Miles Mosley Uprising

When L.A. artist Miles Mosley sings “mediocrity is everywhere, but not here” on his album Uprising, I have to agree. In 2017 jazz and funk music lovers will be hard-pressed trying to find the type and quality of sounds offered up on this album.

Miles Mosley - Uprising (2017)

Uprising (2017)

Its 11 tracks were among 190 recorded by a collective of some of today’s most innovative artists and killer musicians during the one-month long West Coast Get Down sessions in L.A. Both Uprising and Kamasi Washington’s double album The Epic were amongst the fruits of those studio labours.

Miles Mosley is responsible for playing bass, composing, producing and arranging on most of Uprising‘s tracks. And as well as Kamasi Washington contributional credits go to West Coast Get Down members Zane Musa (tenor saxophone) – Christopher Gray, James Ford and Dontae Winslow (trumpet) – Tony Austin (drums/production/engineering), Brandon Coleman (keys) – Patrice Quinn (vocals/production) – Ryan Porter (trombone) – Cameron Graves (piano) – Barbara Sealy (production/lyrics) – Leah Zener and Ray Suen (violin) – Tom Lea and Mike Whitson (viola) – Peter Jacobson and Chris Votek (cello) and Allakoi Pete (percussion).

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Uprising’s song lyrics and their delivery by Miles Mosley exude strength, determination, confidence and passion. And when you hear them you can’t help but feel the contagiousness of those qualities.

Hear the absence of mediocrity for yourself in these two sample tracks from Uprising. The usual ‘mp3-only’ warning applies.  So does the recommendation to support Miles Mosley and his collaborators by buying a hard copy of the full album in its uncompressed sonic glory.

Young Lion – Miles Mosley

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Fire – Miles Mosley

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Also check out this video snippet of Miles Mosley performing the album’s first single “Abraham” with Kamasi Washington & The Next Step live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2016.

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A Tribe Called Quest – Thank You 4 Your Service

Let’s not focus on what might be wrong with hip hop today. Instead let’s talk about what’s right with it; and how A Tribe Called Quest and their newest (and final 🙁 ) album We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service exemplifies those things.

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)

First and foremost there’s the fact that this album saw A Tribe Called Quest’s four original members, each of whom spent the most part of hip hop’s history truly pioneering and mastering its fine art, reunited and creating magic in the studio again. Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White: a long-time brotherhood, a family, with their individual talents and combined strengths effortlessly spitting out stunning beats and rhymes with a rare and sublime chemistry that’s simply undeniable.

Then there’s that cast of musical contributors and guest MCs, all of whom along with A Tribe Called Quest’s core members, are themselves masters of hip hop and further exemplify what’s right with it today. They include Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Anderson .Paak, Talib Kweli and Kanye West as well as hip hop veterans and long-time Tribe collaborators Busta Rhymes and Consequence. On We Got It From Here… those featured artists contribute to the tracks in a humble way, their parts subtly integrated into the collective whole without unnecessarily becoming the main focus.

Those MCs spit intelligent, clever lyrical rhymes of substance – speaking out about the things that need to be talked about, and heard by the masses. You know, all those seemingly persistent, cyclical wrongs of this world of prejudice and discrimination in which we still, unfortunately live; and fundamentally, the importance of critical thinking, unity and action in the face of those wrongs. Throughout the album due homage is also paid to the life, artistry, friendship and ultimate death of Phife Dawg (during the album’s making). And despite the heavy weight of its lyrical subject matter, in true and beloved Tribe-Style, the messages are delivered with plenty of humour and fun in the mix.

We Got It From Here… also had a recording process not seen often these days whereby all but two of its contributors (Elton John and Kanye West) recorded their parts in Q-Tip’s home studio-  bouncing creative energies and ideas off each other, inspiring one another, to create all the many parts that eventually made up the final intricate whole after Q-Tip and Blair Wells had meticulously slaved over its production for months after recording finished.

This hip hop album feels and sounds alive – largely because of its perfect blend of live instrumentation with programmed beats. Amongst the contributing musicians adding their creative touches are Jack White on guitar, Elton John and Chris Bower on piano, Q-Tip on drums, bass and keys, Masayuki “BIGYUKI” Hirano on piano, keys and synth, Chris Sholar, Chris Parks and Blair Wells on guitar, Louis Cato on bass and guitar, Casey Benjamin on keys, organ, fender rhodes and piano, Thaddaeus Tribbett on bass, Mark Colenburg on drums, with scratches by George “DJ Scratch” Spivey.

And not surprisingly the group stayed away from the more obvious and most heavily-sampled songs – instead choosing lefter-field tracks from a diverse range of artists including Black Sabbath, Elton John, Can, Nairobi Sisters and Musical Youth.

Finally, We Got It From Here… exemplifies what’s right about hip hop music today because it undoubtedly moves the bodies of us folk in this world who love to dance.

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your ServiceSince the release of their 1990 debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, A Tribe Called Quest have made our lives much much richer with their music. We Got It From Here… is yet another blessed musical gift from these proven masters of hip hop today and for all eternity. We can and should be thankful to the Tribe family for all of those musical gifts.

Check out 2 of the albums 16 tracks here, remembering these versions are inferior, compressed mp3s. Of course Tribe released We Got It From Here… on cd and in its most superior format, sweet vinyl. Get the hard copy from your local independent record store and add it to your Beloved-Forever-After Music Collection.

“Solid Wall of Sound” – A Tribe Called Quest

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“Ego” – A Tribe Called Quest

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Despite Phife Dawg’s tragic passing during the making of We Got It From Here… there’s been talk of a world tour of the album. Here’s hoping that’s true and we get the blessed opportunity for the ultimate of A Tribe Called Quest experiences: to hear and see the remaining members spitting beats and rhymes live on stage.

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The Second by Derrick Hodge – A Gift For The People

It’s a pleasure to hear the fruits of Derrick Hodge‘s musical labours, independent of his long-time recording and performance work with artists like Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard, Maxwell, Q-Tip, Jill Scott and Common.

Derrick Hodge with Maxwell live concert

Derrick Hodge with Maxwell live at Soulfest

On his new solo album The Second, released on Blue Note, credit for almost all its sounds goes to Derrick Hodge himself. He produced and wrote its twelve tracks except for “Underground Rhapsody” which was co-written with drummer Mark Colenburg. He also plays all instruments, with contributions from other musicians on only four songs: Colenburg on drums in three; and horns by Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax) and Corey King (trombone) on “For Generations” – musical sublime taking you way back to a dark, intimate, smokey venue of yesteryear.

Derrick Hodge - The Second

The Second is a super-chilled cinematic sonic journey designed to uplift. Derrick Hodge created this music “for the people”. That’s me. And that’s you. So take and appreciate your gift of music given with the best of intentions by this very talented artist.

Check out two sample tracks from The Second here. Remember they’re just dirty, compressed mp3-versions of all the sounds recorded by the makers – which can be heard in their fullest glory when you buy and hear the album in hard copy.

“Underground Rhapsody” by Derrick Hodge – The Second

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“For Generations” by Derrick Hodge – The Second 

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Derrick Hodge - The Second

 

If Derrick Hodge and his collaborators are up your musical alley, you can check out interviews, live concert reviews and sample album tracks by some of those artists here: Keyon HarroldMarcus Strickland; Robert Glasper; Jill ScottMaxwellMos DefCommon.

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Stephen Marley – Revelation Part 2- The Fruit of Life

Stephen Marley has given music lovers a hell of a lot to absorb on his new album Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life.

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

The album has an epic 19 tracks, more if you access them digitally. It features around two dozen North American and Jamaican vocalists and MCs. And it showcases the roots of reggae and the many musical fruits of that tree: including dancehall, ska, ragga, dub, dubstep, electronic dance music and most dominantly in this here mix, the almighty hip hop.

Its featured artists include Damian MarleyKy-mani Marley; Jo Mersa Marley; Wyclef JeanBlack Thought; Busta Rhymes; SizzlaJunior Reid; Dead Prez;  Rakim; Kardinal Offishall; Rick RossWaka FlockaKonshens; Shaggy; Twista; Jasmin Karma; Bounty Killer; Cobra; DJ Khaled; Capleton and, last and definitely least, Pitbull and Iggy Izalea.

They rap, rhyme, toast and sing about a huge range of topics from doing doughnuts in a carpark with a ferrari- to much more pressing lyrical matters like the many social injustices of the world; and how in their context, the celebration of life and music become all the more vital.

The consistent sonic pleasure throughout The Fruit of Life is the one-of-a-kind, honey-sweet voice of Stephen Marley singing positive messages about giving and showing love. As he so perfectly and succinctly puts it on “The Lion Roars” – “it’s the only law that we must obey”.

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

Yep. Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life has a lot to absorb – over many, many listens. From the sexy and sensual vibe of some tracks to the party ones, this album is filled with an incredibly-diverse range of instrumental and vocal pleasures to find, love and make your feel-good soundtrack for dancing, romancing, cooking, cleaning, driving, chilling, partying or anything else you do in this life.

Check out a few sample tracks (compressed mp3-versions) from Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life. If you like what you hear you know the best way to properly know and enjoy all the sounds recorded by Stephen Marley and his collaborators, and thank them, is to buy the full album on vinyl or at least cd 🙂 .

Stephen Marley - Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life

Stephen Marley featuring Capleton & Sizzla – “Rockstone”

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Stephen Marley featuring Wyclef Jean – “Father Of The Man”

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Stephen Marley featuring Busta Rhymes & Konshens – “Pleasure Or Pain”

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The Return of Blackalicious – Imani Vol. 1

Old school hip hop duo Chief Excel and Gift of Gab are back in fine form with their first new Blackalicious album since 2005.

Imani Vol. 1 is the first of three new Blackalicious album instalments they say are coming.

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Blackalicious – Imani: Vol 1 (2015)

Anything I have to say about the nitty gritty of its 20 tracks matters not really. Sufficed to say Imani Vol. 1 is a refreshing throwback to glory days of hip hop gone.

Instrumentally producer Chief Xcel and a handful of live players on drums, bass, guitar, keys, horns and strings have created a diversity of sounds crossing funk, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, rock and dub.

Lyrically, Gift of Gab (with his killer, high speed flow) and another handful of guest vocalists and MCs bring positive messages of hope, faith, perseverance and love – in spite of and despite the struggles life deals us.

All in all the Blackalicious crew has created sounds of music that will command your attention again and again; and, all things being equal, give you the experience of feeling better, feeling good, feeling inspired, feeling hopeful and, feeling that your body must move.

What more do you need from your hip hop?

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Check out two sample tracks from Imani Vol. 1 here – remembering as always, they are compressed mp3 versions only. For the full sound goodness, buy the album on vinyl or cd here.

Blackalicious - Imani Vol. 1 (2015)

Blackalicious – “Blacka”

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Blackalicious (feat. Lateef, Lyrics Born, Monophonics & DJ D Sharp)- “Alpha And Omega”


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Who Is Jill Scott?

Who is Jill Scott? Well, having never met the woman I’m not qualified to say. But the words and sounds Jill Scott has created and shared with the world in the five studio albums she’s released over the last 15 years, including the most recent Woman, give us a pretty good idea of all we need to know.

Jill Scott - Woman

Woman (2015)

Our introductory glimpses of Jill Scott came in 2000 with her magnificent debut album Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1.

Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott?

 “Jilltro” – Who Is Jill Scott? 

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We know from “Jilltro”, from Woman’s closing track “Beautiful Love” and every Jill Scott song in between, that this North Philly artist is a beautiful poet, a stunning multi-dimensional singer and a prolific storyteller who has consistently delivered easy-listening, easy-dancing blends of soul, jazz, funk, R&B, hip hop and (now) country music, to the world.

Jill Scott - The Light of the Sun (2011)

The Light of The Sun (2011)

Jill Scott- The Real Thing

The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3 (2007)

Jill Scott - Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2

Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds Vol. 2 (2004)

 

 

 

 

 

We know that on all those songs we have the pleasure of hearing Jill Scott’s divine voice singing and speaking words dripping with raw, honest, sensual emotion; telling stories of everyday human living we can all relate to around friendship, family, heartache, love and desire in their many healthy and unhealthy forms, food and play. That through those beautifully-human lyrical stories, Jill Scott unashamedly shows us both her vulnerabilities and overriding strengths – from which we get the distinct feeling she is a sensitive, passionate and powerful woman demonstrating the importance of love, compassion and humour by example.

Jill Scott - Woman (2015)

Finally, I know personally that on every Jill Scott album (Woman included) I find songs delivered in a way that make me feel stronger, happier and more hopeful. That’s an incredibly-special gift from Jill Scott to me – and to everyone else in this world moved by her music and her voice.

Listen here to 2 of Woman’s 16 tracks. Remember these are just mp3 versions, compressed glimpses of all the sounds recorded by Jill Scott and her musical collaborators; that there are 14 more songs on the album, all of which are fundamental parts of the whole of Woman; and to buy the real deal in its entirety is to thank Jill Scott for creating these beautiful sounds and words to enjoy, and to support her in making more.

Jill Scott - Woman

“Can’t Wait” – Woman

…with Pino Palladino (The Vanguard) on bass playing what for me, are the sublimest of all instrumental sounds on the album.

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“Coming To You” – Woman

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The whole album Woman is of course available to buy from your local, independent record store.

The extra-blessed can find themselves the ultimate Jill Scott experience: hearing her sing songs of old and new, live on stage. I expected to be amongst the Blessed this weekend at Soulfest 2015 – but am instead part of a cast of thousands devastated by the festival’s last minute cancellation 🙁 . Jill Scott’s name has to stay on my Live Music Bucket List for now.

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Georgia Anne Muldrow Accentuating The Positive

Georgia Anne Muldrow’s most recent album A Thoughtiverse Unmarred, is a fabulous and timely reminder of how very much the world (both humans and the precious environment we live in) benefits from having positive musical messengers like her within it.

During its twelve tracks of hip hop beats and rhymes soaked in funk and soul, Georgia Anne Muldrow’s conscious words unfailingly accentuate the positive over the negative. They encourage love and compassion over hate – call for equality and fairness over injustice and discrimination – promote diversity and spirituality over the monocultural and materialistic – advocate for peace over conflict – and champion self determination, hope and triumph over one’s disadvantaged social, political and economic circumstances.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

A Thoughtiverse Unmarred (2015)

The bonus is that those positive lyrical messages from Georgia Anne Muldrow and featured rappers Declaime (aka Dudley Perkins) and MP Is Free come with music wholly produced by Chris Keys, all together likely to make you feel good and want to dance with them.

Check out two sample tracks from A Thoughtiverse Unmarred here, remembering they’re just compressed mp3 versions of the real deal. You can buy the full album in all its goodness (including finding a copy on sweet vinyl) to cherish forever-after amongst the other gems of your music collection.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Monoculture” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Georgia Anne Muldrow – “Child Shot” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

The less words said about Haitus Kaiyote’s new album Choose Your Weapon, the better really. And I say that with the greatest of respect for Hiatus Kaiyote, their music and their artistry.

Listening, hearing and experiencing this one-of-a-kind music is what needs to happen instead.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

If I must use words I’ll start with the short and sweet ones Hiatus Kaiyote themselves (Australians Nai Palm, Paul Bender, Perrin Moss and Paul Mavin) use to describe their music: ‘multi-dimensional, polyrhythmic gangster shit’.

Hiatus Kaiyote

Go on and tell you simply that Hiatus Kaiyote and other contributing artists to Choose Your Weapon have created 69.27 minutes of soulful, jazzy, swinging, grooving, sonic magnificence that fits into no musical box except the one called ‘Hiatus Kaiyote’.

That all things being equal, listening to this album will make you feel something (mostly ‘good’ I suspect, but the full emotional spectrum is available) – and experience the endless realms of your imagination.

And finally, that you might find yourself getting a good whipping during a few of the Choose Your Weapon tracks.

More than enough words already. Magnificence is the one that counts. Listen here to two of the album’s 18 tracks in dirty mp3-style.

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon (2015)

‘Shaolin Monk Motherfunk’ – Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (2015)

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‘The Lung’ – Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon (2015)

…featuring strings by collaborator-with-so-so-many-artists of the world including Flying Lotus and Quantic – Miguel Atwood Ferguson.

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If you love this music like I do, you know already that buying Choose Your Weapon on vinyl and/or at least cd to hear it as it should be heard, is what’s needed yeah? Hold the album in your hands, read the lyrics, credits and thankyous, and admire the artwork. Play it on a good sound system. Soak up all its sonic subtleties. And relish your Hiatus Kaiyote whipping.

Catch the live Hiatus Kaiyote experience where you can too. I promise it’s even more delightful than studio-style. Folks in the States hearing their shows right about now will surely agree – and peeps in the U.K, Europe, Japan, Russia and Australia can find out or remind themselves as the band continue touring Choose Your Weapon over coming months.

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