Tag: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

The acclaimed New York-based electronic duo and JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker — comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — have been widely celebrated for an inclusive, global take on electronic music that thematically is centered around self-empower, unity and liberation. The debut single “Drinkee” received a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance Recording — and they continued an extraordinary run of success with their full-length debut, Treehouse receiving a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album.
Building upon a growing international profile, the duo’s releases have gone Gold or Platinum on every continent on this planet, excluding Antarctica. They’ve played sold out shows and festival stops across the planet, and they’ve performed on some of the world’s most beloved shows including Italy’s X-Factor, the UK’s Sunday Brunch, Russia’s Late Show and Japan’s BuzzRhythm, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and most recently Good Morning America.  Additionally, the duo have a long-held reputation for being passionate activists, who have raised funds an awarenesses for a number of different causes including Planned Parenthood, The Trevor Project, and March For Our Lives.
Slated for a September 20, 2019 release, DANCING ON THE PEOPLE EP is the duo’s much-anticipated follow-up to their highly-successful full-length debut. And the EP’s latest single “Purple Hat” is a joyous, club banger that stars with a breezy Brazilian Tropicalia intro before quickly turning into a thumping club banger centered around tweeter and woofer rocking low-end, a funky, strummed and looped guitar line, an enormous, crowd pleasing hook and Bhangra-like percussion while Hawley-Weld and Halpern trade vocal lines about a wild and joyous party, in which the attendees let go of pretense and facades and let their freak flags proudly flow. It’s a joyous song that says “come all, be yourself — and most important, shake that ass and show ’em what you working with!” Considering the hate and opposition we’ve been inundated with over the past few years, this song feels necessary.
“We wrote ‘Purple Hat’ the day after our first Animal Talk party,” the duo explains. “We started throwing these parties to bring back the wild and inclusive dancing vibe to the nightclub experience. Tuck was literally wearing a purple hat and a cheetah print shirt, people were climbing on top o people, it was over-sold and sweaty, our favorite people were packed in the booth, everyone was loose AF and feeling themselves. It was wild. Every Animal Talk party since then has been like that, and we wanted to capture that raw feeling in a song. If there was a song that included everything we are about, this would be the one.”
The duo will be embarking on a lengthy North American and European tour that they’ve dubbed The R.I.P. Shame World Tour to support the release of their new EP to close out the year. This tour, Hawley-Weld and Halpern are on “a mission to kill shame one loose dance party at at time.” Up-and-coming Aussie dance pop act Haiku Hands and DJ/producer LP Giobbi will be opening for the acclaimed JOVM mainstays for all of their North American tour dates, which includes an October 24, 2019 stop at Avant Gardner’s Great Hall. You can check out the tour dates below, along with a link to buy tickets. 
This tour finds the duo supporting the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), of the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization decided to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness and their local affiliates. $1 from each ticket sold during each US stop will go to support NAMI and heir programs and services through PLUS1. For the Vancouver show, $1 from each ticket sold will go to support Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA)’s Native Youth Health and Wellness Centre, providing culturally-relevant, welcoming, accessible health and wellness services to Indigenous youth. The centre is a safe, accessible health clinic, where Indigenous youth can feel comfortable seeking support for their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And in Calgary, $1 from each ticket sold with go to a local organization that supports mental health initiatives, bringing dignity, equity, and access to communities who need it.
Tour Dates:
North American Headline Tour
10/2: Calgary, AB @ The Palace
10/4: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/6: Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
10/7: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
10/9: Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
10/10: Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Expo Hall
10/13: Tucson, AZ @ The Rialto Theatre
10/15: Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
10/16: Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
10/17: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
10/19: New Orleans, LA @ The Joy Theater
10/21: Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
10/23: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
10/24: Brooklyn, NY @ Avant Gardner Great Hall
11/17: Mexico City, MX @ Corona Capital
European Headline Tour
11/20: Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street
11/22: Manchester, UK @ Gorilla
11/23: London, UK @ Electric Brixton
11/25: Frankfurt, DE @ Gibson Club
11/26: Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
11/27: Rotterdam, NL @ Maassilo
111/28: Paris, FR @ Elysee Montmartre
12/1: Hamburg, DE @ Markthalle
12/2:  Cologne, DE @ Carlswerk
12/3: Munich, DE @ Technikum
12/5: Vienna, AT @ Arena Wien
12/6: Bern, Switzerland @ Bierhubeli
12/9: Zurich, CH @ Harterei Club
12/10: Brussels, BE @ Botanique Orangerie
​​​​​​​12/12: Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom
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Lyric Video: Joseph’s Soaring and Anthemic “Green Eyes”

Deriving their name from their grandfather Jo and the tiny Oregon town of  Joseph, OR, in which he was born and raised, the  Portland, OR-based sibling indie pop trio Joseph, comprised of Natalie Closner Schepman and her two, younger twin sisters Meegan and Alison grew up in a musical household — their dad was a jazz singer and drummer, their mom a theater teacher. However, their collaboration together can trace their origins back to around 2014: Schepman who had been pursuing a career as a solo career as a singer/songwriter recruited her sisters to join her.  And when the Closners began collaborating together, they quickly recognized an irresistible and undeniable simpatico. 

The trio quickly developed a reputation for playing intimate house shows, in which the siblings accompanied themselves with acoustic guitar and foot drum and within their first year working together, the trio self-released their debut, 2014’s Native Dreamer Kin, which caught the attention of ATO Records, who signed the group the following year. After releasing 2015’s, ATO Sessions EP, an acoustic, two song, digital EP and accompanying video series, the sibling trio went on to release their Mike Mogis-produced, label debut 2016’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not, which featured the smash hit “White Flag.” “White Flag” landed on Spotify’s US Viral Top Ten Chart within days of its release. By October, the track landed at #1 on the Adult Alternative Charts. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the trio made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Later . . . with Jools Holland, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Conan, CBS This Morning and Today. They also opened for James Bay during a sold out, 2016 arena tour — and they made festival stops at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Sasquatch Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Outside Lands Festival, Pilgrimage Music Festival and several others. 

Slated for release next week, The Closer’s highly -anticipated Christian “Leggy” Langdon-produced follow up to I’m Alone, No You’re Not reportedly finds the trio pushing their sound as the material finds them embracing a grittier, much more dynamic sound — while retaining the gorgeous harmonizing that won them attention. “The through-line of the album is this idea of moving into the driver’s seat of your own life-recognizing that you’re an adult now, and everything’s up to you from this moment on,” Natalie Closner Schepman says in press notes.  “You’re not completely sure of how to get where you need to go, and you don’t have any kind of a map to help you. It’s just the universe looking down on you like, ‘Good luck, kid.'”

“Green Eyes,” Good Luck, Kid’s latest single finds the siblings meshing classic, Phil Spector Wall of Sound-era pop with elements of old school country and contemporary pop as it features twinkling piano, strummed guitar, dramatic drumming, and an enormous hook — with the primary focus being the trio’s gorgeous harmonizing. And while being a slickly produced, radio friendly pop confection, the song reveals some incredibly earnest yet ambitious songwriting. Simply put, this is an act actively attempting to take over the world with carefully crafted pop rooted around personal and lived-in experience. In this case, much like some of the sources that seem to influence it, “Green Eyes” is an aching love song in which its narrator recognizes that their relationship is at a major crossroads. 

“You’re starting to sense this person slipping away from you and you explain how it’s ok if they’re questioning,” Natalie Closner Schepman says about the track. “You assure them that you feel certain and you’ll be right over here waiting for them to see what you see.”

The recently released, animated lyric video features the band in a Speed Racer-like animation, in which the ladies cruise an alien-like world of purple skies and neon-green moonlight. 

New Audio: British Psych Rock Act Temples Releases a Shimmering Lysergic New Single

Currently comprised of founding members James Bagshaw (vocals, guitar) and Tom Walmsley (bass) along with Adam Smith (keys, guitar), the Kettering, Northamptonshire, UK-based indie rock/psych rock act Temples initially began as a home studio-based project back in 2012 featuring two musicians, who had known each other for years from Kettering’s local music scene. 

The duo uploaded four self-produced tracks, which caught the attention of Heavenly Recordings founder and label head Jeff Barrett, who signed the band and agreed to release their debut single “Shelter Song” later that year. Shortly after signing to Heavenly Recordings, Bagshaw and Walmsley recruited Samuel Toms (drums) and Adam Smith to flesh out the band’s live sound — and to complete the band’s first lineup.

Since then the band has released two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2014’s Sun Structures, which landed at #7 on the UK Charts and 2017’s Volcano.  Building upon a growing national and international profile, the British indie rock act has made appearances across the UK, European Union and North American festival circuits. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Suede, Mystery Jets, Kasabian and The Vaccines among others — but over the past years, they’ve transitioned into a headlining act that has also made their Stateside national television appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Last year, saw a major lineup change for the acclaimed British indie rock act. Samuel Toms left the band to focus on his solo recording project Secret Fix, and later joined the equally acclaimed Fat White Family. Temples also left their longtime label home Heavenly Recordings and signed with ATO Records, who will be releasing the newly constituted trio’s highly-anticipated third album Hot Motion. 

Slated for a September 27, 2019 release, Hot Motion reportedly finds the band continuing to craft an intricate and nuanced sound — but while digging into a deeper, darker creative well of sorts.  The album’s second and latest single, the shimmering and hook-driven “You’re Either On Something.” And while the track  manages to possess a lysergic and technicolor quality that will bring of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles, Tommy-era The Who and Currents-era Tame Impala to mind, the track hints at something much darker under the surface — perhaps, the relentless and gnawing desire to escape a world that’s become increasingly disappointing and mad. “I’m really proud of ‘Your’e Either On Something’ lyrically because I feel deeply connected with the words — they’re so truthful,” the band’s James Bagshaw says in press notes. “On that track, I can hear influences of stuff that I listened to when I was growing up. There’s almost a nostalgia to that track, even though it’s very forward-looking.” 

New Video: Montreal’s Planet Giza Release a Lysergic Visual for “Ace Boogie Energy”

Up-and-coming Montreal-based hip-hop and production trio Planet Giza — comprised of Rami B, Tony Stone and Dumix — have released a series of efforts over the last couple of years, including last year’s ZZZ EP. Sonically, the trio effortlessly meshes elements of hip-hip, soul and funk into a unique sound that clearly nods to the past, but with a look towards the future, all while reflecting their multi-cultural backgrounds. Naturally, the trio cite the diversity of their hometown, as well as their widely-varying musical influences that inlaced Lil Boosie, Madlib, Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson and others. And as a result some critics have said that their sound easily sits with contemporaries such as The Internet, Kaytranada (who they collaborated with on “Domina”) and Godlink. 

The Montreal hip hop and production trio’s latest effort, the recently released Added Sugar is reportedly the trio’s most versatile release to date, as the material finds the members of Planet Giza crafting an effortlessly meshing elements of R&B, electro pop, hip-hop and others into a sleek and lushly texture sound paired with dexterous and perfectly delivered bars. Additionally, the Canadian hip-hop and production trio collaborate with Mick Jenkins and Kaytranada, who co-produced a track on the effort. (The trio also produced Goldlink’s “Ridd,” which the artist performed earlier this week on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.) 

Added Sugar’s latest single “Ace Boogie Energy” is centered around a lush, sleek and incredibly hyper modern production featuring shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rocking low end paired with emcees ruthlessly rhyming about  hustling and taking over the industry. The Touchemoipas-directed visual is partially inspired by “Paid In Full” but with a subtly  lysergic air. 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Alice Merton Performs “Lash Out” on “Live with Kelly and Ryan”

Over the past 12-18 months or so, I’ve written quit ea bit about Alice Merton, a Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, and as you may recall Merton has lived a rather nomadic life: most of her formative years were spent in Canada but she finished high school in Germany before relocating to England. Unsurprisingly, music managed to be a major part of her life, no matter where she was; in fact, as the story goes, Merton started taking classical piano lessons when she was five, and when she was nine, she was introduced to formal, vocal training. After spending the better part of a decade in classical training, the Frankfurt-am-Main-born, Berlin-based pop artist and singer/songwriter discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses while in Germany. And from that point onward, Merton went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Of course, while studying in school, Merton would wind up working with a number of producers on a variety of producers, and finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator in the creative process is an increasing rarity. But when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she found a musical match, and so far their collaboration together has been wildly successful — the duo’s swaggering, hook-driven and attention grabbing smash hit debut single, “No Roots,” which was inspired by her nomadic youth held the #1 spot for 2 weeks on the Alternative Radio Charts in the States and held it for 8 weeks in Canada. The song cracked the Top 30 on the pop charts, the Top 15 on the Hot Adult Contemporary charts and entered Billboard Hot 100. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the song has been synced in a Mini Cooper ad campaign — and earlier this year, she was featured in Rolling Stone‘s “One To Watch” and Billboard‘s “Chartbreaker” section, which has previously featured artists such as Cardi B and Khalid. Also, she’s made the rounds of national, late night TV with appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

And now, building upon the buzz surrounding her since the release of “No Roots,” Merton’s latest single “Lash Out” is an incredibly hook-driven song centered around a young woman narrator, who feels the need to speak up boldly (and loudly!) about what she wants and needs, about what she’s ready to fight for — and perhaps, more important to confidently answer her needs as she felt fit, in her own way. It’s an earnest, empowering feminist anthem that says to its listener, you better go out there, be bold and get what you deserve because no one else is going to be paying attention or care.

Merton and her backing band were recently on Live with Kelly and Ryan. Check out the footage.

New Video: Alice Merton Returns to Inspire Youthful Rebellion in Visuals for Anthemic EP Single “Lash Out”

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Alice Merton, a Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, and as you may recall Merton has lived a rather nomadic life: most of her formative years were spent in Canada but she finished high school in Germany before relocating to England. Unsurprisingly, music managed to be a major part of her life, no matter where she was; in fact, as the story goes, Merton started taking classical piano lessons when she was five, and when she was nine, she was introduced to formal, vocal training. After spending the better part of a decade in classical training, the Frankfurt-am-Main-born, Berlin-based pop artist and singer/songwriter discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses while in Germany. And from that point onward, Merton went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter. 

Of course, while studying in school, Merton would wind up working with a number of producers on a variety of producers, and finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator in the creative process is an increasing rarity. But when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she found a musical match, and so far their collaboration together has been wildly successful — the duo’s swaggering, hook-driven and attention grabbing smash hit debut single, “No Roots,” which was inspired by her nomadic youth held the #1 spot for 2 weeks on the Alternative Radio Charts in the States and held it for 8 weeks in Canada. The song cracked the Top 30 on the pop charts, the Top 15 on the Hot Adult Contemporary charts and entered Billboard Hot 100. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the song has been synced in a Mini Cooper ad campaign — and earlier this year, she was featured in Rolling Stone‘s “One To Watch” and Billboard‘s “Chartbreaker” section, which has previously featured artists such as Cardi B and Khalid. Also, she’s made the rounds of national, late night TV with appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

And now, building upon the buzz surrounding her since the release of “No Roots,” Merton’s latest single “Lash Out” is an incredibly hook-driven song centered around a young woman narrator, who feels the need to speak up boldly (and loudly!) about what she wants and needs, about what she’s ready to fight for — and perhaps, more important to confidently answer her needs as she felt fit, in her own way. It’s an earnest, empowering feminist anthem that says to its listener, you better go out there, be bold and get what you deserve because no one else is going to be paying attention or care. 

Co-directed by Max Nadolny and Jonas Stark, the recently released video features sequences shot in Berlin and South Africa and focuses on a diverse cast of people, including Merton, who through a series of similar yet very different circumstances have rebelliously broken out against tormentors and social norms. 

Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about Alice Merton, a Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Understandably, music managed to be a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth her and her family was; in fact, she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five, and when she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. After spending the better part of a decade of her life in classical training, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And as the story goes, from that point forward, Merton went on to study songwriting and began pursing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

While in school, Merton wound up working with a number of producers on projects, and finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator in the creative process is a rarity. And when she met the Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she found her musical match; in fact, the duo collaborated on Merton’s swaggering, hook-driven smash hit debut “No Roots,” a song that’s deeply influenced by her own nomadic youth. Speaking of smash hits, “No Roots” held the #1 spot for 2 consecutive weeks at the alternative radio charts here in the states, and held for 8 weeks in Canada. And as a result, she cracked the Top 30 on the pop charts, the Top 15 on the Hot Adult Contemporary charts and entered the Billboard Hot 100. Adding to a growing profile, the song is synced in a Mini Cooper ad campaign and was recently featured in Rolling Stone‘s “One To Watch” and Billboard‘s “Chartbreaker” section, which has previously featured artists such as Cardi B and Khalid — and earlier this year, she made her national TV debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Building upon the buzz of her breakthrough single, Merton’s latest single “Lash Out” comes on the heels of her recently released No Roots EP, and much like “No Roots,” the Berlin-based pop artist’s latest single continues on the first-person perspective of its predecessor and the anthemic, hook-driven song focuses on a woman, who feels the need to speak up boldly (and loudly!) about what you want, need and what you’re ready to fight for; to confidently answer your own needs in your own way.  And in some way, the song is an earnest, empowering feminist anthem.

Merton will be touring to support her debut EP and it’ll include performances on the festival circuit with appearances at Shaky Knees Fest, Hangout Music Festival and Governor’s Ball, and a tour opening for Vance Joy that includes a June 14, 2018 stop at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates:
5/6 Atlanta, GA Shaky Knees Fest
5/15 Charlottesville, VA Spring Pavilion*
5/16 Columbus, OH Express Live!*
5/18 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE*
5/19 Portsmouth, VA Portsmouth Pavilion*
5/20 Gulf Shores, AL Hangout Music Fest
5/22 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre*
5/24 Grand Rapids, MI 20 Monroe Live*
5/25 Chicago, IL Rosemont Theatre*
5/26 St. Louis, MO Fox Theatre*
5/27 Napa, CA BottleRock Napa Valley
5/30 Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheater*
6/1 St. Paul, MN Myth Live*
6/2 Milwaukee, WI Eagles Ballroom*
6/3 – New York, NY – Governors Ball Music Festival
6/14 Brooklyn, NY Prospect Park*
6/15 Boston, MA Blue Hills Bank Pavilion*
6/16 Hunter, NY NY Mountain Jam
6/14-6/17 Dover, DE – Firefly Music Festival
8/4 Montreal, QC Osheaga Festival
8/7 Toronto, ON Echo Beach^
* W/ Vance Joy
^ W/ Tash Sultana

 

Live Footage: Alice Merton Performs Viral Hit “No Roots” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Alice Merton is a Canadian-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, who has lived a rather nomadic life, as she was raised in Canada, finished high school in Germany and then with the rest of her family, relocated to England. Of course, music was a major part of her life, no matter where on Earth she was; she started taking classical piano lessons when she was five and by the time she was nine, she was introduced to vocal training. As the story goes, after spending the better part of a decade being classically trained, Merton discovered contemporary songwriting during one of her high school courses in Germany. And from that point forward, she went on to study songwriting and began pursuing her dream of becoming a professional singer/songwriter.

Naturally, while in school Merton would up working with a number or producers on projects and as you can imagine, finding the right producer, who can both compliment and challenge a singer/songwriter as a true collaborator is a rarity. And when she met Berlin-based producer Nicolas Rebscher, Merton quickly recognized that she finally found her musical match; in fact, the duo have managed to specialize in an anachronistic  sound that features Merton’s soulful pop belter vocals over a slick production consisting of analog synths, classic soul music-inspired instrumentation paired with hook driven, contemporary songwriting. 

Merton’s swaggering and bluesy debut single “No Roots,” features Merton’s self-assured and soulful pop belter vocals paired with a Rebscher production that features enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, brief blasts of funk guitar, squiggly blasts of synths and a rousingly anthemic hook that nods at Amy Winehouse, Lorde, Taylor Swift and others but while managing to feature a narrator that simultaneously expresses a wizened and resilient spirit; but just underneath there’s a visceral ache over a life frequently thrown in disarray with sudden moves before the narrator could get adjusted to a new place, and the realization that she’s never quite belonged. 

Already “No Roots” has won the up-and-coming Merton an immense amount of attention across the European Union, Stateside and elsewhere, as the song has already seen millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube, and has recently been added to the playlists of several Stateside Adult Alternative Album radio stations, including stations in Los Angeles, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, Minneapolis, the NYC area, as well as Sirius Alt Nation. Adding to a growing profile, thanks in part to the success of her debut single, Merton recently signed to renowned indie label Mom + Pop Music. Recently Merton, along with her backing band recently made their national television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she performed her viral hit. 

Live Footage: Bilal and The Roots Perform Politically-Charged Single “It Ain’t Fair” on NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Currently comprised of founding members Tariq  “Black Thought” Trotter (vocals), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums), along with Kamal Gray (keys), “Captain” Kirk Douglas (guitar), Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. (sousaphone, tuba), Mark Kelley (bass), James Poyster (keys), Stro Elliot (production, sampling), The Roots can trace their origins back to when its founding duo met while attending The Philadelphia High School of the Creative and Performing Arts. As the story goes, Trotter and Thompson would busk on street corners — with Thompson playing bucket drums and Trotter rhyming over Thompson’s rhythms, and by 1989, the played their first organized gig at their high school’s talent show under the name Radio Activity.

After a series of name changes including Black to the Future and The Square Roots, the duo eventually settled on The Roots, after discovering that a local folk group went by The Square Roots.  As they were building up a local profile, the duo expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Josh “The Rubberband” Adams, who later went on to form The Josh Abrams Quartet; MC Malik Abdul “Malik B.” Basit-Smart, Leonard Nelson “Hub” Hubbard (bass); Scott Storch (keys); MC Kenyatta “Kid Crumbs” Warren, who was in the band for the recording sessions for Organix, the band’s full-length debut; and MC Dice Raw, who made cameos on later albums. And although the band has gone through a number of lineup changes since the release of their debut, The Roots throughout the course of their critically applauded, 10 independently released albums, two EPs and two collaborative albums have developed a reputation for a sound that effortlessly meshes live, organic instrumentation featuring a jazz, funk and soul approach with hip-hop, essentially becoming one of the genre’s first true bands. Additionally, throughout their lengthy history together, the members of The Roots have developed a long-held reputation for collaborating with a diverse and expanding list of artists across a wide array of genres and styles, revealing an effortless ability to play anything at any time.

Of course, unless you’ve been living in a remote Tibetan monastery or in a cave, The Roots have been the house band for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009-2014 and for presently being the house band The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further expanding their profile into the national and international consciousness. And while being extraordinarily busy, the members of The Roots have been busy working on their 9th Wonder and Salaam Remi-produced 17th full-length album End Game, as well as contributing a politically charged track to the Detroit soundtrack, “It Ain’t Fair,” a collaboration with the renowned soul singer/songwriter Bilal.

Born Bilal Sayeed Oliver, Bilal is a Philadelphia, PA-born, New York-based soul singer/songwriter, best known by the mononym Bilal. Throughout his career, he’s received praise for his wide vocal range, work across multiple genres, his live performances and for collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Common, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Guru, Kimbra, J. Dilla, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, the aforementioned The Roots and others with his full-length debut 1st Born Second, which featured contributions from Soulquarians and production from Dr. Dre and J. Dilla being a commercial and critical success, peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200 charts and receiving comparisons to Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Prince and Curtis Mayfield.  Although since then, the renowned singer/songwriter has developed an increasing reputation for his work becoming much more avant-garde and genre-defying.

Interestingly enough, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Damon Bryson, a.k.a. Tuba Gooding, Jr. of The Roots and Bilal, along with a horn section went down to NPR Tiny Desk in Washington, DC to perform “It Ain’t Fair,” a deeply reflective song that thematically and lyrically makes a thoughtful nod towards Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On?, Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black? and others, as its creators unflinchingly and fearlessly call out a societal construct that denies a group of people the equality, dignity and decency that they too deserve. The song’s creators manage to empathetically offer a glimpse into the hearts and souls of those who love this country and would like to stand for the flag but simply can’t until the evils of inequality, racism and supremacy no longer exist — and when this great country actually lives up the ideals it claims it stands for. 

As I mentioned on Facebook, I was recently in Philadelphia for business related to my day job, and as I walked from my hotel in Center City through Old City, past The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I recognized that I was walking on many of the streets that the Framers once walked on, as I’ve done several times before. I could picture ol’ Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Hancock, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and so on, in their powered wigs and wool coats during that hot summer of 1776. And the song managed to remind me of the bitter and uneasy sadness I had begun to feel, remembering that the Framers, who could write about man’s inalienable rights given to him by God, didn’t see those same rights applying to anyone, who remotely looked like I do (or anyone, who wasn’t a man, or a property owner, etc.); that their independence, their revolution was never mine. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the pledge allegiance to the flag just didn’t apply to me.

If I go back just five generations ago, my ancestors on both sides of my family were slaves. Five generations ago wasn’t that long ago in the overall scheme of things — we’re talking about the parents of my great-grandparents. And on the streets of the City of Independence, I thought of the unfathomable horror and suffering they went through to justify someone else’s desire to be superior — and naturally, the song reminds me quite a bit of a lifelong bitter pill that’s so very difficult to swallow. 

Live Footage: Tame Impala Performs “Love/Paranoia” on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

Initially developed as the solo recording project of its  Melbourne, Australia-based creative mastering, the multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter Kevin Parker, Tame Impala quickly received national and international attention with the release of Innerspeaker and Lonerism. Parker’s third and most current full-length effort, Currents was released to critical praise two years ago, and from album singles “Cause I’m a Man” and “Let It Happen” reflected a decided change in Parker’s songwriting approach with the result being some of the most emotionally direct material he’s written to date. Along with that, sonically Parker expands upon the sound that has won him both national and international attention, with album material drawing from synth pop, prog rock and R&B, creating not only a modern take on psych pop, but also a much more nuanced, textured sound. 

After playing a critically applauded Panorama Festival set at the end of July, Parker and his touring band made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where they performed the slow-burning and ethereal “Love/Paranoia,” a track that draws equally from synth pop, R&B and psych pop simultaneously; but underneath the shimmering and glistening surface is a plaintive plea from a severely screwed up man that has let his insecurities and petty jealousies (among other things) interfere in a meaningful relationship, and naturally, the song is an earnest plea for forgiveness; but unlike countless other songs based around a similar experience and emotion, there’s a sense that the song’s narrator recognizes that he has potentially fucked things up for good — and a result, the pleading possesses a sincere urgency.