July 15, 2019
This article originally appeared on Indie Music Reviews
Written by Jamie Morse
Gino McKoy is a newcomer to the entertainment business, but he’s sounding like a seasoned pro in “Sensy Girl,” one of the featured songs from his forthcoming film debut Lumina and star single of its soundtrack. “Sensy Girl” is a smooth cocktail of hip-hop and urban pop, and although it employs similar themes to what one might find when browsing mainstream R&B tracks this summer, it by no means blends into the crowd. Both the music video and the song itself are elegantly produced and undeniably evocative on multiple fronts, which isn’t usually the case for a first timer in this medium.
The bassline in this track is larger than life, but it’s curbed by a well-defined EQ that prevents the low-end tonality from spilling into overindulgent territory. McKoy was wise to take a conservative approach to this mix – his vocal is such a strong entity in its own right that, were there any more of an instrumental presence in the chorus, we might not have been able to appreciate the depth of his range as a singer. His execution is relaxed but always on-point, and there’s scarcely a moment where he sounds unrehearsed or out of sync with the beat.
This mix is quite refined, but there are a couple of elements (namely the synth parts) that have a slightly abrasive texture that I suspect was deliberately left as-is. If there’s one thing that I hate more than anything else in a rookie single, it’s creative overcompensation, but McKoy never tries to varnish over his rough edges in this song; contrarily, he celebrates them. This alone makes “Sensy Girl” sound and feel honest, organic and a lot more tangible than the artificial nonsense that some of his closest rivals in the underground would try to sell audiences.
Whether we’re watching the cerebral music video or just listening to the song in its standard form on the Lumina EP, the main attention-grabber is always the mammoth pop hook that holds everything together in “Sensy Girl” like superglue. The video dabbles in mild psychedelia and drops some understated references to the motion picture that inspired it, but as spellbinding as its shots are, the music is what keeps us on the edge of our seats more than anything else. This is a potently melodic means of introducing himself to the world, but judging from the way that Gino McKoy carries himself here, it’s just a glimpse at what he has in store for fans in the future.
Hip-hop and R&B are at critical junctures in their individual (but equally storied) histories, and I don’t think there’s any debate about whether or not both genres are going to be defined by underground artists like McKoy and Diamond as the 2010s come to a close. “Sensy Girl” is a provocative piece that amalgamates some of the most treasured elements of the two styles into a singular sonic force to be reckoned with, which is something that many songwriters have tried to do in the last couple of decades, but few – if any at all – have been able to actually pull off.