Featuring LSD & The Search For God, Stevenson Ranch Davidians, Jesus Sons, Dream Phases, Family of Light Band, Creatures Choir
Gift of Gab (Tim Parker) and Chief Xcel (Xavier Mosley) met at John F. Kennedy High School in 1987 in Sacramento, California and formed the group in early 1992. They released their first recording, "Swan Lake", on Solesides Records. The Solesides Crew consisted of the duo, as well as other friends of theirs they had met at University of California - Davis, including DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker. The single was an underground hit, but label trouble prevented the duo from immediately capitalizing on their fame. In late 1997, Solesides became Quannum Projects and in 1999 Blackalicious released the A2G EP, which served as a precursor to their debut full length album, Nia, which was released the following year. This was followed by a major label contract with MCA Records and the release of the critically acclaimed album Blazing Arrow in 2002. In May 2004 Gift of Gab released his first solo album, 4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up, but he assured fans that Blackalicious was alive and well. A third full length, entitled The Craft, was released on Epitaph Records imprint ANTI- on September 27, 2005.
This duo of genre-bender pride has made a name for itself on the Bay Area scene by successfully mixing spiritualism and hip-hop. Oakland's MC Zumbi and DJ/producer Amp Live blend hip-hop and trip-hop beats with lyrics focused on a message of unity, hope, and spiritual awareness. Although Zion I operates out of Berkeley, the pair originally met in Atlanta, making their music difficult to classify as strictly West Coast hip-hop. Their musical style makes them even harder to define. With a style that borrows from hip-hop, trance, drum'n'bass, and reggae, Zion I's style is equally mystical and mystifying. Zumbi and Amp Live formed Zion I in Oakland, CA in 1996, and produced several self-released cassettes. The duo slowly made inroads while opening for rap royalty like De La Soul, Rakim, and Run-D.M.C.
“The Best New Band In America?” – Pop Matters
“They Came, They Saw, They Kicked Our Ass” – Consequence Of Sound
“The band, particularly frontman Ziek McCarter , have got spirit in droves. McCarter's voice recalls Bruno Mars, Prince and Michael Jackson and he moves like an electric eel, taking off his shirt and getting down to do the splits with crowd-pleasing regularity.” – Sydney Morning Herald
The night before Con Brio headed into the studio to record their first full-length album, 23-year-old Ziek McCarter had a dream. In it, the singer received a visit from his father, an Army veteran who died at the hands of East Texas police in 2011. His father delivered an invitation: Come with me to paradise.
McCarter woke up with a song in his bones. “It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life,” he recalls. It was up to him, he knew, to rise above injustice, and to perform in a way that lifted up those around him as well. To make Con Brio’s music a place of serenity, compassion -- even euphoria -- right here on earth.
Paradise, which saw the San Francisco band teaming with legendary producer Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Beck, Seu Jorge), is the result: a declaration of independence you can dance to; an assertion of what can happen when the human spirit is truly free.
Formed in 2013, Con Brio is the offspring of seven musicians with diverse backgrounds but a shared love for the vibrant Bay Area funk and psychedelic-soul sound pioneered by groups like Sly & the Family Stone.
By 2015, when the band self-produced their debut EP, Kiss the Sun, Con Brio had already become a West Coast institution on the strength of their magnetic live show, with McCarter’s swiveling hips, splits and backflips earning him frequent comparisons to a young Michael Jackson or James Brown.
After a busy 2015 spent touring the U.S. and Europe, playing alongside veterans Galactic and Fishbone, and racking up critical acclaim on proving grounds like Austin City Limits -- where PopMatters declared Con Brio “the best new live band in America” -- they headed home to parlay their momentum, chemistry and tight live sound into a full-length record.
In an era when much has been made of the “death of the album,” there’s no question that Paradise, out DATE HERE on LABELS, is a fully-formed journey -- a trip made all the more immersive by Caldato’s raw, live style of production. “We tried to create a narrative in the studio, in the same way that we segue between songs live,” explains McCarter of the record’s arc.
From the first primal wail of Benjamin Andrews’ electric guitar on the title track -- Paradise is bookended by intro and outro versions -- the album tells a story about modern life through its contradictions: “Liftoff” speaks of an urge to fly, to transcend the day-to-day with a starry, bird’s-eye view. “Hard Times” brings us crashing back to earth with the struggles of city life, inequality, and a fractured society desperate for healing. “Money” is a revolution, a rejection of societal pressure to equate success with a paycheck and abandon one’s dreams in the process.
...speaking of air and darkness, Born on a Gangster Star came into the world in a big damn hurry, like nightfall on an island. You can see it happening, but then again it's so gradual that the next thing you know--it's dark.
Imbued with the energy and ideas from all the creative embers floating in the atmosphere like fireflies, Shabazz Palaces recorded this entire album over the course of two weeks with Blood in Seattle. New gear and new equipment disintegrated comfort zones into dust and a new path appeared in the ashes.
Herein the Palaceer continues the tale of Quazars, a sentient being from somewhere else, an observer sent here to Amurderca to chronicle and explore as a musical emissary. What he finds in our world is a cutthroat place, a landscape where someone like him could never quite feel comfortable amidst all the brutality and alternative facts and death masquerading as connectivity.
Inspired by days on end spent in the waves--water and light, both--of Southern California, the work came to the Palaceer in a flash, like being picked up by something and carried. Always dribbling with his head up, he can see what's going on around him and react to it, rather than starting in a certain direction and hoping to achieve something upon arrival.
What's good?--the kids ask. What does it even mean, and what does it even matter? Who is behind these choices? We are all of us sitting under a waterfall of all. this. shit. but it's the excess that is casting us into ruts.
The Palaceer stays away from the fleeting and the superficial nonessential. Stay away from your device--your phantom limb--and stay away from your image--your phantom self; that is his decree. Considering the motions behind the things you like to consume artistically, rather than just the way something looks or sounds, and thinking in layers, and trying to be more considerate and not so self-oriented--this is his medicine for combat.
Born on a Gangster Star flirts with a pop sensibility, but through the prism of Shabazz Palaces's fire and fury. For the Palaceer, that sense is all about how the groove is moving, and the supernatural telepathy that occurs amongst his cohort. Appearing here, in body or in spirit, are Julian Casablancas, Thundercat, Darrius Willrich, Gamble and Huff, Loud Eyes Lou, Thaddillac, Ahmir, Jon Kirby, Sunny Levine, and Blood. The story belongs to Quazarz, but the air and darkness belong to us.
And so we shine a light on the fake.
Hailing from Manchester in the UK, acoustic-electronica trio GoGo Penguin are pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner. Drawing on a heady brew of influences from Brian Eno, John Cage, Massive Attack and Aphex Twin to Manchester’s grey rain-streaked urban streets, they create a brave new sound that is wholly their own.
Defined by skittering break-beats, powerful sub-bass, telepathicinterplay and a penchant for anthemic melody they create an emotionally rich palate for the listener that has seen them hailed as the most exciting new band to emerge from the UK in years.
Their album v2.0 (Gondwana Records) was named a Mercury Prize Album of the Year in 2014, alongside albums from Damon Albarn, Young Fathers and Jungle and has won them a legion of fans across the world.
In April 2015 they announced signing a three album deal with Blue Note Records and their Blue Note debut album Man Made Object which was released worldwide on 5th February 2016.
One of Africa's most popular and recognized musicians, Habib Koité is a modern troubadour with extraordinary appeal because Koité's musicianship, wit and wisdom translate across cultures. Hailing from the musically prolific West African nation of Mali, the guitarist and composer has been named the biggest pop star of the region by Rolling Stone. Over the past decade, his artistry and magnetic personality have made him an international star, delighting audiences the world over, and placing him firmly among the leading figures in contemporary world music. Bonnie Raitt proclaims, "first there was Hendrix, then Stevie Ray, and now Habib." Koité's most recent release, Soô (which translates to home) looks squarely at his native land, a country torn apart by violence over the last two years, at a time when a real feeling of home couldn't be more vital.