The Key Studio Sessions: Noel Scales - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Whether she’s stepping to the microphone to sing runs or spit bars, Noel Scales is going to make an impact.

The hardworking Philadelphia artist has been active on the scene since 2018, blending both sides of her vocal stylings on releases like Beautiful Bad and the Ugly mixtape. In the past it’s been an R&B-forward approach, mixed with flowier moments that hint at an MC undercover. On this year’s Mandemic project, Scales is upfront and bold about barring down; she still loves to sing, sure, but as she told our Abdur Rahman in an interview earlier this year, it gets her lost in being a perfectionist. On the other hand, “There’s something about rap that makes me feel strong, I use my voice in a way where it’s impactful. And it is a little gritty; I like grit, you need grit to survive.”

You hear that in action on a chilling performance of “A Little” in this week’s Key Studio Session; the driving pace of a Mobb Deep-esque beat finds Scales ruminating on the perils of the opioid epidemic and, in particular, on a drive home from an event where she encountered a dead body on Lehigh Avenue. As she describes the scene in verse form, Scales’ voice swells with emotion.

It’s one example of how Mandemic, despite playful allusions to bad romance in its title, finds Scales at her most reflective and introspective; the aching “No Love,” which she also played in this Key Studio Session, is full of feeling in the face of a love that’s fallen to pieces. Scales and her band — Jermaine Brandford on bass, Sunny Miller on drums — complement these new cuts with two back-catalog picks that find her in a similar headspace; the frustrated “Hobby” from Ugly and the self-assured “Picky” from Beautiful Bad.

Watch Noel Scales’ full Key Studio Sessions performance below, check out the new music video for “No Love” here, and keep up to date with the latest happenings on her agenda over at Instagram at @noelscales.

Noel Scales - The Key Studio Sessions (Full Set)

“A Little”
“No Love”

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