“I Just Wanna” by The Native

Alternative music doesn’t have defined aesthetics anymore – not that they weren’t flimsy to start with – and this is impossible for even the most stubborn of critics to admit when listening to a track like “I Just Wanna” by The Native this summer season. Although thoroughly connected to the contemporary lushness of hip-hop and lofi, “I Just Wanna” feels like a sample-sized offering of what it means to present an alternative to the mundanities of the mainstream in 2021. The Native definitely has his own sound, yet it feels like something everyone should be trying to follow in some way or another this summer. 

The swagger that my man has coming up to this microphone is incredible, but it isn’t the only reason why I think his performance is cutting and true to the emotions of the composition as it stands without anyone to sing its lyrics. It’s the actual tone of his voice and the melodic might of the harmonies he straddles that gives me the most chills when listening to “I Just Wanna,” which is really something if you consider how virtuosic a linguist he’s becoming (and portrays himself as in quite the believable fashion here). 

Instrumentally speaking, I hear a moderate vaporwave component of “I Just Wanna” that could result in some even sexier tunes down the line if The Native continues to play with it as he did when designing this song. There’s a cerebral influence in his music that just didn’t pick up on when I first heard the compelling “Loca” just last year, and despite what some critics might say about the trends we’re seeing in the American underground at the moment, I think there’s always room for someone of this caliber to come into the conversation and change the trajectory for everyone talking. 

The lurching beat behind The Native adds something to the story unfolding before us in real-time, and I don’t know where anyone would be able to deny that it doesn’t have some effect over how we interpret the feelings he’s putting on the line ahead of and following his verses here. If he would have been moving at a quicker pace, I think the vulnerabilities he’s grappling with might have been abandoned in favor of producing a clubbier feel on the front end of the mix, but in this instance, the exact opposite is true (and we reap the rewards). 

If “I Just Wanna” is who The Native wants to be in a nutshell, then he’s going to have my approval as an indie artist moving ahead for sure. He’s already sporting such a commanding sound when he’s got the microphone before him, and coupled with the fact that his instrumental conceptualism is making some provocatively entrancing hooks – as evidenced in the fever pitch of “I Just Wanna” – I’m getting the idea that we’re going to be hearing amazing music out of his camp for quite a long time to come. As long as he sticks with this style, I’ll be game for much more. 

Michael Rand

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