An easy-grooving summer tune, ‘Late Night’ is far from her heavy 140 roots. Here SANITY’s musical style jives into a jazzier, melodic hip hop wave, following in the footsteps of ‘Grass is Greener’ – a track she released earlier this year.
Including features from Blue Lab Beats and MELONYX, SANITY’s latest release is the second track in an extended project showcasing the multi-genre musician’s artistic talents and recently refined jazz influences.
‘Late Night’ begins with rolling drum beats, a catchy snare, and tingling piano keys, caught up in a warm evening breeze. The along comes SANITY’s refreshing flow, like a cool sip of sweet lemonade.
She raps about motives at dusk, the recreational pursuits that typically tempt as the sun goes down; smoky flirtations and casual conversations are the blessings that keep the blues of monotonous working life at bay.
“If it’s hot girl summer, I wanna embrace it.”
“From am to pm, we can’t waste it.”
Underneath SANITY’s rhythmic rapping, there’s a lazy swing beat and complex piano chords saunter about, occasionally flouting their virtuoso, then humbly teetering off. Their end makes way for near perfectly placed summertime vocals courtesy of MELONYX.
Her voice is the kind that makes you get up off your deck chair and tipsily wind your waist, still holding a half-full cup of something crisp and full of ice.
There’s a gloopy breakdown, and you’re lost momentarily in the smell of BBQ smoke, perfume, and gentle perspiration.
Then the trumpets…? They’re divine.
As ‘Late Night’ progresses, SANITY’s jazzier elements heat up, building a crescendo behind lyrics that speak both to the carefree fun of a late summer night spent in good company and to deeper themes. The track reflects on what it means to be present in – to enjoy and have gratitude for – the moment we’re living in.
Put it on your summer party playlist, mix it with your drink, but most importantly, move to it.
‘Late Night’ – SANITY ft. Blue Lab Beats & MELONYX
In recent years, Erdington rapper and musician Sanity has taken a step back. Celebrated for her performance at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018, and more recently for her contribution of ‘Midlands Child’ to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games On Record album, Sanity has now returned with a new song and lots to tell Erdington Local.
“When I was doing music at Stockland Green (secondary school), I was learning how to play the guitar, and my teacher, Mr. Scott, would spring it on me that I was doing lunchtime performances,” Sanity explains her first experiences of performing as a child and how it developed her confidence.
She continues: “I remember I used to do little rap ciphers and battles on the playground. As soon as kids see a few people gathered, they all come over. It didn’t develop my stage presence because, obviously, it was on a gravel floor. But it’s the performance-esc-type-vibe.”
Back in school, Sanity “was more grime music, 140bpm, super-fast, skippy, with a lot of braggadocious bars.” She was “repping it for the girls” and, for some time, went by the name ‘Young S’. However, after discovering graffiti tagging an identical alias across Erdington, Sanity realised the name wasn’t necessarily that creative.
“I started taking music a bit more seriously when I was 16, I realised I’m not going to be young forever. If I’m going to do music, I want an authentic name. Dizzy Rascal ‘Bonkers’ came on, and the line was, ‘Let sanity give you the slip’; I was like… ‘Sanity’ and it clicked. Some people think that ‘cos the name’s Sanity, it’s got some deep, intricate, initial meaning.”
And while her name-sake’s inspiration can hardly be considered drenched in meaning, for Sanity her musical moniker had to grow up a bit too – dropping the ‘Lady’ prefix so many knew her as.
“It actually aligns with the kind of music I want to do and the type of message that I want to promote,” explains Sanity.
“Five years ago, I wanted to drop the ‘Lady’ because it had that kind of grime feel to it, and that wasn’t particularly the genre I wanted to be in. My music, it touches on grime, and I started out with it, but I’ve also felt more connected to hip hop and alternative hip hop.
“I felt like the ‘Lady’ kept me boxed in and automatically made people think I was going to have a particular sound. ‘Sanity’ has a bit more openness and creative freedom. It opens the sound up a bit more. To me, it sounds a bit more unpredictable; you don’t know what you’re getting.”
The change in name marks the beginning of a new era for the Erdington artist, and Sanity admits after making music for over ten years, “dropping ‘Lady’ is almost like a rebirth. There’s more maturity with (her music) now, more growth with it, more knowledge behind what made it.” Progressing to a jazzier vibe too, Sanity is excited to discuss her recent release ‘Grass is Greener’ and her upcoming project that is set to be out in full by the end of the year.
“The whole project is centred around growth as a person, and of course, you can’t have growth without knowing where you’ve been. So, I pay homage to certain elements and vibes like faster flows that I’ve done before.
“It’s centred around the theme of nature and making something beautiful out of the most natural thing. It has this really earthy feel to it. It’s polished, but we also (in the mixing and mastering process) wanted it to have a bit of grit.”
The new sound has also brought new musicians into Sanity’s musical sphere, including a tour just before lockdown with Pee Wee Ellis – a saxophonist for the legendary soul singer James Brown. Sanity also appeared on the new album from the UK’s revered jazz saxophonist Camilla George, who in turn plays sax at the end of ’Grass is Greener’.
About her upcoming new music, Sanity continues: “It’s a bit more refined, coming with more live jazz instrumentation rather than samples as well, which is a great feeling. With ‘Grass is Greener’ it’s touching on this fresh start, and really just standing in my purpose and knowing all the things that I’ve done.
“I know sometimes as a human being you know you’re at a certain point, but you can also look at other people and be like: ‘It would be great to do this, and it would be great to have that.’ ‘Grass is Greener’ is about standing in your purpose and being happy, being excited for what you can grow into.”
It seems as though Erdington residents have another exciting piece of local art to look forward to this summer, and Sanity strongly emphasises, “There’s something for everyone on the upcoming project.”
Sanity intends to release a second single at the end of June, where she’s worked with a Grammy award-winning group, and you can catch her playing InterMission Festival in Birmingham at The Mill on 22 July 2023.
From the Birmingham Music Awards to the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on Australia’s Golden Coast, Lady Sanity has been performing her songs across the world. With a new single coming out at the end of February, Erdington Local talked to the Birmingham-based musical artist about her Erdington roots and global ambitions.
Lady Sanity has always lived in Erdington, attending Stockland Green School for her secondary education. Despite being passionate about music from an early age, Sanity told how “I have no musicians in the family – me being a musician was a little bit of a curve ball for everyone… Although my grandfather used to take out his harmonica every now and then.”
Her family did, however, expose her to many different musical genres – encouraging the artist to embrace a variety of genres in her own music. “My cousin was showing me Hip Hop over in America. My sister was listening to bands in the UK. Another cousin was listening to Indie and Rock music… A lot of the music I was listening to were fusions of rap.” Sanity even notes Linkin Park as being an early influence.
At aged 12, Lady Sanity got a guitar from Home Bargains – bought for her by her older sister, which was a “cheap, crappy guitar with nylon strings.” Sanity was self-taught, using ‘tabs’ – a type of musical notation system.
Sanity ‘went electric’ aged 14, which was also around the time she was performing her own original music. She fondly remembers her music teacher, Mr Scott, as “very much encouraging me to rap and play guitar…. I was quite a reserved and quiet kid at school!”
Lady Sanity is one of many great musical artists to have come out of Birmingham – producing music inspired by Jazz, Hip-Hop and Grime.
Having played at many venues and events across the city, including Handsworth/Hockley based urban festival The Flyover Show and the Shard End Park hosted Shardfest, Lady Sanity’s first major festival appearance was at Glastonbury 2016.
Sanity entered into a competition called ‘Glastonbury Emerging Talent’, which although she didn’t win, she benefited from immensely: “I was picked up by other bookers to perform smaller stages of the festival – I had three different slots during the weekend. It was an amazing experience”.
She also recalls performing as part of a Hip Hop conference called ‘New Skool Rules’ in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “There were people from America, Canada, UK,” told Sanity. “Artists who came from all around the world – it’s a great weekend to really jam and connect with people.”
A crowning moment for Lady Sanity was performing at the Gold Coast Australia-Birmingham handover ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, although it came as a surprise for the young artist.
“I was asked if I was free for a couple of days. I went down to the Hippodrome for an interview and they said they had a gig for me – the Commonwealth Games gig! That was only the second gig that me and the band played together! They offered me a house-band but I wanted to keep my own musicians.”
Covid has been adverse for many musicians, making live gigs impossible – an important source of income for a touring musician like Lady Sanity. She estimates she had some “20-30 gigs cancelled” and numerous, potential last-minute requests unaccounted for: “I finished touring with Sound UK before lockdown, and I even performed with Pee Wee Ellis – he was James Brown’s saxophonist… Some gigs were postponed – I was supposed to tour Belgium.”
Nonetheless, Lady Sanity adapted to cyberspace, performing on many livestream gigs – including one facilitated by The Sunflower Lounge which she took part in “to support this amazing venue so it can stay open”. It wasn’t as enjoyable as the live experience, but for Lady Sanity it was still “good to get out to gig, although it’s not the same as interacting with a crowd”.
But the web is indeed worldwide, and during the coronavirus lockdowns Lady Sanity has “been in contact people around the world. I’m working with an Italian power ballad singer I met over the Internet… Now is the time I can sit down and work on EPs, because I’m not up and down doing shows.”
On a personal level, Sanity also believes the lockdown has allowed her to “slow down… It’s helped me be grateful for my life and family.”
Lady Sanity is now looking forward to a year of gigs-that-should-have-happened, as well as releasing her new single, ‘Love’ – coming out at the end of February 2021.
“It’s about the different aspects of love,” explained the Erdington born and raised artist, “your family, friends, and yourself.”