Three years after his debut et cetera LP, we are still getting to know quami.xyz. His confessional penmanship and the lush production his partnership with dru.xyz sparked captures delicate insights into his psyche like, "my grandma sees my face and think I'm dying." While there were uplifting tracks like "aspirations," and shimmering production on "clementine" and "window," these issues of where he mentally finds himself are the chief concerns of et cetera and quami's blend of R&B textures continue this in his follow-up project, No One Asked. The twenty three minute EP fits a ton into its short runtime: issues of who he, as well as we, are repeatedly tackled in ambitious ways, this time with a new outlook and resolution.
The biggest difference between et cetera and No One Asked is perspective. et cetera finds quami observing passively; "looking at the world" in many respects. "Alien" focusing on this lack of physicality directly as the rest of the project consistently finds observations about his surroundings rather than indictments. In sitting down with us earlier this year, quami described the project as, "a part of a message I'm going to convey later on in the year; essentially half of a message. No One Asked is me focusing on all the negative things without being purposefully inflammatory or vindictive: a lot of questioning self-worth and the worth of others and how you treat people around you. All about being human. It's me admitting a lot of negative stuff in the most tasteful way I can because I don't want to come across as someone that's always down and out. No One Asked is just me focusing on working through all those negative emotions. Trying to be more empathetic." This active working comes through in a willingness to allow its scalpel to cut more deeply than before, looking more actively at these issues and wielding a certain edge that comes from that conviction. Lines like, "don't worry, it's alright to feel like you're nothing / sometimes it just comes and goes," work in a call back to the debut, finding a sister-track relationship between et cetera's "nothing" and "resurrect" / "zero:" the former giving agency to nothingness and carrying an anxiety that comes with that active void where the latter suggests, "maybe we can figure it out."
No One Asked paces like a camera gradually tightening focus from the macro to the micro. The introductory "life in a few seconds" plays out like its name suggests: a nine second blur, burning out before it begins. From there, "running away" takes over, focusing on large scale issues that surround quami—touching him, affecting him, but not of him. The shadows the track describes are chasing him but, much like their visual representation in the track's music video, are shapeless, again picking up that aura from "nothing." We touch on the inevitability of death in but in general this predatory entity is sketched by pronouns like "its" and "them."
This decision to not name is mirrored in the tracks to come via a focus on identity in general. quami targets a series of barriers that leave him as a pronoun, statistic or otherwise without identity or individuality. "Black bodies swinging from trees" have no name in the haunting procession of "i know the sound." They read almost like a newspaper article paired with public opinion chiming in: "you call that suicide." Deferred identity is built on in a different tone with "luh me weak" with its series of quick fire, back and forths like, "Give me feedback / Say no more / Now she love me weak / Or she love me not." These contradictions wage on two polarities and tease the option that they fall in an apathetic middle--an obsolete that renders the pair as void. "Loving you like sailing with no rudder," builds on a nothingness imposed on him that is impossible to escape from, essentially defining who you are.
If there is a source of catharsis from these burdens, it may come in "sniffle" and its, "you can't make me cry." The track continues to ask questions like, "Do you think you were born or do you think you were placed?" The idea that nothing controls anyone, no one has agency over another individual and its "stay true" mantra it repeats as the track rides out fight back against the fated view of previous tracks and support a more individualistic approach to the nature versus nurture problem it raises. This sort of outlook is developed in the final track: the bubbly piano ballad, "picture frame," and its crescendoing proclamation, "I'm not the same as I once was."
Overall, No One Asked is a step towards understanding quami's vision as a creative and an artist. We knew the production quality was going to be there from the highs of et cetera and this follow-up continues that pedigree but the real mark this project will be remembered for is the maturity in lyricism, poise to tackle the biggest questions, and structuring of this holistic, conceptualized album. It's an exciting time for quami that we will be continuing to stay tuned for. Be sure to look into his social links below for news about his work and stream No One Asked, available now via The Archive.