Tag Archives: Soul

#Bandcampgold-Resistance by Brandon Coleman

#Bandcampgold-Resistance by Brandon Coleman

by Dan-O

Albums have hearts and souls. I need all of them. My favorite Freddie Gibbs album is ESGN because he was so angry at Jeezy and his old label for mismanaging him that his mind was spiraling down the most angry heinous pathways possible and some days I’m there with him. That album has a heart for the worst days. Resistance has the opposite heart. It has love and joy and funk. It makes my five year old and my wife dance together.  When the horns start on the song Sexy and the bass drops my family loses it.

I didn’t know about this album until I went to see Kamasi Washington live. Coleman is his pianist and Kamasi stepped back so he could launch into his lush composition Walk Free. It has the soul of a Donny Hathaway love song with gentle instrumental touches and admirable composition. I vowed that the next wifi connection found would bring me to his album!

The kids say things like “It’s a mood” and sound creepy to me but this album is one. Brandon Coleman does his Roger Troutman thing through the talk box but he doesn’t lean on it. It’s not a shtick. He’s written real songs that are well formed and funky which leaves the Vocoder as an additive you forget about after a while. While Sexy is funky and lets loose it is followed by There’s No Turning Back which is its equal in glimmering smooth horizontal excellence. It glides by at two minutes and twenty seconds leading into the title track which is even shorter (one minute and fifty one seconds).

This is where I confess that you’re not me and you may not have the same taste. Coleman is part of that West Coast jazz contingent with Kamasi (same folks worked on To Pimp A Butterfly with Kendrick). His influences are people I LOVE LOVE LOVE from Freddie Hubbard to Troutman to George Clinton to Dre to Quik. I am a die hard West Coast sound guy and nothing is funkier than Addiction (with killer guest work from Sheera).  These songs slap and groove while maintaining a high IQ in musical execution.  Most people would have made a song like Love the somber/poignant come down in the album but he turned it up, made it bounce like a pop song so that the concept can taste as good to your ears as it should to your heart; as it should to your everyday interactions. This is my kind of dude so Resistance is my kind of album.  The boldest protest made by it is the earned smile it wears while playing in this world of ghastly madness. I wonder if Stevie Wonder has heard this album?

Stream or buy Resistance below:

https://brandon-coleman.bandcamp.com/album/resistance-1

 

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#Bandcampgold-Whatever It Takes by The James Hunter Six

a4209732063_10#Bandcampgold-Whatever It Takes by The James Hunter Six

by Dan-O

Music criticism makes my skin crawl when it becomes too coy about areas of specialization. Example: when a soul album like Whatever It Takes by The James Hunter Six comes out the criticism given by experts is very watery and ephemeral “this is nostalgic stuff so its fine but who needs it?! Just listen to the original stuff it apes.” That view of this album is one from the ears of someone who doesn’t genuinely love soul music.  We all want to act like renaissance listeners who know everything but it’s so rarely true.  We specialize. This lead in is to make it clear this music is exactly my specialization and Whatever It Takes is a fabulous example of my counter point to the “who needs it?!” people.

A giant percentage of our music is nostalgic but we only register some of it with that tag(lots of sneaking going on). I hold that The James Hunter Six are part of an active genre not a throwback trend. They aren’t a Temptations cover band they make music within a genre that lived in 1962 and does now. I applaud James Hunter and Daptone Records co-founder (and producer) Bosco Mann for remaining laser focused when putting these ten songs together.

Daptone separates itself with genius composition. You can hear it in the found sound jack in the box tuning on the title track (along with fantastic drum and organ), the engaging instrumental track Blisters, the frantic movement of I Got Eyes, the astounding bass line of Show Her (my favorite song). James  Hunter is locked in pocket like a great closer on the mound in baseball. He arcs up and down within reach of every note he needs.  My favorite performance vocally is Mm-Hmm where he glides along the drums before gently eking out the chorus. He commands the song (in summation: 2 things that elevate a soul album 1. Composition  2. Commanding vocal performance)

Whatever It Takes is an album.  You just put it on and let it go. If other people are with you who haven’t heard it they will ask you what year it was made when you tell them this year they will get surprised. It passes the one test for soul music. The test Sharon Jones made everyone so aware of: if this is to sound like it’s from a bygone era does it sound like a new artist in that era or does it specifically sound like ripping off an artist? Is this just someone doing Wilson Pickett or James Brown again? If it is original vocal performance and composition like The James Hunter Six have given us than just enjoy it and be thankful we have more of it to warm the day.

Stream or BUY(I did) below:

https://jameshuntersix.bandcamp.com/album/whatever-it-takes

Sample Snitch-Chaka Khan, Simply Red, 8ball, & MJG

 

Sample Snitch-Chaka Khan, Simply Red, 8ball, & MJG

by Dan-O

So UGK dropped their first album Too Hard To Swallow in 1992 stacked with old soul samples. The sample listing includes Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, and the Isley Brothers. I’ve already written a previous Sample Snitch about the Isley connection with UGK. A year later in 1993 8ball & MJG drop one of the scariest debut albums in the history of the genre (Comin’ Out Hard) and on the title track they sample Rufus & Chaka Khan’s Stay along with Simply Red’s Holding Back The Years.

The juxtaposition of smash mouth street content over warm lush soul would come to define Southern Rap. This is the creation of riding music made to bump in Cadillac’s not headphones or dancefloors. At the time the “average” hip hop fan was so used to the east coast brusque tough guy shouting street cred that this was all new. The smooth foundation of Simply Red topped with the brilliant sample of Chaka Khan for the chorus was shaken and altered by 8ball saying things like:

” I gotta come out hard as hell just like the life I lead

Cool, feed on the next brotha’s greed

J-Smooth cuttin’ up, lil’ Hank gettin’ buck

Killers be shootin’ up suckas with no guts

I’m scoping big butts, looking for the payoff

Living like a pimpster, taking everyday off

Riding through the hood with my homies gettin’ smoked out

Fall up in the mall, on a ho stroll, loked out

Cool, calm and collective, comin’ out hard”

He was feeding on greed watching killers shoot people while remaining cool, calm and collective…how? It was a different environment and mentality from the one listeners understood.  The imagery portrayed is still genuinely horrifying. On the song Pimps 8ball has a verse where he gives lessons on pimping and one is

“Lesson three

If you don’t tell dat ho who is boss

Bitchs like to run shit

But end up getting smacked in the mouth

See a real nigga believe in beatin them hoes down

Push they head into the wall until you hear dat crackin sound”

His intonation is so serious and sinister in its joy as he says it that the verse never leaves you. It teaches you a horrible truth about the world that we all need to work to change. It speaks the terror hidden from some neighborhoods. That song samples Love T.K.O. by Linda & Cecil Womack( they went by Womack & Womack).  8ball & MJG made gangsta rap just as ugly or brutal as anyone in history but the sugar of soul and funk (Rufus for example had all songs written by the keyboardist, bassist and drummer so they naturally made songs perfect for hip hop sampling.) made it go down differently. While people were having congressional hearings about Dr. Dre & Ice Cube, Old Dirty, Wu-Tang Clan…Southern Rap wasn’t really in the conversation. Maybe it wasn’t big enough sales wise, maybe the samples made it taste less threatening than it was. Either way, Comin’ Out Hard is the core of a method we still find today.

Rufus featuring Chaka Khan Stay off the album Street Player

Simply Red Holding Back The Years off the album Picture Book

Comin’ Out Hard by 8ball & MJG brings it all together

Song Of The Year-Unconditional Love by Esperanza Spalding

Song Of The Year-Unconditional Love by Esperanza Spalding

by Dan-O

 

Of all the potential large scale album productions we’ve seen from huge names across many genres only two 2016 albums resonate with me this year. Flatbush Zombies released the brilliant 3001: A Laced Odyssey with brazen insane verses, lots of interesting subject matter, and groundbreaking intelligent production. The other album I can’t get away from is Emily’s D+Evolution.  I always thought of Esperanza Spalding as one of the clever types trying to take jazz and make it soul so she could be a real center-stage star(great bass player). Like everyone else I have more thoughts than knowledge to support them so she sunk my preconceptions on her new album.

The common ground between 3001 and Emily’s D+Evolution is both albums did what they wanted to do without feeling at all crowd-sourced or put together in the spirit of a bitching marketing campaign. Elevate or Operate is an insane song where she turns carnival music into  brain warping melody and engaging lyricism. Her voice proudly carries Joni Mitchell in it, triggering that feeling of hearing how utterly different Joni was from anyone else.

Emily’s D+Evolution is still boldly jazz fusion but soul as well, folk in its determination and pop in the best sense of it. When it came out Prince hadn’t died yet but it made me think of him in its expanse of what it achieves and the confidence it maintains all the way through. It provides the best platform for her staggering talent. She could have made an album of cool dope funk tunes like Funk The Fear but Unconditional Love has that stop-what-your-doing vocal permanence to it. Just a simple lush loving song that lifts you whenever you hear it and Spalding could have cranked out a project of this kind of song; I would have supported that. Instead, she moved on to the next one and made it however she wanted and did it so well that she forced me to walk behind her on the journey. That’s always my best case scenario. I don’t want to make taste for anyone I just want ride with a confident driver.

Song of The Year-The Season/Carry Me by Anderson Paak

Song of The Year-The Season/Carry Me by Anderson Paak

by Dan-O

When Drake first exploded onto the scene some interesting comparisons were made between him and Lebron James. The same way purist’s frothed venom as Lebron chomped on his fingernails on the sidelines; Drake felt like the cloying hip hop version. So much talent but in complete refusal to use it the way we all agreed you were supposed to use it.

In this way, Kendrick Lamar is very much the Steph Curry of modern hip hop. He’s created a quick passing well-oiled machine of deadly three point shooting in Golden State. TDE has put the accent on a real depth of verse, not in some sort of scientific way(a la GZA researching a verse for three weeks), but a real message. Not simply sharp imagery for its own sake or discordant thoughts and ideas dropped to fill the time, but concepts that unfold through authorship. That lane has been extraordinarily fruitful for a lot of artists who were already moving in that direction and now have ears checking for them. Ears taught by Kendrick and the gang.

Anderson Paak has been making very unique music for a while. Dr. Dre showcased him on the Compton album and now he has followed by signing to Dre and putting out Malibu. The Season/Carry Me is a strong bridge between rap and soul, not to mention a perfect example of what Paak can bring to the table. It snaps and snarls with sharp attitude and power, sonically and lyrically, “Ain’t sh#t changed but the bank statements, spent the summer in the rave with the beach babies, threw your jeweler in the buggy with the top down up PCH.” A strong sense of 2016 braggadocio shifts into a warm piano where he turns the steering wheel into mournful, reflective soul. The Kendrick effect allows for the content to cover so much more ground and expect the audience to keep the pace. Death, addiction, and fear all swim throughout the song (and album) in a subtle mix with the determination and prodigious abilities of Paak. The words are all important and challenging but the soul keeps you warm and taken care of.

Malibu is not laborious for the listener. It still goes down smooth as he transitions from first love to dead parent, this is how life is. We suffer, we win, we lose and not on some mastered train of thought. Instead, we navigate the great body of water that is everything.  Holding up the heft of intellectual content and sharp confessional imagery is always the relief and beauty of soul done perfectly right. This is as much Frankie Beverly and Harold Melvin’s album as it is Kendrick’s.  Everyone involved in producing the album was smart enough to know that the audience shouldn’t have to figure this out to enjoy it. This is why it’s my favorite album of the year; its dope no matter how much attention you pay it.

 

Song of The Year-Jayraymecofasol​a by Jill Scott

Song of The Year-Jayraymecofasol​a by Jill Scott

by Dan-O

While it is true that I’ve never known Jill Scott to be a monster charting force (or even the center of the soul narrative the way Badu has been) I’ve also never known an artist who didn’t love her music. Being an artist doesn’t increase the amount of art you love it kind of decreases it, because the entire middle section of content that isn’t great but isn’t terrible becomes more frustrating. You pick apart the flaws in construction and delivery, fixing it in your mind the way you would your own work and by the end you can’t even look at it without thinking “this clearly wasn’t finished!” Jill Scott’s art is always safe and comfortable for an artist. The songs are structured and sequenced; the poetry she works in isn’t throw away stuff, its good work.

Listening to her new album Woman, I couldn’t help but picture my weeded out writer associates rolling up and nodding their heads. Her words aren’t just sharp. The voice is weaponized and unstoppable creating moments like Jahraymecofasola that sparkle and glimmer in captivating ways that feel more like the magic of soul than the intellectual force of a poetic mind.

I really think that Jill hasn’t been bigger(she has won grammy’s and been successful) because her music isn’t damaged enough. We all want our songstresses like Holiday or Winehouse, suffering in front of us, out of control. Jill Scott always sounds like a normal person. A gifted hard working normy and all that means is the tides of narrative don’t scoop her up as much as they should. Anyone who ever put pen to a blank page and made nothing into a world…adores her work and we got a heck of an album to show for it.

P.S. this youtube is a full album stream, PLEASE buy it if you like what you hear

Mixtape Review-Winters Diary 2 by Tink

Mixtape Review-Winters Diary 2 by Tink

by Dan-O

The unquestionable sincerity of emotion that runs right through the center of Winters Diary 2 holds it together despite all other limitations. The fact that her voice doesn’t have that Beyonce or Jennifer Hudson range actually turns into a positive. She sings in an affectionate coo throughout that makes her inimitable. On a song like Lullaby where most of the top R&B ladies would be tempted to hit that Mariah Carey register ,to impress, Tink stays in pocket and promises in hushed tones to be everything you want her to be. For someone not well acquainted with her work she’s more than that on this project.

I have a deep affection for the songwriting on Winters Diary 2. In this era of music where hip hop and R&B most times merge into a sticky sweaty x-rated affair she talks about love all throughout the project with the abiding determination of someone on a mission to get it right. I’m not sure if she’d agree but the project is about the tumult of being in a relationship with hip hop. Hip hop stays in the street too much, cheats on you and teaches you to be about your money. She talks about relationships through these different prisms. On Money Ova Everything she pleads “All I wanna do is get this dough with you” but the search for money proves second to building the love and trust a relationship needs to survive.

The production is not trailblazing, it owes a lot to 90’s booty music but you know what…I loved 90’s booty music. You can picture Aaliyah’s dance choreography for the video she would make out of Tink’s 2 and 2. If you want that production style you can find a thousand people doing it. You won’t find anyone willing to implore and confess so much of what a lot of people would call corny or cheesy while really understanding that it’s just a search that makes us uncomfortable. A lot of datpiff downloaders would be more comfortable hearing Tink brag about how low she could drop it than starting her lead single with “Somebody real is hard to find somebody worth all your time somebody you hope will tell you the truth someone who loves you for you (Treat Me Like Somebody).” It would be corny if she was beating the same drum the whole time but she switches gears on Dirty Slang and Freak Like Me singing with a smirk and turning up when she needs too.

Its blasphemy but on my favorite moment on Winters Diary 2 (track 4 HML) I felt like I was listening to Mary J Blige What’s The 411 for the first time and getting acquainted with someone who could make her soul music equal parts sexy, affable, and endearing; someone that can spin painful stories into gleeful survivor music. It wasn’t until later (the last track in fact) that Winters Diary 2 revealed its plot twist and how the characters search for love crashes downward. It was a nice twist but I don’t put something on repeat for a twist. The journey of Winters Diary 2 means a lot to anyone brave enough to admit the importance of love. So naturally I bump that.

Stream or download Winters Diary 2 below:
http://www.datpiff.com/Tink-Winters-Diary-2-mixtape.570560.html