The emotional turmoil of love — its euphoric highs and heart-wrenching lows — comes to life vividly in the much-anticipated debut album from singer-songwriter Xenia Manasseh, Love / Hate Pt. 1. Through an eloquently crafted 11-track narrative, the listener is guided on a rollercoaster journey by navigating love’s uncertainty as depicted through raw and vulnerable lyrics.
Opening with “GI’s Intro,” the album delicately welcomes you with a soft, soulful Swahili song featuring a heartwarming performance by Xenia’s grandfather, Edgar Manasseh. The prelude not only sets the emotional tone for the songs that follow but also paints a vibrant tapestry of Xenia’s heritage. It’s rooted in the coastal province where her family hails from, laying a foundation rich with culture and familial bonds.
The journey takes a poignant turn with the visualizer for the title track, “Love/Hate,” guiding viewers through lush landscapes and encapsulating a blend of sorrow and hope. It’s a glimpse into Xenia’s vision of a brighter future, an ending that leaves listeners yearning for more, a testimony to her artistry that captivates and keeps you on the edge, eager for what’s to come.
Offering insight into the depth of the album, Xenia shares, “I hope that listeners take away that all this stuff is just human. I hope that people allow themselves to feel these things but also know that it’s not the end all be all. These songs were written in 2019, and this is just part one of the album… Everything that you go through is there as a foundation that you learn from, but also to not judge or criticize yourself for things that you did in the moment, especially if you moved past it.”
Below, Xenia Manasseh walks us through each song from Love / Hate Pt. 1. If you’re already a fan of the artist or looking for someone new to add to your playlist, listen to the project below.
“G.I’s Intro” ft. Edgar Manasseh
G.I’s Intro is with my grandfather, Edgar Manasseh. G.I is one of his many nicknames. This one is particularly sentimental because he has influenced so much of my musical journey. I can think of days when I was growing up, and he would teach me how to play things on the piano and his vast musical collection. This feels like I’m fulfilling a dream he once had and never expected would come true.
“Soul lovers see(in)g color, only seeing one another.” Love can be so effortless and colorful. I love love because of that. I’ve often found myself guarded or skeptical every time love approaches, even when it’s right in front of me, but when you know, you know, and regardless, I’ve always and will always take the risk. It only made sense to start off the album trying to translate how colorful love has been for me when I’ve embraced it.
“Late Night Check Up” ft. Shalom Dubas
“Late Night Check Up” was written from my perspective about forgetting what it means to have someone care about me but not even really questioning it when love shows up again because it just feels like it’s the right time and embracing feelings like having butterflies again.
“Southwards” ft. Tay Iwar
“Southwards” is on the more sensual and passionate side of love. What happens after the late-night check-ups become more frequent? Or sometimes what happens as a result of a LNCU. There are so many facets of love to be explored that I think it’s almost impossible to explore or talk about the sexier side of it.
“Anticipate” ft. Karun
Anticipate” is a song that revolves around time. Wanting to move forward from a current state of uncertainty by sort of chasing the feeling of what it used to be. This song lives in the future and the past both in meaning and sonically. From the heavy drum, bass, and percussion combination in the beginning to the laid-back but impactful, orchestral second half. I always said this song felt to me like watching a movie… Nonetheless, it came from a place where neither Karun nor I were afraid to tap into an emotion we have both experienced and simply admit it.
“Temporary Love” strays away from my previous releases that are more centered on heartbreak and the downfall of relationships. The song is me openly admitting to being afraid of love/being in love again and the choices that I made as a result. In this moment of vulnerability, however, I also admit to finally wanting to be done with love that is temporary or fleeting. “I want it to be us, done with temporary love.”
“Cheza Chini Interlude”
“Cheza Chini” translates from Swahili to “Cheza” to “play” and “Chini” to “down” — or “Play it down.” I wanted to do an intro to “Lowkey” to give it a twist and to really play around with building a soundscape with my voice. This, of course, then transitions into “Lowkey,” which is about safeguarding love and wanting to maintain the privacy of a connection.
“Lowkey” is a song about love finding me. It’s an admission of my feelings as well as my request to keep this new love under wraps out of fear of anything sabotaging it. The confusion and surprise you feel when you find yourself falling in love again and the desire to hold on to it and give it space to bloom.
“Niambie” was my first experiment with Swahili on an R&B track. The song is simply an admission of my feelings for someone else and the hope that they feel the same way… Wanting to be wanted.
Precious is about acknowledging your self-worth. Though the song is still centered around relationships, it is one of the few songs that speaks more on self-love and remembering who you are, and not standing for anything or anyone that gets in the way of that.
“Love / Hate”
The title track of the album. Balance is the through line. In life and in love, everything requires balance. It’s a constant push and pull or pendulum swing, and you go from one end to the other, only briefly stopping in the middle each time, and love seems to have been the thing that has taught me acceptance.