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Single Review: Najjah Calibur “Celebrate”

In “Celebrate,” the latest single to attract the attention of critics and audiences around the world in 2022, Najjah Calibur looks to solidify himself as a breakout heavyweight contender in the pop music underground, and for my money, he does just that and more. Led by a sensitive but muscular lead vocal that tonally speaks to the soul of the lyrics, “Celebrate” mixes a little bit of old school swagger with a very new school approach to stylization, and for Najjah Calibur, I think it could easily be a song that bridges the gap between the local radio-level of fame he’s straddling at the moment and the chart-topping global success he’s capable of attaining.

There’s so much pressure on these beats that it’s almost difficult to discern the bassline crunch from the percussive tone in a couple of spots, but I think this was critical to maximizing the tension in the music and creating a bit of anticipation as the vocal melodies get stronger. Calibur’s voice progressively takes ahold of the harmony and the emotions it conjures up, which is preferable to the straightforward style of ascending that I’ve heard in a lot of other crossover pop and EDM out of the underground this year.

This mix features some of the best instrumental spacing I’ve come across in the past month or so, and I think it was important to construct the track in this fashion to let the vocal be as incendiary with emotionality and energy as it can be in a studio performance. Calibur’s voice does best when it’s given a minimalistic backdrop with slightly liberal melodic trappings in the foreground, and this is an instance in which he’s able to make such components feel equally contributive to the theme of the song as his own singing is (which isn’t the easiest of tasks for a crooner this gifted).



The production style here actually reminds me a bit of the 2000s pop and hip-hop scenes as they were channeled through some of the more experimental minds in the game and those mostly interested in brawn over the frilly aesthetics of their retro-loving predecessors, which immediately highlights the experimental points in the song more than they would be in a different setting. Without even taking into account the Hollywood feel of the music video, I can tell that some diverse influences are bubbling over into something entirely fresh and original for Najjah Calibur, and this treasure he’s created in the recording studio is likely just the beginning.

Those who haven’t already been listening to the music of Najjah Calibur need to do so this December to find out what the buzz is about for themselves – from where I sit, this is an artist who lives up to the hype. He’s still in the ‘becoming’ stage of his compositional development, but at this moment in his career, I think it’s necessary to recognize the exponential nature of his maturation. “Celebrate” is a milestone, and more than that, it’s a melodic stab at merging the past with the present in a style that sometimes feels like something straight out of the future.


Keith Middlebrooks


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