Fresh from the presumably alligator-infested melting pot of Miami, Florida, rising R&B singer riela has been causing ripples with her swampy brew of trap, saccharine R&B and reggaeton, coupled with her tendency to flip between Spanish and English when singing. This kind of fluid diversity would no doubt enrage and terrify red-faced traditionalists the world over, which earns bonus points straight off the buzzer. In the lead-up to her debut EP, she has released her new single, “sola”, and it features each of riela’s most compelling attributes at full health and ready to do some serious damage in the name of reflection and healing.
The instrumental for “sola” is rife with beautiful contradictions as the softly piping synth melodies gaily dance atop the guttural bass drops and rattling trap drums in some kind of odd couple mix-up which somehow works with unexpected results. The kids are all over extreme juxtapositions currently and they can be easily done badly. Thankfully, riela strikes that balance with the same elegance which permeates throughout her music and videos. The understated melodrama and emotion of it all definitely has a touch of the performing arts about it, at times coming across like a Lin Manuel Miranda fever dream. The lyrics highlight the need for a little self-love and R&R, and skilfully evade the trap of mawkishness with a triumphant pirouette.
“Prefiero estar sola
Así me gusta a mi pasar las horas”
This line translates to “I’d rather be alone, that’s how I like to spend my time,” a version of self-care at odds with the one touted by Instagram gurus from rooftop bars in L.A. The recent periods of forced isolation seem to have made a large number of people re-evaluate their priorities in this respect. riela’s bilingualism switches so effortlessly it takes a second to register, which serves as a handy metaphor for how the world could be. We can hope for more multi-layered dance floor curveballs from her upcoming debut EP, "llorar y perrear," released February 22. For now, bump “sola” and take riela’s sage-like advice: “I roll up the doob, kick off my shoes, I’ma treat me real good.”