Emory Senior Produces Album, Gives a ‘Clear’ New Look at R&B

Gozuieta Business School senior Davion Colbert, under his stage name Zai Air, has released his first album Clear. The album is full of soulful songs set to the rhythm of college life and the purposeful musings of a wise youth. Clear pulls in listeners with its mesmerizing themes and soothing imagery.

Zai Air said inspiration for the album came after a year of loss. Creating the album allowed him to express himself spiritually and emotionally.

“My inspiration was me reaching a place of clarity and freedom in my life to a point where I was able to be more honest with myself and others than I had been in a long time,” Colbert said. “Ultimately, I wanted to share that, which is why the album is called Clear.”

Clear is a very deep, introspective album with powerful lyrics and neo-soul tunes produced in various college dorm rooms. Zai Air is in conversation with his listeners, with songs discussing the concerns of youth and the search for purpose. The song “Gold Mind” in particular highlights youthful striving, as well as the need to overcome vices and distractions. Zai Air croons that he’s “chained between the dark and the light…looking for sanity.”

The album alternates between this restlessness and more comforting love songs, such as “Air” and “Gift.” These songs are R&B goodies with romantic lyrics and sweet piano riffs, with Zai Air offering peace and tranquility on “Air” and “a lifetime of love” on “Gift.” The tune “Portrait” centers on a female love interest. Zai Air professes his hope for happiness, but the song also stresses a desire for time. Zai Air needs time to chase his dreams and focus on his first love: music.

Zai Air began producing music at the age of 16, which was also his freshman year at Emory.

“As I got to college, music became a safe haven for me and I began writing songs,” Colbert said. “I got my first keyboard during freshman year, and I started producing then. A year later, I began mixing, as I learned that sonic quality was just as important as everything else.”

The music on Clear is complex and pensive, complementing the lyrics. Zai Air nicely mixes electronica and R&B, integrating piano and guitar with cool beats. The music is relaxed, as is the minimalist imagery of the tracks.

Zai Air’s songs are pure poetry, especially the title song and album climax “Clear,” which is essentially a spoken word poem over a gorgeous blues backdrop. Zai Air discusses the need for clarity and purpose, encouraging humanity to “be the crystals that we are” and set aside our own personal hindrances. “Clear” fades out and the music comes to the forefront on the following instrumental track “Free.”

Zai Air was not the only Emory student involved in the production of this album. College junior Ibrahima Diallo assisted in engineering sound, and College junior Jovonna Jones contributed background vocals.

As Zai Air considers the future, he is focused on making it in the music world, in an artistic and business sense. He also hopes for personal growth.

“I just hope to live my life as an honest man, embodying passion and love,” he said. “I want to serve the world and enable others to live lives where they can also do what they love and spread the spirit of passion to the globe.”

Zai Air’s determination and passion certainly come across on his first album. The album will be available to the public on iTunes, Spotify and record stores around Atlanta. Listeners are sure to feel refreshed and encouraged after hearing Zai Air’s powerful songs. This much is Clear.

— By Jordie Davies