“Stand Up” by Chey De Los, Natalis, Michael Cassidy, David Ruffin Jr., J D Wesley, Daimen Carter & Toox

When you bring together the likes of Chey De Los, Natalis, Damien Carter, the incomparable David Ruffin Jr., Michael Cassidy, J.D. Wesley and Toox into the studio for a collaborative piece like the cultural watershed “Stand Up,” you need to expect some masterful results – thus, this single and music video are just the heavy-hitters autumn 2020 was missing. Led by a joint demand for justice that feels all the more stinging in the wake of what has been an all-around dreadful year in the history of the United States, these players unite for what could be among the most powerful performances of the season to feature more than one marque artist.

Whether it’s Ruffin’s signature crooning – which at times brings to mind the immeasurable legend of the man he was named for – to Natalis’ soft accentuation of the harmony with her sophisticated lead, this is nothing short of top shelf melodic collaboration from top to bottom. You don’t have to be the biggest fan of these artists to dig what this powerful message of solidarity has to offer listeners, but for those who appreciate a new era in the history of progressive R&B, “Stand Up” is a profound cocktail you won’t want to miss. 

Rather than using a bassline to structure the groove here, as has been common among other releases from this crew, there’s a volatile guitar riff at the bottom of this mix punching out a beat stronger than anything the percussion could have mustered on its own. The only thing more chilling than its thrust is perhaps the haunting line “Don’t shoot” at the 3:17 mark in the track – a moment that hit me like a ton of bricks in the best and worst ways possible. There’s never a debate as to whether or not “Stand Up” has a flipside to its rallying cry; there’s darkness echoing every potent verse here, and for some who aren’t willing to face the realities of life in 2020, it might be too much to handle. As for the rest of us, this ominous undertow is perhaps the most definitively evocative component of the single. With a war against oppression that has lasted as long as ours has, the duality of a piece like this is rather telling of the song’s poetic depth and, moreover, the weight each of these artists puts into their performance here. 

Cuttingly credible and rebelliously angry to such an extent that some folks might be inclined to shed a tear at its most powerful junctures, “Stand Up” from the people at Snapshot Sound is by far one of the more intriguing collaborative singles I’ve had the chance to listen to in the past twelve months combined. Chey De Los and Ruffin lead an able cast of lyrical and instrumental sharpshooters into the trenches ready to secure a better tomorrow, and for what I look for in a track of this nature, the couldn’t have done a better job at getting the right point across here. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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