimate relationship, with lyrics like, “cause you care too much, I don’t care enough, our hearts begin to bleed / Like cancer, it’s killing us, this love is like a disease”. However, for him, the break-up doesn’t mean to quit the contact as he and his ex-significant other still share the same interests. Therefore the singer aims to build up a friendship since it would be a waste of time to let the good shared memories fade away: “Not scared of going under cause we been down for so long”.
Shadows & Diamonds is a debut record in which Elijah Blake has definitely put enormous effort. With such deep and meaningful tracks throughout, the R&B singer clearly proves that being mostly behind the scenes as a songwriter doesn’t mean not being able to gain success by also standing in the foreground as a singer. Elijah Blake’s Shadows & Diamonds is out now via Def Jam, purchase the album here and stream it in full below.
Words by Antonia Künzel