Tag: The Roots

New Audio: J. Period Teams Up with Dave Chappelle, Black Thought, and Tiffany Gouché on a Soulful Banger

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.

New Video: Rising Afro Pop Artist Poundo Releases a Swaggering, Global Club Banger

Poundo Gomis is an emerging Guinea-Bissauan-French singer/songwriter, dancer, writer producer, , blogger and fashionista who currently splits her time between her hometown of Paris and New York, who performs under the mononymic moniker Poundo. Exposed to and influenced by the best of Africa and the West, Gomis immersed herself in the performing arts as a dancer and vocalist — and in fashion.

Over the past few years, Gomis has been incredibly busy. She has worked with some of the world’s top directors and choreographers — including Opéra de Paris’ Marie-Claude Pietragalia, Jérôme Savary, Georges Momboye, and Anne Fontaine. She was a featured danced in the Broadway musical Fela! — and since then, she has worked with Alicia Keys, Bill T. Jones, Spike Lee, The Roots and Cirque du Soleil, Aya Nakamura, Gims, Dadju, Vitaa, Amir, Hyphen Hyphen, Sting and a growing list of others.

As a recording artist Gomis has crafted a global, genre-defying take on pop music. Drawing from trap. pop, hip-hop and Mandingue music, the Paris-born artist’s work draws from her own personal experiences paired with political statements — while being accessible and club friendly. Slated for a November 27, 2020 release, the Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s debut EP features a collection of touch upon her love of fantasy while bravely exploring her vulnerability.

The rising Guinea-Bissauan-French artist’s latest single “O Wassa Waru,” which means “A Beautiful Soul” in Mandjak is a slickly produced, club banger with a cinematic quality. Centered around looping twinkling kora lines. African polyrhythm, staccato handclaps, stuttering trap beats, staccato handclaps, wobbling low end and an infectious hook paired with Gomis’ self-assured delivery in English and Mandjak. Switching between swaggering rhymed versions and sultrily sung vocals, the track suggests that Gomis may have been influenced by Lauryn Hill and others — but with a brash, global bent and a righteous message. “It’s an ode for girls and women,” Gomis says. “I wrote and produced the track between New York, Paris and Conakry. I sing in English and Mandjak because I couldn’t do it a different way. 🙂 I grew up speaking Mandjak, French, Wolof and later learned English & Spanish at school. That’s why this song shows how international I am.”

Directed by LDITCH, the recently released video for “O Wassa Waru” is a gorgeous and cinematically shot visual featuring some serious black girl magic: beautiful and talented black women being badass in equally gorgeous settings,

New Video: Holy Hive Releases a Dreamy and Nostalgia-Inducing Animated Visual for New Single

Holy Hive is a Brooklyn-based soul act featuring:

Paul Spring, a St. Cloud, MN-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who spent his formative years studying ancient languages, poetry and classical guitar before making a name for himself as a folk artist, eventually self-releasing seven albums, including a well-received children’s album Home of Song.
Homer Steinweiss, a Brooklyn-born and-based drummer, who has played, toured and recorded with a who’s who of contemporary soul and pop music including Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Jonas Brothers, St. Vincent, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings— before settling into a highly-south after session player.
Joe Harrison, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist who has played with Frank Dukes and Charles Bradley.
The band can trace its origins to when Spring and Steinwess met on a Minnesota farm through their respective girlfriends, who are cousins. Steinweiss and Spring soon began a long-distance friendship, which, over time developed into a folk music recording project. Harrison, was working at a studio assistant at The Diamond Mine Studios at the time and he started to sit in on the duo’s sessions, eventually joining the band as a full-time member in 2015 when the band began recording as Holy Hive.

In 2016 Spring relocated to New York and the members of Holy Hive were invited to tour with JOVM mainstay Lee Fields. That tour dramatically changed their approach and sound: after the tour they began exploring the relationships between the traditions and lyricism of folk and the aesthetics and rhythms of soul music — seamlessly meshing them into something anachronistic yet uniquely theirs. And with a new sound, they began honing their sound with a year-long monthly resident at Red Hook, Brooklyn-based dive bar Sunny’s with a rotating cast of collaborators. Then they spent the next couple of years working on folk and soul inspired material that thematically focused on love and loss.

The end result is the band’s long-awaited full-length debut Float Back to You. Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Big Crown Records, the album is the follow-up to their critically applauded debut EP Harping and a string of well-received singles. Recorded at Steinwess’ Diamond Mind Studios, the album was produced by Steinwess and consists of 10 originals, a cover of Honeybus’ “Be Thou By My Side” and a re-working of the old Irish folk standard “Red is the Rose.” The album also features an impressive array of guest stars including Mary Lattimore (harp), El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels (sax, keys), The Shacks‘ Shannon Wise (backing vocals), The Roots’ Dave Guy (trumpet), Nick Movshon (bass) and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans (piano).

Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Broom.” Tracing its origins back to the band’s first tour with Lee Fields, the track is a shimmering and mournful bit of blue-eyed soul meets 60s folk. “At the time, we were a folk trio with nylon guitars playing Nick Drake inspired arrangements,” the band’s Homer Steinweiss recalls in press notes. “These songs did not go over too well with the So-Cal soul audience. Inspired by Lee’s music, we saw a need to write a more soulful song to appeal to them. After covering Donnie and Joe Emerson’s ‘Baby’ in San Diego, Joe made some chords, Homer laid a beat and paul activated the falsetto to make this tune.” Interestingly, “Float Back To You,” the slow-burning and shimmering third album single and album title track is a achingly plaintive ballad that further cements the band’s sound — in particular, I’m reminded Simon & Garfunkel, Scott Walker and blue-eyed sound.

Featuring line animation by Sophia Heymans, the recently released video for “Float Back To You,” the video manages to capture those things we can’t quite have — carefree summer afternoons and nights, while following a woman, who decides to take various garden gnomes, rocking horses and the like into her home to read to them.  It’s a simple yet surreal fantasy centered around the sort of feverish nostalgia we all have right now. 

Live Footage: Royce da 5’9″ Performs “Thou Shall” and “Overcomer” on Vevo’s Ctrl

Born Ryan Daniel Montgomery, Royce da 5’9″ is a Detroit, MI-born and-based emcee, best known for his longtime association with Eminem, with whom he’s one half of duo, Bad Meets Evil, a critically applauded solo career, primarily collaborating with Carlos “6 July” Broady and DJ Premier, as well as ghostwriting for the likes of Diddy and Dr. Dre. He’s also a member of Slaughterhouse, an All-Star hip-hop act that also features Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, and one half of PRhyme with the legendary (and aforementioned) DJ Premier.

As the story goes, Royce da 5’9″ signed his first deal with Tommy Boy Records, who offered him $1 million while Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment offered him $250,000 and unlimited beats, a decision that he described as one of his biggest regrets in a 2016 Complex interview. After Tommy Boy Records closed, the Detroit-based emcee signed a deal with Columbia and Game Recordings, with whom he began recording an album then titled Rock City, a title which referred to Detroit being the former (and best known) home of Motown Records. When the album wound up being heavily bootlegged, the Detroit-based emcee left that label for Koch to re-record the album, eventually releasing it 2002 as Rock City (Version 2.0). And although the album didn’t sell well, the DJ Premier-produced single “Boom” helped Royce achieve some underground recognition and lead to the two working more closely with PRhyme.

Their 2014 debut album together featured both artists going out of their comfort zones, and expanding upon their familiar sounds; in fact, Premier enlisted the compositional skills of Adrian Younge, whose work he sampled throughout the album’s production while Royce da 5’9″ traded bars with the likes of MF Doom and Little Brother‘s Phonte on the initial release, and with The Roots‘ Black Thought, Joey Bada$$ and Logic on the deluxe edition released the following year. 2014 also saw Royce da 5’9″ team up with Eminem on the posse cut “Detroit vs. Everybody.” 

Since then, the Detroit-based emcee released 2016’s solo album Layers, 2018’s Book of Ryan, which featured another ongoing collaboration with Eminem “Caterpillar,” that year’s second PRhyme album Phyme 2 and a guest spot of Eminem’s surprise release Kamikaze. 2020 continues a recent period of incredible prolificacy with the release of his eighth album, the 22 track The Allegory, which features guest spots from Westside Gunn, YBN Cordae, Benny the Butcher, and a boatload of others. 

Vevo’s Ctrl series highlights the work of hard-hitting, cutting-edge artists making an impact in today’s music scene with a focus on both emerging and established artists. The artists Vevo’s Ctrl series features are artists that the video platform believes demand attention, and the series is a way of shining a deserving spotlight on those artists. Recently, Vevo’s Ctrl invited the acclaimed Detroit-based emcee to their Brooklyn studios to perform two tracks off the album — “Overcomer” and “Thou Shall.” “Thou Shall” is centered around an eerie, RZA-like production: stuttering beats, a sinuous bass line and a looping string sample and eerie atmospherics while Royce da 5’9″ of bold and swaggering pronouncement of being doper than anyone else out there, full of pop cultural references with Kid Vishis slamming the door on anyone who may challenge them. “Overcomer” is centered around a looped and seemingly ancient soul sample and thumping beats while Royce da 5’9″ rhymes about blessings, the wisdom he’s earned, sociopolitical observations and more.

The performances that Vevo’s Ctrl captured are swaggering, passionate within an intimate yet minimalist setting.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Koncept Releases a Hazy Visual for Upbeat Banger “Watch The Sky Fall 2”

Over the past few years I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed, Queens-born emcee and JOVM mainstay Koncept. Born Keith Michael Whitehead, the JOVM artist has led a rather remarkable life: working at Fat Beats Records, he co-founded The Brown Bag AllStars with his coworkers Soul Khan, Cold Codeine, J57 and The Audible Doctor in 2007. The collective’s 2009 debut mixtape The Brown Tape was released through Coalmine Records while the members of the act were working at Fat Beats — and they followed that up with an attention-grabbing appearance at that year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival.

Building on a growing profile, the members of The Brown Bag All Stars released two EPs in 2010 — The Traveller and The Down Under Remixes. Whitehead’s full-length debut Awaken, which was also released that year, featured guest spots from Soul Khan, JOVM mainstay Homeboy Sandman, Royce da 5’9″ and Sene with production from J57 and Marco Polo — and the album established the Queens-born emcee as a solo artist in his own right. As a result of the attention he received from his debut, Koncept received an endorsement by Red Bull that helped financed his 2015 critically acclaimed J57-produced The Fuel EP.

After the release of The Fuel, Koncept went to Seoul, South Korea for a two-week tour sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft and Jameson. Those tour dates developed into more shows and bookings — and eventually a partnership with Sony Music Asia, who released his sophomore effort 14 Hours Ahead, an effort that was thematically centered around envisioning your future and dreams, growing and believing in yourself every step of the way — and then manifesting those dreams into reality. Since then, Koncept has also developed a reputation for being a go-to collaborator, who has worked with Rick Ross, Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, Macklemore, Wiz Khalifa, The Roots, Joey Bada$$, Green Day, A$AP Mob, Ghostface Killah and Joell Ortiz.

Released last summer, the Queens-based latest effort Champagne Konny comes after spending two years on the road — with the bulk of it in Asia, including a sold-out tour with Scoop Deville. While on the road, the Queens-based JOVM mainstay discovered a new perceptive on his life and career, which has influenced the emcee and his work. “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a bold remix of Awaken’s lead single “Watch The Sky Fall,” which retains Royce da 5’9″‘s guest verse while being inspired by where it all started — with a newfound zest and desire for life. Featuring a new verse from Koncept, Royce da 5’9″‘s imitable flow paired with a Wrist.the.Greatest and Keitel Jr. co-production centered around shimmering and squiggling synths and tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats. And while sonically bringing Too Short to mind, the song has an upbeat and almost defiantly positive message: when your life seems to be falling apart, and you’re feeling broken, scared ad as though you’re about to go down for the count, you have to hold on and try to push forward. 

Filmed and edited by Juliette Carton, the recently released video for “Watch The Sky Fall 2” is a hazy yet intimate visual that quickly cuts from scenes of Koncept in what appears to be a shower and a pensive Koncept holding an umbrella in the forest — as though the umbrella would protect him from a universe in which the sky seems to be against him. 

New Video: Brooklyn’s Holy Hive Releases a Playful Visual for Mournful Single “Broom”

Holy Hive is a Brooklyn-based soul act featuring:

Paul Spring, a St. Cloud, MN-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Spring spent his formative years studying ancient languages, poetry and classical guitar before making a name for himself as a folk artist, who self-released seven albums, including a well-received children’s album Home of Song.
Homer Steinweiss, a Brooklyn-born and-based drummer, who has played, toured and recorded with a who’s who of contemporary music including Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Jonas Brothers, St. Vincent, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings– before settling into a highly-south after session player.
Joe Harrison, a Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist who has played with Frank Dukes and Charles Bradley.
The band can trace its origins to when Spring and Steinwess met on a Minnesota farm through their respective girlfriends, who actually are cousins. Steinweiss and Spring soon began a long-distance friendship, which, over time developed into a folk music recording project. Harrison, was working at a studio assistant at The Diamond Mine Studios at the time and he started to sit in on the duo’s sessions, eventually joining the band as a full-time member in 2015 when the band began recording as Holy Hive.

In 2016 Spring relocated to New York and the members of Holy Hive were invited to tour with JOVM mainstay Lee Fields. That tour dramatically changed their approach and sound: after the tour they began exploring the relationships between the traditions and lyricism of folk and the aesthetics and rhythms of soul music — by seamlessly meshing them into something anachronistic yet uniquely theirs. And with a new sound, they began honing their sound with a year-long monthly resident at Red Hook, Brooklyn-based dive bar Sunny’s with a rotating cast of collaborators. Then they spent the next couple of years working on folk and soul inspired material that thematically focused on love and loss.

The end result is the band’s long-awaited full-length debut Float Back to You. Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Big Crown Records, the album is the follow-up to their critically applauded debut EP Harping and a string of well-received singles. Recorded at Diamond Mind Studios, the album was produced by the band’s Steinwess and consists of 10 originals, a cover of Honeybus’ “Be Thou By My Side” and a re-working of the old Irish folk standard “Red is the Rose.” The album also features an impressive array of guest stars including Mary Lattimore (harp), El Michels Affair’s Leon Michels (sax, keys), The Shacks’ Shannon Wise (backing vocals), The Roots’ Dave Guy (trumpet), Nick Movshon (bass) and Spring’s wife Sophia Heymans (piano).

Float Back to You’s latest single is the shimmering and mournful blue-eyed soul meets 60s folk-like “Broom.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, a steady backbeat, a gorgeous yet soulful arrangement and Spring’s aching falsetto, the song can trace its origins back to their first tour with Lee Fields. “At the time, we were a folk trio with nylon guitars playing Nick Drake inspired arrangements,” the band’s Homer Steinweiss recalls in press notes. “These songs did not go over too well with the So-Cal soul audience. Inspired by Lee’s music, we saw a need to write a more soulful song to appeal to them. After covering Donnie and Joe Emerson’s ‘Baby’ in San Diego, Joe made some chords, Homer laid a beat and paul activated the falsetto to make this tune.”

Directed by Sesse Lind, the recently released video for “Broom” is shot on a Long Island City, Queens industrial rooftop — and we follow the band’s Homer Steinweiss as he kind of jazzercises to the song.

Ben Williams is an acclaimed Washington DC-born and-based singer/songwriter, bassist, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after collaborator. Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition(now known as the Herbie Hancock  International Jazz Competition) back in 2009 and a Grammy Award as a member of Pat Metheny‘s Unity Band. He has collaborated with an impressive and remarkably diverse array of artists including Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Pharrell and a long list of others. (He also appeared in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.)

As a bandleader and composer, Williams has released two albums through renowned jazz label Concord Records — 2011’s State of Art and 2015’s Coming of Age. Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Jose James‘, Talia Billig‘s and Brian Bender’s Rainbow Blonde Records, Williams third album I AM A MAN references Memphis‘ historic 1968 sanitation workers’ strike, during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in a boldface type. “The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing — there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams explains, before saying that the messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite and inspire activism today, such as the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements. But there’s multiple subtle meanings to the album’s title: as Williams said during his performance at the Rainbow Blonde Records NYC Winter Jazz Fest last week the album wasn’t a typical protest album; that it was thematically an exploration of the black male psyche.

Sonically, the album reportedly meshes past, present and future, as it seemingly draws from The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Common, Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor as well as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield and others.

Williams plays both double bass and electric bass throughout the album’s material, singing lead vocals on almost every single song on the album. He’s joined by an accomplished backing band of collaborators that includes Kris Bowers (keys), David Rosenthal (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Anne Drummond (flute), Jamire Williams (drums) and Justin Brown (drums). The album also features a handful of songs with  string arrangements performed by a string quartet — Justina Sullivan (cello), Celia Hatton  (viola), Maria Im (violin) and Chiara Fasi (violin), and vocals from Kendra Foster, Muhsimah, Wes Felton and Niles.

The album’s first single is the cinematic “If You Hear Me.” Centered around an spacious and cinematic arrangement featuring a shimmering and soaring string arrangement, African polyrhythm, Williams’ plaintive and soulful vocals, the track manages brings to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Landing on a Hundred-era Cody Chesnutt to mind. The album’s second single, fittingly released today is an atmospheric rendition of the civil rights-era classic “We Shall Overcome” that places the song’s timeless struggle and hope for a far better, more just world into a contemporary context:  reminding the listener that the struggle of MLK, Malcolm X,  The Black Panthers and others,  is the same struggle as Black Lives Matter and other movements.

Williams will be embarking on a handful of live dates that includes a February 8, 2020 album release show at Nublu 151. Check out the live dates below.

 

Tour Dates
2/8: New York, NY @ Nublu 151 (Album Release Show)
3/19: Washington, DC @ City Winery

Live Footage: The Midnight Hour and Black Thought Perform “Noir” at The Lodge Room

A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer teamed up with a 10 member ensemble, The Midnight Hour, which features vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson to compose and record the score to the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut which further established their sound: jazz and orchestral-inspired hip-hop that recalls David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. 

The act has been and will continue to be rather busy:  Linear Labs has already released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson and albums from the act’s Oden and Munoz, as well as the act’s highly-anticipated sophomore album are slated to be released over the coming months.

The Midnight Hour will be embarking on an extensive fall tour across North America with  collaborative opening sets from Oden, Munoz and Waterson. The tour includes a stop tomorrow night at Brooklyn Bowl — and if you want to check out the rest of the tour dates, as well as ticket information, check out the following link:

http://www.artdontsleep.com/2019/07/20/tmhustour19/

In the meantime, Linear Labs and The Midnight Hour released live footage of the band performing “Noir” with The Roots’ Black Thought. The track originally appeared as part of Amazon Music’s Produced By series that Younge curated, produced and recorded to collectively celebrate the spectrum of Black Music — with the series appropriately being released during Black History Month. Interestingly, the live footage was filmed this past month at Los Angeles’ Lodge Room that featured collaborations with Estelle, Gallant, Georgia Anne Muldrow and a long list of others. 

Of course, the live footage will give you a great sense of what you should expect of the Brooklyn Bowl shows and onward. But just as important, it’s a reminder of a few things — if you’ve forgotten about them: 

Black Thought is fucking dope. 
All dope emcees should record an album with a live jazz or orchestral ensemble. 
When I rule the world, I’ll make sure that’s a law. 
As far as the track, it’s a gorgeous and crafted take on hip-hop that’s sophisticated and cinematic while still being gritty street shit that raises the proceedings to a transcendent, Curtis Mayfield/Issac Hayes soundtrack-level artistry. In an age where a lot of hip-hop is mass produced product, we need to be reminded that it can be a transcendent and powerful art form.