Post Tagged with: "d’angelo"

Hip Hop, Soul And RnB Album Covers

2012 Hip Hop, Soul And R’n’B: The Music We’d Love To See DROP This Year

D'Angelo Brixton Academy February 3rd 2012

D’Angelo – Brixton Academy Gig Review – February 3rd 2012

[dropcaps style=”circle”]D[/dropcaps] is more than back. His whirlwind tour around Europe these last couple of weeks has created something of a musical black hole, swallowing up the last 11 years of soul and R&B music and making it all seem insignificant. Everything about his performance in Brixton, from the crowds expectations and reactions to D’Angelo’s voice and spirit, created an assured atmosphere, this is the second coming.

D’Angelo’s Return

Anybody reading this article will know and have felt the hype surrounding D’Angelo’s return. The last decade has seen fans hooked on the slightest news story or rumour regarding his music and personal life. It’s been unfortunate for himself and his fans that most of the column inches associated with his name have been a little controversial. Check our D’Angelo European tour blog post for an overview of just what he’s been doing over the past 10 years.

@Brixton Academy

Those arriving at Brixton Academy might have seen the YouTube videos surfacing this past week of D’Angelo’s concerts around Europe, but a few shaky fan videos gave little insight as to what to really expect. There were two standout questions running through the minds of those waiting eagerly to get into the venue;

What the hell is D’Angelo going to look like?
Is his voice gonna be the same?

At just past 9.20pm, those questions were answered. Though, the latter before the former as D’Angelo opened in darkness. A move that propelled excitement and suspense to pulse shattering levels. The first note answered the first question, YES he sounds as good, if not better than ever before. As the lights rose, a smiling D’Angelo commanded centre stage, relaxed and ready to get into it, strapped with a black guitar and rockin’ a slightly new image. His natural hair and rather unusual combination of loose vests gave him more of a rock look than his 90’s R&B  days, as girls lost their minds and guys dropped an internal sigh. The crucial thing is that he was back and that’s all anybody REALLY cared about.

The SetD'Angelo Brixton Academy February 3rd 2012

It became quickly apparent that this was going to be more than just your standard vocal led soul or R&B concert. This was D’Angelo the artist and multi instrumentalist, backed by a four backing singers (incredible by the way) for those classic D four part harmonies, Chris Daddy Dave who delivered a mouth watering drum solo lasting near eight minutes halfway through the gig, heavily featured lead guitarist Jesse Johnson and fellow Soulquarian, long time collaborator and bassist Pino Palladino. For anyone who is heavily interested in the music industry in general, this was a dream line up of musicians and their individual contributions were worth the ticket price alone.

D’Angelo played a LOT of guitar throughout, to the delight of some fans and to the despair of others who were seemingly expecting a more smooth and polished R&B performance. It was clear that D’Angelo was making no compromises and in fact he looked happy being able to showcase a dimension that may have been suppressed 10 or 15 years ago. This was Voodoo D’Angelo.

In fact the first two thirds of the gig were an explicit, live interpretation of the Voodoo album. As one track blended into another, D’Angelos affection for the album and commitment to perfecting the way in which it was presented as a journey and experience were clear. So much so that fans had to wait nearly an hour before hearing the first track from Brown Sugar, a  near twelve minute variation of Shit, Damn Motherfucker. Though this left some Brown Sugar fans frustrated, it did showcase D’Angelo’s unhuman vocal range and he was beautifully in control of every single level, frequently unleashing that traditional rasping D’Angelo scream and in the next breathe melting the hearts of every woman with delicate high pitched intricicies.

D’Angelo did eventually lend a little time to the Brown Sugar album, taking solely to the Rhodes for a medley of tracks which included Crusin’, Jonz In My Bonz, Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes, before eventually reverting back to Voodoo for the anticipated Untitled (How Does It Feel). It was here that D’Angelo showed just how aware and conscious he is of what his fans want as he played the first note, before letting it simmer a little, standing back from the Rhodes and taking it all in. A moment that highlighted just how well he knows music and just how pleased he was to be on stage.

Now, to anyone who thought that these gigs might have just been a way of getting a quick pay cheque, you only had to hear the new tracks that D’Angelo dropped to understand that, he really is back and back breaking boundaries. ‘Sugar Daddy‘ was a mellow, stripped back soulful number again delivered on the Rhodes but ‘Charade‘ (someone correct me if i’m wrong on that title) was almost the complete opposite. A full throttle, spell binding, exhilarating 8 minutes of soul, funk and R&B with a distinct dose of Prince about it. I cannot wait to hear this track again.

Brown Sugar fans were again kept waiting, right until the very last track in the encore for D’Angelo’s most well known, signature track Brown Sugar. Again, an experimental D threw a curve ball to fans, delivering an uptempo, gritty interpretation, far removed from the original version and fan’s expectations.

So, What’s Next?

Well there’s no doubt that he’s back and there’s no doubt that he’s been working hard on getting this return right. At times, it was like watching Prince on stage, giving a glimpse into the direction of D’Angelo’s new album and highlighting the level of influence Prince has had on the new material. Charade is a future classic if it ever sees light.

Those who were expecting to hear more from Brown Sugar would have been left slightly bewildered, but Voodoo fans would have understood, appreciated and possibly even expected that this would be the next stage in D’Angelo’s journey.

There was no mention of James’ River, but one thing is for sure, on the basis of this tour, when it does eventually drop, it’s going to have been worth every second of waiting.

D’Angelo 2012 European Tour Dates Announced | Includes London Concert

Lauryn Hill B+

Unsung Heroes in Hip-Hop Pt. 1

Unsung. Underrated. Whichever way we put it, it unfortunately sounds patronising. Though the people we’re about to feature in this article have no doubt been given the respect and acknowledgement they require from their peers. We just thought we’d take a minute to lend a little light to those who don’t necessarily dominate the column inches but yet consistently pull the stings in the background within this culture that we love. We called this Pt 1, anticipating the influx of further suggestions for Pt 2. Enjoy, and share this post if you want to give something back to others who have given us a lot.

B+ (Photographer/Director)

One of the finest photographers in Hip-Hop is Irish and hails from the aptly named town of Limerick. So how did he end up snapping Hip-Hop’s most elite artists including J Dilla, Q-Tip, Mos Def, Madlib and Eazy E to name but a few?

Well, after graduating from Dublin’s National College of Art and Design in 1989, he left behind the lush green of Europe and stopped in L.A to geek down at the California Institute of Arts in 1990.

After first project “Its Not about a Salary: Rap Race and Resistance in Los Angeles” was published in 1993, he became the go-to guy for album artwork. With his creativity in full flow, he went on to work on music video direction projects for DJ Shadow, Nitro Microphone and Control Machete.

His experience led him to form the production company ‘Mochilla’ with Eric Coleman. Mochilla have since gone on to carve our their niche in producing innovative music films including a personal favourite of ours, Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes, the orchestrated tribute to J Dilla led by Miguel Atwood Ferguson.

B+ remains in L.A, working on projects through Mochilla as well as being a photo editor for Wax Poetics magazine and DJ’ing from time to time.

He recently directed the documentary ‘Distant Relatives’ which follows the  journey between Nas and Damien Marley.

The only guy in Hip-Hop that you’d want to be shot by.

James Poyser (Producer/Songwriter)

Mr Poyser could probably produce water from stone.James Poyser

As a founding member of the neo-soul collective ‘Soulquarians’, Poyser played a key role in contributing towards classic albums such as ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘Like Water For Chocolate’, ‘Voodoo’ and ‘Mama’s Gun’ and won a Grammy for best R&B song in 2003 for co-writing  ‘Love of My Life’. Just check the sleeve notes on your favourite albums and count the number of times his name appears, you’ll get the picture.

Until around five minutes ago, we had no idea that he was actually born in Sheffield, U.K. Useless info, but it’s info all the same.

Currently he’s performing with The Roots as part of the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. They currently passed the 400 show mark in a move which we feel has proved significant for Hip-Hop and it’s development both socially and in business.

Though arguably he’s played his part in the ‘background’ of many Hip-Hop classic shows and albums, we’d advise you all to check out a rare moment in which he took centre stage. The 2009 album ‘James Poyser Presents The Rebel Yell, Love & War’. For whatever reason this flew under the radar (maybe because of the relatively unknown artists that feature) but it’s abstract dose of soulful RnB and switches in tempo/sounds will remind you every bit of some of the Soulquarian’s best work.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if he’s one of the only guys aware of D’Angelo’s current whereabouts.

Trying to do research on this man proves to be very difficult. He rarely seems to give interviews. So if you’re out there Mr James Poyser, please can we get a few words with you?!

A man of few words, yet undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters in Hip-Hop.

Kevin Liles (Record Label Executive)

Kevin LilesIf there were ever an example that Hip-Hop is as much a state of mind as it is a genre if music, Kevin Liles is it.

To cover everything he’s been a part of we’d need to go all out a write a full biography, maybe another time. For now, we’ll try and do it the Liles way by getting to the point, quickly.

Growing up as a kid in Baltimore, one of Lile’s first lessons in business came when his group ‘Numarx’ successfully sued Milli Vanilli’s record label for taking their Grammy award winning song ‘Girl You Know It’s True’.

From 1992, Kevin Liles worked as an unpaid intern for two years at Def Jam before finally getting a paid position as their Mid-Atlantic promotions manager in 1994. The sacrifice more than paid off.

His ability to become a details man, spot trends, whilst managing to relate to the artists saw him contribute to Def Jam’s rapid growth. It could be argued that the structure and organisation he instilled in Def Jam gave inspiration or birth to the fact that Hip-Hop businesses could achieve longevity.

His ongoing commitment led to a promotion in 1996 to Vice President of Promotions before being made the first President of Def Jam in 1998. Under his leadership as president, Def Jam’s revenue doubled to almost $400 million and he guided them into areas of television, movies and video games.

He went on to become the Executive Vice President of the Island Def Jam Music Group from 1999 to 2004 before leaving to join former mentor Lyor Cohen as Executive Vice President of Warner Music Group until September 2009.

Speaking of Def Jam, Liles once said, ‘We want people looking to us as trendsetters. We don’t think of ourselves as a record company–we’re a lifestyle company, the pulse of urban youth’.

Liles has himself become a brand, trendsetter and pulse of urban business.

Hype Williams (Music Video and Film Director)

With the release of Kanye’s short film ‘Runaway’ and most recent music video for ‘All Of The Lights’ we expect Hype William’s profile to rocket.

But he’s been shooting music videos since a time when high definition meant you could pack more footage onto a ropey VHS.

In a career spanning 20 years, Hype has worked with the likes of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, TLC, Aaliyah, Jay-Z. Nas, Will Smith… in fact we will just give you a link to his videography > …saves us all some time! As you’ll see that videography reads like a who’s who of Hip-Hop.

His career and significance has been synonymous with the rise in popularity of music television. As technology has advanced, boundaries have been smashed, taboos disregarded, Hype Williams has remained one of the most talented music video directors by carving out his own style and staying true to his own vision.

Today, we understand he’s the man who is going to direct the video to Kim Kardashian’s debut single ‘Turn It Up’.

Brave or stupid move? That remains to be seen, all we know is that you better believe the HYPE.

OK, now you’ve seen our Part 1, feel free to share and tell us who you think should feature in Part 2…


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