Take Me Apart is the debut LP from thirty-four-year-old Kelela, born in Washington, DC to Ethiopian parents, raised in Maryland, and now based in LA. The album, out now via Warp, took the singer/songwriter four years to make. She collaborated with producers Arca and Jam City, along with musicians including the xx’s Romy Madley Croft, Brazilian Girls’s Sabina Sciubba, and Nguzunguzu’s Asma Maroof.
Kelela’s previous collaborations with the Gorillaz, Danny Brown, and, above all, Solange Knowles, resonate in her sophisticated R&B sound and lyrics about human relationships in the contemporary age. She told Pitchfork:
The entire time I was making the album, I always felt like I was behind, like I needed to hurry up and finish because this thing needs to come out as soon as possible. But what’s happened is that those artists [Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Solange] have made the space so much safer for me to share.
I also grappled with the fact that there’s nothing overtly addressing my experience as a black woman in the record’s lyrics. I was mad at myself for not writing about that, but I came to the conclusion that since I’m a black woman, nothing that I make could ever exist outside of that experience.
The reality is that the way that I’m expressing myself on this record is coming from a place of vulnerability that is very much in the tradition of R&B. Black vulnerability is something I could never erase or take away, and what those classic R&B records have done is basically make people stop and think and feel compassion in a way that wasn’t happening before.”
Watch a video for “LMK” of the new album below!