With their first single of the year, Sudanese-but-global collective The C!rcle are back with a bang. Consisting of Aidyproof, G-Salih, Eaz Da Bully, and AKA Keyz, the group are underground favourites, with a loyal fan base that transcends borders. Lyrically skilled, conceptually creative with their songwriting, and diverse in their delivery and vocal styles, The C!rcle first became renowned for a more conscious approach in their tracks. With songs like ‘Way Back’, ‘Love A Li’l’, and ‘Sin-See-Er’ and ‘Almost Home’, fans grew to love them for their introspectiveness, often covering relatable topics regarding personal growth, and persevering in the face of doubt. That being said, their talents are often disposed to feel good tracks, like their most recent release, ‘Down 2Nite’, ‘Big Whip’, and ‘Smile’.

Now, The C!rcle are back with their latest single ‘Distance’ – a release that not only triggers an endearing familiarity in its thought-provoking subject matter, but one that exemplifies the collective’s growth both as songwriters and as a cohesive musical unit. The track sees each artist interpret the word “distance” through their own personal experiences. The concept is explored within different abstracts: ‘distance’ from people, ‘long-distance’ relationships, ‘distance’ from oneself, distance from healing – as always, The C!rcle achieve the challenging feat of stretching a single, simple concept, across a variety of channels. This, perhaps, is what makes their music so relatable. The fact that anyone, in any situation, can relate to each bar and each artist in whatever way hits home.

G-SALIH takes on the hook for the song, displaying an impressive range in vocals. A little known fact, but G-SALIH, known for his barking rap voice, can sing. And sing he does, layering an uncharacteristically soft tone with stunning harmonies and background vocals that belie an in-depth understanding of musicality. AKA Keyz, Aidyproof, and Eaz Da Bully complete the track with a 16 each, in that order.

AKA Keyz kicks off the song with a verse that might surprise listeners who know him more for his cheery disposition and cutting-edge braggadocious bars. ‘Distance’ sees AKA Keyz take a close look in the mirror, revealing the distance he feels from his own higher-consciousness. In the track, AKA Keyz battles the low, reflecting on a failed past relationship: “She needed someone to rely on/It wasn’t compatible both of them fallible/But the world let ‘em be bygones”; and an estranged relationship with his family, somewhat contributing to his  dependency on unhealthy coping mechanisms, “And my family try give my assistance/I don’t want I been smoking like Incense/Marijuana been all in my system/Compensate for the love I don’t give them/With this alcoholism addiction.”

This leads into G-SALIH’s (singing) verse, where he goes off of his hook, elaborating on the concept of distance in the context of, it seems, a long distance relationship. “Close sometimes don’t fill these holes/How deep it go? I’m lost/No reason why I can’t pick up a phone/It’s seasons now between us both, I know/Growing distant or close? I need to know.” Aidyproof follows on this interpretation of the theme with classic potent Aidyproof-esque bars: “Blinded by love so I’m teaching you brail/Your love is the water my heart is the well.” Here, Aidyproof demonstrates his skill with bending language to his will, with wordplay that speaks volumes.

Eaz Da Bully anchors the track, touching upon distance from friends and loved ones. “See the celly don’t ring no more matter fact I ain’t heard from the brothers that I grew with/Been about 6, 7 months nowadays I don’t really really know who I’m cool with/I don’t really know who I’m stuck with/So upset, 20 year bonds I don’t know who to trust yet.” Here, Eaz Da Bully delves into his seemingly limitless pool of reflective writing, sharing his thought process and perspectives in confident flow and carefully curated writing that uses simple words to convey complex emotions.

All in all, with ‘Distance’, The C!rcle seem set for an incredible year. Listen to the full track below.