Mali Michael, a 20-year-old singer from North London is premiering his debut track “Ghost” on Pigeons & Planes today. The soulful singer owes a clear debt to Prince, but he manages to return on the investment by incorporating swaying reggae rhythms and slightly ominous electronic house beats into his sound. Instead of addressing the supernatural in the song, Michael instead mourns a haunting relationship that lingers on. The repeated refrain “never give up the ghost” gains an eerie feel when funneled through a fading autotune filter.
For his initial foray into music, Mali’s sound feels honed and sharpened, like an artist who knows exactly where he wants to go. As a musician who can claim an eclectic heritage—Jamaican, Filipino, German and Welsh, and this young producer and singer knows how to blend disparate elements. And based on this first single, it sounds like he has the skill necessary to get there. File this kid next to Disclosure, Dornik, Sam Smith and Jessie Ware—his powerful voice and the excellent production on this track suggest he’ll soon be joining their ranks.