Review: UMI’s “Love Language” Tells A Story of Identity, Love, and Self-Acceptance

UMI is a young singer/songwriter as well as a college student. The multi-talented musician has recently released her second EP. “Love Language" explores race, identity, and romance through the platforms of music and film.

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Review: UMI’s “Love Language” Tells A Story of Identity, Love, and Self-Acceptance

Photo edited by Kayla Alcorcha

Photo edited by Kayla Alcorcha

Photo edited by Kayla Alcorcha

Photo edited by Kayla Alcorcha

Kayla Alcorcha, Extended Content Editor

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UMI, or Tierra Umi Wilson, is an up-and-coming R&B artist that has just released her newest EP, “Love Language.” A student at the University of Southern California, UMI spends her time studying between studio sessions. Despite this necessary balance between school and music, the latter has experienced significant growth. In the past year, the Seattle-born artist has released eight singles and now two EP’s. She has also attracted a large following: preceding the release of “Love Language,” UMI released one new visual track per week, and the videos have collectively garnered over three million views. These visual projects give greater meaning to each track and are crucial if the listener wishes to understand the thematic message of the music. 

The EP opens with “Love Affair,” a smooth, entrancing song about falling in love. UMI has personally described her discography as “Bedroom Rhythm and Blues,” and this is precisely the ambiance projected by “Love Affair.” While the song can stand on its own as a light, groovy melody about infatuation, it is greatly enhanced by its visual counterpart. The video for “Love Affair,” set in a vibrant, quaint café, depicts UMI and her crush as she ponders the true nature of their connection. Suddenly there is a robbery taking place, and the viewer quickly notices the heavy use of animation. The reasoning behind this stylistic choice is made more apparent once UMI herself is replaced by an animated character after she returns home to her colorful, stylish bedroom. As a Japanese-African-American, UMI has struggled with her identity. Her animated character collapses onto her pink bedspread, and the confusion about her (possible) romantic connection — but more importantly, her sense of self — becomes prominent. She wonders what side of herself she should show to the world, or even which world, real or animated, she fits into in the first place. The lyrics to “Love Affair” are laden with questions, but the video communicates this idea of internal confusion much more extensively.

“Sukidakara,” the following track, is sung primarily in Japanese, with only one verse in English. The title means “because I like you,” an essential piece of information for those that do not understand the majority of the lyrics. The track is innovative, and the transition between languages is seamless. “Sukidakara” is a tribute to UMI’s Japanese culture, yet it holds much more significance in the context of “Love Language” as a whole. With a dream-like ambiance created by angelic vocals and simplistic chimes, “Sukidakara” continues the love story introduced in the previous track. Again, the visualization of the song adds to the listener’s experience and understanding. The viewers watch as UMI’s character interacts with her crush once again. However, this time, she attempts to change herself to fit his standards, compromising her integrity, and strengthening the theme of identity. The screen fades to black as she laughs with her crush after the café has closed, still wearing her false skin.

The third installment of “Love Language” is “Runnin’” featuring Yeek. Production-wise, the song is comprised of lo-fi percussion and dreamy vocals; the two artists’ voices contrast each other wonderfully. “Runnin’” creates an atmosphere akin to a late-night drive. The accompanying video is, at first, a colorful montage of the couple doing karaoke. It becomes evident that UMI is still trying to hide her true self, as she struggles to stop herself from levitating off the ground out of happiness. The scene changes to find the two in UMI’s apartment, and the viewer, having seen the previous two installments of this project, understands the importance of the outsider’s presence. She feels safe in her bedroom and can thus be her true self. UMI begins to levitate, and soon unzips her skin to reveal the animated character underneath. Her crush flees the apartment in terror, and UMI begins her journey of self-acceptance. 

This project only marks the beginning of the growth in my music. I’m so happy to see how people are reacting, it makes me really fulfilled to know my music has touched people.”

— UMI

“Breathing” is the last chapter in this clever, creative body of work. It is a soothing melody, an outstretched hand in the wake of despair. The final, fourth video has an exciting ending that may surprise certain viewers. Contrarily, if the viewers understand the theme of the story, the concluding events may feel predictable. Nevertheless, it is clear that UMI has created a commendable collection of visual projects, and the EP they expand upon is fundamentally impressive. She blended genres and composed a diverse yet complementary set of songs that each have an emotionally-charged mood. She explored race, identity, and self-love through the platforms of both music and film. A multi-talented, passionate, and sincere musician, UMI is making a name for herself in the music industry. Her newest EP “Love Language” and its visual counterparts only affirm this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5qUpJo_Gac

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