Tag: Sly and the Family Stone

Throwback: Black History Month: Gang Starr

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates Black History Month — and pays tribute to Gang Starr.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Boulevards Releases a Soulful and Politically Charged Single

Jamil Rashad is a Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist and JOVM mainstay, who writes, records and performs under the name Boulevards. Rashad, who is the son of a renowned local radio DJ, grew up in musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged: a young Rashad listened to a wide variety o music including soul, jazz, blues, R&B and funk.

When the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay was a teenager, he became a self-confessed “scene kid,” getting involved in the city’s local punk, hardcore and metal scenes, which interestingly enough wound up influencing his own production work much later on. After attending art school and playing in a series of local bands, the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay wound up returning to teh the sounds that first won his heart and imagination — funk and soul. And with Boulevards, Rashad began writing material that he once described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move,” eventually developing a national profile for a sound that some have compared to Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson, with the release of 2016’s Groove! and last year’s YADIG!

Rashad’s forthcoming effort, the Blake Rhein-produced Brother! EP is slated for a December 18, 2020 release through New West Records imprint Normaltown Records. The four song EP derives its title from the familiar greeting spoken among Black men. For Rashad, the word brother is a sort of spoken handshake, a verbal high five for the listener. “Growing up, I would see my father interacting with other African American men, using that word as a greeting. ‘What’s up, brother? Brother, let me talk to you.’ That’s what they said a lot in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but you don’t hear it as much now. It’s such a great word.” The EP’s material is the culmination of several years of writing, playing, touring and recording with the effort thematically touching upon race and America’s moral reckoning, heartbreak and self-inflicted suffering. And as a result, the four song EP is the most explicitly political batch of material of his growing catalog.

Perhaps because our current sociopolitical moment mirrors that of the late 60s and early 70s, the EP’s material, as you’ll hear on its second single, EP title track “Brother!” is indebted to the music he heard growing up: early Parliament Funkadelic, Sly and The Family Stone, Rick James, Curtis Mayfield, Shuggie Otis and a lengthy list of others.
“My dad put me on to that music, and I’ve always been attracted to those artists. That’s who I was inspired by, but I wanted to make it my own, make it Boulevards,” Rashad says. Centered around a soulful and slow-burning strut and some fuzzy, psychedelic and blues-tinged guitar work, “Brother!” is a cry of desperation about a society and world that seem determined to frustrate, humiliate and destroy you. And the only escape is through booze, drugs and sex.

“The song is about working and hustling every day and not being satisfied with the end result, whether it’s working for yourself or 9-5 corporations. Spending the hours, time, not getting a raise, losing a job, putting a smile on your face at a job you dislike, feeling stuck in life, making money and spending money to support bad habits,” Rashad says in press notes. “The only thing that makes you feel any kind of release is the bottom of the bottle.”

New Video: Montreal’s The Brooks Release a DIsco Soul Ode to Unrequited Love

The Brooks is a rising Montreal-based soul act that formed over eight years ago. And since their formation, the Montreal-based act proudly claims some of that city’s most accomplished musicians:

Florida-born, Montreal-based singer/songwriter and frontman Alan Prater has toured with Michael Jackson — and the band itself can trace much of its origins to behind the walls of the Motown Museum:
Alexandre Lapointe (bass) has worked alongside Joel Campbell, the musical director for Tina Turner and Janet Jackson.
Prater and Lapointe are joined by Maxime Bellavance (drums), Phillips Look (guitar, vocals), Daniel Thouin (keys), Sébastien Grenier (sax), Hichem Khalifa (French horn), and Phillipe Beaudin (percussion).

Developing and honing a sound that draws from James Brown, D’Angelo, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock and J. Dilla, the members of The Books have a songwriting approach that eschews rules and trends, fueled by the dual missions of spreading joy and the funk. And with the release of two albums and an EP, the band, which was once named the“best kept secret of Canadian funk” by La Presse, and nominations, and award wins at GAMIQ, Independent Music Awards, ADISQ, and others has built up a provincial and national profile.

Slated for an October 23, 2020 release through Duprince Records across North and South America and Underdog Records through Europe and Japan, the Montreal-based soul outfit’s third album Any Day Now finds the band firmly establishing their unique songwriting approach and sound. Earlier this year, I wrote about the strutting and stomping party anthem “Turn Up the Sound,” a track that recalled The Payback-era James Brown, Dance to the Music and Stand!-era Sly and the Family Stone while encoring people to get up out of that seat, dance and enjoy themselves, and escape their worldly concerns for 3-4 minutes or so. “I just wanted to write a fun song to get you to escape from whatever you’re doing,” the band’s Alan Prater explains in press notes.

Any Day Now’s latest single “Gameplay” is a slick, two-step inducing synthesis of 70s disco soul, funk and psych soul centered around a supple bass line, shuffling Nile Rodgers-like rhythm guitar, wah-wah pedal -driven lead guitar, a soaring string arrangement — within an expansive, yet pop-leaning song structure. Thematically, the song as the band’s Alan Prater explains is about a fairly common experience that countless straight men have had: “This song is about a boy wanting the girl that’s out of his league, but he has to have her. I’m Sure most guys have been there…haha”

Directed by Fred Remuzat, the recently released video for “Gameplay” visually recalls the animation style of Gorillaz — but while sweetly telling the song’s central story: boy falls for girl, who may not know he even exists. And yet through music, the boy makes his earnest plea of devotion and love, which manage to move the woman. The video is a blast of something adorable that I desperately needed. I suspect y’all will feel the same.