Tag: Gil Scott-Heron

New Video: Thievery Corporation Side Project The Archives Set to Release a Reggae Tribute to Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron was a singer/songwriter, poet and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his influential work between the late 1960s and early 80s, which meshed jazz, blues, soul and funk with spoken word and poetry. Lyrically, his work focused on the sociopolitical issues of the Black community, delivered in a style that sort of resembled rapping; in fact, much ink has been spilled on how Scott-Heron’s breakthrough works Pieces of a Man (particularly, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” ) and Winter in America, have had a momentous influence on contemporary music, particularly on hip-hop and neo soul. 

Sadly, during the last decade of his life, Scott-Heron battled drug addiction and as a result  had several stints in and out of prison; however, he managed to remain to be a remarkably prolific artist, writing and recording when he was able. Just before he died, the legendary and influential poet and musician released the critically praised album I’m New Here and finished work on a memoir, which was published posthumously. Interestingly, before he died, he went into the studio and recorded extremely stripped down versions of some of his best known and beloved material, accompanied on piano with no overdubbing or extra studio production that was largely unreleased and unheard until XL Recordings released the material as Nothing New on what would have been the legendary artist’s 65th birthday.  

Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton along with Darryl “Trane” Burke started The Archives as a quest to explore the roots of reggae music. The project’s 2012 self-titled debut was released to critical acclaim. Seven years have passed since their debut, but Burke and Hilton have teamed up to co-produce reggae tribute album celebrating the work of Gil Scott-Heron and his longtime collaborator Brian Jackson that will be released through Hilton’s new label Montserrat House. So what’s the connection between reggae and Gil Scott-Heron, you may be asking? Well, Scott-Heron’s father Gilbert was a famous Jamaican soccer player, who wound up being the first Black player in Scotland’s Celtic League, so the album in some way celebrates the influential poet’s Jamaican heritage, while highlighting his still relevant reflections and thoughts on social justice and chance. “Like Gil’s compositions, reggae contains elements of jazz and soul,“ says Hilton. “It’s the perfect backdrop to Gil’s revolutionary pan-Africanist lyrics.” The album also will feature contributions from Jamaican dub poet Mutabaruka; R&B soul singer Raheem DeVaughn; percussionist Larry McDonald, who was once a member of Scott-Heron’s backing band Amnesia Express; Addis Pablo, the son of reggae legend Augustus Pablo; Kenyatta Hill, the son of Culture’s Joseph Hill; and Brian Jackson, Scott-Heron’s longtime collaborator. 

Released on 1971’s Pieces of a Man, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” may arguably be one of the most heartbreaking and chilling depictions of the hopelessness of life in the Black ghetto and the toll it takes on the song’s narrator and his neighbors. Centered around a brooding and strutting 70s singer/songwriter soul arrangement, the song fits in perfectly with its time, recalling What’s Going On-era Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers — but with a restless bitterness and disillusionment that should feel unsettling to those who are sensitive to the plight of their fellow humans. Seeing its release on what would have been Scott-Heron’s 70th birthday, The Archives first Gil Scott-Heron tribute album single “Home Is Where The Hatred Is,” is a shuffling and brooding reggae version of Scott-Heron’s famous track, featuring Thievery Corporation’s St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands-born vocalist Puma Ptah. And while putting a subtle spin on a familiar and well-known song, The Archives manage to retain the song’s still-relevant emotional weight — it’s bitter, disillusionment and frustration. While many Americans — particularly, Whites — may think reggae is all good times and smiles by the beach, reggae has always been protest music, describing the deplorable conditions, frustrations, hopes and dreams of some of the world’s proudest yet poorest people. Let both versions remind you of the dashed hopes, expectations and dreams of those in the South Bronx; Jamaica, Queens; Baltimore; Chicago’s South Side; Gary, IN; Newark, NJ; Camden, NJ; Ferguson, MO; and countless similar places across the country. Isla

The recently released video is split between footage of Puma Ptah walking through the abandoned apartments and dirty alleyways of the hood, and Ptah with the members of The Archives recording the song in the studio and performing it. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays ESCORT Team Up with NYC Disco Legend Fonda Rae on a Glittering and Joyous Club Anthem

Throughout this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written a lot about the New York-based electro pop/dance music act and longtime JOVM mainstays ESCORT. Initially founded by production team Eugune Cho and Dan Balls and featuring powerhouse vocalist and bassist Adeline Michele as a core members of an act that routinely expanded from anywhere from 5 to 17 members, the acclaimed pop act have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from classic disco, house music, soul and funk. Adding to a still-growing profile, the members of ESCORT have played across North America’s festival circuit, including sets at Sasquatch Festival, Okeechobee Festival Montreal Jazz Festival, Full Moon Festival and others — and have shared stages with The Internet, Charles Bradley, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Cody ChesnuTT.

Since the release of the longtime JOVM mainstays last single “Josephine,” the group has gone through a major lineup change with the act’s longtime vocalist Adeline leaving to pursue a solo career, and eventually being replaced with new vocalist Nicki B, who contributes both lead and backing vocals. Unsurprisingly, ESCORT’s long-awaited album City Life, which is slated for an April 12, 2019 finds the acclaimed electro pop act may arguably be their most expansive and collaborative album they’ve worked on and released to date, as the album features guest spots from longtime Gil Scott-Heron collaborator Brian Jackson; NYC disco and soul legend Fonda Rae, best known for her classic single “Over Like a Fat Rat;” renowned dub producer Lone Ranger; and their long-time vocalist Adeline, who appears on several tracks. Sonically speaking, the album reportedly finds the band attempting to evoke the kinetic and frenzied energy of New York — with the album’s material drawing from dub, house music, Brazilian pop and disco made for turning up with your headphones while commuting or while burning up the club. 

City Life’s first single, album title track “City Life” features the legendary Fonda Rae teaming up with the act’s new vocalist Nicki B on the glittering disco banger. Centered around glistening and shimmering arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, stuttering drum programming and a motorik-like groove, the track sonically may remind some listeners of a seamless synthesis of Fonda Rae’s classic tunes, Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Ain’t Nobody,” 80s synth funk and classic house music — with a hedonistic thump. “We tried to put something together evoking the feeling of Fonda’s records,” Eugene Cho says in press notes, about collaborating with Fonda Rae. “We were nervous to send it to her—here’s something that’s inspired by you!—but she was totally into it. It was great.”

Directed by Bridget Barkan, the recently released video captures a night out with Escort’s Nicki B that includes meeting up with a buddy, goofing off as you ride the subway to meet the rest of the crew and heading to your favorite club to shake your ass all night to some dope DJs, followed by a stop at the diner (inevitably in this case, Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg) and a sleepy yet satisfied subway ride back home. It captures a wild night on the town, full of fun and possibility. 

With the release of her attention grabbing debut single “Lemons & Limes,” which focuses on the relationship between the police and young people, the London-born and-based singer/songwriter and businesswoman Mina Rose has quickly developed a reputation for socially conscious songwriting and a sound that draws from and meshes trip-hop, dub, hip-hop and soul (in particular, the work of Gorillaz, Massive Attack, Gil Scott-Heron, Outkast and Lily Allen), as well as her own background — her mother’s side of the family claims Roman ancestry, including the famous “Queen of Kent Gypsies,” Urania Boswell Lee. Adding to a growing profile, Rose has collaborated with the likes of Tricky and Conducta, has played a set at The Great Escape Festival, and has received airplay from the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, as well as nods from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.

Reportedly, the up-and-coming British artist’s forthcoming EP London Burning finds her translating her own experiences of a changing community into material that’s rooted into present day paradoxes, as well as the consciousness of history and hierarchy in British society.  The EP’s latest single is the incredibly cinematic and moody track “Paradise,” which is centered around a Massive Attack and Tricky-like production consisting of soaring strings, stuttering beats and Rose’s ethereal yet sultry vocals — and while seemingly effortless, the song may arguably be among the most ambitious track of her young career. As the British singer/songwriter explains in press notes, “When I visualise the idea of someone getting lost in their own thoughts, I imagine them sitting in a room with red walls,” says Mina Rose. “Paradise’ focuses on our want to make this life as perfect as we can by finding escape, and the fact that a lot of the time it might appear that the easiest way to do that is to shut the world out: whether that’s from taking something heavy or cat fishing online to whatever vices you explore within the four walls of your own space, so as to tackle your demons. ‘Paradise’ is about the idea that if heaven and hell exist on earth, then finding your own heaven here in hell would be the greatest heaven of all.”

New Video: Brass Against the Machine Returns with a Funky Cover of RATM’s “Guerrilla Radio”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine, and as you may recall, the act currently comprised of founding member Brad Hammonds (guitar, arrangement), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, arrangement), Darius Christian (vocals, trombone), Sophia Urista (vocals), Mariel Bildsten (trombone), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Oskar Stenmark (trumpet), Steven Duffy (sousaphone), the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine specializes in covering protest music but with a unique sound and approach, as their sound meshes rock, alternative rock, hip-hop and New Orleans brass — and for repertoire that features covers of Rage Against the Machine, Living Colour, Gil Scott-Heron, Jane’s Addiction, A Tribe Called Quest, Led Zeppelin and a list of others.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0kJLW2EwMg&w=560&h=315]

The band is prepping for a series of live shows in the NYC area, which you can see below — and to build up buzz for those shows, the collective released an incredibly funky brass-backed interpretation of Rage’s “Guerrilla Radio” — and with vocalist Sophia Urista confidently taking filling the vocal role of Zack de la Rocha, there’s a decided and forceful reminder that women have long been the heart, soul and moral backbone of any resistance movement against corrupt and venal power — but also serves as a reminder, that music is a powerful weapon.

Live Footage: Check Out Brass Against the Machine’s Swaggering Cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of”

Currently comprised of founding member Brad Hammonds (guitar, arrangement), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, arrangement), Darius Christian (vocals, trombone), Sophia Urista (vocals), Mariel Bildsten (trombone), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Oskar Stenmark (trumpet), Steven Duffy (sousaphone), the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine specializes in covering protest music but with a unique sound and approach, as their sound meshes rock, alternative rock, hip-hop and New Orleans brass — and for repertoire that features covers of Rage Against the Machine, Living Colour, Gil Scott-Heron, Jane’s Addiction, A Tribe Called Quest, Led Zeppelin and a list of others; in fact, they recently released an attention grabbing mashup of Beyonce’s “Freedom” with Rage’s “Freedom,” which you can check out below.

However, what I wanted to call your attention is to Brass Against the Machine’s  cover of one of my favorite Rage track’s “Killing in the Name Of,” which retains the original’s forceful and righteous fury while adding a swaggering and bombastic horn line; and interestingly enough, having a woman fill Zack de al Rocha role should remind the listener — or in turn, the viewer — that women always have long been the heart, soul and moral backbone of any resistance against power. And just as important, let this cover also serve as a reminder that music is arguably one of the most powerful weapons we have. 

The band is current prepping for their live debut at Brooklyn Bowl on December 18.