After captivating the world’s attention with a string of powerful and poetic singles—including “Stay Alive” and “Air Forces”—Toronto’s Mustafa has finally released his debut project, When Smoke Rises.
“God, it took years to find the courage to choose this path, took years to say this; my debut project, When Smoke Rises, is out everywhere!” Mustafa wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s the beginning of everything, and the end of many things; those who are no longer, the buildings that are no longer, this hood that is no longer. And I thought I wrote a story about loss but really, it’s a story on love, a love that’s still living despite this war. To Smoke, to Ano, to Ali, to Santana, to everyone we lost, I hope I help make the space you left us with feel a touch more beautiful.”
Realeased on the artist’s own Regent Park Songs, the project is named after Smoke Dawg, a fellow member of rap collective Halal Gang who was murdered in 2018. Over a warm, delicate folk aesthetic, Mustafa sings tenderly and deliberately, mourning lost friends and the gentrification of his Regent Park neighbourhood. The project boasts production by Frank Dukes, Jamie xx, and James Blake, as well as a feature by Sampha.
Stream it below.
On Thursday, Mustafa made his late-night TV debut, performing “What About Heaven” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
In an Instagram post about the performance, Mustafa said “What About Heaven” was “the most important song on the record,” continuing, “I won’t let myself understate this moment, to honour the people I lost in this way is a gift, something I’ll need time to find words for, I’m from the trenches, we don’t see moments like this often.”