When TellemJoness and Shalom first linked up to record “Fade Away,” they never knew it would lead to a project. The two Cincinnati natives – Joness, a local hip hop staple, and Shalom, a budding star – had been fans of each other’s for a while, and the chemistry in their intertwined voices was just too good to pass up.
“’Fade Away’ was just gonna be a collaboration. I would do a verse or whatever, maybe be on the hook. So, we did that and Shalom was like, ‘Joness, do you think you could hop on this other song too?’ And ‘Divine Council’ happened,” Joness says. “So, we were like, ‘We should release this as a project.’”
A few recording sessions later in Joness’ home studio, and the pair had created Modern Nostalgia – an atmospheric three-pack including “Fade Away,” “God Like,” and “Divine Council.”
It’s also Shalom’s debut project. “It’s been a long time coming,” Shalom reflects. The duo first joined forces officially in 2019 on Papa Gora’s single, “Mayday.” Working on building his own catalogue, Shalom approached Joness about featuring her on a song while at Cincinnati’s Elementz.
“I’ve always been a fan of Joness,” he tells Audiofemme. “I met her at a poetry slam called Speak… and being exposed to those creatives in the city motivated me to do something of my own.”
TellemJoness added, “I’ve known him for years as a poet and an activist in the community – so, a very kindred spirit, but he’s nice with some flows, too.”
“I think we both resonate with the sonic vibe of the project because we’re both poets,” she continued. “I know my power is in my words; my relationship with words and how I use them and string them together. And that’s important to him as well. So, the content, the things that we talk about in the three songs – it’s heavy.”
The emcees discuss religion, spirituality, and provide commentary on society as a whole, though you’ll have to listen to the project a few times through to truly get the deeper meanings; it’s easy to be swept up in the dreaminess of Joness’ and Shalom’s vocals.
“The things we talk about in ‘Fade Away,’ ‘God Like,’ and ‘Divine Council,’ they’re all – for lack of a better word – trendy things,” says Joness. “Like, people talk about their spiritual journeys, exalting women – as we should be, because we do so much but get credit for so little – and getting rid of negativity, keeping positive auras. But where we’re coming from on these tracks are not necessarily trendy places – they come from a place of healing for us. We kind of flipped these trends on their head and presented them in a different way.”
“All of the messages that we have intertwined in the songs, it was important for us to shine a light on those things and speak honestly,” Shalom adds. “And we wanted to make sure our sound was fluid, which I think came pretty natural.”
The artists’ conscientious bars are underscored by celestial production, courtesy of Pxvce. The effort was also engineered by Joness and mixed and mastered by GrandAce. With their first collaborative project out, Joness and Shalom are now working on their solo endeavors – though they’re open to working together again in the future.
“I think we kind of set a standard with this,” Shalom says. “We could create a Modern Nostalgia Part 2. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Joness is currently readying her debut studio album P.O.L.R., which was delayed last year due to the pandemic. “Now that [Modern Nostalgia] is out, I’m even more inspired,” she says. “I’m so grateful for Shalom. He’s an example of if he wants to do something, he’s gonna go do it.”
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