If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past few weeks you may have remembered coming across a post on Boulevards, the solo recording project of Jamil Rashad. As the son of renowned, jazz radio DJ, Jamil Rashad grew up in musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged, and as a result Rashad listened to jazz, blues, R&B and funk. When he was in his teens, the North Carolina-based Rashad became a self-confessed “scene kid” and got into punk, hardcore and metal, which he admits later influenced his own solo production work.
After attending art school and playing in a couple of local bands, Rashad wound up returning to the sounds that first captured his heart and imagination — funk. And Rashad began writing and recording what he has described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move” under the moniker of Boulevards. And as expected, the project draws heavily from the classic funk sounds of Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, Rick James, Chic, as well as The Talking Heads and Grace Jones. But Rashad also adds his name to a list of a growing neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes acts like Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson (in particular, “Uptown Funk“) and others.
“Sanity,” the second and latest single off Rashad’s soon-to-be released debut effort as Boulevards, continues the straightforward party funk of “Got To Go” as it sounds like what would happen if Nile Rodgers and Quincy Jones got together to produce Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson, as the song is comprised of angular, funk guitar chords, a sinuous bass line, a propulsive rhythm section, undulating synths and an infectious hook paired with Rashad’s silky vocals. Sonically, the song sounds as though it could have easily been released at any point between 1976-1983. Interestingly, much like the EP’s previously released single, “Sanity” possesses an urgent, sweaty, carnal desire.
Whereas “Got To Go” was a both a come-on and a kiss-off towards someone, who the narrator realizes isn’t really worth his time, while evoking a hookup that’s gone on way longer than expected, “Sanity” is about obsessive lust — the sort where you see some pretty young thing on the dance floor and you immediately know that you want them right now, and it’s driving you insane because you don’t know what else to do. Of course, that sentiment has to be paired with a club-banging funk song.