Referencing his favorite country cheddar-coated corn chips, Wes Anderson, and the serotonin surge of puppy love, Young Cocoa stirs a sweet forever summer track in Nova.
Wherever one figures in the spectrum of romance, there still exists a great difficulty when an attempt is made to talk about love. Sure, several definitions are rendered as rigor in the dictionary, and of different languages at that, but nothing quite captures the bursting, blissful feeling one gets when hit by Cupid’s arrow. More often than not, one is incapacitated by existential dread when faced with the persisting mystery that befuddles generations. Immortalized in earnest and endearing expressions, from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetic counting the ways (how do I love thee) to the eager explanation of love being better far than any metaphor can ever, ever be in The Fantasticks, no one can truly figure out what makes the heart flutter, the sweat turn cold, and the muscles ache in a smile. And beyond a relentless pursuit, nothing is hopelessly romantic than a love song. Just ask Young Cocoa.
As complicated as it is to comprehend, love starts off simple and unexpected. In his latest exploration of the feeling in musical exposition, the rising Filipino singer-songwriter turns to the unlikeliest of inspirations, his favorite country cheddar-flavored snack. The creation, he explains, “started off of the exploration of a different sound,” which eventually progressed into a song about having an innocent crush. “The title is directly inspired by my favorite snack, Nova, and the use of bossa nova elements in the production,” shares Young Cocoa.
Unlike the smooth soundtrack that compels you to sway your head and swing your hips, the fresh track employs a stirring sense of cool that skews it far from the hotel lobby, café, and seaside it is closely associated to. Yes, the signature saudade still skids through, but instead of a meandering melancholy, Young Cocoa swerves the longing into the more lighthearted.
“We wanted to create a song that was an easy listen, had a lot of bounce, and felt bubbly in the same way the lyrics were written,” explains the first hip-hop artist signed under the pan-regional record label, OFFMUTE. Steadily paced and distinctly slick, the fusion of Filipino and Brazilian sensibilities swell and swoop evenly in the progression of the song, seemingly mimicking the undulating curves of his go-to orange-coated munchies.
“You look like a movie. Wes like Anderson / But adding in the groovy,” eases Young Cocoa in the breezy beginning of Nova. Trailing the success of Zesto and Manila (an apparent completion of a merienda medley), the prolific artist continues to pull from references that intersect multiple points-of-view; resulting in a layered and nuanced telling that adds grit to the overarching giddiness of puppy love. “She just wanna hit me up, I’m talking late night / Holla at me ‘cause we staying up ‘till daylight.”
With its polish and precision in production, the global appeal is crystal clear. In fact, Young Cocoa has already commanded the attention of RM of BTS, Jay of ENHYPEN, Yeri of Red Velvet, Eric of The Boyz, Omega X, Dawon of SF19, and Lia Kim from 1Million Dance Studio among others. But with his lacing of lyrics anchored in childlike nostalgia, countryside daydream, and sharp self-awareness, this third culture kid is certainly making a mark in music.
Just Be Vibing
Beyond just spitting bars, Young Cocoa underscores the Nova experience with a charming visual narrative that immediately calls to mind the diffused daydream and compelling charm of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. “The video is set in sunrise, midday, and sunset, where I basically perform as if I’m talking about/to the person I like,” details the prolific Filipino talent. Excuse us as we hit that play button again and again.
Oh, to be young and in love. Where the initial brush of innocent infatuation eventually settles to what it really is, a surge of serotonin, Young Cocoa cushions the crash with a grown up reminder in Nova to “take your time” and “just be vibing on the ride.” After all, there is a whole lot of love to go around, one that will take on more meaning with every incremental trickle of time. Not too cheesy for a love song after all.