In the wee hours of Monday morning, a time when only insomniacs, graveyard creatives, and OVO owls are awake, an announcement was made that the sixth installment of blonded RADIO would be playing on Beats 1.
Frank Ocean doesn’t care about fans getting any sleep, and he has no regard for the madness of Monday mornings. Sleep was enticing but it couldn’t beat the enthralling call of new Frank Ocean. More than just Frank’s music, blonded RADIO has become a social media event for fans and stans who are intrigued by the diverse music played during the two-hour show. I don’t know any other artist with a station that will give you MssingNo and Miley Cyrus, Burial and Shawty Pimp, Ryuichi Sakamoto and 2Pac, or the Italian national anthem and anything else.
Two new Frank Ocean releases were premiered during blonded 006―a solo version of “Biking” featuring a new verse from Ocean, and A$AP Rocky’s star-studded “RAF” that features Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and an excellent rapping Frank. Both songs instantly set timelines ablaze. The possibility of new Frank is what kept me awake—the two songs satisfied a hunger—but no song was as impressive as M. T. Hadley’s “Janet.”
Originally released in 2016, "Janet" was created by M. T. in honor of his mother, who was sadly taken due to breast cancer. After “Janet" came Pac’s “Dear Mama” and OutKast's “Ms. Jackson,” songs to keep the motherly theme going, but even though the two classics caused me to rap every word, I couldn’t stop thinking about M. T. Hadley.
Last night, despite a treasure chest worth of music, "Janet" was the gem that shined the brightest.
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Warm synths first greet the eardrums, creating a feeling of sitting on the beach as the waves slightly tickle the toes. Hadley's voice comes in with a soft tone but a heavy opening line—“She was diagnosed in the summer”—and suddenly turns an exotic beach into a somber hospital room. The song goes on to detail her death, memories and a son revealing the lessons of a mother no longer with him. The synth-pop single is pleasant yet morbid, melancholy yet beautifully candid; words carved with pain and hope.
Similar to “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano,” Sampha's tribute to his mother that forces you to plunge into the very depths of grief, M. T.’s “Janet” sounds like grief resolved, cherishing the memory of his mother. What I love about both records is how sonic tones and feeling encapsulate how a record can be received. Sampha’s voice and piano is a perfect contrast of depth and sorrow, while the synths heard on “Janet” are uplifting and shine with a brightness that can't sink into darkness. The yin and yang of coping with the death of mothers.
"It's a track I began writing a year after her death—once I felt ready," Handley told i-D when they premiered the record last year. "It was completed earlier this month, and I release it today—three years since she died—hoping it will serve to both honour her memory, and grant me some catharsis."
M. T. Hadley is from London, has 600 followers on SoundCloud and only three songs currently uploaded to his account. There’s little information about him online and minimal blog coverage; appearing on blonded 006 has been his biggest stamp yet. His voice isn’t powerful but soothing, there’s a quality to the singing and storytelling that wraps around the soul like a hug from a loving grandparent. Elegant and graceful, “Janet” is a reminder that simplicity and emotion are enough to make music that truly moves the spirit.
As much as I love the idea of bragging about Raf Simons clothing that I can’t afford on a writer's budget, hearing M. T. sing so sincerely about his mother is the kind of song that transcends even the biggest bangers. The new Frank songs were good, but “Janet” was the only one that made me say, "holy shit."
By Yoh, aka blondedYoh, aka @Yoh31