hold me when it’s cold: the sensual sounds of Sam Sonic

Sometimes you press play on a project, listen to it for the entire duration, and can’t help but wonder how much fun the artist had when making said project. This comes in various forms as well: an artist can put together a collection of songs with a plethora of talented musicians when compiling their albums, while others seek a more conceptual approach to their albums and mixtapes. This year, Una Rams found a way to accomplish both of these feats and dropped a mixtape with high replay value. Intending to create a project for the winter, Una keyed in on creating a mixtape with the fitting title hold me when it’s cold.

On The NDL Show, hosted by Nondu Lehutso, Una speaks to working on his debut album, Crush, and playing it for his manager. He spoke to his desire to release it in winter, but his manager disagreed. He then began to work on another project that would be more suitable for winter, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. 

From the first track to the last, Una lets us into a world that he carefully orchestrated – with the help of some of South Africa’s most talented artists. An all-star cast if you ask me, starting with style curator and fashion stylist, Amy Zama, who was influential in the birth of ‘Sam Sonic’ – a captivating character with a distinct look and sound that would soon steal the hearts of many.

Dripped out in Thebe Magugu on the mixtape cover, and sporting colourful silk shirts such as the one on the cover art of next2me, the mixtape’s lead single, Una brought ‘Sam Sonic’ to life in quite elegant fashion. Not only did he execute from a visual perspective, but the decision to lead with next2me, alongside the ever so talented Langa Mavuso, made sense from a conceptual standpoint. As the 25-year-old musician mentioned in a recent interview with Daily Sun, this project was inspired greatly by his time missing his significant other. 

“I wanted to make a beautiful soundtrack for intimate moments. Some songs were inspired by being separated from my girlfriend during the lockdown. She and I usually play R&B and neo-soul from back in the day, which is what inspired most of the projects,” he said.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the mixtape’s lead single starts with sweetly sang lyrics such as “I want you next to me, desperately / Baby, please.” It is a record that does a job of setting the mood, while next2me is more of a soulful number, btb is a certified bedroom banger.

Alongside Blxckie, one of the hottest commodities in South African music this year, Una showed us the different sonic pockets he gets into on this project. As you let the entire mixtape play through, you hear production from the likes of London Rhodes, Qin, MashBeatz, Phonikz, Rillo and Kiss Beatz, to name a few. They all maintained the sonic texture needed to execute this concept. In doing so, they also blessed us with a tape that will get a lot of spins.

hold me when it’s cold achieved its mandate. It is a sweet dedication to his girlfriend. It is the winter project that he always wanted to make. It is also such an easy listen. Records such as cut the lights and rendezvous are great tone-setters whenever you feel like setting the perfect mood. Una also intricately added audio clips on certain songs to further emphasise the sensual atmosphere on the mixtape, such as the use of the person speaking French at the beginning of rendezvous. A funny one is the “p***y all over your face” clip that made the rounds on Twitter. You can hear that one at the end of the song and get a good chuckle out of it. 

This mixtape may have come as a happy mistake, but it is one we should be grateful we received. Una had a concept in mind and executed it with great thought and pleasure. Now, whenever there is a drop in temperature and you feel like sending that “Come over” text, you have the perfect soundtrack for it. Or, you could be like Una, missing your significant other and longing for their presence, you have the perfect soundtrack for that. I mean, we all would like someone to have and to hold, but especially when it’s cold. We now have the perfect soundtrack for that.