Friday, November 27th, 2020

Simmy ft. Da Capo & Sun-El Musician – Emakhaya

Best Music 2020?


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Do you ever just miss being able to go dance with people? Do you ever miss dancing with people so much that you end up quoting extremely corny house music from 2006? God, do I have a song for you.

Kayla Beardslee: Simmy wrote this song thinking about the challenges she faced after leaving her hometown at a young age and having to find her own way forward: “For me, where I come from is where my peace of mind is… and even though I left young I can’t say it gets easier.” Sorry to pull a PR quote for this review, but when I read that explanation while listening to the song, I instantly thought of my own special place — it’s not connected to the transformative experiences of departure or perseverance like Simmy’s is, but it’s somewhere I only visit occasionally, and somewhere I return to (both physically and mentally) as a place of peace and refuge. If I had to translate that place into music, I could totally see the result ending up like the gentle swells, sunny piano chords, and delicate vocals of “Emakhaya” — the way it flows like water down a river — and I’m grateful that this song has reminded me of it.

Edward Okulicz: A thing of beauty, but not fragile beauty; Simmy produces indestructible, gleaming gemstones of pop. The sun of the southern hemisphere summer drips down, but her voice gives it an aqueous calm. It’s playful but soothing and just a masterpiece of composition and construction.

Thomas Inskeep: A lovely, smooth, keeps-getting-deeper house groove underpins a dreamy vocal from Simmy. Her singing sounds effortless, and “Emakhaya” draws you in with seemingly little work. I want a 20-minute extended remix of this, please. Anyone know Louie Vega’s number?

Alfred Soto: I keep waiting for any Sun-El project to trip. Instead, he and his collaborators find one fascinating variant on his perky electro-pop after another. With a placidity that achieves a state of grace, Simmy breathes life into each vowel as the track expands around her.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The only two times we’ve covered Simmy, she’s been the highest scoring artist of the year. And in the five times we’ve covered Sun-El Musician, he’s never not made the sidebar. It’s in that context that I find myself almost wanting to artificially deflate this score as to avoid the appearance of blind affirmation for those two artists, but I can’t: “Emakhaya” is yet another gem. The echoing, enveloping production dovetails perfectly with Simmy’s euphonious voice, and the result sounds like a nostalgic movie soundtrack, an intimate conversation with your best friend, and the hypnotic trance of house music all at the same time. 

Juana Giaimo: “World, Hold On” by Bob Sinclar immediately reminds me of fifteenth birthday parties where it was many times used as background music. “Emakhaya” has the same vibe. The contrast of the fast house beat and the calm, slow vocals is interesting, but I find it hard to engage with it, maybe because the production is too polished. Still, I can imagine it as background music at today’s fifteenth birthday parties.

Scott Mildenhall: With none of the dread of the compellingly ominous “World, Hold On”, “Emakhaya” doesn’t quite make Simmy Sinclar’s spiritual successor. If anything, it’s another rebuttal, with the inclusion of the isiZulu aphorism “ayikho indlovu esindwa umboko wayo” indicative of an ethos apparent across her work. Bob Sinclar, Steve Edwards, you: just breathe.

Will Adams: The downside, however microscopic, of Sun-El Musician’s consistent soundscapes is that it makes it near impossible to put a finger on why certain songs are less effective than others. It’s another truffle of gorgeous deep house, what more do I need? For “Emakhaya”, maybe it’s the length, which stretches the outro just past the breaking point. Maybe it’s the “World, Hold On” interpolation, which despite the warmth Simmy injects into Bob Sinclar’s anxious melody, jars on each listen. Maybe it’s just slight fatigue with the formula. But gorgeous it remains, and Simmy is ever dependable. There’s a reason we love her so much.

Reader average: [5.33] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “Simmy ft. Da Capo & Sun-El Musician – Emakhaya”

  1. Does Simmy have the highest average score rating for TSJ? Are there any other artists that come close? (Granted, we’ve only reviewed three songs with her, but still)

  2. Really amusing that the one other song this year to score exactly [7.89] was *also* a Sun-El Musician song. (

  3. @alex: yes (at least in recent years)! but it’s closer than you might expect. Simmy’s average score (over 3 songs) is 8.33, and Jamila Woods (counting her appearance on “Sunday Candy” gets up to 8.31 on 2 appearances. Sun-El Musician averages 7.68 on 5 appearances. More data (for all 2018-2020 8s with at least 2 appearances, and also Sun-El Musicain) here!

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