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Pass the Aux: New Tracks by Kiyomi, Beeda Weeda, Tyler Holmes, Kelly McFarling and More

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A young woman sits on a bench, smiling and raising her arms, in front of a city skyline.
R&B singer Kiyomi’s "Vintage” is one of the track we have in heavy rotation this week. (Kiyomi)

Do you miss packing your friends into the car, playing your favorite tracks and dancing in your seat? Us too. Welcome to Pass the Aux, where every other week the KQED Arts & Culture team introduces you to new(ish) releases from Bay Area artists. Here’s what we have on deck.

Kiyomi, “Vintage”

Kiyomi, an R&B vocalist from Union City who turned heads when she started uploading covers of popular songs as a teenager, is back with a new single. Just this week she dropped the video to “Vintage,” a follow up to her Valentines Day release, “You Got It.”

After taking a bit of a pandemic-influenced hiatus from music, the James Logan High School graduate provided some background vocals for Rexx Life Raj’s “Tesla in a Pandemic.” In an interview that was published last year, around the same time as that song, Kiyomi mentioned plans to drop a new project in 2021. While fans who enjoyed her debut EP Solara Sunsets wait for more music they can watch her latest video and enjoy her brilliant voice, some old school cars and the upbeat energy encapsulated in the visuals.—Pendarvis Harshaw

Tyler Holmes, “BIPP” (SOPHIE cover)

SOPHIE’s sharp, exquisitely textured anti-pop made the artist a luminary in the electronic music world. And in the queer community, fans saw her as a beloved trans icon in a mostly cis and hetero industry. Sadly, SOPHIE died in late January after an accidental fall in Greece. As an homage to the groundbreaking Scottish artist, Oakland singer and producer Tyler Holmes recently released a cover of Sophie’s “BIPP.” Where SOPHIE’s original is a disorienting, staccato club track that never quite finds its resolution, Holmes brings out the earnest and pleading qualities of its lyrics (“However you’re feeling / I can make you feel better”) with their smoother, bare-bones bedroom pop take.


Much like SOPHIE, Holmes is an artist who defies labels: they first came onto the Bay Area music scene with a glitchy, industrial sound and phantasmagoric aesthetic forged in the local avant-garde drag scene. But their abrasive musical approach belied their traditionally beautiful R&B singing abilities (think Blood Orange and Sade), which come into clearer focus among cellos and woodwinds on their upcoming album Nightmare in Paradise, out on Ratskin Records on March 26.—Nastia Voynovskaya

Young Shorty Doowop, “In My Reeboks”

Young Shorty Doowop’s song “In My Reeboks” samples the beat of the ultra-explicit classic track from Three 6 Mafia and Tear da Club Up Thugs, “Slob on My Knob,” and combines it with a snippet from a viral recording of a voicemail of an enraged employee, bringing it all together for a good cause.

Young Shorty Doowop, or Y.S.D., a youth coordination for the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, says she appreciates seeing people do the #YSDReebokChallenge (created by Yung Phil of the Turffeinz), but her real goal is to give pairs of shoes to people in need. So far she’s given away a handful, and she just launched a GoFundMe.

She’s banking on the song’s popularity to spread the word; as of now, it has nearly two million views on TikTok. Despite the pandemic, the track has been played in front of some pretty large crowds of people, including at a Super Bowl event in Atlanta. Just yesterday Shorty, whose other song “For Me” was recently featured on Real Housewives of Atlanta, announced an upcoming “In My Reeboks” tour, with shows scheduled in Pennsylvania, Miami and Dallas.—P.H.

Kelly McFarling, “Birds”

My best mornings come when I can stay in bed for a while and turn my mind off of the little things. As the late-sunrise birds outside chirp like they have for thousands of years, I think instead about the big things, like the passing of time, both before and after our blip of a life on this planet. So imagine my joy at finding Kelly McFarling’s “Birds,” an ode to that very fleeting moment, when all seems right—or at least manageable—with the world.

McFarling flips Leonard Cohen’s morose lyrical imagery into a bouyant, immediately catchy chorus—“Birds out on the wire / Like a bracelet on the blue”—and if you get a tinge of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” from the chord progression, you’re not off the mark. While McFarling came to San Francisco by way or Georgia, “Birds” doesn’t shovel as much southern soil as the other songs on her new album, Deep the Habit, which marks a new, sometimes even Dire Straits-y direction (as on “Delicate”), with bluesy guitar, mandolin and pedal steel. But she can still sing a plaintive sad song (like “North Decatur,” a perfect fit aside Phoebe Bridgers on any playlist), and in “Birds,” when the slow, dreamy bridge veers into Cocteau Twins territory and transports me from my daily routine, I find myself thinking: is there any transient feeling Kelly McFarling can’t bring to life?—Gabe Meline

Beeda Weeda, “My Section”

Beeda Weeda is on a mission to bring back a certain era in rap music. Over the past year, the rapper from East Oakland has dropped multiple tracks featuring OGs in the game: C-Bo, Spice One, Yukmouth, Keak Da Sneak, E-40 and B-Legit. Just yesterday, he released “Back Against The Wall” featuring Richie Rich.

His latest album Hot Boy Top Boy is an ode to that special time in life, when Cash Money Records took over for the ’99 and the 2000. With multiple songs that remix classic beats and lyrics from the legendary Hot Boys, Beeda was intentional when he titled the album. The track “My Section,” (featuring Kye Kaszett) is a remix of Birdman’s 2005 hit “Out The Ghetto,” and is full of lyrics that honor the neighborhood where Beeda Weeda was raised. “Gentrification ain’t did shit, we still here / get high on the 8, and then go shop down on Fruitvale,” he raps over a beat that’s made for driving on a sunny day in whatever part of Northern California you call your section.—P.H.

Mac J, “SKOOP”


Death of a loved one can have unexpected effects on one’s creative mindset. After the fatal shooting last June of his close friend and fellow Sacramento rapper Bris, Mac J could have retreated into his pain, or dutifully copied-as-homage the style of his 24-year-old cuddie taken too soon. Instead, he’s just dropped “SKOOP,” an atmospheric, whispery track of determination and reinvention. “You might get my nickname, but not my government” he softly intones, over a galactic beat produced by True the Plug. While outer-space whirrs trace spirals over thick, rumbling bass tones deeper than the Marianas Trench, Mac J ultimately finds his joy—and when he repeats “tricky dance moves, that’s my cousin shit.” Anyone with a heart can imagine Bris dancing in heaven.—G.M.

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