Born Malik Izaak Taylor, the legendary and beloved Phife Dawg was a co-founder of the multi-Grammy Award nominated, multi-platinum selling, equally legendary and beloved hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest. Along with his work with Tribe, Phife Dawg was a solo artist, who collaborated with lengthy lists of acts and artists including Fu-Schnickens, Diamond D, Chi-Ali, Black Sheep‘s Dres, De La Soul‘s Trugoy and countless others, eventually releasing his solo debut album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP.
If you’re a hip-hop head, you’d remember that the members of A Tribe Called Quest — Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Jarobi White and Ali Shaheed Muhammad — reunited in 2006 to help Phife Dawg with mounting medical expenses as a result of complications with diabetes. They co-headlined that year’s Bumbershoot Festival and played a handful of sold-out across across the States, Canada and Japan, including making appearances at the 2K Sports Bounce Tour. According to Phife Dawg, the members of the beloved hip-hop had planned to release an album to finish-off their six-album contract with Jive Records.
In 2008, A Tribe Called Quest was the headlining act for that year’s Rock the Bells tour. Taylor, who had been dealing with complications from diabetes over the past decade, wound up receiving a kidney translate from his wife. At the end of the that year, Q-Tip released his long-awaited sophomore album The Renaissance, which he followed with the release of 2009’s Kamaal The Abstract, which had been shelved for over seven years.
Tribe co-headlined 2010’s Rock the Bells and that year, Taylor had planned to release his highly-anticipated sophomore album Songs in the Key of Phife: Volume 1 (Cheryl’s Big Son); however, continued health issues delayed the release of the album. In 2013, it was reported that Phife had went back to work on his sophomore album, which was re-titled MUTTYmorPHosis. During that same period, the tense relationship between the act’s co-founder was famously documented in Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2015, the members of A Tribe Called Quest reunited to perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the release of the act’s debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. In what would be the last few months of his life, Taylor had been incredibly busy: he had finished his long-anticipated sophomore album, now titled Forever, collaborating with a collection of trusted, All-Star producers and artists. Additionally, Tribe had secretly gone into the studio to work on what would be their sixth and final album We Got It From Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service. Tragically, Taylor died as the entire group were finishing the album; the remaining members finished the album and posthumously released the album, as a tribute to their co-founder.
Taylor’s family and estate will be finally releasing Phife Dawg’s long-awaited sophomore album Forever later this year. “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans,” Taylor’s family says of the album. “His fans meant the world to him.” So far, one single has been released from the album, “Nutshell, Part 2,” featuring Busta Rhymes and Redman — and as a taste of the album, it’s a classic New York hip-hop banger, in which three legendary emcees spit bars and trade zingers over a subtle DJ Rasta Root reworking of a J. Dilla production.
“French Kiss Deux,” Forever‘s second and latest single finds the beloved “Five Foot Assassin” teaming up with Vancouver-based production duo Potatohead People and J. Dilla’s younger brother Illa J on a tribute to one of my favorite cities, Montreal: Phife and Illa J trade verses about some of that city’s beautiful women and scenery over a warm and vibey neo-soul meets Golden Era hip-hop production centered around shimmering Rhodes, reverb drenched horns and twitter and woofer rocking beats. Simply put, it’s an infectious, feel good banger.
The four-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum New York-born MC and member of A Tribe Called Quest’s highly anticipated album, Forever, is slated to be released in 2021. Prior to Phife’s tragic 2016 passing, he spent time working on this album, partnering with trusted collaborators and assembling a catalog of songs representative of his art. Of the upcoming album’s release, Phife’s family stated that “He worked really hard to complete his album before he transitioned, and he was ready to share an album that was near and dear to his heart with his fans. His fans meant the world to him.”
jJ. Period is a Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ best known for working with the likes of Q-Tip, John Legend, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Isley Brothers and Mary J. Blige on official mixtapes — and for developing an “audio-biography” style that incorporates interviews with these artists into his “Best Of” complications. He has also made original productions and remixes for film trailers for American Gangster and Street Kings. In late 2008, the Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ became the first DJ/producer ever commissioned by Activision to score and producer an entire video game soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Motion for Nintendo DS. And before I forget, he worked on The Hamilton Mixtape — while serving as Music Supervisor for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ’s debut album Story to Tell is a trail-blazing musical journey in three acts — with the first installment, Chapter One slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Truelements Music/RBC Records. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, Story To Tell (Chapter One) is a collaborative endeavor that blurs the lines between song and story; between hip-hop, R&B, jazz, reggae and salsa. Collaborating with an All-Star cast of Grammy-winning writers and musicians, Story To Tell reportedly will create a vibrant world of connections — between artists, songs, stories, genres, cultures and generations in the acclaimed production’s genre and convention defying style.
Story To Tell (Chapter One)’s first single “All In Your Head” plays with the classic audio storybook format with Dave Chapelle serving as a mischievous tour guide, explaining the set up to the proceedings, quickly followed by a slick yet soulful production centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, glitchy vocal samples and shimmering Rhodes serving as a warm bed for an inspiring manifesto to overcoming self-doubt and being fearless featuring Tiffany Gouché’s silky crooning and Black Thought spitting red hot bars. Sonically speaking, “All In Your Head” effortlessly blurs the lines between neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop in a crowd-pleasing fashion.
Comprised of Nigerian-born, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada-based singer/songwriter Deelo and Canadian-born, Ottawa-based producer and director Julian Strangelove, the up-and-coming electro pop duo Garçons can trace their origins back to when the duo initially met back in […]
Alissia is an up-and-coming bassist, singer/songwriter, producer and beatmaker, who has already collaborated with an impressive and legendary array of artists including Anderson .Paak, Khalid, Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Q-Tip as well production, arrangement and bass playing on the legendary Bootsy Collins’ forthcoming album World Wide Funk, which will feature guest spots from Kali Fuchs, the late and great Bernie Worrell, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, Musiq Soulchild and others. Interestingly, Alissia’s latest single “Get Away” finds the up-and-coming talent boldly stepping out into the forefront as a artist with a effortlessly slick and seductive sound that bridges 70s and 80s funk, boom bap era hip-hop and contemporary electro pop, giving a familiar and beloved sound a fresh, modern take that manages to nod at JOVM mainstay Thundercat and his frequent collaborator Flying Lotus.
Directed by Bo Mirosseni, the recently released video features the up-and-coming talent confidently strolling through some of NYC’s grittiest neighborhoods, composing beats wherever the inspiration hits her, and hanging out at what I presume is her NYC area studio The Spaceship.
Led by its Rochester, NY-born, Brooklyn-based bandleader dholi, drummer and composer Sunny Jain (a dhol, is a shoulder slung, two-headed drum, typically one of the main instruments of bhangra), who has recorded several jazz albums with his Sunny Jain Collective and has collaborated with Norah Jones, Peter Gabriel, Q-Tip, and the acclaimed Pakistani Sufi rock band Junoon and others; and featuring John Altieri (sousaphone), Ernest Stuart (trombone), Jonathon Haffner (saxophone), Sonny Singh (trumpet), Chris Eddleton (drums), Rohin Khemani (drums), and newest member Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), the newly-constituted Brooklyn-based octet Red Baarat, whose name derives its name from a baraat, a wild wedding procession that Jain explains in press notes includes a groom on top of a horse, extended friends and family singing and dancing, usually led by a brass band and for what the color red symbolizes in both Indian and American culture. (Red is typically worn at traditionally Indian weddings and symbolizes fiery passion; the sort of passion that Jain and company have towards music and the passion they elicit from listeners.)
Although the band formed back in 2008, with the release of their critically applauded and commercially successful sophomore effort, Shruggy Ji, the members of the Brooklyn-based collective developed a national and international profile for a seamless, genre and boundary-defying sound that draws from Indian classical music, bhangra, hip-hop, rock and pop with rousingly anthemic hooks and a dance floor friendly funk, based around Jain’s utopian vision and faith that communication across cultures simply takes empathy, creativity, love and a willingness to surrender to the spirit of music, art — and of the moment. And as a result of Shruggy Ji‘s critical and commercial success, the band has played some of the world’s biggest, most renowned music festivals, including Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, played sold out headlining shows at the Luxembourg Philharmonic, the Bowery Ballroom and have performed at the request of The White House, TED and the Olympic Games. Considering that we’re living in a presidential administration that is ruled around hate and distrust of outsiders and others, Jain and company’s mission seems not just hopeful; but proudly, defiantly revolutionary.
The band’s forthcoming (and much-anticipated) third full-length effort Bhangra Pirates is the first album with the band’s latest addition, guitarist Johnathan Goldberger, who adds psychedelic and surrealistic textures and percussive guitar lines. Additionally, the band has played a bit with their sound as the dhol and sousaphone also have been processed in a subtle fashion — while retaining the enormous, propulsive, tribal stomp and equally enormous New Orleans brass-leaning horn section that won them international attention as you’ll hear on the rousing single “Bhangale,” which features guest spots from Delicate Steve. What has personally won me over with their sound — and you’ll hear it on “Bhangale” is that there’s a sweaty, “you-are-there” improvised feel, in which the musicians seem to quickly get into a sustained and forceful groove and follow it and each other to its inevitable conclusion. And frankly, if it doesn’t make you get up and start stomping around and shouting along with them, there’s something wrong.
Matte Projects is a creative production company that focuses on the conception, production and promotion of music-related events, perhaps more famously known here in New York for creating the Full Moon Festival six years ago, a carefully curated festival and dance party, largely inspired by Thailand’s world-renowned full moon parties. And although it’s been a couple of years since JOVM has covered the Full Moon Festival, its sixth year marks a return to Governor’s Island for two days of partying, art installations, and dancing from early afternoon to late in the night with one of the most enviably gorgeous views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty around – and under this month’s blue moon, no less.
Although I’m a music blogger and journalist first and foremost, I fucking love food – I mean, who doesn’t right? – and when I covered the festival back in 2014, one of the best food highlights was The Brooklyn Star’s fried chicken waffle cone. Picture a waffle cone stuffed with popcorn fried chicken on top, mashed potatoes and coleslaw and topped with your choice of honey sriracha sauce (which was frankly the best thing I’ve ever had) or a ranch-based sauce.
Two years later and I’m still talking about it; that’s how fucking good it was – and I might kill someone to have another one.
(Photo Caption: Brooklyn’s fried chicken waffle cone may be the reason the terrorists hate us. And the person who came up with it is a genius.)
This year will continue the festival’s reputation for culinary delight as Matcha Bar, Mile End, Best Pizza, Pokito, Pig and Khao, Clean Shave Ice and Chalk Point Kitchen will all host pop-up stands throughout the festival. I’m starting to salivate over the possibility of some pork belly Adobo, pastrami sandwiches, pizza – well, all the food, really. And whatever weight you put on, you can sweat it off dancing all night.
Full Moon Festival’s sixth edition may arguably have one of the most musically diverse lineups in its history and some of the must see sets will include the following:
Day 1, August 20, 2016
Led by its creative mastermind, producer and electronic music artist Aaron Jerome, SBTRKT(pronounced as “Subtract”) has developed an internationally renowned reputation for remixing the work of M.I.A., Radiohead, Modeselektor, Basement Jaxx, Mark Ronson and Underworld, and for releasing two critically applauded full-length albums, a few EPs and a number of singles – all of which have either received airplay or have been playlisted by BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6. Interestingly, throughout his recording and performing career Jerome has preferred to be as anonymous as humanly possible and during live shows he’s been known to perform wearing modern interpretations of native and indigenous society ceremonial masks designed by A Hidden Place, as well as performing with frequent collaborator Sampha.
Earlier this year, Jerome announced a new project that he described as a “non album,” a collection of songs specifically designed to be an ongoing listening experience, while bringing new music to fans in a faster fashion than the traditional album cycle.
Born Terrence Thornton, Norfolk, VA-based emcee Pusha Tis perhaps best known as one-half of critically applauded and commercially successful hip-hop duo Clipse, with his brother Gene “No Malice” Thornton. And with the help of their friend, Norfolk, VA-born producer, multi-instrumentalist and eventual mega-hit artist Pharrell Williams, the duo quickly exploded into the national scene with the release of their 1997 full-length debut Exclusive Audio Footage. And as a result, Pusha T has made a number of guest spots over the years including on Kelis’ “Good Stuff,” Nivea’s “Run Away (I Wanna Be With You),” all while recording three more albums as a member of Clipse, including the duo’s critically applauded and commercially successful third album Hell Hath No Fury. After the duo’s fourth album, they announced that Clipse would be on hiatus while each individual member would pursue solo projects and other creative endeavors.
In 2010 Pusha T was signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music and made guest appearances on a number of labelmates’ releases including “Runaway” off West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and West’s GOOD Fridays singles series and as a solo artist Thornton has collaborated with an increasingly lengthy list of artists and producers including Swizz Beatz’s Monster Mondays series, Lloyd Banks’ H.F.M. 2 (Hunger For More 2), Future, Tyler the Creator, Jay Z and others. Interestingly, over the last few years Thornton has been incredibly prolific, releasing a handful of mixtapes and his solo debut, My Name Is My Name. Adding to a growing profile, last year Kanye West personally appointed Pusha T to take over the reins at GOOD Music. And we should be expecting a full-length in the near future.
Born Nkosinathi Maphumulo, the internationally acclaimed, eThekwini, South Africa-born and Johannesburg, South Africa-based producer and DJ Black Coffee can trace the origins of his recording and performing career to when he majored in Jazz Studies at Technikon Natal. While as a student there, he worked as a backup singer for Madale Kunene before forming an Afro-pop act S.H.A.N.A (short for Simply Hot and Naturally African) with classmates Mnqobi Mdabe (Shota) and Thandukwazi Sikhosana (Demor). The somewhat short lived act was signed to Melt 2000; however, his DJ and production career explored when he was selected as one of two South African participants during 2003’s Red Bull Music Academy – and with an increased buzz around him, he released “Happiness,” which was featured on the DJs at Work compilation; in fact, by the release of his sophomore effort, Have Another One, Black Coffee had become a household name in South African electronic circles for a propulsive, forceful tribal sound and for putting on locally-based artists and producers, all of whom have started to receive attention across Africa, Europe and elsewhere.
Adding to a rapidly growing international profile, Black Coffee has played at some of the world’s biggest and most renowned clubs and stages including Southport Weekender, Panorama Bar, Circo Loco and Boiler Room and has made appearnaces at a number of music festivals including SummerStage, ADE and Red Bull Music Academy in his hometown of Johannesburg, Coachella, Ultra Music Fesitval and others. I’ve seen the brother do his thing live and he’s arguably one of the best electronic music arists, producers and DJs in the entire world. And as much as I want to see some of the other acts on the bill – i.e., Marcus Marr, Santigold and others – I think that Black Coffee may well be worth the price of admission.
Day 2, August 21, 2016
Largely influenced by James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Devo, reggae, Fela Kuti and a ton of Nigerian music, Philadelphia, PA-born singer/songwriter and producer Santi White is best known under the monikers Santogold (which she performed under between 2003-2009) and Santigold has throughout the course of three full-length albums Santogold, Master of My Make-Believe and her most recent effort, 99¢ has developed a reputation for a sound that has at times been compared favorably to the likes of M.I.A. as her work sonically manages to blur, mesh and completely destroy genre lines as you’ll hear elements of techno, house music, dub, reggae, alt rock and others while ironically commenting on our sociopolitical zeitgeist. Interesting, as the result of a growing national and international profile, White has collaborated with an equally impressive list of artists and producers including Diplo, Jonnie “Most” Davis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O., Switch, Q-Tip, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, has opened for the likes of Jay Z and Kanye West during their co-headlining tour, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the aforementioned M.I.A., Bjork and has a number of singles make prominent appearances in ad campaigns, including a 2013 campaign for Honda Civic among others.
Comprised of Matthew Correia (drums), Spencer Dunham (bass), Miles Michaud (vocals, guitar) and Pedrum Siadatian (guitar), Los Angeles-based indie rock sensations Allah-Lascan trace their origins to when three of the four band members worked at renowned record store Amoeba Music. Formed back in 2008, the Southern California-based have received both local and national attention for a sound that draws entirely from the 60s and includes elements of folk rock, psych rock, surfer rock and garage rock – while firmly establishing themselves as part of a burgeoning retro/garage rock scene that includes The Mystery Lights, The Black Angels, Raccoon Fighter and others.
London, UK-based producer, electronic music artist, multi-instrumentalist and DJ Dhas received international attention over the last few years for a number of critically acclaimed singles released through renowned dance pop/electro pop label; in fact, “Brown Sauce” was mentioned in Pitchfork’s Tracks while “The Music,” appeared in the major motion picture Pusher and landed at number 3 on Spin Magazine’s Best Dance singles in 2013. And if you were frequenting this site over the course of 2015 you might recall that Marr collaborated with internationally acclaimed indie pop artist Chet Faker on an EP that featured the slickly produced Daft Punk and Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson leaning track “The Trouble With Us.”
Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its six-year history, you’d know that the New York-based neo-disco/electronic dance music/funk collective ESCORThave been mainstay artists. And over that same period of time, the collective founded by producers Eugene Cho and Dan Balls featuring frontperson Adeline Michele as members of a core group of five that frequently expands to 17 for live shows has received local and national attention for an incredible live show of funky, danceable tunes, their two full-length albums and for their frontperson’s incredible stage presence, cementing their reputation as a must-see live act.
Tickets are still available — and for a two day festival out on gorgeous Governor’s Island, the tickets are pretty affordable. [Purchase Tickets]
JOVM will be there to cover the festival. Expect some live tweeting, a lot of Instagram and more. And if you weren’t following me, here are the socials:
Divas and Demons is the Australian duo’s forthcoming full-length effort, and the album’s first single “For Good” is a collaboration that features Sydney, Australia-based poet, visual artist and singer/songwriter Sampa The Great adding soulful backing vocals to the song’s infectious hook and spitting a few bars herself during the song’s shimmering and cosmic bridge. Now, if you were frequenting this site over the the last half of 2015, Sampa The Great might be familiar to you, as she collaborated with a fellow Sydney-based singer/songwriter Wallace on the skittering and jazzy single “Beauty” and interestingly enough, this particular track has Sampa The Great channeling both Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill. Remi’s husky vocals and cool, effortless flow is reminiscent of LL Cool J, Q-Tip and Snoop Dogg with a distinctly Australian accent. Lyrically speaking, the song is a charming and coquettish love song in which its male and female narrators finally committing to each other after a childish and dysfunctional relationship in which they fuss and fight, cheat and drive each other nuts — and yet they both realize that they can’t possible dream of a life apart. This back and forth duet is paired with a buoyant and swooningly soulful Sensible J. production consisting of Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and boom bap drum programming and Simon Mavin’s cosmically shimmering and jazzy keyboard chords. Although incredibly contemporary, the song sounds as though it could have been released sometime between 1997 and 2002 — and in some way sounds as though it draws from The Roots and Erykah Badu‘s “You Got Me,” and others.
Certainly, much like Monikker‘s debut single “Heaven on Earth (Gotta Go),” Remi’s latest track is a testament to the power and influence of hip-hop’s beloved golden era while reminding the listener of two things — that hip-hop truly is the linga franca of anyone under about 45 or so and that in the age of mainstream, conglomerate radio stations shilling soulless and prepackaged bullshit that you can find meaningful and thoughtful music if you’re willing to put in some work.