On Friday, November 11th, Malaysian R&B singer Yuna celebrated the release of her self-produced album Y5 at The Peppermint Club. Years in the making, Y5 was produced in Malaysia, in a makeshift studio Yuna created in her father’s office. Y5 follows Y1-4, a pentology of EPs she released prior to the start of her November tour. Y5 features four previously unreleased songs, highlighting her single “Can’t Get Over You”.
The Peppermint Club was packed to full-capacity on Friday night, full of a crowd of fans as diverse as the slow-jamz star is. Accompanying Yuna on tour is Kiana V, a Filipino singer who’s single “Quarters” once won best R&B song. At 8PM, Kiana V came out and opened the show with a flowery set, sounding like a softer-spoken understudy of Kehlani. Dressed in a zipped down, sparking brown trench coat and a high-ponytail, the singer wooed the crowd with her angelic vocals.
Yuna took the stage shortly after Kiana V, a dazzling, sparkly and colorfully-dressed icon with long, black fabric trailing out of her pink fuzzy hat. The second song she played was “Pantone 17 13 30”, a song written about her skin-tone (and my personal favorite on Y5). The R&B princess then played other crowd favorites, deep cuts, and oldies that showcased the breadth of her writing ability. “Decorate” was a clear crowd favorite, a song that had an urban pop sound and thoughtfully crafted lyrics that has the same powerful ethos as Taylor Swift’s penmanship.
The most memorable of the performance was the background Yuna gave on her music, a history lesson into the star-studded lineup of writers and collaborators that she’s worked with in the R&B and hip-hop space. “Castaway” was written with Tyler, The Creator. “Used To Love You” remained unfinished for months until the recently-single Jhené Aiko wrote on it. Yuna used to sing Alicia Keys' vocals on Alicia’s collaborations with Usher, until years later Yuna had her own hit song with him (“Crush” is Yuna’s number one song, and is undeniably catchy, but definitely deserved and still deserves more attention than it ever got). Adam, videographer and Yuna’s husband, got his own chant and moment to bow when the singer announced he was editing her upcoming music video. Yuna extended vulnerability to the crowd in her storytelling that felt personal, interesting, and important to the direction of her music.
While the crowd was intimate, it also afforded the crowd unadulterated access to the singer that louder, larger venues don’t allow. One overly-exuberant fan, who appeared to have come alone, placed themselves about 5 feet from the stage and commented throughout the entire set, even talking over her. Yuna graciously did a great job of ignoring the obnoxious quips, while the fan earned themselves glares and comments from the people around her. Ironically, Steve Lacy was also playing that night in LA, and his reaction to demanding fans on tour (see TikTok for a video of him smashing a fan’s camera) has been less gracious (I’m not taking sides). What seems to be a hotly debated topic is fan etiquette, and the conversation around fan behavior needs a re-up as artists are hitting the road in droves to support the projects they created in quarantine.
The album Y5 is laid back R&B that could be classified as crisp coffee shop music, music that sets the tone for a smoke session, or a girls night in. Y5 is music to fall in and out of love to, pulling inspiration from beginnings and endings. Yuna’s voice floats across low-fi beats and lazy strings. The project is a relaxed, peaceful render of Yuna’s most intimate feelings. Songs flow into the next like an over-saturated watercolor painting. The new tracks include the optimistic “Relax Your Mind”, the single “Can’t Get Over You”, and the final song, “Enough”.
Yuna just finished her last leg of her West Coast tour, so keep an eye out for more dates in the future.