Tag: funk

MMYYKK (pronounced “Mike”) is a rising Inland Empire, CA-born, Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. 2019’s highly praised Electro Soul EP found the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based multi-hyphenate artist further establishing a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach that draws from soul, future funk, R&B, hip-hop, jazz and fusion — and seems equally indebted to Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder.

MMYYKK is also an accomplished ambient artist: Last year’s Mellow Moods and Meditations was released to praise. Earlier this year, he produced PASSAGE, a Black mental health and wellness initiative done in collaboration with the folks at Okayplayer. Building upon a busy year, the Inland Empire-born, Minneapolis-based artist will be releasing the Science EP through London-based label Rhythm Section INTL in September.

Science EP‘s first single is the slinky “Divine.” Centered around MMYYKK’s sultry falsetto, glistening synth arpeggios and a strutting bass line, the flirtatious “Divine” sonically will draw comparisons to D’Angelo and Thundercat, as the crafted manages to be effortless yet carefully crafted. Interestingly, underneath the funky grooves, the song is a much-needed and loving ode to Black women. “Black women taught me how to love. Women literally save the world every day. This track was a way for me to express appreciation and sing praises to the women in my life,” MMYYKK explains in press notes.



New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Returns with a Pulsating and Uneasy Banger

2017’s debut EP Cardrive found Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly establishing himself as a perpetually restless genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardive EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NME, i-D, mixmag and others. Adding to a growing profile across Australia, Owusu has opened for Dead Prez, Col3trane, Sampa The Great, Cosmo’s Midnight, Noname, Animé, Ruel and others. 

Last year, the rising Ghanian-born, Aussie-based artist released a handful of highly-celebrated singles including the fiery mosh-pit friendly banger “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRW, KUTX, The Current and Alt98. Those singles prominently appear on Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth.

Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. Callinan, Touch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

ver the course of the past six months, I’ve written about three of Smiling With No Teeth’s singles:

“The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
“Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
“Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles.

that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.”

house, hip-hop and future soul centered around skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, synth arpeggios. industrial clang and clatter paired with Owusu-Anash’s silky falsetto. The track conveys a restless and uneasy energy while being a pure banger.

Directed by directing duo VERSUS (Jason Sukadana and Tanya Babic), the recently released video or “The Fall” was shot in Australia’s Phoenix Central Park, an innovative space for collaboration and live exchange. Throughout the entire video, we see Owusu-Anash bound, restricted or hemmed in. At points we see him desperately attempting to escape and at others, he accepts it. But you can’t help but observe the rising Aussie’s larger-than-life energy and intensity. “There was a real sense of symbiosis on this project, when we first met with Kofi our ideas for the film meshed perfectly with the themes in a track he had just recorded,” VERSUS co-director, Jason Sukadana says. “When Kofi is in the room, you know you are in the presence of greatness. He’s truly one in a billion. His immense talent and groundbreaking vision will resound for generations,” co-director Tanya Babic adds.

Lucas de Mulder is a Madrid-based guitarist, composer and bandleader. de Mulder recalls having The New Mastersounds‘ “Fancy” on heavy rotation during a particularly hot Spanish summer. Interestingly, de Mulder’s debut single as a bandleader — with a backing band of Chris Spies (keys), Nate Edgar (bass) and Alejandro Castano (drums) — “Warm Nights” featuring Color Red label head, New Mastersounds’ creative mastermind and founder and producer Eddie Roberts. Centered around a shuffling reggae riddim, a sinuous bass line and a conversational solos between the pair that sees Roberts passing the proverbial torch to a new generation of artists. But at it’s core the song — to me, at least — evokes a sultry summer night, much like tonight, where you’re desperately trying to keep cool but also enjoying the fact that everyone is wearing a lot less.

de Mulder’s Eddie Roberts-produced debut album as a bandleader is slated eat.for a Fall release.

With the release of their full-length debut, 2016’s Erasing Rock, the Trento, Italy-based soul/funk act Les Juex Sont Funk — currently Michele Bazzanella (bass, sound effects, percussion and production), Carlo Nardi (guitar, talk box, keys, flute, tenor sax, percussion and production), Maurizio Brugnara (keys), Stefano Malchiodi (drums, percussion), Emiliano Tamanani (trumpet, flugelhorn), Lorenzo Sighel (alto sax, soprano sax, rap), Marco Pisoni (tenor sax, baritone sax), Greta Marcolongo (vocals) and Shanthi Kumari Roat (vocals) — quickly established a sound centered around dance floor friendly grooves and propulsive basslines.

Since the release of Erasing Rock, the Italian funk outfit’s lineup has expanded with the addition of its horn section — while still being faithful to the groove. Interestingly. during a writing retreat, the expanded lineup decided to spark their musical chemistry by jamming in the style of acts like The Meters, Shuggie Otis, Roy Ayers, Parliament-Funkadelic and others. They created a groove centered around bass and guitar paired with tight-hitting drums and a touch Latin jazz-like horns. The end result was a composition that spiritually recalled The JBs, James Brown‘s legendary backing band titled “A Tribute to the J.B.s.” Centered around shuffling guitar, a sinuous bass line, funky drumming and a Maceo Parker-like horn line before hitting into its dance floor friendly groove, the song manages to recall the Godfather of Soul’s legendary hit-making period with an uncanny accuracy.

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In 2004, Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought the Leeds-based funk act The New Mastersounds to the States as an opener for Greyboy All-Stars for what would be the acclaimed British act’s first Stateside tour. And as the story goes, Vandenberg took The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader and producer Eddie Roberts out to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on Chicago’s West Side on Roberts’ first night in town to catch local blues legend Omar Coleman, who had been playing Rosa’s for decades. Interestingly, almost two decades later, Roberts would wind up producing Coleman’s forthcoming album Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times.

Slated for release this summer through Roberts’ own Color Red Music, the album’s title is an ode to The New Mastersounds 2001 debut, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds — and in many ways Coleman’s album finds Roberts, an acclaimed musician, bandleader and producer taking on the role of curator and influencer, championing and supporting artists he believes should be heard and love, essentially paying Keb Darge’s support forward to a worthy act.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album title track “Strange Times,” a strutting and gritty synthesis of The Payback-era James Brown funk and Chicago blues featuring a looping bluesy guitar line, bursts of shimmering strings and a funky bass line that would Bootsy Collins‘ proud paired with Coleman’s powerhouse, soulful vocals. Lyrically, the song’s origins can be traced to a series of conversations Coleman had with Roberts during the album’s recording sessions about the bizarre, infuriating and tragic state of America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the exchange between the two kept turning back to the fact that we were all living in very strange times. Coleman took that and ran with it, immediately scribbling out incisive and fiery lyrics that accurately describe life in our very moment with the song talking about the abject poverty, desperation and uncertainty that hardworking and decent folks everywhere face. As the old saying the rich get richer while the poor get sicker.

“Chicago,” Strange Times‘ latest single is a fiery song that hews to Chicago’s beloved blues tradition while brashly refusing to be pigeonholed. Much like its predecessor, it’s a bit of synthesis of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf-like blues and James Brown-era soul featuring an enormous horn line, a blazing harmonica solo and a strutting grove paired with Coleman’s soulful wailing. Starting with Coleman proudly announcing that he’s from Chicago’s West Side, the song talks about the things I love about that city: its a town inhabited by tough, hardworking people, who like countless people across the world are struggling to survive to keep their dignity intact, despite the despair, shittiness and inequity and inequality thrown in their path.

For the album, Roberts recruited an accomplished backing band that features himself, Ghost Light’Dan Africano (bass), Matador! Soul Sounds‘ Chris Spies (keys and organ), Dragondeer’s Carl Sorenson (drums), Lettuce‘s Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Michal Menert‘s Nick Gerlach (sax), Adrienne Short (viola) and Kari Clifton (violin) to help him with a sonic approach that would combine classic blues with funkier blues. And to capture the rawness and immediacy of the material, they recorded it straight to tape on Color Red Studios’ Tascam 388. “I hear Omar’s voice as a cross between Muddy Waters and Charles Bradley,” Roberts says. “I tried to reflect those qualities in music approach and songwriting as well as the way we recorded the album and built the instrumentation of the tracks.

New Video: Acclaimed Ghanian-Aussie Artist Genesis Owusu Releases a Psychedelic and Claustrophobic VIsual for “Same Thing”

So an extreme rarity around here: I screwed up the original post so badly that I needed to re-post it. So apologies to the artists and the publicity team involved in this. My bad y’all. But back to the business at hand . . .

2017’s debut EP Cardrive found Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, 20-something artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly establishing himself as a perpetually restless genre-blurring chameleon with a difficult to pigeonhole sound and approach paired with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling in diverse forms. Cardive EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NME, i-D, mixmag and others. Adding to a growing profile across Australia, Owusu has opened for Dead Prez, Col3trane, Sampa The Great, Cosmo’s Midnight, Noname, Animé, Ruel and others. 

Last year, the rising Ghanian-born, Aussie-based artist released a handful of highly-celebrated singles including the fiery mosh-pit friendly banger “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio — and since then has received airplay in the UK on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRW, KUTX, The Current and Alt98. 

“Smiling With No Teeth is performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly,” Owusu explains in press notes. “Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.” Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. Callinan, Touch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the build up to the album’s release back in March, I’ve managed to write about two of Smiling With No Teeth’s singles:

“The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
“Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 

Smiling With No Teeth’s fifth and latest single “Same Thing” sees the rapidly rising Aussie artist and his collaborators crafting a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, blasts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook paired with Owusu alternating between dexterously spitting densely worded bars and soulful crooning. And while bearing a resemblance to JOVM mainstay Thundercat, the song much like its predecessors thematically tackles mental health struggles.

“When the band and I were creating Smiling With No Teeth, we essentially made 60 hours of music for the album in 6 days,” Owusu recalls in press notes. ““‘Same Thing’ was one of the tracks born from the seemingly limitless SWNT sessions. The track is still in the realm of the album’s themes of mental health (more specifically, the crazy shit the mind makes up), so the video follows suit with a psychedelic barrage of both colourful and claustrophobic imagery.”

Pocket Protection is an instrumental groove project that features a collection of accomplished New Orleans players including — The Revivalists‘ George Gekas (bass), Ed O’Brien (EOB)‘s PJ Morton‘s, Raphael Saadiq’s and Pretty Lights touring musician Alvin Ford, Jr. (drums), Lembo‘s and Deltaphonic‘s Paul Provosty (guitar, production) and Boogie T.Rio‘s and Cha Wa‘s Andrew Yanovski (keys).

Color Red Music will be releasing their debut EP Pocket Protection, Vol. 1 on May 4, 2021. The EP’s latest single “Paul P. Sure” is a strutting number that’s one part Allman Brothers-like Southern fried guitar rock, and one part retro-futuristic Stevie Wonder funk within an expansive and free-flowing jam-band like composition. The song’s origins have an interesting backstory: Originally brought in as a song sketch by the band’s Provosty, the remaining members fleshed it out further when they were all in the studio. The composition pulls some inspiration from The Derek Trucks Band’s “Kickin’ Back,” which interestingly enough, the band played during their first show together.

When it comes to titles, the band likes to play with words and the original title for the song was “Grateful Allmonds,” because the song combines elements of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. They eventually changed the song’s title to “Paul P. Sure,”as a play on the guitarist’s name and Paulie Shore.

“Paul P. Sure defines the intention and essence of Pocket Protection. There were no blueprints or discussions to establish a game plan or any strict guidelines as to what everyone should do or play,” Pocket Proection’s George Gekas explains. “Instead, we relied on intuition and each other to continue to move the music forward. It felt right when we first performed together, made sense in the studio, and will continue to as a collective idea.”

Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.

As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met  Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.

Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.

“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”

My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.

Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good Morning America and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.” 

Back in 2004, Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought the Leeds-based funk act The New Mastersounds to the States as an opener for Greyboy All-Stars for what would be the acclaimed British act’s first Stateside tour. As the story goes, Vandenberg took The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader and producer Eddie Roberts out to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on Chicago’s West Side on Roberts’ first night in town to catch local bluesman Omar Coleman, a local blues legend, who had been playing Rosa’s for decades. 17 years later, Roberts wound up producing Coleman’s forthcoming album Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times.

Slated for release this summer through Roberts’ own Color Red Music, the album’s title is an ode to The New Mastersounds 2001 debut, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds — and in many ways Coleman’s album finds Roberts, an acclaimed musician, bandleader and producer taking on the role of curator and influencer, championing and supporting artists he believes should be heard and loved.

Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times‘ latest single, album title track is a strutting and gritty synthesis of The Payback-era James Brown funk and Chicago blues within a classic 12 bar blues structure featuring a looping bluesy guitar line reminiscent of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, an enormous horn line, bursts of shimmering strings and a funky bass line that would make Bootsy Collins‘ proud paired with Coleman’s powerhouse, soulful vocals. Lyrically, the song’s origins can be traced to a series of conversations Coleman had with Roberts during the album’s recording sessions about bizarre, infuriating and tragic state of America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the exchange between the two kept turning back to the fact that we were all living in very strange times. Coleman took that and ran with it, immediately scribbling out incisive and fiery lyrics that accurately describe life in our very moment with the song talking about the abject poverty, desperation and uncertainty that hardworking and decent folks everywhere face. As the old saying the rich get richer while the poor get sicker.

Roberts’ recruited an accomplished backing band that features himself, Ghost Light’s Dan Africano (bass), Matador! Soul SoundsChris Spies (keys and organ), Dragondeer’s Carl Sorenson (drums), Lettuce‘s Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Michal Menert‘s Nick Gerlach (sax), Adrienne Short (viola) and Kari Clifton (violin) to help him with a sonic approach that would combine classic blues with funkier blues. And to capture the rawness and immediacy of the material, they recorded it straight to tape on Color Red Studios’ Tascam 388. “I hear Omar’s voice as a cross between Muddy Waters and Charles Bradley,” Roberts says. “I tried to reflect those qualities in music approach and songwriting as well as the way we recorded the album and built the instrumentation of the tracks.”