On Dr. Dre’s Compton, his last studio album released last year, the name Candice Pillay appears as a featured artist on “Genocide” alongside Kendrick Lamar and Marsha Ambrosius, and “Medicine Man” with Eminem and Anderson.Paak. The singer-songwriter also receives a songwriting credit for “One Shot One Kill”.
But who is Candice Pillay?
She happens to be my favorite underground artist at the moment. The 35-year-old from South Africa (and based out of LA), has been in the game for a minute. She’s written songs for Christina Aguilera’s Lotus as well as Rihanna’s “Cockiness (Love It)” and “American Oxygen”. The songwriter is currently transitioning into a solo career as she’s signed to Interscope Records.
Candice Pillay authenticates her signature sound by infusing R&B with the sounds of African and Indian rhythms (she also has Indian heritage). Her eclectic style is gangsta meets sensual. Her production incorporates heavy usage of 808s and synths which balance nicely with her five octave voice that I often liken to a grittier Chrisette Michele.
The following serves as a guide to the discography of Candice Pillay:
The Mood Kill
In December 2014, Candice Pillay released her first official mixtape The Mood Kill. The Mood Kill is a conceptual mixtape that follows the journey of the title characters of “Rome and Julie” (a play on the names of Romeo and Juliet). The mixtape opens up with “Poor Girl”, a track that samples Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Over the course of time “Julie” (or Candice Pillay) encounters a “Rome”, who can best be heard as an ominous man responding back to her in “Doggy Style” and “Hold On”.
The Mood Kill also chronicles Candice Pillay’s hustle in the industry as “a woman on her grind”, a theme on the album (best heard in “Can’t Stop Dying”). She’s faltered by love, but is willing to take a chance on it in “Fall In Love” and oozes a slow jamming sex appeal in “Under The Stars”. The mixtape was very underrated in 2015, but “Maybe” was the track that Pillay played for Dr. Dre which got him buzzing.
September 2015 brought fans The High, Candice Pillay’s first official EP. The High opens with an extended version of “Fall In Love” (the third track on The Mood Kill). It transitions into my favorite song from her, “Lost Without You”. Powered by the usage of 808s, “Lost Without You” oozes an aquatic atmospheric sound, something that is signature for the album which pays subtle homage to weed. “Lies” is a psychedelic R&B trip with a loopy chorus, while “Party 4 Da Low” incorporates the disco styles of artists like Chic and Parliament.
Candice Pillay’s go to producers are Dem Jointz (“Put It Down”) and Alex Da Kid (“Love The Way You Lie”, “Massive Attack”). These men have done most of the production for Candice Pillay’s body of work. She often collaborates with them on other artists’ work including Dumblonde (the electro-dance-pop duo consisting of Danity Kane’s Aubrey O’ Day and Shannon Bex).
I still listen to Candice Pillay’s work in my daily rotation of music, and recently stumbled upon her underground mixtape Powder. Released in 2011, Powder features Candice Pillay singing new verses over the instrumentals of Nicki Minaj’s “Did It On ‘Em” (“Wear My Shades”) and DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One” (“Sex Faces”). The mixtape is promoted by Bangladesh (producer of “Cockiness (Love It)”), who produces a few of the mixtape’s songs. The stand out track is “Smooches” which features a surprise guest appearance from Kelly Rowland. The mixtape is accessible on Datpiff.
I can’t wait to see what else Candice Pillay has in store. Until then, I’ll be following her recording process on Snapchat and Instagram.