Seattle’s Parisalexa shows out on “2real”

Seattle’s never been known for R&B, but that could change real soon.

Parisalexa has turned a lot of heads locally for her standout vocals. It wasn’t until her recent appearance on NBC’s TV show “Songland” thrusted her into the national stage that her talent began to attract serious attention. In her young career she’s already collaborated with other notable local artists, such as Burien MC Travis Thompson and Producer Sango. Even before her TV appearance, the songstress had steadily built a profile, dropping several EP’s and a full-length project (2018’s “Bloom”).

That project in particular showed promise showcasing neo-soul inspired instrumentation and compelling songwriting that encapsulated the sentiments of growing up. Based off her recent singles “Chocolate” and “Slimthick,” Parisalexa has assumed a more confident and forthright personality, maturing from the starry-eyed kid she was a few years ago. As of late, her music’s pivoted back to a more conventional style, sharing much in common with the trap-flavored R&B that’s become the standard in the last few years. With “2REAL”’s release, Parisalexa is looking to capitalize on her current buzz and does so effectively.

Many of the cuts on this album have a nice swing to it, working at a tempo easy enough for any regular stiff to bop to. “4Playin” features smooth piano chords and a thick bass line. The title track and 2Optimistic have acoustic guitars and snares that sound straight out of a Neptune’s-era Monica tape. From “Chocolate” to “2Optimistic” we get acquainted with Parisalexa’s assertive delivery and strong pen game boosted by decent production.

Despite Parisalexa’s “hard shell” persona, we still get to see her more vulnerable moments in tracks like “Troubled Waters.” Songwriting plays with nautical themes as she grapples with and questions the validity and uncertainty of the relationship she’s involved in. Portraying herself as a “down ass chick” who, sink or swim, is gonna “ride the wave” of this relationship. The erratic synths and gargling bass really illustrate the overwhelming doubt that most 20-somethings deal with at this point in their life.

One of the aforementioned singles of this project, “Chocolate,” has an uplifting message and given the subject matter, there’s no surprise that she dropped this last February. Not only is the song an affirming statement of black femininity, it rightly calls out some of the double standards black women deal with. The lyric “you can’t bottle it, fraudulent” is of course a comment on the twilight zone-esque phenomenon of “black fishing” that’s prevalent in social media. Despite black women having a large influence in pop culture, they’re never really given their just dues. Growing up in predominantly-white Seattle amid the gentrification of black neighborhoods in Rainier Valley and the Central District, spaces for black people and especially black women to be themselves are rare. Throughout the song, Parisalexa finds a way to be vulnerable and self-assuring. From her child anecdotes of her mother calling her a “queen before [she] was a teen,” to shouting out the motherland on the hook, “Chocolate,” from a thematic aspect is a standout moment for the album.  

On “4Playin” we see Parisalexa being candid about her sexuality, including a few snarky jabs towards dudes for not “coming correct” in dealing with her, most notably in the second verse where she scolds dudes for—and we’re keeping it PG here—not “putting out enough” is hilarious.

“2REAL” is an overall very good project. Parisalexa’s knack for catchy hooks and interesting lyricism makes for fairly enjoyable pop R&B. As Seattle’s music scene looks to reinvent itself, Parisalexa has serious potential to be at the forefront of it all.