Written by Imani Wj Wright
Photo by Andre Brown
I remember the first time I heard “Flashing Lights” by Kanye West. I was 9 years old, sitting in the car with my mom, and the son was beaming. That moment was so captivating I can still feel the sun on my face. As I reminisce, I’m almost transported back in time.
I spent what felt like an eternity (probably more like 3 weeks) trying to get my parents to purchase that album for me. Once I had it in my hands, I played it nearly every day for a year. It wasn’t only the first album I wanted, but it was the first time I had experienced a full-length project that I enjoyed from top to bottom. That led me from being a simple listener of songs to an indulged listener of catalogs.
As I listen to Singer-songwriter, DJ & Producer, Artillery, I’m continuously moved by his consistent output of great art. “Supernatural”, the lead single from his 2021 album, Final Fantasies 2 was the first track I heard from Artillery. Immediately, I was pulled in by the melodic keys, followed by a phone call with Artillery’s love interest for the album– “Wendy”. Listening to her accent, one could assume Wendy is from the UK. As he answers the phone, Artillery appears to not know who’s on the other end of the phone as she greets him with a sexy/raillery “Hey Baby.” This dynamic piques the interests of the audience as it’s difficult to decipher whether Artillery genuinely didn’t have Wendy’s number, or was he playing it cool to hide something that we don’t quite know this early in the album. The intro track is under 2 minutes in length, but there is not a second wasted. “I’m always thinking I can do the impossible, but that’s impossible. Forever feeling hopeless for your love. You’re all I’ve been thinking of…,” Artillery sings. The hook on this piece is quite memorable as well. “When I look into your eyes I can imagine, you and me in Paris, dripped in the designer fashion. You belong to someone but I just gotta’ have it. Don’t know how it’s gonna’ happen. Do you believe in magic? *Poof* magic…” The song has a bit of text painting as the track seamlessly disappears in thin air. Magic maybe?
Artillery does an incredibly engaging and relatable job of exploring themes such as love, insecurity, and inescapable yearning. He goes even further in track two, “The Robbery” using an interpolated chorus, in depth verses, and a topped off verse from collaborator Khari Leone. The pace picks up a bunch on this track, and sets a clear additional tone to this project. Things get a bit more edgy, and we're here for it. As great artists do, Artillery keeps the album's subject/purpose in the forefront as he briefly gives us another taste now of what seems to be Wendy's voice, and gives us two commercial pop-style tracks with "You Got It" and "Fix It!" Track #5 "Manifest" gives us another catchy and gorgeously sang hook by Artillery, and delivers some high end rhythms as well.
What really sets Artillery apart as an elite artist? It's not just his ability to write engaging records or vocalize them stunningly- it's his ability to make each word he pronounces fill with authenticity and genuine emotion. You can feel every bit of this project in your spirit. The latter half of Final Fantasies 2 may be some of the best emotionally driven and simultaneously controlled performances I've heard in my 20 years of listening to music. Simon-pure to the upmost.
Listen to Final Fantasies 2 by Artillery: