waajeed’s ‘things’ reaffirms his detroit house roots

If you care at all about Detroit culture, especially it’s everlasting wing of soulful Black music, you already know that Waajeed has been ruling 2018 — and, actually, for a few years now. Though the renaissance man born Robert O’Bryant is not as well recognized as some of his contemporaries, heads know that Jeedo’s two-decades-long resume — working with everyone from J Dilla, Slum Village and Platinum Pied Pipers back in the day, to Theo Parrish, Carl Craig and Underground Resistance more recently — is enough to place him at the table of the city’s rich rhythm heritage. Yet launching his own Dirt Tech Reck label in 2013 seems to have given yet another spring to Waajeed’s  step, because the records he’s been dropping since have been uniformly fire. And “Things About You,” the second single off his upcoming album, From the Dirt, continues the sparks.

What begins with a kind a heavy-handed kick-drum, a mic-checking clearing of a throat, and a nasty industrial synth, unfolds into something less obvious and more emotional when the layered vocals (all of them courtesy great young Detroit singer, Asante, who also wrote the song) come into play. That it’s a variation of the city’s Future Soul musical foundation — at once emotionally rich and technologically enormous — seems both besides the point and exactly IT. Lornezo “Zo!” Ferguson adds rhythm guitar licks, Jeedo lays down Rhodes chords, and Asante sings through variation in scales and phrasings. Yet when at the chorus, Asante’s voices become a small choir and Waajeed’s incredible string arrangement kicks in, suddenly”Things About You” becomes a disco-house classic busy being born.

Pre-order Waajeed’s new album, From the Dirt, drops on November 4th on his own Dirt Tech Reck.

you’ll be dancing like it’s a throwback to gallant’s soulful r&b jam

Tell me you don’t wonder what your feet look like on private beaches…

We do.

Especially when taking in the soulful R&B sound of Grammy-nominated crooner Gallant’s latest single ‘Haha No One Can Hear You’. If it’s not the throwback beat with soulful melodies, it’s the irresistible lyrics, transporting us to worlds outside the club, bar, car, etc… The R&B singer brings a balance of introspection and critique to the world he is creating for while creating the kind of music that made us fall in love with it. Pure talent!

As his next release “This Does Not Fit” inches closer to its release, Gallant’s released music teases an actualized body of work that will offer fans a listening experience that will feel like the man has been in the game for decades. He may think he “does not fit” in the world that urban music necessitates but if he keeps up this momentum, space will be made for him.

Check him out.

premiere: get on a wild ride with punk rocker anita lofton’s folk/soul song “boom boom”

Over a countrified soul stomp, The Anita Lofton Project’s latest “Boom Boom” brings the party. Singer and guitarist Lofton’s throwback vibe is an anthem for summer nights and unpaved roads. She got her start in the punk band Sistas in the Pit, and she brings that same energy to her new project’s sound. Lofton may have traded in a Marshall half stack for a fiddle player, but she hasn’t lost the feel.

The song is “a wild ride,” Anita tells us, “‘Boom Boom’ is a modern day love anthem where intimacy, truth, and love are explored. Peaks, valleys, and breakdowns make you wanna hold up a mirror and ask, “What will I do for love”? Peaks, valleys, and breakdowns make you wanna hold up a mirror and ask, ‘What will I do for love?’”

Photo by Lincoln Alder

video premiere: be the change you want to see with roots rock band the war and treaty’s “healing tide”

“Be the change you want to see.” It’s an old refrain but a powerful one, a reminder that the person you’re waiting for to come along and fix everything could be you. That’s the heart of the new single from husband and wife led roots rock band The War and Treaty, “Healing Tide.” With a gospel-inflected energy and infectious harmonies, the band asks a simple question: “What if I told you / you would be the one to bring round peace?”

“I sat in my recliner in my living room asking myself this same question over and over again after watching the news,” explains The War and Treaty’s Michael Trotter. “And my conscience in return asked me an even more important question.”

The band is all about uplift. From the feel-good message of the song, to the video’s simple narrative of a broke down car taking a couple somewhere unexpected. Titling the album and lead single Healing Tide is part of the band’s message of hope. “The reason why we haven’t found the quote unquote next is because we are looking for one man or woman when we should be looking for ourselves and challenging ourselves to work together to become the ones who will usher in the healing tide we need as the human race to move our past, present and future. That’s what this song, this music video, and this album is all about.”

Healing Tide is out August 10th. Pre-order it here: https://www.thewarandtreaty.com/

premiere: like a ‘chariot’ for a wary soul, british soulstress mega’s stirring vocals feel like home

North London soulstress Mega’s musical journey began in a local choir but was sidelined by devastating vocal issues experienced in her youth. She never let that deter her, vowing to one-day unleash her talent on the world and that day has finally come. Mega’s debut single ‘Chariot’ is a vulnerable and evocative showcase of the songstress’ measured vocal prowess. The simple strumming of the guitar, building to a percussive peak of nostalgia, power and catharsis is an experience only heightened and deepened by the rich tones of Mega’s voice.

She tells AFROPUNK: “Chariot was inspired by thinking about what I really needed to hear and imagining those words and lyrics being spoken and sung to me.”

A student of Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, Mega’s own undeniable sound shines through with her ability to weave understated lyrical poetry through an equally poetic sonic landscape. Every second is honest, embracing you till the echo of the final strum bleeds away, bringing you back into world. Bringing you home.

We cannot wait to witness Mega’s inevitable rise.

Listen to ‘Chariot’ above.

find strength in love and community with r&b/soul collective the suffers’ new lp

Few acts have deserved their rise to success like the Houston 8-piece The Suffers. The soul outfit has been hitting the bricks since 2011, earning a reputation as one of the most electrifying live acts out there. Their self-titled debut earned them a string of accolades, including spots at AFROPUNK Brooklyn and Paris. Now two years after their debut, they’re back with their sophomore effort, the dynamic groove-filled Everything Here.

At it’s core, Everything Here is an album driven by community. “After the storm,” reflects the resilience of their hometown after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. “I wanna see you / after the storm / you live right next to me / I can see over your fence / If you need anything / just call on me.” It’s a community-minded ethos that permeates the entire album, from the interludes that feature hometown icons like Bun B and Paul Wall to the powerful “A Word From Our Mammas,” which features words of encouragement from the mothers of each band member. Lead single “Do Whatever,” meanwhile brings in a crew of children chanting over the intro before ending with a kid declaring “that was fun!”

While much of the album’s run time is devoted to its community, the highlights tend to revolve around relationship. From the infectious single “I Think I Love You” to the infatuated “The One About Sace” to the closing heartbreak of “You Only Call.”

Though often lumped in with other throwback soul and R&B bands, The Suffers spend Everything Here expanding and refining their sonic palette, particularly on the standout ballad “Sure To Remain” which rides a minimalist drum machine pattern into a stunning string-driven climax, while singer Kam Franklin delivers one of her most nuanced emotional performances on the record. The album closes with its only real throwback jam, “Won’t Be Here Tomorrow.” It showcases a band whose subtle innovations set them apart.

Everything Here is out now. Stream it above, and don’t miss them on tour. More info at http://www.thesuffers.com/

get mesmerized with hypnotic vocals in neo-soul songstress iyamah’s groovy new single

Iyamah, pronounced (i..yam..ah) grew up in the seaside town of Brighton, surrounded by the sounds of African drumming and reggae music. She first picked up piano at 13 after spending her time imitating the likes of Alicia Keys and Adele playing on the radio. When her teacher convinced her to start singing solo, she started singing lessons, starting her on the journey to becoming a Neo-Soul artist to watch.

Iyamah developed a strong love for neo-soul and hip-hop, listening to and appreciating the likes of Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. She also immersed herself in Brighton’s club scene, writing toplines for Drum and Base features that culminated in a collaboration with Black Butter Records’ My Nu Leng, featuring on their festival anthem ‘Senses’. She performed with them at Glastonbury last year and festivals throughout 2018.

The singer/songwriter found her home in her Neo-Soul and R&B roots, producing stunning vocals in her latest offering ‘Silver Over Gold’. Her vocals detail the relatable struggle found in moving to a new town while also living through life’s many disappointments. The mesmerizing guitar matches her natural musical prowess, delivering a fully realized piece of music. The songstress has already sang alongside Kojey Radical and Poppy Ajudha and supported Mahalia on her UK tour, displaying her undeniable talent and hinting at her imminent rise.

‘Silver Over Gold’ is out now.

escape the chaotic political climate with psychedelic-soul rockers con brio’s slice of paradise, ‘explorer’

“Don’t the sour make the sweet taste sweeter?”

Psychedelic- Rock and Soul septet Con Brio pulls off a surprising trick on their latest release, Explorer. Hiding just beneath the breezy pop hooks is a deep reservoir of serious musicianship, and moments of urgency and smart social criticism. It’s the rare album with a pop sheen that hides a deeper message.

Starting with “Saddle Up,” the band showcases a skill at dense layering. The song builds from spaced out electro R&B into an anthemic coda anchored by a deft horn section. The first half of the album is heavy on the poppy come-ons, but the band always interjects the songs with surprising touches, the old school soul hook that bursts out of “Texas Summers,” the compellingly understated horn licks in “Body Language.” And then “Heart Shaped Box” announces the album’s powerful second half.

Let me digress for a second to say that this is probably my favorite Nirvana song, and I’ve heard “Heart Shaped Box” covered more times than I can possibly count. I’ve never heard a band take the song and make it their own in the same way. So I don’t say it lightly when I say this is probably the best cover of that song I could possibly imagine. Damn. “Royal Rage” marks the band’s first big statement song; a track about frustration, hopelessness, and rebellion in the age of American fascism, that has far more to say than a song with as strong a hook as it has should say.

“United State of Mind” is the star of the show. A bouncy rhythm and retro soul feel that looks to find hope in a time when hope is in short supply. Where most of the songs have hooks and production touches that look to the future, “United State of Mind” looks back to 60’s soul and early funk to make a point about the modern age that would have made the Immortal Saint Gaye proud. That the album closes with tracks called “High Spirits” and “Feels Good,” sets the band’s mission statement. “Royal Rage” aside, this is an album about trying to find the joy in life when the world is a slowly spinning dumpster fire. I didn’t realize how badly I needed this record when I spun it the first time, but Explorer maybe the most essential pop record of summer 2018.

Stream it above, and catch Con Brio on tour now. Dates and tickets are here: http://www.thebandconbrio.com/home/shows/

premiere: let joy soar with 80-year-old soul legend ural thomas & the pain’s new 7″ “vibrations”

It’s been 50 years since Ural Thomas was out opening for Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones, but he hasn’t lost an ounce of that fire. Disillusioned with the soulessness of the music industry, the soul singer retreated to Portland in the early 70’s, and began hosting weekly jam sessions. Over the past decade, these jam sessions evolved into an unexpected late-career resurgence with his new backing band The Pain. Despite pushing 80, Ural Thomas & The Pain show no sign of easing up with their latest single “Vibrations” b/w “My Sweet Rosie.”

“Good vibrations go a long way, and help to spread joy. The song meaning comes from being around wonderful people and that’s the message I am always trying to share”

The two tracks form the A and B sides of a forthcoming 7” and could easily have been cut 50 years ago. Ural Thomas and bandleader Scott Magee are careful to keep everything as authentic as possible, down to the imperfectly tuned piano. There’s an undeniable warmth coming off these songs, as Thomas builds a monument to joy. The A side is a tribute to being around positive people, while the singer describes his tribute to his wife “My Sweet Rosie” saying simply “well, that’s what she is!”

Ural Thomas & The Pain will be dropping their next full length in the fall. In the meantime, grab your copy of the 7” here: https://tenderlovingempire.com/products/ural-thomas-and-the-pain-vibrations

soul king fantastic negrito crafts an anthem to resilience on ‘please don’t be dead’

“Take that bullshit / Turn it into good shit.”

The triumphant reinvention of Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz as Fantastic Negrito is one of the very few, if not only, 3rd acts in rock.  After a twice-sidelined solo career, once by the coma that gives Please Don’t Be Dead its album cover, Dphrepaulezz came roaring back in 2014 as one of rock’s most sought after live acts. With 2016’s The Last Days of Oakland, Fantastic Negrito won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, capping off 20 years of hustle.

Please Don’t Be Dead might be Dphrepaulezz’s second album in the spotlight, but it’s hardly a sophomore effort. It’s merely his first album where he’s not the underdog. And that confidence looks good on him. The album is full of surprising left turns and experimental quirks that color in the margins of his blues, soul, and funk. Highlights like “Plastic Hamburgers,” “The Duffler,” and “Bullshit Anthem” deliver the kind of uptempo anthems fans have come to expect, mixing the personal with the political and an almost religious passion. But most surprisingly, it’s Please Don’t Be Dead‘s ballads that shine brightest.

Dphrepaulezz explained the title is in reference to his son, and living in fear that he could be end up yet another casualty in America’s war on black youth. And the struggle against that fear is present in “A Letter to Fear” which insists “whatever you do to me / I will carry on.” “A Cold November Street” and “Dark Windows,” meanwhile boast the album’s best songwriting. “Dark Windows,” in particular strips away the bluster and defiant party vibe of the rest of the album to wrestle with the dangerous world we find ourselves in.

“I wrote this album because I fear for the life of my black son. I fear for the lives of my daughters. I am uncertain about what kind of future they will face. Will someone shoot up their school? Will they become addicted to prescription pills? Will they wind up on the street, sleeping under freeways and overpasses? Will the police murder my son? I came up with the name Please Don’t Be Dead because I felt like we’d lost of our way as a society – and I know what happens when you chase the wrong things. It’s the story of my life.” – Fantastic Negrito

The album closes with the plea to “Never Give Up” before launching into the funk hook of “Bullshit Anthem.” As the daily news of 2018 turns in one new horror after the next, we all need a reminder to take that bullshit and turn it into that good shit. But there may be no-one earth who can deliver a line like “I get knocked down / But I keep on fighting” with the sincerity and wisdom of experience as Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz. Please Don’t Be Dead is a monument to resilience built on the ashes of missed opportunities and fear.