Nabihah Iqbal has achieved more than most – an Ethnomusicology graduate and a former barrister, she is better known as Throwing Shade on her carefully curated World music show on NTS. Despite a scholarly approach when championing global sounds, Iqbal’s own compositions favour the motifs of leftfield Pop, R&B and Techno. Her fourth EP in two years – ‘Fate Xclusive’ – retains many of the qualities of past releases: steamy padded textures, glossy synth melodies and boldly crafted drums.
One of Iqbal’s strongest traits is her ear for unorthodox vocal hooks. Highlight of the four-track is opener ‘Honeytrap’, which is similar to the intoxicating ‘Sweet Tooth’ from last year’s ’19 Jewels’. The return of Emily Bee’s almost blasé spoken performance has become part of the Throwing Shade sound as much as any other instruments she uses. It’s a sickly-sweet ode to devotion with an uneasy edge; the disconcerting French whispers enforce Iqbal’s continuously double-sided approach to love.
Much of the EP favours subtlety over explicit builds and breaks, allowing tracks like Techno number ‘4eva Fate’ to plateau as though in a bid to hypnotise. Despite thick synth textures and plush, darting string melodies, it feels slightly empty without the rich vocal offerings of previous track ‘Mirror’. This R&B-tinged piece layers snippets of obscured vocal hooks like a collage of ideas intended for different tracks, yet feels staunchly cohesive.
Sweltering closer ‘4Drake’ exhibits more of the textural grandiosity we’re accustomed to from Iqbal’s productions. The thick cloak of reverb over ghostly vocal wails and gliding bass is a nod to the otherworldly cloud Rap tendencies of Clams Casino and Holy Other, but more buoyant. ‘Fate Xclusive’ is certainly the most assured and well-rounded release in Throwing Shade’s discography, but a full-length would be the next logical step for her to explore a more developed narrative.
‘Fate Xclusive’ is out now on No Pain In Pop. Buy it here.
Words: Hugo Laing