Monday, 30 December 2013

2013: Year of the American Black Man and his Voice

The weirdest exchange has taken place: Britain successfully exported retro pop acts like Amy Winehouse and Adele to America while the US has actively developed classic funk and soul artists that have made greater waves in Europe than at home.
2013 produced some amazing American funk and soul tracks that instantly register as classic tunes, only they were produced and recorded over the last twelve months. It should be every American’s patriotic duty to celebrate the brilliance of such marvellous home-grown music.
Myron & E’s If I Gave you my Love
Sat here in Britain, South Central LA is to us the home of drive –by shootings, Death Row Records and violent ghetto movies of the early ‘90s. It turns out that the ineffably soulful Myron is from those very ghetto fabulous streets of Los Angeles while his singing partner, E, hails from the mean streets of Newark, New Jersey (that place also produced ghetto fabulously violent movies like New Jersey Drive). Together they evoke the kind of sounds that must make Martin Scorsese want to call up Robert De Niro and get another mobster movie going. This is good stuff, and because I like you so much, you can have it for free.

Charles Bradley’s Victim of Love
Bradley was mentioned on this blog early on in 2013, but his cache in Europe has gotten even bigger. The singer spent much of his life abandoned and homeless, receiving a late career opportunity as a James Brown impersonator in California. It was thanks to the clever guys at Daptone Records that Bradley actually got his start as a recording artist in his own right and began producing original material. This clip is taken from a live recording at the Fluxbau in Berlin and the crowd’s adoration of Bradley’s performance easily conveys just how much he’s won over European fans in the last few years.

Booker T's Watch you Sleeping
It's probably a miscalculation adding the legendary Booker T to this list of largely unknowns, but one can't resist because it's likely this song was largely overlooked in America. Booker T teamed up with Kori Withers for this one and produced a modern day classic. The song would play on British radio last summer, totally befitting the warmest season we've had in six years. Considering that Booker T stopped making albums in 1989, the last few years has seen him firing on all cylinders, producing no less than three records in four years. This track is gorgeous.

Roman GianArthur’s I-69
Roman GianArthur is of the Wondaland Arts Society movement which is the stable of notable funk acts like Janelle MonĂ e and Terrence Brown. Wondaland has a pretty magnificent manifesto in which it postulates that its artists must wear tuxedos every day, jump into pools during performances, wear Civil War hats at all times and rock vintage Jordans when in public. It’s no surprise that Wondaland is rocking it in Europe as its radical policies seems way better than the inept politics that has strangled our union in what must be the most prolonged economic maelstrom in living memory. The video underneath demonstrates why GianArthur’s talents will corner the market in coolness. This cat is the epitome of smooth and reminds me so much of myself (tongue is firmly in cheek).

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