Uk music scene
I can’t really remember who or which album it was that sparked the flame but, I do know that I listened to A LOT of jazz and soul records coming out of the UK. Jordan Rakei’s Cloak has been in constant rotation. He’s easily one of my favorite R&B cats out right now. I played this Mahogany Session over and over some days.
I knew a little bit about the Black Focus crew back in 2017 with Yussef Kamaal’s Black Focus album. At the time, I thought that it was just a one off thing. Turns out, it was a whole collective of jazz musicians. Kamaal Williams on the keys, Yussef Dayes on the Drums, Mansur Brown on the guitar. Absolutely amazing music, bruh. Brown’s Shiroi is one of my favorite records to drop this year, period. Also got introduced to Alfa Mist. Super fire. Sons of Kemet dropped a crazy record this year, too.
I’ve got my eye on this kid for 2019
Trouble - Edgewood
Outside of Pusha’s Daytona, this was my favorite rap record of the year. All killer, no filler on this joint. Box Chevy music. Kesha Dem is the hardest record of the year. That beat is crazy in the car.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
My man Sebastian at work actually put me on to UMO. He had played “The World Is Crowded” at work one day and told me to check them out. They have some electronic fonky shit. I saw that “We’re Not In Love, We’re Just High” video and I was hooked after that. I got a chance to catch their show when they came through Richmond, too.
Noise Cancellation Headphones
I don’t consider myself an audiophile at all. I will say this though…I get it. Especially after using these Sony joints that my man Fili let me borrow. Listening to music became an experience instead of just a thing that I was doing while cleaning the house. The first night I had these, I spent probably 4 hours straight just smoking and listening. The first song that I played was the J.B.’s “More Peas.” The song starts out with James yelling “Can we do it again?” and the band responding with “Yea! Yea!” Yo….you could hear James’ voice echoing in the studio. I listened to Funkadelic’s “Eulogy and Light.” The mix on that song is insane. They have vocals pitched way up and down, backwards and forwards, panning left to right…..Man, listen. That shit there and Sour Tangie made my face melt.
Absolute game changer for me. I had used all of the other services before and they were cool. I decided to give Tidal a try when I heard about them having master quality albums. For those who don’t know, digital music, for the most part, is a stripped down/compressed version of what the artist actually created in the studio. Master quality is what the artist intended you to hear. All of the small nuances within the music can be heard. This combined with the headphones mentioned before…..wooooooo. Again, shoutout to sour tangie.
SLy & THe Family Stone
So, I’ve always been such a hardcore Parliament Funkadelic fan that I rarely, if ever, strayed far away from them. I knew Sly’s name and a few of his hits from samples and movies but I had never sat with any of his albums. This year, a regular at work suggested I listen to “Stand.” That led me to “There’s A Riot Goin’ On.” That record there became a staple in my rotation. There’s certain records that, if the price is right, I buy every time I see it. Kind of Blue, Love Supreme, Al Green’s “I’m Still In Love With You.” All of those go into that category for me. TARGO jumped right into that list immediately. This experience taught me a valuable lesson. Never again will I be so closed minded about music.
Another funk legend that, for the most part, I knew nothing of. I had only seen pictures of her with Miles. I didn’t know a thing about the music. One day, a copy of “They Say I’m Different” shows up at work and I get to hear Betty for the first time. Bruh…first song on side A (Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him) starts and I hear that bass line. I stopped dead in my tracks and started smiling. That’s the sample for Ice Cube’s “Once Upon A Time In The Projects.” I’m all the way hooked at this point.
Fast forward to a week or so ago. Mike Judge’s Tour Bus Tales does an episode about Betty. Now, I knew that she was married to Miles Davis for quick second but I didn’t realize how influential she was on him. She took Miles from the suits and cigarettes and introduced him to paisley and psychedelics. Mile’s makes “Bitches Brew” because of her influence and, in turn, influences the rest of the music community to change how they sounded. Betty is a legend and should be respected and appreciated as such.
I bought a copy of A Love Supreme back in February. Immediately it became a staple to not only my rotation, but my life period. I played this album daily. It became part of my routine. Most mornings, I get up, clean up a bit, cook breakfast, shower, and I’m out of the door. ALS was the soundtrack for that time. It gave me focus and a clean slate mentally. I remember a friend of mine telling me to “keep chasing that ‘Trane.” Naturally, I did just thought. His music became my new challenge. Any time that I was at work or even other record shops, I was hunting for Coltrane records. Through Coltrane, I found others like him. Lee Morgan (Live At The Lighthouse specifically), Joe Henderson, Pharaoh Sanders all became go-to guys for me.
A bit of peace
For me, the better that I understand something, the more that I appreciate it. For example, I’ve been watching basketball for as long as I can remember. I don’t keep up with any other sport the way that I do with the NBA. The parts of the game that I paid attention to at 19 are not the same as the ones I do at 29. My knowledge of the game has grown. It’s not about the highlights anymore. I enjoy the nuances, the stuff that doesn’t make the stat sheets.
This year, music became that x100. I am constantly on the hunt for the unknown so that I can have a better understanding of it. I was so dedicated to this idea that it spilled over into other aspects of my life. Most importantly, myself as a man. The better understanding that I have of how I operate on this earth, mentally, physically, spiritually….the better I can appreciate myself and continue to strive for to be a better me.
I felt a change as I’ve gotten older. I’d imagine that this happens to most folks as they evolve but, for me, I credit a good portion of my personal growth to music. It’s not just entertainment for me. Music is medicinal. Albums are elixirs used to sooth the mind and spirit. Gil Scott Heron has a record called “Lady Day and John Coltrane” where he sings emphatically:
Man, ain’t that the damn truth. My advice to you is if you got faults, defects or shortcomings…You know, like arthritis, rheumatism or migraines….Whatever part of your body it is
I want you to lay it on your radio. Let the vibes flow through. Funk not only moves, it can re-move, dig?