Nigerian-born, Toronto-based indie pop duo 148 — Tudo Bem and McQueen — spent their formative years watching MTV, which allowed them to embrace a multitude of genres and styles of music. Their willingness to explore and play with genre conventions, as well as embracing their own vulnerability in order to take risks, learn and improve upon their songwriting is at the core of their sound and approach.
As a group, the duo is rooted in a simple principle: a belief that we all should strive to be who we truly are, rather than view ourselves through the lens of others.
The duo’s recently released full-length effort, Sampati derives its title from an old Hindu tale of two brothers who challenged each other to see, who could fly closest to the sun: The elder brother Sampati ends up risking his life to shield his younger brother, Jatayu from the sun’s flames. While Sampati’s sacrifice costs him the ability to fly, it also saves Jatayu’s life — and Jatayu goes on to a play a crucial part in the grand scheme of things. For the duo, the story brings up a number of questions. including: if you knew that there was a high possibility of failure, would you attempt the impossible? According to the duo, they’d always answer yes. Failure brings the opportunity to learn — and with the help of friends and family, the potential of a speedy recovery. The duo add that the album is the culmination of everything they’ve learned over the past six years or so.
Sampati‘s latest single “Topeka Vibe” is a breezy and slick mix of R&B, hip-hop, Afrobeats, Afro pop, dancehall and soca centered around glistening synth arpeggios, skittering beats paired with a soulful horn solo as a silky Quiet Storm-inspired bed for McQueen’s easygoing and flirtatious bars and Bem’s gently autotuned crooning for the song’s infectious hook. Managing to be both club and lounge friendly, “Topeka Vibe” is a summery chilled-out bop that’s one-part balling out at the club ’cause you just got paid — and one-part, chilling out with that pretty young thing that you just can’t resist. But just under the surface, there’s a subtle bittersweet sensation: the realization that nothing lasts forever, perhaps?
Directed by 148’s Tudo Bem, the cinematically shot, accompanying video is split into several sequences set in and around Topeka Drive, just outside of Toronto: we see the members of 148 in a local playground flashing cash and goofing off. We see the duo flirting with and hitting on one of the most beautiful sisters I’ve seen in some time. And we see the duo playing in a club. It’s playful yet endearingly sweet.