It has been a long time since anyone has sent me something I have enjoyed as much as ZRi.’s (pronounced Zuu-Ri) latest EP, NEPTUNE. I was captivated by every song on the project, an incredible blend of alternative R&B with hints of hip hop over neo-soul and jazz influenced instrumentals. Each track showcases a different aspect of the South African’s vocal talent in a way that will just make you put the EP on loop all day long.
While the opening track “PURPLE” has elements of monte booker style production, ZRi. channels it in a way that is uniquely his own, perfectly grabbing your attention. He relates his feelings towards a mysterious lover to the color purple, taken to another level with the various vocal effects.
A perfect transition into “SMILE” brings forth a groovy track as ZRi. sings about embracing happiness, escaping a period of negligence towards these emotions. This is further exemplified on the hook, as he portrays how making music is akin to receiving a call from someone who makes him smile.
ZRi. advances these on “WAVE” which, well, wavy. He explores what music means to him and the “wavy” feeling that absorbs him, singing, “But first you gotta match my frequency / Tell me what you see / Do you see a being / Or do you see the energy living inside of me.” Give it one listen and you will certainly feel like you’re at his energy level.
As amazing as the first three tracks are, the last two are next level. The first of the two, “NEPTUNE BENZ,” takes you on a journey across the cosmos as he depicts the path he envisions for his future. It features simpler production compared to the rest of the project, but its subtleties enhance it even further. A slow and dramatic outro almost feels like the wrapping up of everything, before embarking on his most impactful track of all.
“HOLLYWOOD DREAMS” is undoubtedly the best track of the EP, flying up the ranks of my favorite songs of the year. ZRi. takes us through his life over the funkiest instrumental, paired with beautiful backing vocals throughout. He opens by providing insight into his mind, sharing how he hopes his music can be therapeutic for listeners. He embarks down a road of his childhood, from being bullied in school, to growing up fatherless, to a special ode to his mother. He uses her as a guide for how he wants to live his life, both through the ups and downs, before ending with an inspiring spoken piece.
“NEPTUNE was made with the sole purpose of inspiring the listener to not be scared to chase something they desire or love,” ZRi. said on the project. Check it out below – you will not be disappointed: