Tag: Drake

Musings: On Hot 97 Yusuf Hawkins and Racism in Media 

 

I have to interrupt some of my previous editorial plans for the day. I need to get a few things off my chest. I applied to a really cool job at a major magazine. This is a job that I felt I could do with my left-hand tied behind my back. I have 15 years under my belt as a freelancer and blogger, covering an insanely eclectic array of music — and I’ve done this while spending 15 years or so working at three different publishing houses, moving up from being an Editorial Assistant to being an Acquisitions Editor.

I’m extremely nocturnal. “Sleep all day. Up all night,” as a song once said. I woke up at noon today. My mom was talking to me about some news item of the day. I was barely awake and I needed coffee. Before I even had my coffee and while I was still in bed, I started to check my email accounts. Technology is wonderful sometimes, ain’t it? So as I typically do, I went through my blog account. And then I checked my personal email. I received the impersonal form letter rejection from that major magazine. Most of the time, I don’t take it personally. I shrug it off and move on. But this one, it felt like a bit like finding out your partner has been sleeping with your best friend or a relative. And yet, somehow, I wasn’t surprised.

I then went on to Facebook. One Facebook friend is posting infuriatingly dumb things and has been doing so for the past month or two. I ignored her and scrolled down a bit. Then I came across an article an elementary school classmate posted it on his page: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.57484/title.longtime-hot-97-executive-paddy-duke-fired-for-involvement-in-yusef-hawkins-murder?fbclid=IwAR0AfP1_IS_OEGXvRE_I6QgJFsJGtQi6MQ5BiSFd36Kn5Oidt8ypP9f6zqo.

After reading the article, I immediately felt anger, despair and hopelessness. I’ve mentioned this on Facebook as a response to the events of the article and I think it’s important for y’all to read and think about: Two things likely happened with Paddy Duke  — but one of them is probably more likely than the other in my mind:

  • Raucci lied (and an omission is a lie here, too) and went through his life with the desperate an insane hope that no one would find. But every minute and every hour of the past 31 years, he had to live with the fact that he was involved in a heinous crime and with the fear that someone would find out, that someone would out him, that the walls would come crumbling down.
  • Rauuci was connected to someone, who gave him a shot above all the other talented people of color, who have been busting their ass for a shot, then protected him and allowed him to move up the ranks.

 

People have lied about their qualifications for jobs for generations. It was difficult for your employer to find out — and generally no one really bothered to delve that deeply, if you were embellishing a bit and not saying something flat out ridiculous. Over the past 20 years, employers have been following up on jobseekers’ claims: they’ll look Google you and look at your LinkedIn profile; they’ll call your references and ask detailed questions about you and your work. And if somehow, you’re one of the few lucky ones, who may have gotten away with it, it doesn’t last long. Companies have fired people once they’ve find out. (Remember the Notre Dame football coach, who lied about his background? By the following week, the school rescinded their offer.)

So for argument’s say, let’s say that Raucci lied. Maybe in 1994 he might have gotten away with that for a year or two, maybe even five years. But by the time he became a radio personality,  his involvement in a heinous racial crime wasn’t outed by someone? Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice were outed as phonies — before the Internet. Pusha T shouted out  that Drake had a secret baby on a fucking diss track. And you’re telling me that Hot 97 and its corporate office didn’t have a clue that Raucci was one of Yusuf Hawkins’ attackers? Raucci didn’t get outed as he moved up the stations ranks, earning a position of power and authority at the station? How did that continue for over 25 years? You mean no one was curious about the guy and said “Let’s look into him?” Seriously, how does that even happen?

Of course, that leads me to something insidious — and seemingly more likely to have happened to me: Raucci is connected to someone, and that someone not only gave Raucci a shot to redeem himself, that someone allowed the former Hot 97 exec to move up the corporate ranks. There wasn’t some equally qualified person or color without a criminal record that couldn’t have gotten a shot? Who does Raucci know?

There’s no way that Hot 97’s corporate office didn’t have an idea. Out of due diligence, the filmmaker who made the Yusuf Hawkins documentary did their research and confirmed their claims before leaving that in the final cut. Hot 97 and their corporate ownership is full of shit on that.

I’ve freelanced for a nubmer of publications and websites. I started this site over a decade ago while working full-time. The past 15 years I’ve slept very little, worked full-time and then worked hard on making moves. I’ve done JOVM, completely on my own terms. I’m proud of that fact. I’ve obsessed with music since I was a toddler. I’ve played a little bit, too. And when I turned 14, I knew that the only thing that made sense for me was to write. But I have to admit something: lately, I’ve been feeling deeply discouraged.

Sure, being a writer — or any other creative — means enduring through some degree of failure or feeling as though you’re a failure. But when you add unfair, incredibly racist shit to the mix, it just hits differently and on a deeply personal level. I often suspect that some mediocre white person, who’s connected to the right people will get some of these jobs that I’ve long coveted despite my education and my background. I’ve edited fucking  books. Don’t tell me that I can’t edit other music journalists — or that I can’t contribute to a publication.

Look at the staff at some of these websites and publications. If you’re lucky you may see maybe one or two black people on their staff. It makes me wonder how that’s possible. And I dozen wonder if some mediocre white person is getting that key gig, because they know the right people — and not because they’re truly talented or knowledgeable. There have been only a handful of days recently where I felt like everything I did felt profoundly stupid: George Floyd’s death and the protests immediately after and after reading that HipHopDX article today.

My folks gave me the talk when I was about 7. But I’m also not a stupid or naive man either. I’ve lived in the world and been around enough to know that life is really unfair. So I really loathe when organizations and people actively try to insult my intelligence. Don’t bullshit me about how you’re diverse and are down for the cause of Black Lives Matter if you don’t have executives of color or members of the LGBTQIA+ community in real positions of authority.

This story about Raucci and Hot 97 is a constant reminder of how insidious racism is — especially in media and other creative fields. At the end of the day, a lot of these companies are frankly full of shit. Either we’re willing to be better or we’re not. It’s that simple.

 

New Audio: Emerging French Producer Oris Beats Teams Up with Julián Cruz on a Sultry and Atmospheric Single

Oris Beats is an emerging 22 year old Paris-based producer whose work is inspired by R&B, Drake and 40. Interestingly, the emerging French producer can trace the origins of his music career back to when he turned 15: he started bursting with musical ideas whenever he listened to sounds. Since then, the emerging French producer has produced material from a series of equally emerging artists including Kyle Dion’s “Hold On To Me,”  and “Timed Out” Anfa Rose “Talented,” and “Tangier,” and Pso Thug’s “Demoniak 2.” 

Last year, Oris Beats took a trip to Toronto in which he met a series of artists — and he got the idea of working with some of them on his latest EP With You. The EP’s latest single “Won’t Forget,” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, wobbling low end paired with Julián Cruz’s plaintive vocals. The end result is a track that’s sultry yet brooding. 

 

 

Denny Soloist is a rising, Maryland-born singer/songwriter and photographer — and within a week of posting “Not Built For War” on SoundCloud back in 2015, the Maryland native quickly amassed over 10,000 streams. Building upon that momentum, Soloist released his debut mixtape 2016’s Truth or Dare, which featured “Not Built For War” and his official debut single “The Funeral.”

The following year, Denny Soloist released covers of James Arthur‘s “Say You Won’t Let Go” and JoJo‘s remix of Drake‘s “Marvins Room,” which both wound up landing one Apple Music Connect’s Top 200. 2017 also saw the release of his second official single “Out The Window,” a collaboration with rapper Pro-Lific.

The Maryland native then took most of 2018 away from the music industry to focus on his other passion — photography. During that same year, which featured a period of deep, personal reflection, Soloist came to terms with his sexuality, releasing some of his most honest material to date, including last year’s BOYS mixtape.

Soloist begins 2020 with the sultry, trap-influenced banger “Selfish.” Featuring shimmering synths, rapid-fire stuttering beats, wobbling low end and Soloist’s achingly plaintive falsetto, the track details how the song’s narrator ruined a romantic relationship through his own selfishness — cheating on his lover left and right. But the song is centered by a hilarious yet realistic irony: although the song’s narrator admittedly feels badly about his own deceitfulness, he isn’t naive; he’s aware that his lover was doing the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: H.E.R. Performs “Slide” for Vevo

Born Gabriella Wilson, the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as H.E.R. (an acronym for Having Everything Revealed). Wilson first gained attention when she participated in Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing contest in 2009. By 2014, she had signed with RCA Records and released her debut single “Something to Prove” under her birth name. 

Back in 2016, Wilson re-emerged with her current solo project, H.E.R., releasing her debut EP H.E.R. Volume 1, a seven song collection of slow-burning, post-breakup material, which managed to sound both vulnerable and self-assured. RCA Records initially released the effort that September to limited promotion — but the album effort eventually landed at #28 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts thanks in part to social media co-signs from Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller, as well as an attention grabbing cover of Drake’s “Jungle.” Wilson followed-up with 2017’s  similarly styled H.E.R. Volume 2, which debuted at #22 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts. 

Continuing the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, the EPs were soon combined and released as H.E.R. with six additional tracks, including “Best Part,” a #32 R&B/hip-hop hit, previously heard on Daniel Caesar’s Freudian. 

Last year H.E.R. teamed up with pop superstar Khalid for “This Way,” which appeared on the Superfly Soundtrack. That August, Wilson released her third EP, I Used to Know Her: The Prelude, which landed at the top of R&B/hip-hop charts, thanks to the success of “Could’ve Been,” a duet with Bryson Tiller. By the end of the year, Wilson received five Grammy nominations — Album of the year and Best R&B album for H.E.R., Best R&B Performance for “Best Part,” Best R&B Song for “Focus,” and Best New Artist, winning Grammies for Best R&B Album and Performance. 

Since the Grammy Awards, she has collaborated with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Chris Brown on “Come Together,” Jess Glynne on “Thursday,” Ed Sheehan on “I Don’t Want Your Money” and YBN Cordae on “Racks,” “21” and “Slide.” Some of that material was released on the compilation album I Used to Know Her while others were released as stand-alone singles or the albums of her collaborators. She’s also been nominated for five more Grammy Awards at the forthcoming 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, including Best Album and and Record with I Used to Know Her and Song of the Year for “Hard Place.”  

Recently Vevo invited the Grammy Award singer/songwriter and guitarist for a live session that included the two-step inducing “Slide” Featuring a shimmering and strutting neo-soul/classic soul arrangement and an infectious hook, the song is a perfect vehicle for Wilson’s sultry and self-assured vocals and some ambitious yet accessible songwriting. 

 

Born Jennifer Hays, the Tucson, AZ-born, Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion can trace the origins of her music career to when she met her then-future Carissa’s Wierd bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke at the local pizza shop, where they all worked. In 1997, the trio first moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle, where the trio formed Carissa’s Wierd. The band released three albums before splitting up in 2003 — but interestingly, the trio cultivated a rabid cult following, which has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since Carissa’s Wierd’s breakup, the Tuscon-born, Seattle-based Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects such as the guitar and vocal-based pop project S, with which she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. While critics and fans have applauded and gushed over her open-hearted lyrics and willingness to eschew conventions while crafting sad songs meant to be cried to and with. Now, as you may recall, the last half or so of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards an electronic-based sound with “No One”  being a complete embrace of electronics. “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion said at the time. And although she intended to follow up Cool Choices with “a rock record — guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” her plans had changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s music publisher partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for last year’s Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least.

Turntable Kitchen has spent the past few years with the Sounds Delicious vinyl club. Over the course of its 13 previously released editions, a carefully curated collection of bands have released a full-length cover album. Interestingly, Jenn Champion has joined the ranks of an eclectic array of artists — and her cover album, the 14th of the series will find her taking on Weezer‘s 1994 full-length debut, The Blue Album. The first single off Jenn Champion’s The Blue Album cover is an icy, New Wave-like synth-based reworking of “Undone — The Sweater Song.”

Although Champion replaces the fuzzy power chords with layers of shimmering and atmospheric synths and propulsive industrial synth pop-like beats, she retains the song’s enormous and beloved hook creating a modern rework without erasing the original’s social unease, awkwardness and longing. The Jenn Champion cover reminds the listener that despite its release over 25 years ago, it’s a crafted bit of incredibly anthemic fuzzy power pop that manages to still sound contemporary and relevant, which is a rare thing for most of the material released during the same decade.

“I knew I wanted to take a synth heavy approach to this album, and in my mind The Blue Album was pretty straight-forward indie power pop,” Champion says in press notes. “But as I was deconstructing all the parts and putting the songs back together, I realized how much nuanced there is to [Rivers] Cuomo’s songwriting style. It’s a testament to his talent  that he can make an entire record of songs we want to sing along to and don’t realize just how weird those songs are.”

“I will say it was a challenge, a really fun challenge (!) to keep true to what makes these songs so great while putting them through an electronic lens.” 

New Video: Jenn Champion’s Whimsical Rival Crew Dance Off

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, all of which have ben released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S. And with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her recently released full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance pop centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man, keep it going  as best as you can” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

Directed by  Rhea Bozzacchi, the recently released video for “Time to Regulate” is a whimsical and joyous back alley dance off battle royal between two rival crews, one headed by Jenn Champion of course — with the end result being that the two rivals dance together as one fun-loving unit. Underneath the whimsy though is a series of imagery in which a marginalized group bands together for camaraderie and empowerment. 

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a  year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S, and with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her forthcoming full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance music centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man,” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOUR DATES

08.09.18 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
08.10.18 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
08.16.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg T

New Audio: Sampha Shimmering, Dance Floor Friendly Remix of Legendary Malian Vocalist Oumou Sangare’s “Minata Waraba”

Oumou Sangare is a Bamako, Mail-born and-based, Grammy Award-winning,  singer/songwriter and musician, who comes from a deeply musical family, as her mother, Aminata Diakite was a renowned singer. When Sangare was young, her father had abandoned the family, and she helped her mother feed the family by singing; in fact, by the time she had turned five, Sangare had been well known as a highly gifted singer. After making it to the finals of a nursery school talent show, a very young Sangare performed in front of a crowd of 6,000 at Omnisport Stadium — and by the time she was 16, she had gone on tour with a nationally known percussion act, Djoliba.

Sangare’s 1989 debut effort, Moussoulou (which translates into English as “Women”) was recorded with renowned Malian music master Amadou Ba Guindo, and was a commercial success across Africa, as it sold over 200,000 copies. With the help of the world renowned Malian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ali Farka Toure, the father of Vieux Farka Toure, Sangare signed with English record label World Circuit — and by the time she turned 21, she had received an internationally known profile. Interestingly, Sangare is considered both an ambassador of Mali and the Wassoulou region of the country, just south of the Niger River, lovingly referred to as “The Songbird of Wassoulou,” as her music draws from the music and traditional dances of the region while lyrically her work has been full of social criticism, focusing on the low status of women within Malian society and elsewhere, and the desire to have freedom of choice in all matters of one’s life, from who they can marry to being financially independent.

Interestingly, since 1990 Sangare has performed at some of the world’s most important venues and festivals including the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde Festival, Gnaoua World Music Festival, WOMAD, Oslo World Music Festival and the Opera de la Monnaie, while releasing several albums including — 1993’s Ko Sira, 1996’s Worotan and 2004’s 2 CD compilation Oumou. Adding to a growing profile, Sangare has toured with Baaba Mal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans, and she has been named a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1998, won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003.

Mogoya which translates into English as “People Today,” was Sangare’s first full-length effort in over 22 years, and it was released to critical praise from the likes of Dazed, The Fader, The Guardian while making the Best of 2017 Lists of Mojo, the BBC, the aforementioned The Guardian as well as Gilles Peterson — and the album found the renowned Malian artist collaboration with the legendary Tony Allen and French production team A.L.B.E.R.T. and pushing her sound in a new, direction; in fact album single “Minata Waraba” features  Sangare’s gorgeous and expressive voice with shimmering African instrumentation paired with a slick and hyper modern production that emphasizes a sinuous, electric bass line and shuffling, complex polyrhythm that reminds me of a 2013 Fela Kuti tribute compilation, Red Hot + Fela, which featured contemporary artists re-imagining some of the Afrobeat creator’s signature tunes.

Sangare will be releasing the Mogoya Remixed album through Nø Førmat Records today, and the album features remixes of the album’s material by contemporary artists and producers, who have been high profile fans of her work; in fact the album’s latest single is from the British-born and based producer and artist Sampha. Sampha has split his time between solo and collaborative work, and has worked with the likes of SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Jesse Ware, Drake, Beyonce, Kanye West, Solange and Frank Ocean. His full-length debut Process won the Mercury Music Prize last year, and earned him a 2018 BRIT Award nomination for Best British Breakthrough.

Sampha has publicly mentioned his love of Oumou Sangare’s music, explain in press notes, “My dad had a copy of Oumou’s album Worotan and no other album has spoken to me quite like that. Her music has been a huge inspiration ever since and it’s a real honour to have remixed some of her music.” Sampha’s remix retains Sangare’s crystalline vocals but pairs it with a thumping production, featuring tribal house like beats and shimmering arpeggiated synths that while modern, still keeps the song rooted to Africa. Interestingly, Sangare has mentioned being bowled over by Sampha’s remix, saying  “When I first heard Sampha’s remix, I was amazed at the beat. Our rhythmic patterns are not always easy for Western people. But, wow, Sampha’s beat is definitely African, definitely. Listening to it I can tell that Sampha has African blood in his veins. I am really excited by this version, I play it again and again.”

New Video: Catch a Glimpse of The Day-to-Day Life of Colombians in the Visuals for Gabriel Garzón-Montano’s “Bombo Fabrika”

Over the past couple of years of this site’s seven year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, with his work drawing from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul, hip-hop and the wildly adventurous multiculturalism most familiar to native New Yorkers and New Yorkers. Along with that, Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned that his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail. 

Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate, JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded withGarzón-Montano’s mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally,  our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Of course, unsurprisingly, I’ve written about several singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are; and “Sour Mango,” a slow-burning and soulful track, which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths, but underneath the surface, there’s an visceral ache over a love that seems completely unlikely. 

The album’s latest single “Bombo Fabrinka” features a lush and soulful production consisting of shuffling boom-bap-like beats, twinkling keys, and layers of Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals — and while building upon the overall sound of the album, the song reveals an up-and-coming singer/songwriter, who has an uncanny talent for writing a sharp, infectious hook paired with introspective lyrics, based on deeply personal and revealing experiences with love and loss; but interestingly enough as Garzón-Montano explains “‘Bombo Fabrika’ is about the place I go to when I write music. The music is not mine, it flows through me from a source much older and wiser than my body.”

Directed and filmed by Santiago Carrasquilla in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, the recently released music video for “Bombo Fabrinka” is a revealing and cinematically shot glimpse into the day-to-day life of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. And although, the people of the village may be poor, they express a pure joie de vivre that’s absolutely infectious. Garzón-Montano says of the video “Palenque is a magical place — people blasting music and playing drums and singing everywhere — expressing more joy than I’ve seen or felt in my whole life. . . Palenque is famous for originating some styles of Cumbia music. Filming this video in such an energetically potent musical birthplace was an incredible and humbling experience.”