Tag: Thundercat

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Releases a Shimmering and Much-Needed Bit of Spiritual Uplift

Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, Steve Arrington got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for singing lead vocals on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of professional success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.

As Arrington focused on the spiritual matters, an impressive and eclectic array of artists have been influenced by his work, with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.

After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Since then the Dayton-born and-based funk legend has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots and collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.

The funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is slated for a Friday release through Stones Throw Records, and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God, while casting an easygoing yet razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the slow-burning Quiet Storm-like pimp strut “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a song that offered prescriptive advice for listeners in a time of heightened anxiety, uncertainty, stress and despair — and proud and defiantly hopeful and shimmering “Make a Difference,” which reminds the listener that while we have achieved so much, we still have a lot of hard work to do to achieve Martin Luther King’s and John Lewis’ vision of America.

“The Joys of Love,” Down to the Lowest Terms’ fourth and latest single is a shimmering, neo-soul strut, centered around twinkling Rhodes, boom bap-like drumming, an infectious two step-inducing hook and Arrington’s imitable crooning. Considering the bleak and unending Kafkaesque hellscape that is our current world, this song is frankly a much-needed blast of spiritual uplift.

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Returns with an Upbeat and Positive New Anthem

Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.

An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s work with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J,Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.

After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.

Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, and the album. which is slated for a September 18. 2020 release though Stones Throw Records reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on notes world around him. Last month, I wrote about the album’s second single “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar and Arrington’s sultry crooning. And while bearing a resemblance to his work in Slave, the song offered some advice for listeners in a time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” slow down and take it easy. 

Produced by DJ Harrison, “Make a Difference,” Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions’ third and latest single continues a run of strutting and sinuous pimp struts  featuring a a shimmering arrangement of twinkling and reverb-drenched Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, sunny horn lines and a stuttering boom-bap like beat. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the track is centered by a proud and defiantly hopeful message: at its core, the song reminds us that although we haven’t quite achieved Martin’s promised land yet, we’ve made a lot of progress towards that — and we can’t let that go. That bright and glorious future is coming and we all need to work our asses off to get there. 

“Make a Difference” address “the current state of things in this country,” Arrington says. “As far as the racial tensions . . . so much of it is being promoted by politicians with agendas. And you have moments like Black Lives Matter, and different races coming together to say: ‘We’re not going back. We’re not stepping back into the forties and fifties.’ This song speaks to that. The great John Lewis — the message that he left for all of us, to understand and move forward, not making a difference for a few months, but a lifetime of living.” 

 

Thundercat · Dragonball Durag (Remix) [feat. Guapdad 4000 & Smino]

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is was released earlier this year through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

It Is What It Is‘ second single, “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Thundercat’s fourth album was released to widespread critical applause earlier this year and continuing the momentum as best as he could in light of pandemic-related lockdowns, the JOVM recently released a remix of “Dragonball Durag,” that features St. Louis emcee and vocalist Smino and Los Angeles-based emcee, vocalist, creative and like-minded anime fanatic Guapdad 4000. Smino is the co-founder of the Zero Fatigue collective, which features Bari, Monte Booker, Jay2 and Rayvn Layne — and he’s a member of of Ghetto Sage with Saba and Noname. Gaupdad 4000 and Smino are also members of hip-hop supergroup Zoink Gang with JID and Buddy. So all of these brothers are insanely busy. As far as the remix, it’s a straightforward take on the song that with the addition of Guapdad and Smino’s verses, add a new and ridiculous context to the song.  The swag is more, the fuckboi assholery is more and it’s fucking hilarious.

 

 

 

New Audio: Funk Legend Steve Arrington Gives Us Advice on Getting Through These Dark Times

Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming best known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work. 

An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist. 

Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing  guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat. 

Slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Stones Throw Records, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo album in 11 years — and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album’s second and latest single “Soulful I Need That In My Life” is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar, and Arrington’s imitable crooning. While bearing a resemblance to Arrington’s famous work in Slave, the song offers prescriptive advice for listeners in at time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” and slow it down. “Some nice, soulful music is going to bring some peace to this time of trouble and stress,” the funk legend says in press notes. And you know what? I suspect he’s right. 

Created by Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf and Jamma D, “Soulful I Need That In My Life” the song can trace its origins to when the song’s producer Jamma D ran into Wolf at the label’s Gold Line Bar during the early states of the album. Wolf invited Jamma D to share some beats. And after sending a bunch of beats over, Jamma was surprised to hear that the funk legend wanted to use a beat for the album.“A few months after that I was behind the board in a studio watching Steve in the booth write, record, and ad-lib the entire jam in about 3 hours.” Jamma D says. “It was the pleasure of a lifetime to bear witness to the funk in its purest undiluted form, the INVADE is upon you!”

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Adeline Performs 3 Singles for Colors Home/Bred Sessions

Initially making a name for herself as the frontwoman of the equally acclaimed dance music/nu-disco outfit Escort, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer and JOVM mainstay Adeline has developed a reputation as a solo artist of note, releasing her self-titled, full-length debut to critical praise from the likes of Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others.

The JOVM mainstay has opened for Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among a lengthening list of artists, which  which has helped to further cement her reputation for dazzling audiences with her beauty, her captivating live show and energetic presence. Adding to a growing profile as a solo artist, the Parisian-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and bassist, has made appearances across the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazz Fest. She’s also a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band, making her — arguably — one of the hardest working women in New York’s music scene. 

Intérimes EP, the highly-anticipated follow-up to her full-length debut was originally slated for a June 12, 2020 release but the JOVM mainstay decided to reschedule the release to July 10, 2020 in order to make room for voices as the Black Lives Matter and police reform movements have been gaining momentum within the mainstream. In the meantime, Adeline will be releasing the #TwilightChallengeEP tomorrow — Juneteenth — on Bandcamp as a celebration of Black Culture and to support Black Lives Matter. 

#TwilightChallengeEP will feature seven artists of color from all over the world, performing the JOVM mainstay’s five favorite selections from her #TwilightChallenge fan competition, a competition in which she invited fans to make new version of “Twilight” using the instrumental version of the track. The artists include:

Jonathan Singletary, a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose work meshes elements of R&B, soul and hip-hop while thematically exploring love and  the pursuit of  freedom. Singletary was a co-writer on Adeline’s “Twilight” and he’s a frequent collaborator with the Night Share production duo. Currently, he has plans to release new material this year. 
Lisko, a Nancy, France-based rapper, who has receiving attention for having a jazzy flow —  and for being a kind of “professor of good vibes.” 
Syndee Winters and Paze Infinite: Winters has had a diverse musical career that has included starring as Nala in The Lion King musical on Broadway and writing songs for a number of artists. Paze Infinite, is a rapidly rising beatmaker, producer, songwriter and emcee, who has received attention for crafting radio friendly beats for vocalists and emcees. 
Vilda Ray, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter and producer, who specializes in crafting music that will make your body sway — or leave you teary eyed. 
Lucas Afonso and Roberta Estrela D’Alva: Afonso is a Brazilian-born and-based poet, emcee, art educator, founder and host of acclaimed poetry slam “Slam da Ponta.” He’s also a Brazilian National Slam champion, and one of Brazil’s representatives in the 2016 Poetry Slam World Cup, held in France. Robetra Estrela D’Alva is a Brazilian-born and-based emcee, actress, spoken word artist, director and researcher. Known as one of the pioneers of  her homeland’s slam poetry scene, she’s a founder of Núcleo Bartolomeu de Depoimentos, Brazil’s first hip-hop theater company. 
The EP is part of Bandcamp’s Juneteenth fundraiser, will all donations received by Adeline going to Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization rooted in the leadership of diverse people of color to address systemic and racial injustice. All of Bandcamp’s proceeds will go to the NAACP. 

In between being out on the streets with the folks protesting injustice and  systemic racist, Adeline was invited by the internationally acclaimed production company COLORS to perform material off her forthcoming EP for their new Home/Bred sessions. The session includes the funky, Patrice Rushen-like two-stepper “Middle,” the sultry Quiet Storm-like breakup ballad “Twilight,”  and the slow-burning and atmospheric ballad “When I’m Alone,” which brings Thundercat’s “We Die,” to mind.  From this session,  it should be apparent that Adeline is  the real deal — and that you’re watching a soon-to-be superstar in an intimate setting. 

New Video: Norwegian JOVM Mainstay Ivan Ave Returns with a Dreamy Visual for Contemplative “Hope/Nope”

Over the past few months, I’ve spilled a quite a bit of virtual ink writing about this site’s latest mainstay, Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. The acclaimed, Norwegian emcee’s third album Double Goodbyes was released earlier this year through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. 

Deriving its title from a Seinfeld references, Double Goodbyes finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wrice, and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle for the JOVM mainstay, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Interestingly, some of the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness,” Ivan Ave says in press notes. “But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups and downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (It shouldn’t be surprising that A Tribe Called Quest’s and The Midnight Hour’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)

“Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

I’ve written about a handful of the album’s singles, including “Triple Double Love,” “Phone Won’t Charge” and “Guest List Etiquette.” And while sonically, the material is a silky smooth and slick synthesis of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B J. Dilla-era hip-hop, the songs themselves reveal a wizened self-awareness that comes from hard-fought personal experience, through narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — and/or unfulfilled. But it ain’t all serious. There’s a playful self-deprecating humor throughout, especially on “Guest List Etiquette.” a track that focuses on a common dilemma for artists across the globe: everyone hitting them up to get on the guest list for their show.

The album’s fourth and latest single the Thundercat-like “Hope/Nope” is a dreamy song centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars and atmospheric synths and an infectious hook. But unlike the album’s previously released material, the song finds its narrator vacillating between hope and despair. Can one hold onto hope when things seem so bleak, uncertain and dystopian? Shit, sometimes it’s just so fucking hard to be human. 

“This is the daydreamer’s anthem on the record, part escapism, part war cry. The rap verse came out sweet but dystopian,” Ivan Ave explains in press notes. “Sasac saves the day on the last verse, with a medieval guitar solo that makes me hopeful again. Hope seems to be the most important overarching theme of the album when I listen back to it. I’ve learned to respect cognitive dissonance as a weapon, a survival instinct maybe, in Darwinian terms. Double edged sword though.”

Directed by Mats Christian Rude Halvorsen, the recently released video for “Hope/Nope” is a contemplative and eerie fever dream — centered around a dream-like logic while evoking the eerie sensation of someone, who’s been in isolation for some extended period of time, walking out into the world. “The video for Hope/Nope came about right after the initial phase of self isolation here in Oslo,” Øygarden explains in press notes. “Mats, Thomas and I really wanted to get out of the house and create something, but we of course had to wait until restrictions were softened up enough. I think we brought that energy into the execution of Mats’ ideas. I think the song is a good fit with that energy. That restlessness combined with a dreamy slumber.”

vincethealien is a mysterious and emerging artist, who’s reportedly on a mission to find a planet, a people or just an individual person to connect to, crafting a sound that seems indebted with Serpentwithfeet, Kelela, Brockhampton, Solange, Thundercat, Sampha, and Frank Ocean — with a focus on harmonies and vocal craft.

vincethealien’s second and latest single, the others9000-produced “Easy Bake” is a sultry pop confection centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, stuttering trap-like beats,  layered come hither-styled vocals full of double entendres and a bouncy hook. The end result is an intergalactic take on R&B from Jupiter in the year 3765.

 

 

 

 

 

Now, over the past few months, I’ve spilled a quite a bit of virtual ink writing about this site’s latest mainstay, Eivind Øygarden, an acclaimed Telemark, Norway-born, Oslo-Norway-based emcee, best known as Ivan Ave. Because Telemark is an area surrounded by rugged, majestic mountains and is best known for its hiking paths and for its folk music heritage, Øygarden is a rather unusual figure made even more unusual in homeland: a Norwegian-born and-based emcee, who rhymes in English. But he’s managed to made a name for himself on the global, underground hip-hop scene.

As a teenager Øygarden and his family relocated to Stavanger, where he gravitated to the city’s prominent hip-hop, breakdance, DJ and graffiti scene. Øygarden took all of those early influences with him when he relocated to New York for a self-imposed residency, in which, he spent time hanging out and collecting records at A-1 Records. Interestingly, it was through his love of hip-hop that he discovered 70s jazz and soul — and sampling as a way to create his own music and sound.

When Øygarden returned to Oslo, he met his earliest collaborator Fredfades. The duo then founded Mutual Intentions, a collective of like-minded friends and a label that became a platform that hadn’t previously existed in Oslo — and it led to work with international producers. In 2014, Ivan Ave signed to Berlin-based Jakarta Records, who released his acclaimed debut, 2016’s Helping Hands and his sophomore album, 2017’s Every Eye.  

The Norwegian emcee and JOVM mainstay’s third full-length album Double Goodbyes is slated for an April 2020 release through Playground Music/Mutual Intentions. And as you may recall, the album which references Seinfield finds the acclaimed emcee leaving the sample-heavy behind sound of his previously released work and moving towards a broader — and at times more soul influenced — sonic palette. The album also marks the first time that Øygarden took up production duties, producing the majority of the album’s material himself.

Recorded last year in Los Angeles and Oslo, and featuring guest spots from Sasac, Bryon The Aquarius, Joyce Wrice, and others, the album was recorded during a period of personal struggle, where the work became both the focus and the therapy. “I needed to start from scratch in my life and rebuild it step by step, the music was part of the healing process.” Additionally, the aesthetics of the Home Shopping Network and late ’80s and early ’90s new age influence some of the album’s material. ‘“It’s easy to mock, due to some of its pompous cheesiness,” Ivan Ave says in press notes. “But as I’m getting older, experiencing life’s ups and downs, the essence of it feels genuine.” (In some way, it shouldn’t be surprising that Ali Shaheed Muhammad once described the acclaimed Norwegian emcee’s work as “deeply therapeutic” on his podcast.)

Double Goodbyes is a product of just making music that moved me, in a phase of my life where I was building from scratch emotionally,” the acclaimed Norwegian emcee explains in press notes. “I found healing in producing and singing these songs, without necessarily putting my usual rappety-rap hat on. But as the album title suggests, a lot of times we find ourselves bumping into the exact things, people and habits that we thought we had left behind. So my hip-hop roots shine through once again, in this weird blend of RnB, AOR and synth sounds. Sasac was my main co-creator on the record, along with some dope music friends such as Kiefer, Mndsgn, Byron The Aquarius, Devin Morrison and more.”

So far, I’ve written about the album’s first three singles  “Triple Double Love,” “Phone Won’t Charge” and “Guest List Etiquette.” And while sonically they’ve all ben silky smooth, slick syntheses of 80s and 90s synth-led R&B and J. Dilla-era hip-hop, the songs themselves reveal a wizened self-awareness that comes from hard-fought personal experience, through narrators, who have come to recognize that they’ve been unintentionally and unwittingly repeating patterns that have made them miserable — and/or unfulfilled. But it ain’t all serious. There’s a playful self-deprecating humor throughout, especially on “Guest List Etiquette.” a track that focuses on a common dilemma for artists across the globe: everyone hitting them up to get on the guest list for their show.

The album’s fourth and latest single the Thundercat-like “Hope/Nope” is a dreamy song centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars and atmospheric synths and an infectious hook. But unlike the album’s previously released material, the song finds its narrator vacillating between hope and despair. Can one hold onto hope when things seem so bleak, uncertain and dystopian? Ask me again in a few months.

This is the daydreamer’s anthem on the record, part escapism, part war cry. The rap verse came out sweet but dystopian,” Ivan Ave explains in press notes. “Sasac saves the day on the last verse, with a medieval guitar solo that makes me hopeful again. Hope seems to be the most important overarching theme of the album when I listen back to it. I’ve learned to respect cognitive dissonance as a weapon, a survival instinct maybe, in darwinian terms. Double edged sword though.”

 

New Video: Shabazz Palaces’ Gorgeous and Hallucinogenic Visual for “Fast Learner”

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.

Directed by Stephan Gray, the recently released video for “Fast Leaner” is a gorgeously shot, hallucinogenic-fueled take on the prototypical hip-hop video that’s one part Italian art film, one part trap shit, one part street shit, shot at dusk and at night in various locations, including the desert, the studio, the streets, artist-like lofts. If this the sound and look  of our soon-to-be dystopian future in which our society collapses, the poor get sick and the rich get richer, then it fucking slaps. 

Since the release of their critically applauded full-length debut, 2011’s Black Up, the Seattle-based act Shabazz Palaces — emcee and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire — have managed to boldly continue Butler’s relentless desire to reimagine hip-hop and to boldly expand the possibilities of sound while proving that they’re the heirs to the astral imaginations of Sun Ra, George Clinton, Octavia Butler and Alice Coltrane. As a result Butler has collaborated with like-minded, critically applauded experimentalists including Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Battles, Animal Collective, Clipping and others — and he has toured with the likes of Radiohead and Lauryn Hill.

Slated for an April 17, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, Shabazz Palaces’ forthcoming album Don of Diamond Dreams is reportedly a sort of futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, featuring robotic and vocodered vocals, warped auto-tune, alien-like synthesizers — but with drums speaking a universal language, as the material’s overall sound meshes and blurs the lines between hip-hop, dub, soul, funk, African, experimental and occasionally even pop.

Although their fifth album continues a prolific run of meticulously constructed albums, its creation was centered around instinct and improvisation, being both cerebral and automatic with Butler jotting down phrases and ideas in his phone and eventually shaping them into amorphous, abstract and expressionistic verses. Interestingly, some of the material is shaped by Butler’s reflections on being a parent and watching his son, Jazz become internationally renowned as the rapidly rising artist Lil Tracy. There’s interplay between father as son, with Butler absorbing the sounds of today’s youth, but filtering it through his own fractured lens, spitting complex rhyme schemes with wild cadences and wordplay, freestyling with the wisdom and experience of age and the passion of someone, who believes that he has something to prove. And while as self-assured and as confident as ever, the album captures an act boldly attempting something new.

Don of Diamond Dreams‘ first single is the glittering and thumping “Fast Learner.” Featuring a prominent guest spot from Purple Tape Nate, the track is centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, wobbling and tumbling bass lines and heavily vocodered and reverb-drenched vocals, the track is a lysergic-tinged and semi-retrofuturistic take on trap that’s one-part slow-burning and atmospheric R&B, one-part surrealistic, art pop, one part golden era hip-hop. And while sounding unlike anything else in their growing catalog, the song does manage to further cement the duo’s forward-thinking, 37th century hanging out around Jupiter’s rings in a badass spaceship take on hip-hop.