Tag: John Legend

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood. 

Advertisements

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

 

Livia Blanc is a French-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who specializes in a subtly modern take on 60s-inspired, cinematic pop that mischievously nods at the likes of   Edith Piaf, Portishead and Melanie DeBlasio; in fact, the French-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s second and latest single, “Mr. Hyde,” which was produced and cowritten by The Chevin‘s Coyle Girelli and Andrew Horowitz, who has cowriting credits with Jidenna, Verite and John Legend, finds Blanc cooing in a coquettish French over a breezy yet mischievously anachronistic featuring strummed ukulele, whistling, polyrhythmic beats and soaring synths. But despite the song’s ethereal quality, the song reportedly explores the inner duality of good and evil that we all have, reminding the listener that we’re all capable of good and evil at any particular moment. Fitting for the Halloween season, indeed!

 

 

New Video: The Cosmic and Symbolic Visuals for Cody ChesnuTT’s “Image of Love”

With the release of his critically praised 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, singer/songwriter and guitarist Cody ChesnuTT was universally hailed as a modern-day soul troubadour with many critics comparing his work to the likes of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, largely because of his frank and socially conscious songwriting focusing on modern Black life. Interestingly, The Headphone Masterpiece was released at the height of the neo-soul movement, which included Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and a lengthy list of others — all of whom proved that artists could still release deeply personal, thoughtful, socially conscious work that was fairly successful both critically and commercial successful. In the case of ChesnuTT, his closest brush with mainstream success was a collaborative remake of “The Seed,” “The Seed 2.0,” which appeared on The Roots’ Phrenology released at the end of 2002.

After the commercial and critically success of “The Seed,” ChesnuTT abruptly disappeared from public view for the better part of a decade, a period in which the singer/songwriter and guitarist spent time raising children and in writerly fashion, reflecting, observing, loving and living. Naturally, those experiences informed and influenced 2012’s Landing on a Hundred, an effort that linked contemporary Black soul and pop with the classic work of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, as Hundred thematically focused on a man’s road to redemption after years of womanizing, drugging and scheming, of the power of a love that eclipses superficial and material expressions of love and devotion and of the power of being truthful to one’s self.

Since the release of Landing on a Hundred, ChesnuTT has been rather productive as he’s contributed to the soundtracks of the Oscar Award-winning major motion pictures 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandela, and writing the material that would comprise his recently released third album, My Love Divine Degree. Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that I wrote about My Love Divine Degree‘s second single “I Stay Ready” an uplifting call to positivity in the face of tremendous adversity — and while further cementing his reputation for crafting frank, earnest songs, the production work of Anthony “Twilite Tone” Khan, a BMI Award, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and DJ, who has worked with Kanye West, Common, John Legend and Pusha T pushes sonic boundaries as it meshes beat-based hip-hop and soul.

The album’s latest single “Image of Love” continues in a similar vein as ChesnuTT’s soulful crooning is paired with a genre blurring production that features wobbling synths, big tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a slick hook in what may arguably be one of the funkiest and most hip-hop leaning songs ChesnuTT has released in several years. Interestingly, the single much like the material on the album is “inspired by a story of a Man and Woman that exercised their ability to rise about their arresting selfishness — to attain a higher level of communication — that they might willing share in the love of eternal life . . . all to simply win the hearts of men, woman and children to better things,” as ChesnuTT explains in press notes. And much like it’s preceding single, it’s a desperately needed bit of uplift in dark, fucked up times.

Featuring gorgeous, psychedelic and cosmic line animation by Konee Rok that includes Cody Chesnutt walking through the woods and the cosmos, playing his Gibson and singing, kids running and playing in the woods, while nodding at the album’s and song’s themes about the differences between selfish and superficial love, and the sort of love that truly connects you with others and the larger universe.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the last year or so, you’ve likely come across a reference to Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, a highly acclaimed, Chicago, IL-born, Brooklyn-based classically trained trumpeter, who has been mentored by Wynton Marsalis and Ramsey Lewis, and has collaborated with an incredibly diverse array of renowned artists including Santigold, Ski Beatz, John Legend, Talib Kweli, Cee-Lo Green, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Musiq Soulchild, Tedeschi Trucks Band (with whom he won a Grammy in 2012 for Best Blues Album), Wyclef Jean, Santana and a growing list of other equally impressive artists. And although he may be classically trained, as a solo artist and bandleader, Brown’s work draws from contemporary hip-hop, funk, neo-soul while nodding at jazz’s classical tradition — namely the work of Louis Armstong, as Brown will freely rhyme and sing during his compositions, essentially pushing the sound of contemporary jazz towards new directions without forgetting its origins.

The Mood is Brown’s latest album of original compositions and the album’s second and latest single, album title track “The Mood” is a swaggering composition that manages to draw from contemporary soul, smooth jazz, Miles Davis’ famous modal compositions — in particular, Kind of Blue, Davis’ jazz fusion period and hip-hop in a seamless and funky composition that allows enough room for each musician to strut, show their stuff and expand upon the composition’s smooth flowing melody. And if the one that that’s certain, Brown will cement himself as arguably one of contemporary jazz’s most exciting and ambitious composers and artists with an imitable sound and approach.

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of his critically praised 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, singer/songwriter and guitarist Cody ChesnuTT was universally hailed as a modern-day soul troubadour with many critics comparing his work to the likes of Marvin GayeCurtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, largely because of his frank and socially conscious songwriting focusing on modern Black life. Interestingly, The Headphone Masterpiece was released at the height of the neo-soul movement, which included Erykah BaduJill Scott, The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def,  and a lengthy list of others — all of whom proved that artists could still release deeply personal, thoughtful, socially conscious work that was fairly successful both critically and commercial successful.  In the case of ChesnuTT, his closest brush with mainstream success was a collaborative remake of “The Seed,” “The Seed 2.0,” which appeared on The Roots’ Phrenology released at the end of 2002.

After the commercial and critically success of “The Seed,” ChesnuTT abruptly disappeared from public view for the better part of a decade, a period in which the singer/songwriter and guitarist spent time raising children and in writerly fashion, reflecting, observing, loving and living. Naturally, those experiences informed and influenced 2012’s Landing on a Hundred, an effort that linked contemporary Black soul and pop with the classic work of  Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, as Hundred thematically focused on a man’s road to redemption after years of womanizing, drugging and scheming, of the power of a love that eclipses superficial and material expressions of love and devotion and of the power of being truthful to one’s self.

 

 

Since the release of Landing on a Hundred, ChesnuTT has been rather productive as he’s contributed to the soundtracks of  the Oscar Award-winning major motion pictures 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandelaand writing the material that would comprise his third, full-length effort, My Love Divine Degree slated for a June 2, 2017 release. Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you may recall that I wrote about My Love Divine Degree‘s second single “I Stay Ready” an uplifting call to positivity in the face of tremendous adversity — and while further cementing his reputation for crafting frank, earnest songs, the production work of  Anthony “Twilite Tone” Khan, a BMI Award, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and DJ, who has worked with Kanye West, Common, John Legend and Pusha T pushes sonic boundaries as it meshes beat-based hip-hop and soul.

The album’s latest single “Image of Love” continues in a similar vein as ChesnuTT’s soulful crooning is paired with a genre blurring production that features wobbling synths, big tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a slick hook in what may arguably be one of the funkiest and most hip-hop leaning songs ChesnuTT has released in several years. Interestingly, the single  much like the material on the album is “inspired by a story of a Man and Woman that exercised their ability to rise about their arresting selfishness — to attain a higher level of communication — that they might willing share in the love of eternal life . . . all to simply win the hearts of men, woman and children to better things,” as ChesnuTT explains in press notes. And much like it’s preceding single, it’s a desperately needed bit of uplift in dark, fucked up times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of his critically praised 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, singer/songwriter Cody ChesnuTT was universally hailed as a modern-day soul troubadour with many critics comparing his early work to the likes of Marvin GayeCurtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, thanks in part for frank and socially conscious rumination on modern Black life. Interestingly, ChesnuTT’s rise to critical and commercial acclaim came about as part of a particularly conscious neo-soul movement that included Erykah BaduJill Scott, The Roots and others, proving that artists can release work that’s important, relevant and necessary — and be fairly commercially successful. But after a meteoric rise that included a collaboration with The Roots, ChesnuTT abruptly disappeared from public view for the better part of a decade. And in that decade period, ChesnuTT went through a period of deep, personal reflection and observation and raised a family — and those experiences informed and influenced his 2012 sophomore effort Landing on a Hundred, an effort linked contemporary Black music to the classic, singer/songwriter soul of Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and others while pointing out that the hopes, frustrations, loves, and struggles that those legendary artists spoke about then have remained unchanging.

After touring to support Landing on a Hundred, ChesnuTT had been pretty busy, contributing to the soundtracks for the Oscar Award-winning major motion pictures 12 Years A Slave and Idris Elba Presents Mi Mandela, as well as working on the material that will comprise his forthcoming, third, full-length effort My Love Divine Degree, slated for a February 2017 release.  Produced by Anthony “The Twilight Tone” Khan, a BMI Award, Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and DJ, who has worked with Kanye West, Common, John Legend and Pusha T., the album will reportedly further cement ChesnuTT’s reputation for writing frank and earnest observations of modern Black life, while pushing the boundaries of what contemporary R&B and soul can sound like. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “I Stay Ready” is according to ChesnuTT is a call to arms for positivity in the face of adversity. As the singer/songwriter explains in press notes “In a time of global economic uncertainty, it is an uplifting charge to use one’s natural talents and gifts of creativity to forge ahead positively into purpose and economic well being.

The feeling of this track is rooted in one of the most beautiful guitar riffs I’ve ever been given…a gem that found me ‪around 4AM. Accompanied by the exciting drum breaks programmed by legendary Chicago DJ Anthony ‘The Twilight Tone’ Kahn, the energy and sentiment of the song for me, is a pure shot of life.”

Sonically speaking, the song finds ChesnuTT’s silky smooth vocals paired with big, 808-like breakbeats, layers of buzzing synths, sinuous bursts of guitar and distorted vocal samples in a swaggering and cocksure song that may arguably be one of the most upbeat, “we can do this” songs he’s released to date.