Amaal on “Heaven,” Empowering Women, and Toronto’s Best Somali Food

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Music has all the time been like remedy for Juno nominee Amaal. Still, the Somali-Canadian R&B artist says there was a part of herself that she hadn’t felt utterly snug displaying till now.

“I started to realise that I was just sort of speaking about the same thing [in my music] … and creating from a place of shame and fear, because I am a Somali woman and … it’s a bit taboo to be doing music,” she says. “So I almost put myself in a box. I did it to myself, you know, and I just remember realizing I was doing a disservice to myself and my music. There were things I was going through my life … and I was not talking about them.”

That modified when she wrote “Heaven.” It’s the latest single off her forthcoming EP Milly, a title primarily based on a former nickname she’d use outdoors of her conservative Muslim community. 

“I really just did a lot of work on myself and it started to translate into the music,” she says. “With ‘Honey,’ I was just feeling really playful that day, kind of cocky. And rappers are able to do songs where they’re being cocky, but when a woman does it, sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh, she’s showing off’ or whatever. And I was just like, I really want to talk that talk. I want to be reflective of how I’m feeling right now. And it’s a place of very empowered, beautiful, and celebrating parts of myself that for so long I hid.”

The performance-based video for “Heaven” was shot outdoors of L.A. and, much like the lyrics to the song, the accompanying visuals give an insider look right into a slice of Amaal’s world, one which she hesitated to disclose till now. The afro-futurism aesthetic that she’s been channeling as of late shines by within the video, and the result’s three minutes of pure confidence and sweetness. 

Complex Canada’s Alex Navaez up with Amaal to speak about her latest observe, “Honey,” and her coming of age on the new EP. Watch above.

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