I’ll be honest though; that day she was interviewed in our Philadelphia recording studio was the first time I’d heard about the Only1 from Baltimore.
Still, I could feel her starlight radiating the moment when she walks in. There’s a calm aura draped over her—flowing in waves like the sound of her voice. She enters the control room, and I’ve suddenly forgotten how to greet studio clients; that is, until her then-manager/partner Lee struts in and shakes my hand like I’m important or something.
“Just a ray of f*cking sunshine,” as per her Instagram bio.
And let me tell you… she’s not f*cking lying.
Her bright energy woke me up real quick after Theory’s mellow vibe sent me flying through the clouds. And when the music played, I began to understand why her presence had me in such a daze before.
The way it blasted through those Yamahas across the room, landing gently on the foam panels for ultimate sound clarity. All I could do was close my eyes and feel the waves flow through me. And if I’m honest I was supposed to be taking pictures for Instagram, but there I was, durfing Theory’s wave—Philly style.
Wave n B[ounce]
“Sh*t got so real I don’t even call this rap,” Theory raps nonchalantly on “The Mayor,” a track from her 2013 album titled The Fever.
While it’s clear this young boss is no stranger to spitting bars on her records, there’s something so different about her sound that it needed its own genre to describe the way it flows seamlessly between various styles of music.
Theory’s atmospheric R&B vibe flows like an 808 washing over me with still enough bounce to get me out of my seat. The way she merges genres together has allowed her music to drift into its own entity refusing to confine itself to a single direction—naturally falling into a new style she calls wave n b.
What is wave n b?
“It’s kinda like, wavy,” she says. Her voice soft and smooth like she’s halfway in a dream world. “It’s R&B, but it flows.”
The singer raps and sings more than raps, “but I’m not Whitney Houston,” she adds playfully.
ONLY1THEORY’s 2018 single, “Tattoo” sounds like a call from a midwestern sunset. Her vocals carried by the deep 808 beneath her while drums gallop through the desert. Organ keys melt into the high-pitched sample as synths echo through the sky.
What’s next for ONLY1THEORY?
“I’m currently forcing myself not to record for a week,” she tells me on the phone. Opting instead to spend the week focused on business and rehearsing for her upcoming tour.
“I’m announcing a collab tour coming soon that I’m really excited about,” she says, her voice smiling through the phone though she’s unable to tell reveal who the female collaborator is.
Earlier this year Aria Wunderland’s single “Super Fly” was released featuring Only1Theory, and it was the first female collab I’d heard from the wave-n-b singer. This heavy synth Atlanta trap-influenced pop track creates a wavy vibe that is then brought to a completely new realm of sound.
With barely over a minute left in the four minute song I begin to wonder if Theory even had a full verse on this track.
At last, Theory explodes into the song like the final piece that ends the story. Only staying for thirty seconds, she makes the song I’d once thought wasn’t terrible look like complete garbage set aflame by her stellar verse; the only part of the song I’ll willingly listen to more than once. (Sorry, Aria.)
Flowing in a thousand different directions, the ONLY1 has a song for any mood you could be feeling and it seems intentional.
“I try to see where music fits,” she says of her creative process. Theory aims to achieve balance in her projects, striving to create an experience for the listener rather than simply putting songs on an album “just to be on the album,” she explains.
As an audio engineer, Young Theory knows exactly how she wants her polished records to sound. Reverb softens her vocals as her whispers glide into sweet oblivion. Like you’re “riding the stars,” with her as she blissfully rap/sings in her Aria Wunderland feature.
The flow, cadence and attitude of the hook is a tribute to Cardi B’s single, “Bartier Cardi.” While ONLY1THEORY indulges the same essential arrogance of Bartier Cardi, she smooths it out by bringing the vibes with her celestial vocals.
“Theory pull up in a foreign,” but Theory’s tone is so relaxed it’s almost as if she doesn’t care. She doesn’t need your validation; she’s on a wave whether you believe her or not.
This young talent has a voice that was crafted for listening. She could host a podcast supporting Alt-Right politics and I would tune in just to listen to the sound.
It makes you wonder what it’s like when she’s angry.
The Fundamentals of Sound
During her interview at Lil’ Drummaboy Recordings (LDB), Theory previews a disappointing new mix in our control room.
“He should’ve known better,” she says. “No effort was put into it.”
How can you tell?
“When you listen to music you know how it should sound… he didn’t know that I would know,” she says.
Instead of protecting his reputation and delivering a decent product, this oldhead tried to take advantage of young Theory with a subpar mix she now says, “Can’t be used.”
“I could’ve done that myself,” she says.
It was this independent mindset that lead Theory to learn audio engineering early in her career. As a young female artist growing tired of relying on others to realize her sonic vision, Theory decided to learn how to record, mix and master herself. Starting with Youtube tutorials, she then completed her audio education at the Sheffield Recording Institute in Baltimore, MA.
Theory now creates and engineers music in New York city. Her work can be found on all streaming platforms in addition to her personal website, www.only1theory.com