Welcome to the July 2016 issue

Welcome to the July 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

We’re kicking off this month’s issue with a tribute to the late, great Bernie Worrell who released his final album Retrospectives this year.  Also featured is the self-titled debut by the new rock supergroup Project N-Fidelikah, with Fishbone’s Angelo Moore.

July brings a number of soul releases, including Charles Bradley’s Changes, the newest self-titled release by Bloomington’s own Durand Jones and the Indications, and two compilations of Chicago soul—Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985 and the Numero Group’s Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park, a tribute to the Chicago deejay Bob Abrahamian who specialized in collecting and playing Chicago Sweet Soul. Another compilation, 4th Coming’s Strange Things, is a funky record that earns its title with off-the-wall experimentation.

Under jazz there’s the new release, Planetary Prince, from Cameron Graves (a member of the groundbreaking West Coast Get Down collective). Our hip hop release of the month is The Rebellion Sessions, an instrumental collaboration between rapper/producer Black Milk and Washington, D.C. group Nat Turner.

In world music, we’re featuring Musique de Nuit—a cello/kora collaboration between Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal, as well as the Afrobeat compilation Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk

Wrapping up this month’s issue is our list of June 2016 Releases of Note.

Bernie Worrell – Retrospectives

bernie worrell_retrospectives

Title: Retrospectives

Artist: Bernie Worrell

Label: PurpleWOO Productions

Format: CD, LP, MP3

Release Date: January 20, 2016

 

 

Keyboardist Bernie Worrell passed away on June 24, and his final album, Retrospectives, is a reminder of the legendary musician’s claim to fame as an ever-fresh and funky player.  As keyboardist for groups like Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins’s Rubber Band, Talking Heads and the countless other projects that Worrell has participated in over the course of his storied career, he developed a unique and ever-innovative style of playing and composing. In addition to acoustic pianos, Hammond B3s, Clavichords, MOOGs and Melodicas, Worrell is reported to have been the second musician to acquire an RMI (Stevie Wonder being the first to get the Rocky Mountain Instruments Electric Piano). It is doubtless true, however, that his alternatingly spacey and funky sounds set the tone for keyboardists who would employ these instruments from the 1970s through the present.

On Retrospectives, Worrell uses a variety of keyboard instruments to create rich musical tapestries—the record features only Worrell and two drummers, Donald Sturge and Anthony McKenzie II, but Worrell’s multitracked use of his veritable arsenal of keys lends the record a  feel that is nearly orchestral at times.  Even at his advanced age, Worrell’s playing was still sharp when recording these tracks—his funky Clavinet rhythms interweave with melodic synthesizers and richly textured organ sounds on “Joyful Process” (even quoting “Jesus Loves Me” on the tune’s introduction).  Ever true to form, Worrell takes listeners “out there” on Retrospectives, too, bringing in the signature phased-out synth lines that were a trademark of his work in P-Funk’s catalog, taking it far out over steady piano-based grooves.  Most of the record continues in this fashion, an ever-evolving collection of musical textures, grooves, and melodies.  This is music to be slowly and gradually absorbed, preferably through a pair of high-quality headphones—my tinnitus acted up a bit on a few songs simply due to the incredible pitch range that Worrell employed on several tracks. This record makes it clear that Worrell didn’t lose his ability to be sonically and musically challenging with age.

While we may have lost a legend this month, Worrell’s musical legacy, as reflected on Retrospectives, is a rich and diverse one. This album is a wonderful way to cap off a truly remarkable career.


Reviewed by Matthew Alley

Project N-Fidelikah

project_nfidelikah

Title: Project N-Fidelikah

Artist: Project N-Fidelikah

Label: Rat Pak Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: May 27, 2016

 

 

Is it possible to create a supergroup full of lesser-known musical personalities?  Not every musician is a Beatle or Bob Dylan, and not all supergroups, therefore, can have the kind of surefire star power that The Traveling Wilburys did.  However, the perennial problem with supergroups is that, inevitably, dominant personalities usually win out and the group’s sound ends up getting compromised in the process.  Project N-Fidelikah, however, doesn’t have the typical “too many cooks” supergroup problem, in part because it doesn’t have a typical supergroup lineup, drawing musicians from the category of “bands you’ve heard of but don’t know their catalog too well.”  Project N-Fidelikah features vocalist, organist and saxophonist Angelo Moore, aka Dr. Madd Vibe (Fishbone), guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, The Lynch Mob), bassist Pancho Tomaselli (War), and studio drummer Chris Moore. The group’s lineup reads like an ESP guitar ad (Lynch and Tomaselli are both endorsers, and the story is that they met through the guitar company), but plays with the scrappiness of a garage band. N-Fidelikah’s sound draws heavily from the eclectic rock of Fishbone and their contemporaries in the late-’80s/early-’90s LA rock scene,while clearly incorporating other members’ musical personalities. The confluence of these influences makes Project N-Fidelikah eclectic, humorous, and generally off-the-wall.

Check out the group’s first single, “Landslide Salvation”:

Perhaps prophesying the 2016 return of fellow LA rockers’ The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the transformation of Rage Against the Machine’s core group into Prophets of Rage, Project N-Fidelikah is about more than indulging the nostalgia market for the funky rock of a particular time and place. Digging deep into funk influences, Chris Moore and Tomaselli set up monster grooves throughout the record.  Perhaps surprisingly for a hair metal superstar, Lynch uses these grooves as a canvas for articulate (even downright economical) guitar work, at times digging deep into the groove with distorted power chords and at other times drawing upon his ’80s chops to provide a burst of energy and color that compliments a given song’s groove rather than overriding it.  Dr. Madd Vibe’s lyrics and sax top off the gradual layering, tackling political issues (“Anchor Babies”), race (“I Wanna Be White (But I Can’t)”), and the abuses that the music industry inflicts upon artists (“Exposure Fi’Pay”).  Even the group’s jammiest (and perhaps most interesting) track, “Deprivation of Independence,” is a meditation upon mass surveillance, while its slow-burn groove is equally useful as a vehicle for lick trading, punctuated by tasty guitar solos from Lynch and sax lines from Angelo Moore.

All-in-all, Project N-Fidelikah is a strong effort by the funkiest supergroup you’ve never heard of.  The album is lyrically and musically challenging, while full of enough tasty grooves and licks to keep listeners coming back for more, even after they’ve absorbed the record’s striking social critique.

 

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk

rich medina jump funk

Title: Rich Medina Presents Jump “N” Funk

Artist : Various Artists

Label: BBE

Format: CD, LP

Release Date: May 27, 2016

 

 

It would be unfair to fault readers who are unfamiliar with Afrobeat. It’s not commercial music and unless you’re a regular NPR listener, the genre might have escaped your notice. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones who saw the musical Fela! –if you were, then you know this music is heavy on horns and bass. If you weren’t, then this CD provides a condensed Afrobeat education. It’s a genre pioneered in the late ’60s by Fela Kuti. Nicknamed “The Black President,” Kuti was to Nigeria what Bob Marley was to Jamaica. Kuti was not afraid to take the Nigerian government to task for corruption and lying to the people, using his music to get social and political messages across. On this two disc set, DJ Rich Medina presents Jump N Funk, a collage of Afrobeat music, titled after the parties Rich Medina helped create and where he still regularly spins Afrobeat classics. These parties never really took off in Medina’s hometown of Philadelphia, but in New York, London, and Miami there is no parking on the dancefloor.

I found it odd that Fela’s son Femi is nowhere to be found on this CD, but Fela’s youngest son, Seun, was featured on two tracks. Disc two opens with the Antibalas, who are one of the biggest Afrobeat acts going today, not counting members of the Kuti family. They open disc two with a live version of “World War IV” at Jazz Café in London, with the lead singer taking the Clinton administration and other world leaders to task. This disc also includes a remake of 1972’s “Soul Moukusa,” a track that early B-boys would use as the soundtrack for popping and locking, while hip hop DJs Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa would cut it up in New York City parks. This remake stays true to the original. Disc one has another remake, Timmy Thomas’s 1973 cut, “Everbody Wants to Live Together,” covered by River Ocean on this set. This sentiment clearly maintains its value in the turbulent times that 2016 has brought.

Back to Seun Kuti. On “Don’t Give That Shit To Me” he says, “Don’t bullshit Africa”—a confrontational stance that shouldn’t put newbies off too much. Even though it is immanently danceable, this is angry political music at heart. Rich Medina appears on two tracks: on disc one’s “Too Much” with Martin Luther & Madlouna, and with Antibalas on “Ja Joosh.”  If ever commercial radio programmers wanted to expose this music to a wider fan base in the US, this radio-friendly cut would be the track to get behind.

Afrobeat isn’t for everyone, but if you like a message in your music, I highly urge you to give Rich Medina Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk a try.

Reviewed By Eddie Bowman

 

The Emotions – Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985

the emotions_blessed_the emotions anthology

Title: Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985

Artist: The Emotions

Label: BBR/dist. Cherry Red

Format: 2-CD set

Release date: May 6, 2016

 

One of the most successful sister groups of the era, the Emotions parlayed the talents of Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette Hutchinson with top producers and songwriters to create many indelible hits throughout the ‘70s.  For this two-disc compilation, forty classic tracks were selected from the group’s Stax/Volt, Columbia, Motown and Red Label catalog by producer Wayne A. Dickson. The set is packaged with a 24-page booklet featuring the essay “In a Beautiful Way: The Blessed Journey of the Emotions” by Christian John Wikane, which draws from recent interviews with Wanda Hutchinson Vaughn and the late Maurice White.

The Emotions’ story begins in Chicago, with an upbringing firmly rooted in the church where they joined their father Joe in the gospel group known as the Hutchinson Sunbeams. The sisters would cut their first single in 1964 for the Vee Jay-distributed Tollie label, followed by several more efforts, before Pervis Staples encouraged them to focus on the soulful side of R&B and move to Stax Records. There they were paired with Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and the rest, as they say, is history. This anthology begins with the Emotions’ first Volt single, “So I Can Love You,” which propelled them onto the charts in 1969 and became the title of their first album.

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The majority of the material on Blessed: The Emotions Anthology was drawn from studio albums issued by the Emotions between 1976 and 1985, including the Charles Stepney produced Flowers (1976), and four albums produced by Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White: Rejoice (1977), which topped the R&B charts and included the hit single “Best of My Love” and “Blessed;” Sunbeam (1978), which features an all-star backing band; Come Into Our World (1979), and New Affair (1981). Several tracks are also included from Sincerely (1984), released on Chicago’s independent Red Label Records, and the set concludes with a single track from the Emotions’ final studio album for Motown, If Only I Knew (1985). Along the way there are a few B-sides and single versions of songs from these albums, including the disco classic “Boogie Wonderland” they performed with Earth, Wind & Fire.

This is a fine compilation, drawing attention not only to the soulful sisters from Chi-Town, but also to many great producers, especially Maurice White.  Though it would be nice if some of the Emotions’ early singles had been included, this two-disc set appears to be the best compilation released thus far, especially due to the exemplary liner notes and complete discographical details.  Highly Recommended.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

 

June 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during June 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Buddy Guy: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge 1979 (Rockbeat)
James Blood Ulmer: Free Lancing (reissue) (Wounded Bird)
Nappy Brown: Down In The Alley – The Complete Singles As & Bs 1954-1962  (Jasmine)
Omar Coleman: Live (Delmark)
Various: Alligator Records 45th Anniversary Collection (Alligator)
Various: Mississippi Juke Joint Blues – 9th September, 1941 (RHYTHM & BLUES)

Classical
André Watts: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (Box set) (Sony Classical)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Corey Henry: Lapeitah  (Louisiana Red Hot)
Fantastic Negrito: Last Days of Oakland  (Blackball Universe)
Fitz and The Tantrums: S/T (Elektra/WEA)
Funky Knuckles: New Birth (GroundUp)
Grace Jones: Warm Leatherette: Deluxe Edition (Island)
Laura Mvula: The Dreaming Room (RCA)
Leapling: Suspended Animation (Exploding in Sound)
Melody Angel: In This America (digital) (One Melody)
Michael Franti & Spearhead: SoulRocker (Concord)
Seven Davis, Jr.: Future Society (R2)
Unlocking the Truth: Chaos

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Charles Butler & Trinity:  Make It (eOne)
Denise Josiah: Songs for the Heart (digital) (joDah, LLC)
Deon Kipping: Something To Talk About (RCA Inspiration)
Half Mile Home: Don’t Judge Me
Shirley Caesar: Fill This House (eOne)
Various: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take (Motown Gospel)
Various: Motown Gospel Presents 1 Mic 1 Take (Motown Gospel)
William Murphy: Demonstrate (CD + DVD) (RCA Inspiration)

Jazz
Allen Toussaint: American Tunes (Nonesuch)
Bennie Moten: The Bennie Moten Collection, 1923-32 (Fabulous)
Branford Marsalis Quartet: Upward Spiral (Marsalis Music/Okeh)
Crusaders: Live – New Orleans 1977 (Hi Hat)
Etienne Charles: San Jose Suite (Culture Shock Music)
Houston Person & Ron Carter: Chemistry (High Note)
Incognito: In Search of Better Days (Shanachie)
Ivo Perelman – Matthew Shipp:  Soul
Jeff Parker: Breed (International Anthem)
Kandace Springs: Soul Eyes (Blue Note)
Kenny Garrett: Do Your Dance! (Mack Ave.)
Kim Waters: Rhythm and Romance (Shanchie)
Marquis Hill: The Way We Play (Concord)
Michael Blum Quartet: Chasin’ Oscar: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson
Pedrito Martinez Group: Habana Dreams (Motema Music)
Tyshawn Sorey: The Inner Spectrum of Variables  (PI Recordings)
Warren Wolf: Convergence (Mack Ave.)

R&B, Soul
Andre Williams: I Wanna Go Back to Detroit City. (Bloodshot)
Chrisette Michele: Milestone (Rich Hipster)
Electric Flag: Live 1968 at the Carousel Ballroom (Rockbeat)
Fantasia: The Definition of… (RCA)
Harleighblu: Futurespective EP (Tru Thoughts)
Johnny Otis Show: Cuttin’ Up (Wounded Bird)
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne: Jumpin’ & Boppin’ (Stony Plain)
Marvin Gaye:  Volume Three: 1971-1981 (Box set) (Motown)
Pheeyownah: zero9zero9 EP (Labrador)
Rebbie Jackson: Centipede (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Sabrina Starke: Sabrina Starke (Zip)
The Pheels: likeWise EP (digital) (Above All Else)
Various: Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park (Numero)
William Bell: This Is Where I Live (Stax)
Xenia Rubinos: Black Terry Cat (Anti)

Rap, Hip Hop
Apathy: Handshakes With Snakes (Dirty Version)
Birdman: Ms. Gladys
Chazmere: Chazmere
Chinx: Legends Never Die (eOne)
Craig G: I Rap and I Go Home (digital) (Soulspazm)
D.O.C.: Nobody Can Do It Better (expanded ed.) (Real Gone)
Demrick: Collect Call (digital) (10 Strip Inc.)
DJ Shadow: The Mountain Will Fall (Mass Appeal)
Flowdan: Horror Show Style (Tru Thoughts)
Key Nyata: Dad of the Year (digital) (Goodrich & Gold)
Larry June: Larry EP (Warner Bros.)
Lessondary: Ahead of Schedule (HiPNOTT)
Mekanix: Under the Hood (Zoo Ent)
Mezonic: Inspire 2 – Redemption of The Ghettos Worldwide (Mezonic)
Mindless Behavior: #OfficialMBmusic  (Conjunction)
Oddisee: Alwasta EP (Mello Music)
Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Got a Mind to Give Up Living, Live 1966 (Real Gone)
Pawz One: F.U.C.K. (Below System)
Quelle Chris: Lullabies For The Broken Brain (LP) (Mello Music)
Rapper Shane: Too Busy To Be This Broke EP
Rome Fortune: Jerome Raheem Fortune (Fool’s Gold)
Soulja Boy: Better Late Than Never (SODMG)
Tha Don: Arrival of Tha Don (Music Access Inc.)
The Game: Streets of Compton (eOne)
Ugly Heroes: Everything In between (Mello Music)
Various: Trill Family Compilation (Trill Ent)
Vic Mensa: There’s Alot Going On (digital) (Roc Nation/Def Jam)
Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J: T.G.O.D Mafia: Rude Awakening (digital)
YG: Still Brazy (Def Jam)
Young Chop: King Chop (digital) (ChopSquad.inc)

 Reggae, Dancehall
Horace Andy / Winston Jarrett / The Wailers: The Kingston Rock (reissue) (Dubstore)
Alborosie: Freedom & Fyah (VP)
Bunny Lee & Friends: Tape Rolling (Pressure Sounds)
Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (Tru Thoughts)
Sly & Robbie: Dub Sessions 1978-1985 (Jamaican Recordings)
The Aggrovators: Dubbing At King Tubby’s (VP)

World
Hailu Mergia and Dahlak Band: Wede Harer Guzo (Awesome Tapes from Africa)
Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno: 1000 Watts (Tru Thoughts)
Siama Matuzungidi: Rivers: From The Congo To The Mississippi
Sunburst: Ave Africa, The Complete Recordings 1973-1976  (Strut)
Various: Tanbou Toujou Lou (Ostinato)

Welcome to the June Black Music Month issue

Welcome to the June Black Music Month edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re traveling back in time to celebrate three of the most important African American composers of the early 20th century. First, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake perform original songs from their groundbreaking 1921 Broadway musical on Sissle & Blake Sing Shuffle Along. The works of R. Nathaniel Dett are featured on two recent projects: My Cup Runneth Over: The Complete Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett performed by Clipper Erickson, and the oratorio The Ordering of Moses in a live performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus under James Conlon.

Our featured DVD this month, Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives, highlights one of the greatest hip hop radio shows of all time. Also under the hip hop category is the genre-bending album Gone With the Trends by the St. Louis-based act illPHONiCS.

Under jazz, we’re featuring Robert Glasper’s Miles Davis tribute Everything’s Beautiful, Marcus Strickland’s Nihil Novi, and Bill Evans’s Some Other Time: the Lost Session from the Black Forest.

Folk and gospel music releases include the Walker Family Singers’ Panola County Spirit, Leyla McCalla’s A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, and the reissue of two early Staple Singers’ albums Amen! and Why.

Wrapping up this issue is our list of May 2016 Releases of Note.

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & May Festival Chorus; James Conlon, conductor – R. Nathaniel Dett: The Ordering of Moses — Live From Carnegie Hall

the ordering of moses

Title: The Ordering of Moses – Live From Carnegie Hall

Composer: R. Nathaniel Dett

Artists: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra & May Festival Chorus; James Conlon, conductor

Label:  Bridge

Formats: CD

Release date: May 10, 2016

 

R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) was one of the most important and highly regarded Black composers of the early twentieth century. Educated at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory (B. Mus, 1908), he began his career as a composer and pianist, but also regularly served as a choral conductor—first, at his local church, later as director of the choirs at the Hampton Institute in Virginia and Bennett College in Greensboro, NC.

In 1932 Dett composed his first large choral work, The Ordering of Moses (subtitled Biblical Folk Scene for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra), as his master’s thesis for the Eastman School of Music, but it wasn’t published until 1937. That same year it was premiered at the Cincinnati May Festival under Eugene Goossens. Begun in 1873 and initially directed by Theodore Thomas (who later led the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra), the May Festival is one of the oldest and most prestigious choral festivals in the U.S., with a long history of championing and premiering new works. The programming of Dett’s oratorio was a major coup for the composer, especially since it was broadcast live nationwide over NBC radio (apparently three-quarters of the concert still exists on lacquer disc airchecks).[i] The work was subsequently performed in other major cities and revived by the May Festival in 1956 with Leontyne Price as a featured soloist, but has seldom been heard since.

Nearly 80 years later, James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra decided to premiere The Ordering of Moses in New York at Carnegie Hall as part of their Spring For Music initiative, reflecting concerted efforts to bring the community together through diversified programming. The concert captured in this recording was performed live on May 9, 2014 and features the May Festival Chorus led by Robert Porco (who taught choral conducting for 20 years at the IU Jacobs School of Music). The soloists, who all give exceptional performances, include soprano Latonia Moore as Miriam, tenor Rodrick Dixon as Moses, mezzo-soprano Ronnita Nicole Miller as the voice of Israel, and baritone Donnie Ray Albert as the voice of God/the Word.

The oratorio uses “text based on scripture and folklore” and draws from the books of Exodus and Lamentations, but also weaves in the words of spirituals, with strains of “Go Down Moses” serving as a leitmotif throughout. It’s apparent from the introduction that this is a monumental work of the highest order, shedding new light on Dett’s ability to write for a full orchestra. On the opening choruses, string and harp solos combine with the rattling of chains to depict the lament of “All Israel’s Children” and “O Lord, Behold My Affliction.” The track “Who Hath Made a Man Dumb” concludes with a full chorus arrangement of “Go Down Moses” which segues into an orchestral interlude. Other highlights include the operatic “When Moses Smote the Water” followed by the thrilling and very cinematic interlude “The Egyptians Pursue.” The oratorio concludes on a hopeful note with the chorus “He Is the King of Kings” as the freed Israelites rejoice.

The Ordering of Moses stands the test of time, as relevant today as in 1937, and in no way feels dated or self-conscious. Thanks to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra we now have an excellent modern recording of Dett’s oratorio, performed to very high standards, that truly honors the genius of R. Nathaniel Dett.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

[i]The world premiere performance from 1937 was released on LP in 1972 by Unique Opera Records (UORC 113); a performance recorded by the Mobile Symphony Orchestra at the Centennial Arts Festival at Talladega College was released on LP in 1968 by Silver Crest (TAL 42868 S.).

illPHONiCS – Gone with the Trends

illphonics gone with the trends

Title: “Gone with the Trends”

Artist: illPHONiCS

Label: The Record Machine

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: April 1, 2016

 

 

St. Louis-based hip hop act illPHONiCS draws from a variety of musical influences, including rock, funk, and soul in its genre-bending blend of rap music with a live backing band.  In the vein of fellow musical polymaths The Roots, it might be possible to describe the group’s effective musical fusion in the words of Fallout Morris, the group’s MC: “musicality bliss from beginning to finish.” In my opinion, live bands may provide some of the most fertile territory for the ever-diversifying future of rap music, as many top name acts such as Kendrick Lamar are blending a live approach with electronic sounds and sampling. illPHONiCS are certainly on the cutting edge of this movement.

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illPHONiCS’s core group looks (and often sounds) more like a rock band than a rap group.  Morris is joined by Keith Moore a.k.a. William Gray on keyboards, Kevin Koehler on guitar, Simon “Spank” Chervitz on bass, and Chaz “CB” Brew on drums, organ, and vocals.  illPHONiCS is a group full of musical shapeshifters who play the funky “Liquid Spaceships” as convincingly as they play the ’90s alt-rock tinged (think Radiohead’s heavier moments) “Sweet Missouri (’miz(a)rē).”

The band’s music is propelled by Morris’s lyrics. The group’s MC eschews commercial rap cliches in favor of nuanced storytelling that smacks of rap’s poetic underground, as in “96 to 99,” a love letter to the classic rap groups that ruled the airwaves during that era.  ilPHONiCS also jump on current events (a trend that has been popular with artists in 2015 and 2016) on “The Brown Frequency,” a cut about Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri that followed.  Unlike many other artists who treat this subject from a distance, alluding to social unrest indirectly or expressing some kind of vague solidarity, illPHONiCS speak to the subject with a more authoritative voice.  Not only is the group from the St. Louis area, but the lyrics to “The Brown Frequency” demonstrate specificity both of cause and of remedy that are unfortunately lacking from many other so-called “protest” records in 2016. The group takes a more introspective turn on “Gone with the Trends,” an anthem about personal authenticity.  However, illPHONiCS aren’t above including more standard fare such as “Love’s Not Far,” a number about unrequited love, and the smooth-funk party anthem, “Everything (Jammin For You).”

The diversity on Gone with the Trends” is matched only by the band’s tight musicianship and Fallout Morris’s silky-smooth rhymes.  Alternative hip hop fans will definitely want to give this release a few spins.

Reviewed by Matthew Alley

Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life – Nihil Novi

marcus strickland_nihil Novi

Title: Nihil Novi

Artist: Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life

Label: Blue Note

Formats: CD, MP3

Release Date: April 15,2016

 

 

Jazz is the DNA of Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life’s album Nihil Novi, produced by well-known avant-garde soul singer and bassist, Meshell Ndegeocello. This release is a collection of experimental expressionist jazz, playing upon the listener’s expectations as a strategy to arouse an emotional response. Expressionism is an undercurrent in many of the most recent contemporary jazz releases, such as Kamasi Washington’s The Epic and Terrace Martin’s Velvet Portraits. Perhaps this wave of expressionistic jazz is brought to us by hip hop culture or African American social and political dissent, channeling the emotional component of critique and protest. Might it be part of a larger wave or even school of jazz that the history books might look back on as characteristic of the 2010s? What we know is that Nihil Novi is an album of incredible compositions that are some of the best produced in contemporary jazz. Its songs give a listener some sort of triumphant feeling of melancholy, or what writer Albert Murray would describe as a feeling that can “stomp the blues.”

Every musician delivers on Nihil Novi. Twi-Life is made up of trumpeter Keyon Harrold, bassist Kyle Miles, drummer Charles Haynes, organist Mitch Henry, and keyboardist Masayuki Hirano. Singer Jean Baylor, bassists Pino Palladino and Meshell Ndegeocello, keyboardist James Francies, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Chris Bruce, and pianist Robert Glasper also contribute. The end product is an album of poignant nuance, thrilling through its multitude of precise sounds and gorgeous songs. If the pieces on Nihil Novi were paintings, they would all be colored in dark hues. All of its songs were expressly composed for this album and fulfill the ambition that much American music has to take a look at the underbelly of things, even though this desire seems to be less present in contemporary jazz than other genres. The record’s songs are poignant, often sounding as if they were deliberately produced to leave us feeling unhinged.

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“Talking Loud” features an excellent blend of saxophone, organ, singing and drumming. While the track’s subdued vocals (sung by Jean Baylor) take on a kind of emotionally numbing effect, the band’s playing is this cut’s most engaging feature. Baylor is also featured on “Alive,” which sounds like an R&B song accompanied by a jazz combo. On these two tracks, the vocalist takes turns with Marcus Strickland at being the center of attention, but ultimately the band’s leader delivers a more impressive performance.  “Sissoko’s Voyage” might be one of this year’s best jazz songs—its melody and rhythm exuding a spiritual, infectious optimism. “Cherish Family,” “Celestelude,” “Drive,” and “Mantra” are all expertly composed and played, while “Inevitable” smacks of soul jazz and is perhaps the one song in which Baylor’s vocals shine brightest. “Cycle” may be one of the very best compositions of the year. It speaks to eros and ethos: the pursuit of both laughter and seriousness through balanced living. This is jazz that plays to our notions of play and of contemplation, creating emotional balance through musical proportions. Some will also be reminded of Miles Davis’s experiments in jazz fusion in the later part of his career.

Nihil Novi is one of the best jazz releases so far this year, and is also one of the strongest efforts by a group in any genre. Each and every song is surprising, all the while being deeply rooted in the “stomping the blues” tradition that informs most excellent African American music, and informed by its own moment in American cultural history.

 

Reviewed by Adolf Alzuphar

May 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during May 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Eric Bibb: Happiest Man In The World (Stony Plain)

Classical
Pumeza Matshikiza: Arias (Decca)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Mighty Clouds of Joy: Millennium Collection – 20th Century Masters Vol. 2 (MCA)
Tim Bowman Jr.: Listen (Lifestyle Music Group LLC)
Puntin: Gold (Puntanious Ent.)
Reverend C. Coleman: Rock Gospel Time (reissue)
LIVRE: Jericho: Tribe Of Joshua (Bellamy)
Blind Boys of Alabama: Spirit Of The Century (expanded ed.) (Omnivore)
Echoaires: Stronger Than Ever (Ecko)
Micah Stampley: To The King…Vertical Worship (eOne)
Latice Crawford: Diary of a Church Girl (ECHO PARK JDI)

Jazz
Gregory Porter: Take Me To The Alley (Blue Note)
Black Milk and Not Turner: The Rebellion Sessions (Computer Ugly Records)
Miles Davis: Chicago Jazz Festival 1990: The Classic Broadcast (Go Faster)
Chrisette Michele: Milestone 1 – Minimalism (Universal)
Lafayette Harris Jr. : Hangin’ With The Big Boys (Airmen Records)
Phyllis Blanford: Edgewalker
Cannonball Adderley Quintet: The Price You Got to Pay to Be Free (Real Gone)
Cannonball Adderley Quintet: Music, You All (Real Gone)
Noah Preminger: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (NoahPreminger.com)
Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison: In Movement (ECM)
Davell Crawford : Piano in the Vaults, No. 1 (Basin Street)
Maxine Sullivan: Great Songs from the Cotton Club (reissue) (Harbinger)
Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings (Rhino/Warner Bros.)
Rene Marie: Sound of Red (Motemo)
Chico Freeman 4-Tet: Spoken Into Existence (Jive)
Defunkt: Live at Channel Zero (ESP-DISK )
Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings (re-release) (Rhino/Warner Bros.)
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp: Soul (Leo)
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp: Corpo (Leo)
René Marie: Sound of Red (Motema Music)
Cyrus Chestnut: Natural Essence (Highnote)
JD Allen: Americana – Musings on Jazz and Blues (Savant)
Luis Perdomo : Spirits and Warriors (Criss Cross)
Dayme Arocena: One Takes (Brownswood)

R&B, Soul
Trammps: The Legendary Zing Album (Fever Dreams)
Smiley Lewis: Collection: 1947-61 (Acrobat)
Nancy Wilson: The Early Years, 1956-62 (Acrobat)
Gloria Gaynor: Glorious: Expanded Ed. (BBR)
The Independents: Just As Long – The Complete Wand Recordings 1972-74 (Kent)
Billy Ocean: Here You Are: The Best of (Sony)
Esther Phillips: Capricorn Princess: Expanded Ed. (SoulMusic)
Kool & The Gang: Emergency (deluxe ed.) (BBR)
Beyoncé: Lemonade (Columbia)
George McCrae: Love (Popmi Music)
Corinne Bailey Rae: The Heart Speaks In Whispers (Virgin)
Slim: Re-Fueled (Shanachie)
Trammps: Trammps III (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Fifth Harmony: *7/27* (Syco Music/Epic)
Fly Moon Royalty: Delicious Trouble (Self issued)
Jermaine Jackson: Dynamite (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Tavares: Words & Music (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
Audrey Wheeler: Let It Be Me (expanded ed.) (Funky Town Grooves)
T.K. Soul: Legacy (Music Access Inc.)
Maxine Brown: Funny Kind of Feeling: Complete 1960-1962 Recordings (Jasmine Music)
Rich Medina: Presents Jump ‘N’ Funk (BBE)
Bernie Worrell: Retrospectives (Purple Woo)
Real Thing: Live At The Liverpool Philharmonic 2013 (Angel Air)
Ro James: Eldorado (RCA)

Rap, Hip Hop
Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL)
Elzhi: Lead Poison (Slum Village)
Slum Village: Fan-Tas-Tic (Box set)(Get on Down)
M1 (Dead Prez) & Bonnot: Between Me And The World (Krian Music Group)
Yawl: A pile to keep, a pile to burn (Anette)
Bryan Ford & Killah Priest: Future of Hip Hop (Revolutionary Music)
Homeboy Sandman: Kindness for Weakness (Stones Throw)
Jay Dee/J Dilla: Jay Love Japan (Vintage Vibes)
Ohbliv: Bakers Dozen (Fat Beats)
The Legendary Traxster: Black Saints (digital) (Legendary Traxster Inc.)
Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book mixtape (download)
Oddisee: The Odd Tape (Mello Music Group)
David Banner: The God Box (A Banner Vision)
Cymarshall Law & Mr. Joeker: Hip Hop In The Soul III (Freedom Ent.)
Havoc & Alchemist: Silent Partner (Babygrande Records)
Afroman: Happy To Be Alive (X-Ray)
Masta Ace: Falling Season (Showdown / Hhv.De)
J-Zone: Fish-N-Grits (Old Maid Ent.)
Unity Lewis (ft. George Clinton): 7th Dynasty (Unity Lewis Arts and Entertainment)
Zo!: Skybreak (Foreign Exchange)
Zodiac Mprint: Ride the Stars EP (Majik Ninja)
DJ Quik and Problem: Rosecrans  (Diamond Lane Music)
Various: Boombox: Early Independent Hip-Hop, Electro and Disco Rap 1979-82 (Soul Jazz)
Skepta: Konnichiwa (Better Boy Know)
DâM-Funk: DJ Kicks (K7)
Jigmastas: Resurgence (BBE)
Legalizers (Paul Wall & Baby Bash): Legalize or Die (Paul Wall Music)

Reggae, Dancehall
Gregory Isaacs: Warning (Dubstore)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Heavyweight Dub Champion(Greensleeves)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Evil Curse of the Vampire (Greensleeves)
Ernest Ranglin: Boss Reggae (Dubstore)
Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes: Junjo Presents: Big Showdown (Greensleeves)
Alboroise: Freedom & Fyah (VP)
Tippa Lee: Cultural Ambassador (VP)
Ziggy Marley: Ziggy Marley (VP)
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari: Man From Higher Heights (Soul Jazz)
The Sea: Red String Riddim EP (Tru Thoughts)
Raging Fyah: Everlasting (VP)
Wailers: Wailing Wailers (reissue) (Studio One)

World
Family Atlantica: Cosmic Unity (Soundway)
Elza Soares: woman at the end of the world (Mais Um Discos)
Debo Band: Ere Gobez (FPE)

Welcome to the May 2016 Issue

Welcome to the May 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

Kicking off this month’s issue is jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson’s Frogtown, a blend of jazz and Americana that serves as a musical tribute to Wilson’s home neighborhood. Other jazz releases include the soundtrack for Don Cheadle’s impressionistic Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, trumpeter Theo Croker’s spaced-out Escape Velocity, and the smooth jazz of Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown’s BWB. We’re also featuring old jazz material that is now being released for the first time, including a recently unearthed Sarah Vaughan performance from 1978, Live at Rosy’s, and a set of recordings made by jazz organist Larry Young in 1964 and 1965, In Paris – The ORTF Recordings.

In hip hop, we have Kanye West’s latest effort Life of Pablo, Anderson.Paak’s Malibu, and Newark rapper Beneficence’s Basement Chemistry. BJ The Chicago Kid blends hip hop with soul on In My Mind.  We’re also featuring another genre-bending album, Santigold’s 99 Cents.

We have The Relatives’ Goodbye World, a new gospel funk release from a group that was not adequately appreciated in its time. This month’s book review is of sumdumhonky, a memoir by R&B pioneer Lloyd Price.

We’re featuring three fusion-oriented world music releases this month: Monistic Theory, an eclectic collaboration between producer Joe Driscoll and kora player Sekou Kouyate; Daby Touré’s diverse Amonafi; and the updated Haitian rara of Ram’s Ram 6: Manmman m se Ginen.

Wrapping up this month’s issue are two expanded Blind Boys of Alabama reissues, Spirit of the Century and Higher Ground, as well as our list of April 2016 Releases of Note.

April 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during April 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
B.B. King: The King’s Blues Box (3 LP set) (Stardust)
Little Junior Parker: Next Time You See Me…Complete Singles 1952-1962 (Jasmine)
Keb’ Mo’: Live – That Hot Pink Blues Album
Sonny Mack: Get on Up! (Ecko)
Bobby Blue Bland: Further on Up the Road: The Duke Recordings (Southern Routes)
Sugar Blue: Voyage (M.C. Records)
Otis Rush and Buddy Guy: Live in Chicago ’88 (Klondike)
Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones: Little Windows
Professor Longhair: Live at the University of Chicago Folk Festival (Select-O-Hits)
Kwesi Forae : 27 EP

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Various: Sissle & Blake Sing Shuffle Along (Harbinger)
Cha Wa : Funk ‘n’ Feathers
The Relatives: Goodbye World (Luv N Haight Records)
DJ Rashad: Afterlife (Teklife)
The Heavy: Hurt & Merciless (Bad Son Recording Company)
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals: Call It What It Is (Stax)
Lilith Ai : Riot (EP Deluxe, digital) (Lo)
Snarky Puppy: Culcha Vulcha
Judith Hill (with Prince): Back in Time (NPG)
Prince:  HITNRUN Phase Two (NPG)
Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald: Present Borderland – Transport (Tresor)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Da’ T.r.u.t.h: It’s Complicated
Various: Hallelujah: The Journey of Larry Clark – O.S.T. (Larry Clark Gospel)
Chicago Mass Choir: We Give You Praise (New Haven )
Various: Feel Good! 40 Years Of Life Changing Music (Tyscot)

Jazz
Various: Miles Ahead Original Soundtrack (Legacy)
Robert Glasper: EVERYTHING’S BEAUTIFUL: Recordings of Miles Davis Reimagined (Legacy)
Nick Colionne: The Journey
HenryThreadgill Double-Up Ensembl : Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi Recordings)
Anthony Braxton: 3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 (Firehouse 12)
George Coleman : A Master Speaks (Smoke Sessions)
Ralph Peterson: TriAngular III (Onyx Music/Truth Revolution)
Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life: Nihil Novi (Blue Note)
Anthony Wilson: Frogtown (Goat Hill Recordings)
Various: Jazz Dispensary: Cosmic Stash (Record Store Day special ed.) (Fantasy)
Shola Adisa-Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quintet: Lost Myself (Hot Casa)
James Tatum : Contemporary Jazz Mass (reissue) (Jazzman)
BWB (Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun ): BWB (Artistry Music )
Yellowjackets: Cohearence (Mack Ave.)
Bill Evans:  Some Other Time: the Lost Session from the Black Forest (Resonance)
Mat Walerian/Matthew Shipp/Hamid Drake: Live at Okuden (ESP Disk)
Albert Ayler: European Radio Studio Recordings 1964
Gail Thompson: Jadu (Enja)
Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers: Justice: Live in Amsterdam November 1959 (Dutch Jazz Archive)

R&B, Soul
Charles Bradley: Changes (Dunham / Daptone )
James Brown & The Famous Flames: The Roots Of Revolution (Southern Routes)
Various: One Track Mind! More Motown Guys (Kent)
Deep Street Soul: Come Alive! (Freestyle)
Charles Wright: Something to Make You Feel Good
Javier Colon: Gravity (Concord)
Musiq Soulchild: Life on Earth (eOne)
James Brown: LIVE AT THE APOLLO VOLUME IV (Get On Down)
KeKe Wyatt: Rated Love (Aratek Ent.)
Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir: The Earth Wants YOU! (album + book)
Impressions: “The Best Of The Impressions: The Curtom Years” (Varese Sarabande)
Emotions: Blessed: The Emotions Anthology 1969-1985  (Cherry Red)
Bo-Keys: Heartaches by the Number (Omnivore)
Boulevards : Groove! (Captured Tracks)

Rap, Hip Hop
Illphonics: Gone With the Trends (Record Machine)
Lil Keke: Slfmade (Hustletown)
Epidemic : 4 Dimensions On A Paper (Mic-Theory)
Krizz Kaliko: Go (Strange Music)
Phesto and Izrell: Guillotine Music (Hieroglyphics Imperium)
Euclid: Save yourself ( Backwoodz Studioz)
J Dilla: The Diary (Mass Appeal)
Mr. Lif:  Don’t Look Down (Mello Music)
Royce Da 5’9″:Layers (Bad Half Ent.)
Boosie Badazz & C-Murder:  Penitentiary Chances
Grand Puba: Black from the Future (Ihiphop Dist.)
Lord Finesse: The Remixes: A Midas Era Retrospective (Slice-of-Spice)
Chuuwee & Trizz: AmeriKKa’s Most Blunted 2 (Below System)
GAIKA: Security (Mixpak)
A$AP Ferg: Always Strive and Prosper (RCA)
Freeway: Free Will ( Babygrande)
Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers)
Horseshoe Gang: Anti Trap Music
Various: Empire: Original Soundtrack, Season 2  (Columbia)
Ty Dolla Sign: Coast 2 Coast 265 (Yikes)
Horseshoe Gang: Anti-Trap Music (Gracie)
Freeway: Free Will (Ihiphop )

Reggae, Dancehall
Richie Stephens and The Ska Nation Band : Internationally (Zojak World Wide)
Still Cool: Still Cool ( Uprising/Deeper Knowledge)
Alpha Blondy & the Solar System: Positive Energy (VP)
Phill Pratt : Star Wars Dub (Burning Sounds)
Linval Thompson: Linval Presents: Space Invaders (Greensleaves)

World
Lakou Mizik: Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha)
Various: Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches From Traditional Mali (K7)
Moken: Chapters of My Life (Bantu)
Fela Ransome Kuti & His Koola Lobitos : Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (Knitting Factory)
Alma Afrobeat Ensemble: It’s Time
Various: Every Song Has Its End (CD + DVD) (Glitterbeat/K7)
Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality: Everything Lasts Forever (3rd Generation Recordings)
Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock Vol. 1 (Now-Again)

Welcome to the April 2016 Issue

Welcome to the April 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, and we have several featured jazz releases including Snarky Puppy’s newest DVD/CD combo Family Dinner Volume 2, drummer Zane Rudolfo’s debut EP Pathways, the “Cuban Cubism” of Aruán Oritz’s Hidden Voices, and Raphael Imbert’s transatlantic collaboration Music is My Home.   We’re also featuring a review of the documentary Killer B3: A Documentary about the Hammond Organ, which focuses on jazz musicians who pioneered the instrument’s use in the genre as well a new release by one of the artists interviewed in the documentary, Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Evolution.

This month’s issue also features Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s hybrid liturgical/jazz CD/DVD project The Abyssinian Mass, which celebrates the relationship between jazz and African American religious life. Other releases with spiritual themes include the Christian rapper Lecrae’s newest mixtape Church Clothes 3,  YouTube gospel sensation Bri’s debut album Keys to My Heart, and the anti-consumerist gospel of Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, on their special Earth Day release The Earth Wants You.

In blues, we have Guy Davis’s Kokomo Kid and Keb Mo’s slick playing and singing on That Hot Pink Blues Album. We have folk rockers Birds of Chicago’s Real Midnight, Mardi Gras rockers Cha Wa’s Funk n’ Feathers and Detroit DJ Moodyman returns with DJ-KicksAlso included are the Haitian folk-fusion group Lakou Mizik’s Wa Di Yo and Silk’s “grown-man sexy” release Quiet Storm.

Finally, this issue features two reissues, a limited edition vinyl of Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s Damn Right I Am Somebody and a CD release of funk group Anglo-Saxon Brown’s 1976 album Songs for Evolution.  Wrapping up this month’s issue is our list of March 2016 Releases of Note.

Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s – Damn Right I Am Somebody

Fred wesley and the jbs_damn right i am somebody

Title: Damn Right I Am Somebody

Artist: Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s

Label: Get On Down/Universal Special Markets/People Records

Format: LP with bonus “Flexi Disc” single

Release Date: February 5, 2016

 

The first half of the 1970s was a very productive time for James Brown and the musicians in his orbit. Damn Right I Am Somebody, produced by Brown under the moniker of Fred Wesley and the J.B.’s, was released in 1974 on the heels of Brown’s highly successful double-LP The Payback. Many of the same musicians are heard on both albums—some parts were recorded by the same J.B.’s who toured with Brown, and other parts with a band of crack NYC studio musicians.

Fred Wesley, trombone player extraordinaire, was Brown’s bandleader in that era. The J.B.’s were in constant personnel flux in the 1970s, particularly with saxman Maceo Parker and bassist Bootsy Collins moving between Brown’s orbit and the George Clinton/Parliament world. As was the case on previous and future J.B.’s albums, the emphasis here is funky instrumentals, and longer explorations of riffs and hooks, rather than tight, radio-singles-oriented vocal-centric songs typical of Brown’s name-brand output (although, on his LP releases, Brown and his band always included stretched-out versions that featured instrumental solos and pyrotechnics).

At the time of this album, James Brown was in his peak Godfather of Soul period, and used his voice in the popular culture to espouse black liberation and empowerment. The album title is a reference to the poem “I Am – Somebody,” written in the 1950s by Rev. William Holmes Borders, Sr., the senior pastor at Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church. In the 1970s, Rev. Jesse Jackson often quoted the poem in his public speeches, perhaps most famously at the 1972 Wattstax music festival. A loop of Jackson quoting the poem underlies part of “Same Beat – Part 1,” the first cut on side B of this funky vinyl slab. A studio-chatter riff of Brown calling on various band members and asking, “are you somebody?” followed by the response “damn right, I am somebody!” starts off side A and the title track.

Another “message” song is the last cut on side A, “I’m Payin’ Taxes, What Am I Buyin’.” Given that it’s tax-paying season, perhaps a listen to this tune on Youtube will salve some of the sting.

Another significant cut on the album is “Blow Your Head.” In an interview with the Red Bull Music Academy, Wesley told the story of how a Moog synthesizer ended up on the track:

“We used a New York studio band sometimes and that was recorded with the studio band. So James came in and he wanted to hear it. I thought he was gonna put his voice on it. He saw this Moog synthesizer, and he said [mimicking James’ voice], “What’s that?” So we said, “Oh that’s a Moog synthesizer, Mr. Brown. We’re thinkin’ about using it on some of the tunes.” He said, “How’s it sound?” “Well, we went through some sounds with it.” He said, “Turn it on! Put it on the track!” We said, “What? No, we were gon’-” “Turn it on! Put it on the track!”

So he put it on the track. [imitates sound of synth intro] I said, “Oh lord, I hope he don’t leave this on, it’s messin’ up my track!” [laughs] So he put it on THE WHOLE TRACK. And we could not believe it. We were like, it’s just an experiment, this will stay in the studio forever, no one will ever hear this. And what do you know, it got out on the album and the next thing you know it’s a hit all over the world.” (full interview here)

Hip-hop fans will probably recognize parts of “Blow Your Head.” It’s been widely sampled by artists such as Public Enemy, Digable Planets and De La Soul. Included with this LP reissue is a 7-by-7-inch “flexi-disc” of the “2000 undubbed version,” which doesn’t include the Moog synthesizer. It is fertile sampling fodder, aside from being a super-tight funk instrumental.

This album flows from song-to-song without breaks. As each tune fades out or stops on a beat, a loose studio jam, replete with Brown shrieks and screams, fades out, rides for a few dozen seconds, and fades out, with the next tune immediately starting. This technique was later used as a “concept album” method by Brown and other funk and soul artists. The “faded in and out jam” serves as a musical connector and bedrock. Here, it give the album a feeling of an endless groove/jam, to the last 33⅓ rotations.

Also worth mentioning about this vinyl reissue are the heavy cardboard jacket, faithful reproduction of original graphics, and the column of repeated text on the back which relays the album’s core message: “Think that you are somebody, and you’ll be somebody. Positive Thinking, Positive Thinking, Positive Thinking.”

To get a flavor of James Brown and the J.B.s in the early 70’s, check out their appearances on the Soul Train TV show circa 1974 (“Damn Right I Am Somebody” and interview) and September 14, 1974 (medley of “Cold Sweat,” “Payback,” “Damn Right I Am Somebody”). Also, see the excellent documentary, Soul Power.

 

Reviewed by Tom Fine

 

 

March 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during March 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Tasha Taylor: Honey for the Biscuit (Ruf)
Sam Frazier, Jr. : Take Me Back (Music Maker Foundation)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Million Dollar Ecstasy: Million Dollar Ecstasy (reissue) (Manufactured Recordings)
The Knocks: 55* (Atlantic/Big Beat)
Starchild & The New Romantic: Crucial EP (Ghostly)
Bonzai: Sleepy Hungry EP (digital)

Gospel, Gospel Rap
Echoaires: Stronger Than Ever (Ecko)
Various: Gospel’s Best: Songs of Hope (Motown)
Deon Kipping: Something to Talk About (RCA)
Jonathan Nelson: Fearless (eOne)
Walker Family Singers: Panola County Spirit (Daptone)
Cory Henry: The Revival [CD/DVD Combo] (Ground Up)
Israel Tutson: Sand Castles (digital)
Propaganda: Selected Songs (Fair Trade Services)
Mr . Del: Love Noize (digital)

Jazz
Kenny Barron : Book of Intuition (impulse!)
Arturo O’Farrill Sextet: Boss Level (Zoho)
Alfredo Rodriguez: Tocororo (Mack Avenue)
Zawinul Syndicate: Hollywood Bowl 1993 (Hi Hat)
Larry Young: In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance)
Jason Miles: To Grover With Love (Live in Japan) (Whaling City Sounds)
Freddy Cole: He Was the King (HighNote)
Russell Malone: All About Melody (HighNote)
Blue Mitchell & Sonny Red: Baltimore 1966 (Uptown Jazz)
Phillip Doc Martin: Pocket Love (Innervision)
Makaya McCraven: In the Moment (deluxe ed.) (International Anthem )
Danny Barker: New Orleans Jazz Man And Raconteur (GHB)
Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith: A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (ECM)
The JT Project:  Moments of Change (MRI)
Quincy Jones and His Orchestra: Live in Ludwigshafen 1961 (SWR Jazzhaus)
Sarah Vaughan: Live at Rosy’s (Resonance)
Ella Fitzgerald:  Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set (Verve)
Axel Tosca Laugart: Axel Tosca  (MRI)
Machitos y Sus Afro Cubanas: Tanga: King of Afro Cuban Jazz  (Cherry Red)
Adam Hawley: Just the Beginning (Kalimba)

R&B, Soul
The Three Degrees: Strategy (Our Tribute To Philadelphia) (Cherry Red)
Howard Tate: I Learned It All the Hard Way (compilation) (Play Back)
O.V. Wright: Treasured Moments: Complete Backbeat/ABC Singles (Play Back)
Various: Harmony Of The Soul – Vocals Groups 1962-1977 (Kent)
Moods: Moods (reissue) (BBE)
Christon Gray:  The Glory Album (Fo Yo Soul/RCA )
9.9 9.9 (expanded ed.) (PTG)
Rosie Gaines : Caring (expanded ed.) (PTG)
King: We Are King (King Creative)
Luster Baker: They Call Me Mr. Juicy (Music Access Inc.)
Ernie K-Doe: Don’t Kill My Groove (Playback)
Frankie & The Spindles: Count to Ten (Playback)
Jaheim: Struggle Love (BMG)
Take 6:  Believe (Independent Label Services)
Michelle: More Issues Than Vogue (Atlantic Urban)
Various: Loma: A Soul Music Love Affair (LITA)
Anthony Hamilton: That I’m Feelin’ (RCA)

Rap, Hip Hop
Bentley & Parallel Thought : Street Knowledge
337 Mafia  Presents: L.A.D’s Ambition (eOne)
Bas: Too High To Riot (Interscope)
Nature: Target practice  (Vodka & Milk)
Malik B And Mr. Green: Unpredictable (Enemy Soil)
TOKiMONSTA: Fovere EP (Young Art )
Tarica June: Stream of Consciousness, Vol. 1.5 EP (download)
Kap G: El Southside  (Atlantic)
Flatbush Zombies: 3001: A Laced Odyssey (Glorious Dead)
Big Punisher: Bronx Legends Never Die (vinyl) (Vinyl Digital)
Ghostface Killah: More Fish –  10 Year Anniversary Edition (Def Jam)
Joell Ortiz: That’s Hip Hop (That’s Hip Hop Music)
DJ Illogik: beginningofsomethinG.old (Focus)
Young Dolph: King of Memphis (Paper Route Empire)
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered (Top Dawg Entertainment)
Blu & Ray West: Crenshaw Jezebel (vinyl EP) (Red Apples 45)
Dday One: Gathered Between (Content (L)abel)
Open Mike Eagle & Paul White: Hella Personal Film Festival (Mello Music Group)
2 Chainz & Lil Wayne: COLLEGROVE (Def Jam)
Father: I’m A Piece Of Shit (Awful)
Planet Asia & DJ Concept: Seventy Nine  (Coalmine Music)
Domo Genesis: Genesis  (Columbia)
Fababy : Ange Et Demon
Kano: Man in the Manor
Mr. Criminal: Street Unity (Hi Power Ent.)
N.E.R.D.: Live At The Babylon

Reggae, Dancehall
Noel Ellis: Noel Ellis (10th anniv. Edition) (Light in the Attic)
Various: Sharp and Ready (compilation) (Tru Thoughts)
Binary Sol (Madison McFerrin and Jarred Barnes)
Earlan “Alkaline” Bartley: New level Unlocked (Zojak World Wide)

World
Aziza Brahim: Abbar El Hamada  (Glitterbeat)
Ebo Taylor: My Love & Music (reissue) (Mr Bongo)
Jagger Botchway Group : Odze Odze (Cultures of Soul)
La Yegros : Magnetismo  (Soundway )
Wesli: Ayiti, Étoile Nouvelle
Various: Rough Guide To South African Jazz (World Music Network)

Welcome to the March 2016 Issue

Welcome to the March 2016 edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

It’s Women’s History Month and we’re celebrating with recent releases by women artists.

Our featured jazz releases include Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution, Chicago-based jazz cellist Tomeka Reid’s Tomeka Reid Quartet, Dee Dee Bridgewater ‘s celebration of New Orleans jazz on Dee Dee’s Feathers, Indra Rios-Moore’s Heartland, plus two releases from jazz harpists—Brandee Younger’s Wax & Wane and Mariea Antoinette’s Straight from the Harp.

On the soulful side there’s Regina Belle’s The Day Life Began and The Three Degrees’ Strategy (Our Tribute to Philadelphia). Mindi Abair & the Boneshakers’ give a hard rocking performance on Live in Seattle, featuring vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson and guitarist Randy Jacobs, while poet-musician shirlette ammons’ explores rock, folk and hip-hop on Language Barrier. Contemporary Christian recording artist Lynda Randle offers Ageless Hymns: Songs of Joy, while Western Saharan singer/activist Aziza Brahim reflects on her life as a refugee on Abbar el Hamada (Across the Hamada).

Also featured is the CD/DVD edition of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall that’s bundled with the new Spike Lee documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall; the Blind Willie Johnson tribute album God Don’t Never Change from Alligator Records; and the Latin jazz album Canto América from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music faculty Michael Spiro (percussion) and Wayne Wallace (trombone). Wrapping up this issue is a review of two 1970s Afro-pop compilations—Senegal 70: Sonic Gems & Previously Unreleased Recordings from the 70’s and Soul Sok Sega: Sega Sounds from Mauritius, 1973-1979—plus our list of February 2016 Releases of Note.

February 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during February 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Albert Collins: Live At Rockpalast CD/DVD (Made in Germany Music)
Birds of Chicago: Real Midnight  (Five Head Ent.)
Buddy Guy: I’ll Play the Blues for You – Live (1992) (Klondike)
Jimmy Rogers: Chicago Bound: Complete Solo Chess Records As & Bs (Jasmine)
Johnny Rawls: Tiger In A Cage (Catfood Records)
Junior Crudup: Sure Love (CD Baby)
Robert Cray Band ft. Stevie Ray Vaughan: Old Jam, New Blood: Redux Club, Dallas 1987 (All Access)
Toronzo Cannon: The Chicago Way (Alligator)

Classical
Various: Piano Works by Zenobia Powell Perry (Cambria)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Shirlette Ammons: Language Barrier (Churchkey/SugarQube )
Moodymann: DJ-Kicks (K7)
Rasputin Stash: Devil Made Me Do It (vinyl reissue) ( BBE)
Santigold: 99 Cent (Atlantic)
Soul Inscribed: Soul Inscribed
Space Captain: In Memory EP (Tru Thoughts )

Gospel, Gospel Rap, CCM
Bishop Larry D. Trotter and Sweet Holy Spirit Choir : How Far Back Can You Go?-Church Unplugged Vol 2 (Utopia Music Group )
Lecrae: Church Clothes 3 (Reach)
Newsboys: God’s Not Dead – The Greatest Hits of the Newsboys (Inpop)
Pastor Tim Rogers: Churchin’ (Sag Music Group)
T.J. Hooker Taylor: Going Back to Church (Music Access Inc.)
Talley Boyz: Home (Ecko)
The Showers: The Showers (MRI)
Thi’sl: Against All Odds
Virtue: Fearless (Mixed Bag Music Grp.)

Jazz
Donald Edwards: Prelude To Real Life (Criss Cross)
Ed Cherry: Soul Tree (Posi-Tone)
EMPIRICAL: Connection (Cuneiform)
Freddie Hendrix: Jersey Cat (Sunnyside Communication)
Heliocentrics: Quatermass Sessions: From The Deep (Now-Again)
Herbie Hancock: Live in Chicago 1977 (Hi Hat)
Herlin Riley: New Direction (Mack Ave.)
Laurence Hobgood Trio: Honor Thy Father (Circumstantial)
Logan Richardson: Shift (Blue Note)
Omar Sosa and Joo Kraus: Jog
Raphael Imbert & Co.: Music Is My Home (Jazz Village)
Red Garland: Albums Collection Part One: 1956-1959 (Enlightenment)
Red Garland: Albums Collection Part Three: 1961-1962 (Enlightenment)
Red Garland: Albums Collection Part Two: 1959-1961 (Enlightenment)
Snarky Puppy: Family Dinner Vol. 2 (CD/DVD) (Ground Up)
Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra: All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Village Vanguard Recordings (Resonance)
The Stryker / Slagle Band: Routes (Strikezone)
Thelonious Monk: The Complete 1947-1956 Trios (Essential Jazz Classics)
United Vibrations: Myth of the Golden Ratio (Ubiquity)
United Vibrations: The Myth Of the Golden Ratio (Ubiquity)
Various: Jazz Vocalists Sing Cole Porter (3 CD) (W52st Records)
Various: Jazz Vocalists Sing George Gershwin (W52st Records)
Wynton Kelly: Nine Complete Albums: 1951-1961 (Enlightenment)

R&B, Soul
Al Green: The Essential Album Collection (box set) (Fat Possum / Hi Records)
Amos Milburn: Best Of The Aladdin Years 1946-57 (Acrobat)
Ashford & Simpson: I Wanna Be Selfish: Expanded Ed. (BBR)
BJ The Chicago Kid: In My Mind (Motown)
Blowfly: 77 Rusty Trombones (Saustex Media)
Brian McKnight: Better (Kobalt)
Chaka Khan: What Cha Gonna Do for Me: Expanded Ed. (BBR)
Charles Bradley & Menahan Street Band: Live From The House Of Soul (DVD) (Daptone)
Charles Wilson: Southern Soul Juke Joint (Music Access)
Clarence Carter: This Is Clarence Carter / The Dynamic Clarence Carter (Kent)
Clarence Carter : This Is Clarence Carter/The Dynamic Clarence Carter (Kent)
Fred Wesley and The JB’s: Damn Right I Am Somebody (limited Ed. vinyl) (Get on Down)
Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: To Be True: Expanded Ed (BBR)
Jerome Brooks: Better
Larry Williams: The Very Best of Larry Williams (One Day)
Mavis Staples: Livin’ on a High Note (Anti/Epitaph)
Michael Jackson: Off the Wall/Spike Lee Documentary (Legacy)
Nigel Hall: Ladies & Gentleman (Feel Records)
Patti Austin: Street of Dreams (compilation) (Water Music)
Rhianna: Anti (Roc Nation)
Sister Sledge: Circle of Love: Special 40th Anniversary Ed. (BBR)
SWV: Still (Mass Appeal Ent./eOne)
Teddy Pendergrass: Joy (expanded ed.) (BBR)
The Suffers: The Suffers (Rhyme And Reason)
Tweet:  Charlene (eOne)
Various: Aloha Got Soul (Strut)
Various: The Other Side Of The Trax – Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 (Kent)
Killer B3: A Documentary About the Hammond Organ (DVD) (Crooked Soul Productions)

Rap, Hip Hop
Dizzy Wright: Wisdom & Good Vibes EP (Funk Volume)
Amiri: The New Negative ( HiPNOTT Records)
Beneficence: Basement Chemistry ( Ill Adrenaline)
Billionaire Buck: The Black Jew (B&B Ent.)
C-bo: Blocc Movement / Tales From the Crypt (2 CD set) (RBC)
David Banner: The God Box (A Banner Vision)
French Montana: Wave Gods (self-released)
G-Scott: Another Weekend in Los Vegas (3B Entertainment LLC)
J Alvarez: Desde Puerto Rico Live (Sony U.S. Latin)
Kahlil: The Tale of Wod Higgins (Pocket Fixed Mob LLC)
Kanye West: The Life of Pablo (Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music)
Last Poets: This is Madness (expanded ed.) (Snapper)
Lefa: Monsieur Fall ( Jive Epic)
Lil C: H-Town Chronicle 18 (Oarfin)
Lushlife: Ritualize (Western Vinyl)
Mr. Green: The Project ( Live From The Streets )
Nature: Target Practice  (Vodka & Milk)
Philly Fate: #Onelife (Real Life Music)
Rick Rubin: Star Wars Headspace
Statik Selectah & KXNG Crooked: Static KXNG (Penalty Ent.)
The Bad Boy Young Me$$ (aka Messy Marv): The Money in the Bitch Purse, DLK Collabs Vol. 4 (Dlk Enterprise)
T-Nutty: Blue Venom (Nutt Factor)
Trae tha Truth:  Tha Thruth Part 2 (Empire)
Truth: From Ashes to Kingdom Come (Ill Adrenaline)
Vic Spencer & Chris Crack: Who the Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? (Perpetual Rebel)
Yo Gotti: Art of Hustle (Epic)
Young Thug: I’m Up (Atlantic / 300 Ent)

Reggae, Dancehall
Glen Brown: Boat to Progess (VP)
Horace Andy: In the Light (VP)
Jago: Microphones And Sofas (Tru Thoughts )
John Holt: 1000 Volts of Holt (expanded ed.) (Trojan)
Skin, Flesh & Bones: Dub in Blood (reissue) (Pressure Sounds)

World
Rokia Traoré: Ne So (Nonesuch)
Adama Yalomba: Waati Sera
Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari: Tales Of Mozambique (Soul Jazz)
DJ Katapila: Trotro (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
RAM: RAM 6: Manman m se Ginen
Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights: Quelbe! Music of the U.S. Virgin Islands (Smithsonian Folkways)

Welcome to the February 2015 Issue

Welcome to the February 2015 Black History Month edition of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month our primary theme is Black radio to promote the AAAMC’s new four-part virtual exhibition celebrating “The Golden Age of Black Radio” on the Google Cultural Institute website. As a tie-in, there are reviews of two new books related to the exhibit: Walker Smith’s Mello Yellow: The Incredible Life Story of Jack the Rapper about legendary deejay Jack Gibson, and Sonja D. Williams’ landmark biography Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom. And because they are named after the famous deejay Eddie O’Jay, we’re also featuring the O’Jays’ 50th Anniversary Concert.

Tying into more Black history themes, we’re featuring poet-activist-musician Saul Williams’ MartyrLoserKing; Tomás Doncker’s socially-conscious album The Mess We Made; Adegoke Steve Colson’s solo jazz piano album Tones For, dedicated to Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass; Jaimeo Brown Transcendence’s sample based Work Songs, which resurrect stories of workers and prisoners worldwide; and the documentary Take Me to the River, which celebrates Memphis culture and Mississippi Delta musicians.

On the funk and rock side we’re featuring the reunion album A Simple Act of Faith from the 1980s band Cymande, Brooklyn Funk Essentials’ Funk Ain’t Ova, and a blending of rock and gospel on Sam Butler’s Raise Your Hands!

In celebration of Valentine’s Day and love in general, there’s Sweet Honey in the Rock’s #LoveinEvolution, Terri Lyne Carrington’s The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul, a reissue of Jay Dee’s Come on in Love, and Taj Weekes & Adowa’s Love Herb & Reggae.

For the Mardi Gras and Carnival season, we featuring Matthew Hartnett’s blending of New Orleans brass and gospel roots in Southern Comfort, and the Brazil meets New Orleans collaboration of Nation Beat and Cha Wa in Carnival Caravan.

Wrapping up this issue is the Senegalese band Dieuf-Dieul de Thies’ compilation of unreleased 1980s sessions Aw Sa Yone, Vol. 2, a reissue of Magic Sam Blues Band’s Black Magic, and our list of January releases of note.

Walker Smith – Mello Yello: The Incredible Life Story of Jack the Rapper

walker smith_mello yello

Title: Mello Yello: The Incredible Life Story of Jack the Rapper

Author: Walker Smith

Publisher: Sonata Books LLC/Walker Smith Books

Format: Book (softcover, 270 p.), eBook

Release date: 2015

 

Based on interviews conducted by Walker Smith over a two year period from 1997-1999, Mello Yello: The Incredible Life Story of Jack the Rapper is part biography, part autobiography—told primarily through the words of Jack Gibson.

Affectionately known as “Jockey Jack,” and later “Jack the Rapper,” Jack Gibson was a legendary figure in Black radio and the Black entertainment industry. Though not well known outside of those circles (amazingly, Gibson doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry), his influence was incredibly broad, reaching all four corners of the nation and extending from the 1940s until his death in 2000, and beyond. A master storyteller to the end, Mello Yello is his final exposé on the industry—with sidebars on life, love, and the pursuit of happiness—edited by Ms. Smith in a manner that’s both informative and entertaining.

Born May 13, 1920 on the South Side of Chicago, Gibson was the son of a prosperous doctor from Barbados, who was also Marcus Garvey’s personal physician. Though Gibson trained at Lincoln University to be an actor, due to his mixed race heritage and light skin he was not able to land one of the few roles reserved for Black actors. Capitalizing instead on his vocal talents, Gibson was given a starring role in “Here Comes Tomorrow,” the first radio soap opera drama to feature an all-Black cast. Produced by another legendary Chicagoan, the African American writer Richard Durham, the show went on the air in 1945 over Chicago station WJJD. As Gibson recalls, “during a time when Negro actors were relegated to playing cartoonish sidekicks, maids and butlers, we were playing three-dimensional characters concerned with voting rights, segregation, and family relationships.” Shortly thereafter, Gibson launched his own music-based radio program, “The Jack Gibson Show,” while also working as a local emcee and helping Black artists such as Sarah Vaughan get booked into Chicago clubs.

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Sonja D. Williams – Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom

sonja d williams_word warrior

Title: Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom

Author: Sonja D. Williams

Formats: hardcover (265 pages), softcover, eBook

Publisher: University of Illinois Press; New Black Studies Series

Release date: August 11, 2015

 

Sonja D. Williams, a professor in Howard University’s Department of Radio, Television, and Film, offers the first full-length biography of Chicago writer Richard Durham, an extremely important figure in the history of radio whose most notable programs included Here Comes Tomorrow and Destination Freedom. Williams’ was first introduced to Durham’s work in the early 1990s while serving as associate producer on the Peabody Award-winning radio documentary, Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was, for Smithsonian Productions. After the conclusion of that project, she was determined to embark on a more thorough study of Durham, whose “dramatic flair and fiery rhetoric” infused his dramas about African American life. Now, after twenty years of research, we are finally gifted with Word Warrior: Richard Durham, Radio and Freedom—which explores Durham’s life as well as the totality of his contributions to radio.

Williams is a natural storyteller, weaving an engaging story of Durham’s early life. Born in 1917 in Mississippi where his grandparents were both former slaves, Durham spent his early years on the family farm. His father was one of a few Black landowners, while his mother earned extra income peddling Madame C.J. Walker hair products. Williams provides an interesting account of the history of the Durham family in the south, based on first-hand interviews and quotes from Durham family papers. His parents eventually decided to leave their agricultural life behind to seek better educational and employment opportunities for their family, and thus in 1923 joined the Great Migration to Chicago. At the same time, radio was expanding rapidly in the city. As a young boy, Durham was exposed to programs on WMAQ, WGN, and WLS, including “Amos ‘n’ Andy”—a “blackface” radio comedy that poked fun at southern-born Negroes using minstrel stereotypes. Williams conjectures that the show likely had a major impact on Durham, inspiring him in later years to create more realistic characters who fought for social and economic justice.

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Sweet Honey in the Rock – #LoveInEvolution

SweetHoney

Title: #LoveInEvolution

Artist: Sweet Honey in the Rock

Label: Appleseed Records

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: January 22, 2016

 

Sweet Honey in the Rock is an acclaimed a capella group that has incorporated soul, jazz, spirituals, and blues into their music for over 40 years. On their first studio album in nine years, #LoveInEvolution, they explore current topics such as mass shootings, systematic racism and climate change, while displaying a warm heart and soul that chooses hope over fear.

Sweet Honey in the Rock still has two original members, Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson, who lend their seasoned voices to create soulful harmonies with newer members Aisha Kahlil and Nitanju Bolade Casel. Since 1981 they have also been joined by sign language interpreter Shirley Childress in all performances, which shows their commitment to making music accessible to all.

Much of #LoveInEvolution is a mix of spoken word and song. For instance, their Marvin Gaye cover “Mercy Mercy Me (Evolution)” has a great deep bass and extended introduction explaining the meaning of the original song and Gaye’s What’s Going On album. Aisha Kahlil speaks and riffs for nearly three minutes before the rest of the ensemble joins in.

Of the original songs on #LoveInEvolution, “Second Line Blues” may be the strongest, particularly in its message. Calling out the names of “innocent people who have fallen victim to murder at the hands of anyone from deranged citizens to police abusing their license to kill,” this incredibly powerful track is more spoken than sung, backed by a stark snare drum march beat and mournful vocals.

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“Oh, Sankofa” also reiterates the theme of systematic racism in the United States, but it emphasizes the importance of remembering history, saying: “We must remember, perhaps forgive but not forget, so we will not repeat the past.” “The Living Waters” addresses both the lack of clean drinking water in the world (foreshadowing the crisis in Flint, Michigan) and climate change.

There are many genres present on the album, including the more contemporary track “IDK, but I’m LOL!” where a group member portrays a radio deejay, and the spiritual “I Don’t Want No Trouble at the River.” These songs round out the album, combining heartwarming, easy-listening a capella tracks with more serious topics that beg the listener to consider contemporary world issues but never lose faith.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

Jay Dee – Come On In Love

Jaydee

Title: Come On In Love

Artist: Jay Dee

Label: Real Gone Music

Format: CD

Release date: October 2, 2015

 

Before he became “Jay Dee” (and later, Jackie Lee), Earl Nelson first broke out as part of the duo Bob & Earl with the 1963 hit “Harlem Shuffle,” famously covered by the Rolling Stones in 1986. Barry White had arranged the song, and worked again with Nelson on the single “Ooh Honey Baby” two years later. This collaboration led to the 1974 album Come On In Love, produced by Barry White and featuring Jay Dee as the front man. Recorded during the peak of White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra period, the album is awash with his lush string arrangements.

Seven of the nine songs on the original album were also written or co-written by White, and his signature R&B/funk production is evident throughout. Filled with upbeat funky tunes such as the instrumental “Jay’s Theme” and the title track “Come On In Love,” the album also features smooth R&B ballads such as “You’ve Changed.” The ‘70s love theme continues on catchy, soulful songs such as “I Can Feel Your Love Slipping Away” and “Your Sweetness Is My Weakness.”

Now Real Gone Music has re-released this funky album for the first time on CD, with two bonus tracks: both sides of the “Strange Funky Games and Things” single including a long instrumental version under the name “Games and Funky Things.” The CD booklet includes extensive liner notes by Gene Sculatti that explore the background behind this lost classic of ‘70s soul.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

Nation Beat featuring Cha Wa – Carnival Caravan

CarnivalCaravan

Title: Carnival Caravan

Artist: Nation Beat featuring Cha Wa

Label: Nation Beat Music

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: July 31, 2015

 

Nation Beat is a Brazilian American collective that combines their cultural mix of music with the help of New Orleans band Cha Wa, who perform “Mardi Gras Indian funk.” Together, they create irresistible Mardi Gras music on the EP, Carnival Caravan. The two bands stay true to traditions, even dressing in Carnival costumes as can be seen in the following promotional video:

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Featuring Brazilian artist Silverio Pessoa, “Vou Vantar Esse Coco” is filled with brisk Portuguese lyrics that lie somewhere between rapping and singing. With its smooth harmonies, the chorus is a bit slower than the faster paced verses with a Latin beat. “Casa Diamante – Sew Sew Sew” includes electric guitar, adding a rock aspect to the otherwise Brazilian percussion and music.

“Golden Crown” is about the big chiefs that are famous during New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations. With extensive use of call and response, the song emphasizes the interactive and performance-based aspect of the two bands. The EP ends with a cover of the classic “Liza Jane,” featuring a full complement of New Orleans brass, including trumpet and tuba solos, and Caribbean percussion.

Carnival Caravan is the perfect Mardi Gras soundtrack, full of fun, traditional themes and beats that combine music and culture from the two of the most pivotal centers of Carnival today: New Orleans and Brazil.

Reviewed by Anna Polovick

January 2016 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during January 2016—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
T Bone Walker: Texas Guitar-From Dallas To L.A. (remastered) (Friday Music)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Alyson Cambridge: Until Now (Suite 28/Naxos)
Doran Stucky Studer Tacuma: Call Me Melium – Music of Jimi Hendrix (Double Moon)
Skunk Anansie: Anarchytecture (Universal Ireland)
Bloc Party: Hymns (BMG/Infectious Music/Vagrant)
Danko Jones: Live At Wacken CD/DVD ( UDR)
Pure Hell: Noise Addiction (CD+DVD expanded ed.) (Cherry Red)

Gospel, Gospel Rap, CCM
Conrad Miller: Thankful (Millcon Music Ministires)
Canton Jones:  I am Justice (Cajo International)
Donald Lawrence & The Tri-City Singers: The Millennium Collection (Motown Gospel)
J. Moss: GFG Reload (Pmg Gospel)
Lynda Randle: Ageless Hymns (Gaither)
Regina Belle: Day Life Began (Shanachie)
Various: Wow Gospel 2016 (20-20 Ent.)
Various: God Cares For U-Give Him Glory (Tyscot)
William McDowell: Sounds of Revival (eOne)

Broadway
Various: The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording) (Broadway)

Comedy
Ron Funches: The Funches Of Us (Comedy Dynamics)

Jazz
Aruán Oritz: Hidden Voices   (Intakt)
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels: I Long to See You (Blue Note)
Dr. Lonnie Smith: Evolution  (Blue Note)
Grant Green: 1961 Summer Sessions (American Jazz Classics)
Jason Marsalis: Heirs of the Crescent City (OST) (Elm)
Jazz Funk Soul: More Serious Business (Shanachie)
Jeremy Pelt: #JiveCulture (HighNote)
Jim Cullum Jazz Band/William Warfield: Porgy And Bess Live (Riverwalk)
Joseph Dailey: The Tuba Trio Chronicles (JoDa Music)
Mack Avenue Super Band: Live From the Detroit Jazz Festival 2015 (Mack Ave.)
Miles Davis: Paul’s Mall. Boston September 1972 (Hi Hat)
Nina Simone:  Complete 1959-61 Live Recordings (Essential Jazz Classics)
Parker, Gayle, Drake:  Live at Jazzwerkstatt Peitz     (Jazzwerkstatt)
Smith/Taborn/Maneri: The Bell (ECM)
Three’s Company: We’ll Be Together Again   (Naxos)
Willie Jones III: Groundwork (WJ3)
Art Sherrod Jr : Intervention (Pacific Coast Jazz)
Nicolas Bearde (ft. Nat Adderley Jr.): Invitation (Right Groove)

R&B, Soul
Adrian Younge: Something About April II (Linear Labs)Alexander O`Neal: Complete Single Collection (Tabu)
Ango-Saxon Brown: Songs For Evolution (Expanded Ed. – 1st CD release) (Cherry Red)
Ashford & Simpson: Gimme Something Real (expanded ed.) (BBR)
Drifters: Complete Releases 1953-62 (Acrobat)
Rose Royce: In Full Bloom: Expanded Edition (BBR)
S.O.S. Band : Complete Single Collection (Tabu)
Tank: Sex Love & Pain II (Atlantic)
Various: Ohio Soul (History of Soul)

Rap, Hip Hop
B Legit: Throwblock Muzic (Black Armor)
Guilty Simpson & Small Professor: Highway Robbery (vinyl) (Coalmine Music)
Koncept & J57: Fuel EP (Kon57)
Wordsworth/Donel Smokes: New Beginning (Worldwide Communications)
337 MAFIA: L.A.D.’s Ambition (eOne)
Alpha Wann: Alpha Lauren 2 (Don Dada)
Anderson Paak: Malibu (Steel Wool / Obe)
Beneficence: Basement Chemistry (Ill Adrenaline)
Big L: Lifestylez Of Da Poor & Dangerous Deluxe Edition Box set (Get On Down)
Blanco/YG/DB Tha General : California Livin’ (Guerrilla Ent)
Boy Boy Young Me$$ (Messy Marv): The Money In The Bitch Purse’ Collabs Vol.4 (Dlk Ent.)
D.I.T.C.: Remix Project (Deluxe Ed.) (Alliance)
Daz-N-Snoop: Cuzznz  (Dogg Pound)
GainesFM: Reanimation (FreeMinds Music Group)
K-Def: Unpredictable Gemini / The Way It Was (Redefinition)
Kevin Gates: Islah (Bread Winners Assoc./Atlantic)
Shabaam Sahdeeq: Modern Artillery (vinyl)  (Elite Fleet)
Talib Kweli: Fuck the Money (Javotti Media)
The Game: Doc 2/2.5 Collector’s Edition (eOne)
Torae : Entitled (Alliance Import)
Tricky: Skilled Mechanics (K7)
Various: Straight Outta Compton: Music From The Motion Picture (Capitol)
Z-Ro: I Found Me Vol. 2 (RBC)
Ksi: Keep Up EP (Island )

Reggae, Dancehall
Jacob Miller: Who Say Jah No Dread (remastered ed.) (VP)
Various: STUDIO ONE Showcase: The Sound Of Studio One In The 1970s (Soul Jazz)

World
Buyepongo: Todo Mundo (Buyepongo)
Baaba Maal: Traveller (Plus +180)
Black Kent: Morceaux D’Un Homme (Polydor (France)
Domingo Justus: Juju Music In Nigeria 1928 Vol 1   (Asherah)
Kumasi Trio: Fanti Guitar In West Africa 1928 Vol 1 (Asherah)
Muyiwa: Eko Ile (Riversongz Ltd)
Salute: Gold Rush EP (vinyl) (PIAS America)
Various: Soul Sok Séga’ (Strut)
Various: Bahamian Rake-n-Scrape (Smithsonian Folkways)

Welcome to the January 2016 Issue

Welcome to the January 2016 issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Indiana University Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month were leading with Wes Montgomery’s One Night in Indy, Resonance Records’ third volume of mostly unreleased recordings by the jazz guitar legend, who is joined here by the Eddie Higgins Trio. Other jazz recordings include the live Abbey Lincoln album Sophisticated Abbey, the Abbey Lincoln tribute album Ghosts Appearing through the Sound by New York vocalist Kosi, and the jazz-based album Freedom & Surrender by Lizz Wright.

African American poets are also celebrated this month. Detroit native Jessica Care Moore’s debut, Black Tea: The Legend of Jessi James, is a “jazz poetry” album with guests Talib Kweli, Roy Ayers, and Jose James, among others. Also included is the new Blu-Ray edition of the 1982 concert documentary Gil Scott-Heron in Black Wax, and the Charenee Wade tribute album Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.

Continuing our annual winter blues theme, we’re featuring the Andy T- Nick Nixon Band’s Numbers Man, Steve Howell & the Mighty Men’s Friend Like Me, Linsey Alexander’s Come Back Baby, Danielle Nicole’s Wolf Den, and the Sonny Terry compilation His 21 Best Songs.

Wrapping up this issue is Dream by R&B vocalist Angie Stone; Transparency by the rock band Straight Line Stitch; the Numero reissue of Eyes of Love recorded by soul group The Edge of Daybreak in Powhatan prison; and our list of December 2015 Releases of Note.

Angie Stone – Dream

Angie Stone


Title: Dream

Artist: Angie Stone

Label: Shanachie

Formats: CD, MP3

Release date: November 6, 2015
 

For the writing and recording of her newest album, Dream, veteran R&B vocalist Angie Stone found herself in an unfamiliar place: she was single.  With no love to call her own, the recording finds Stone inspired by what it would be like to love, lust, and correct the mistakes of her previous relationships.  Thus, one can imagine why Dream is an appropriate title for the release.

On the album, Stone collaborated with Walter Millsap III, a producer who has worked with Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Timbaland.  Millsap is clearly inspired by classic R&B and soul, as the album, at times, nods to Stevie Wonder and Motown in its compositions.  Stone admits that her favorite track is “Magnet,” which rhetorically questions why the singer always ends up with the wrong type of man.  “Two Bad Habits” is a playful R&B tune that explores Stone’s two worst behaviors: drinking too much wine and a particular romantic interest.

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One of the stand out tracks is “Begin Again,” a duet with R&B singer Dave Hollister.  The song opens with an irresistible groove that finds the singers wishing to rekindle a relationship that went sour.  “Dollar Bill” is a single woman’s anthem, detailing the excitement of preparing for a night on the town for a group of women “not looking for Mr. Right, right now.”

Stone’s artistic contributions to R&B have been significant throughout the 1990s and 2000s.   Dream continues down this successful artistic path, showing that Stone is not only a survivor in the music industry, but also in the game of love.

Listen on Spotify here

Reviewed by Douglas Dowling Peach

December 2015 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during December 2015—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country

B.B. King: Here’s One You Didn’t Know About– From The RPM & Kent Vaults (Ace)
Barrence Whitfield & Tom Russell: Hillbilly Voodoo & Cowboy Mambo (reissue) (Rockbeat)
Big Bill Broozy: Seven Classic Albums (remastered) (Real Gone Jazz)
Elmore James: Complete Singles As & Bs, 1951-62 (Acrobat)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Cymande: A Simple Act of Faith (Cherry Red)
Deantoni Parks: Technoself (vinyl) (Leaving Records)
Egyptian Lover: 1984 (Egyptian Empire)
Fingers Inc.: Another Side (vinyl reissue)    (Alleviated)
Kid Cudi: Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven (Republic)
Mickey’s Candy: Unprotected Funk ( Magic Mile Music)
Willow Smith: Ardipithecus (digital) (Roc Nation)

Gospel, Gospel Rap, CCM
Duawne Starling: Deeper Faith (New Day Ent.)
Pilgrim Travelers: Gospel Boogie Rare Recordings, 1946-1957 (Gospel Friend)

Jazz
Ameen Saleem: Groove Lab (Vio Veneto Jazz)
Comet Is Coming: Prophecy EP (vinyl) ( Leaf)
James Taylor Quartet:  Rochester Mass  (Cherry Red)
Max Ionata, Clarence Penn, Reuben Rogers: Kind of Trio (Vio Veneto Jazz)
Miles Davis: The Last Word – The Warner Bros. Years (8CD Boxset)   (Rhino)
Nat King Cole: Stardust—The Rare Television Performances (Real Gone)
Robin Eubanks Mass Line Big Band: More than Meets the Ear (ArtistShare)
Various: Detroit Jazz City (Blue Note)

R&B, Soul
Aurra :  Body Rock (Family Groove Rec.)
Babyface: Return of the Tender Lover (Def Jam)
Chris Brown: Royalty (RCA)
Coasters: Four Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles (Real Gone Jazz)
Dells: Freedom Means  (Caroline International/SoulMusic Records)
Five Satins: Complete Releases 1954-62 (Acrobat)
King Curtis: Complete Atco Singles (Real Gone)
Leeda Lyric Jones : Perspective
Monica: Code Red (RCA)
R Kelly: The Buffet (RCA)
Various: Chi-Raq (OST)  (RCA)
Various: Dave Hamilton’s Detroit Soul Volume 2 (Kent)
Various: From Sacred to Secular: A Soul Awakening (box set)  (History of Soul)
Various: King & Deluxe Acetate Series Beef Ball Baby! New Orleans R&B (Ace)
Various: The Wiz LIVE! OST of the NBC TV Event   (Masterworks)

Rap, Hip Hop
August Alsina: This Thing Called Life (Def Jam)
Boosie Badazz:  Thrilla Vol. 1 (Trill Ent)
Chief Keef :   Nobody 2 (digital)  (12million)
Corey Paul : Today, Tomorrow, Forever (digital)   (Collision)
Curren$y:  Canal Street Confidential   (Atlantic Urban)
Daz -N- Snoop:  Cuzznz (Dogg Pound)
DJ Ready Cee: Order 66 (End Of Days) (ReadyMade)
G-Eazy: When It’s Dark Out (RCA)
Jeremih: Late Nights: The Album   (Def Jam)
Kid Ink: Summer In The Winter (digital)  (RCA)
Kidd Called Quest : Put Your Headphones On 2  (New Era Boom Batt)
King Chip: CleveLAfornia   (S.L.A.B. Ent)
Pearl Gates: Diamond Mind (Below Systems)
Pimp C: Long Live the Pimp  (Mass Appeal)
Prhyme (DJ Premier & Royce Da 5′ 9 ): Prhyme  (Prhyme)
Price the Poet:  The Passion of the Price  ( Blaze Of Glory Productions)
Pusha T: King Push Darkest Before Dawn (Def Jam)
R. Kelly: Buffet (RCA)
Rick Rock: Rocket the Album  (Southwest Federation)
Rick Ross: Black Market (Def Jam)
Rohff: Rohff Game
Sheek Louch: Silverback Gorilla 2  (Tommy Boy)
Talib Kweli: Fuck the Money (Javotti Media)
Termanology: Term Brady  (Showoff)
Young Roddy: The Kenner Loop  (Ihiphop Dist.)

Reggae, Dancehall
Iba Mahr: Diamond Sox (VP)
John Holt: Memories By the Score  (VP)
Junior Kelly: Urban Poet  (VP)
Pablo Gad: Hard Times, Best of (Burning Sounds)
Sly & Robbie and Spicy Chocolate: Reggae Power 2 (Tuff Gong)

World
Domingo Justus: Juju Music in Nigeria 1928, Vol. 1 (Ashera)
Kumasi Trio: Fanti Guitar in West Africa 1928, Vol. 1   (Ashera)
Peace:  Black Power (Now-Again)

Welcome to the December 2015 Issue

Welcome to the December 2015 holiday issue of Black Grooves, sponsored by the Archives of African American Music and Culture.

This month we’re featuring a Holiday Music Wrap Up with an overview of releases from Etienne Charles, the Count Basie Orchestra, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Kenny Neal, The Soulful Strings, Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, and Sons of Serendip.

Over the course of the year we’ve reviewed a number of box sets ideal for gift giving, including those devoted to the Isley Brothers, Johnny Mathis, Little Richard, Lead Belly, and Sly & the Family Stone. This month we’re featuring more box sets and limited editions, including the new Staple Singers’ compilation Faith and Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976. The other sets are divided into three posts: New Soul Music Box Sets (Halo Records, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Syl Johnson, Early Motown EPS); Blues, Rock and Reggae Box Sets (Bobby Rush, Arthur Lee & Love, Bob Marley), and Jazz Box Sets (Weather Report, Billy Cobham, Bee-Hive Records). Also featured is the 25th Anniversary Edition of A Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm, and the 2016 Blues Images Calendar/CD 24 Classic Blues Songs from 1920s Vol. 13.

Speaking to the sacred side of the holiday, we’re featuring two recent Tyscot gospel releases: Anthony Brown & group therAPy’s Everyday Jesus and Danetra Moore’s Light in the Dark.

 Wrapping up this issue is My Name is Doug Hream Blunt featuring the 1980s work of Bay area lo-fi musician Doug Blunt, and our list of November 2015 Releases of Note.

November 2015 Releases of Note

Following are additional albums released during November 2015—some will be reviewed in future issues of Black Grooves.

Blues, Folk, Country
Eric Bibb & JJ Milteau: Lead Belly’s Gold (Stony Plain)
Gentry Jones: Roll It Roll It (Music Access Inc.)
Harmonica Shah: If You Live To Get Old, You Will Understand (Electro-Fi)
Johnny Jones: Doin’ The Best I Can (JSP)
Laja Ferlance: Mo’ Betta Blues (Music Access Inc.)
Lightnin’ Hopkins: Shootin’ Fire (Cicadelic)
Lightnin’ Hopkins & Billy Bizor: Wake Up The Dead (Cicadelic)
Magic Sam: Black Magic (Remastered ed.) (Delmark)
O.B. Buchana: Mississippi Folks  (Ecko)
Victoria Spivey: Collection 1926-27 (Acrobat)

Funk, Rock, Pop, Electronic
Brooklyn Funk Essentials: Funk Ain’t Ova (Dorado)
Cymande: Do It (Cherry Red)
Hieroglyphic Being: The Acid Documents (Soul Jazz)
Tracy Chapman: Greatest Hits (Elektra/Rhino)

Gospel, Gospel Rap, CCM
Al Green: Higher Plane  (Fat Possum)
Al Green: I’ll Rise Again  (Fat Possum)
Al Green: Lord Will Make a Way (Fat Possum)
Al Green: Precious Lord  (Fat Possum)
Al Green: Trust in God   (Fat Possum)
Deitrick Haddon: Masterpiece (eOne)
James Bolton: Count It All Joy (New Day)
Kirk Franklin: Losing My Religion (RCA)

Holiday
Coasters: Christmas with the Coasters (Goldmine)
Committed: Home for Christmas (Mixed Bag Music Grp.)
Johnny Mathis: Complete Christmas Collection 1958-2010 (Real Gone)
Kenny Neal: I’ll Be Home For Christmas  (Cleopatra)
Various: Santa’s Funk & Soul Christmas Party Vol.3 (Tramp)

Jazz
Adegoke Steve Colson: Tones For (Silver Sphinx)
Ash Walker: Augmented 7th (Deep Heads)
Billy Cobham: Live From Dallas Electric Ballroom 1975 (United States Dist)
Darren Barrett: Trumpet Vibes  (dB Studios)
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme- The Complete Masters (impulse!/Verve)
Myke Masters:  Mustn’t Grumble (digital)
Oscar Peterson: Exclusively for My Friends (8 CD Box set) (Naxos)
Pieces of a Dream: All In (Shanachie)
Robin Eubanks’ Mass Line Big Band: More Than Meets the Ear

R&B, Soul
Angie Stone: Dream (Shanachie)
Bobby Caldwell: Cool Uncle (+180)
CeeLo Green: Heart Blanche (Atlantic)
Chaka Khan: One Classic Night (Wienerworld)
Derobert: Got the Goods (City Bump)
Dominique Toney: A Love Like Ours (K-Tone Ent. )
Gloria Ann Taylor: Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (Luv N Haight
James Brown: Live At Chastain Park (Wienerworld)
L. Young: 4EVER Young (eOne)
Lala Hathaway: Live (eOne)
Lara Price: I Mean Business (Vizz Tone)
The New Stylistics: Very Best of Stylistics Live…And More! (Forevermore)
Seal: 7 (Warner Bros. )
Terisa Griffin: Revival of Soul (digital)
Terry Tobin: Truth Is (Topnotch Music)
Various: Love & Affection – More Motown Girls (Ace)
Various: Lost Without You – The Best of Kent Ballads 2 (Kent)

Rap, Hip Hop
J-Live: How Much is Water? (Mortier Music)
Big K.R.I.T.: All My Life (RBC)
Busdriver: Thumbs (digital)
Chief Keef: Finally Rollin 2 (RBC)
E-40: Poverty & Prosperity (digital) (Heavy on the Grind)
Fabolous: Summertime Shootout (Collector’s Ed.) (Def Jam)
Fetty Wap: The Life (DVD) (Meldose Films)
Freddie Gibbs: Shadow of a Doubt (ESGN)
Goth Money: Trillionaires (Break World)
Jadakiss: Top 5 Dead or Alive (Def Jam)
Jeezy: Church in These Streets (Def Jam)
Krayzie Bone: Chasing the Devil (RBC)
Lil Wayne: No Ceilings 2 (Collector’s Ed.) (Young Money)
Lil-C: H-Town Chronic 16 (Oarfin)
Master P: Empire from the Hood to Hollywood (digital) (Globy House)
Michael Christmas: What a Weird Day (self-release)
Raplords: #Raplords (Uni-Fi)
Rapper Big Pooh & Nottz: Home Sweet Home (Mello Music)
Redman: Mudface (digital) (Gilla House)
Richon Aubrey: Dreams (Twenty Two)
Silas Blak: Editorials (War Tunes) (Cabin Games)
Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder Present: Indie 500 (It’s a Wonderful World)
Tech N9ne: Strangeulation II (Strange Music)
Ty Dolla $ign: Free TC (Atlantic)
Waka Flocka Flame: Flockaveli 1.5 (Collector’s Ed.) (BSM)

Reggae, Dancehall
Congo Natty: Jungle Revolution In Dub (Big Dada)
Gentleman’s Dub Club: Big Smoke (Easy Star)
Various: First Recordings of Sir Coxsone The Downbeat 1960-63 (Soul Jazz)

World
Elikeh: Kondona (Ropeadope)
Falz: Stories That Touch (digital) (BahdGuys Ent.)
Sauti Sol: Live and Die in Africa (digital) (Sauti Sol Ent.)
Tinariwen: Live In Paris  (Anti/Epitaph)
Various: Senegal 70 – Sonic Gems & Previously Unreleased Recordings from the 70’s (Analog Africa)
Zenglen: Rezilta Pi Red (digital)