El. Psy. Congroo.

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Last Active 01-11-17 8:38 pm
Joined 04-30-07

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Review Comments 8,577

10.11.16 The Future Of Black Music 07.22.16 Masochist vs. Popular Opinion
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The Future Of Black Music

...rests with these stupidly talented people, in my humble opinion. At least I hope it does, anyways. I hope that the sound they've been collectively forming becomes the sound of the black community as a whole--positive, meaningful, emotional, impactful, powerful. REAL. This is good stuff, y'all.
1Kendrick Lamar
To Pimp a Butterfly

This album is both the culmination of, and simultaneously the starting point for, a monumental shift in the tone of mainstream Black Music. With this album, and in one fell swoop, Kendrick takes hip-hop back to what made it so powerful in the first place--being the voice of its people. And he does while riding on top of Jazz and Soul beats, with some influence from afro-futurist Flying Lotus and probably half of the people on this list. This album is the vital proof of the power modern music can have, and I put my stakes in the artists on this list to get many, many more.
2Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean made stripped-down, bare-all soul cool with Channel Orange, and took that sound further with Blonde. Nothing like the production-rich R&B that we were used to, Frank Ocean manipulates the boundaries of the genre like one might form shapes in smoke rings, and has opened the door to mainstream success and celebration for experimentation in a staunchly staid genre.
3Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak mixes classic soul with some hip-hop cred with folks like Schoolboy Q, Talib Kweli and...himself spitting rhyme over these beats, and it gives this album much more heft than anything Drake might put out. The beauty of albums like this is that it gives this music a mainstream push, where I'd love it to belong.
4Flying Lotus
You're Dead!

If this movement had a ringleader, a "?uestlove," if you will, I'd have to think it'd be Flying Lotus. Pushing an already fringe genre (Afro-futurism) to far reaches, what he does when combine with other people on this list is beyond astounding (look at his own "Never Catch Me," on which Kendrick, Robert Glasper and Thundercat make an appearance). Also, his label Brainfeeder consistently pumps out quality music all around.
5Robert Glasper Experiment

Aside from Neo-Soul and Afro-futureism, jazz is central to this music, and these three guys are making it happen for everyone. You can spot Robert Glasper on nearly every album in this list somewhere.
6Kamasi Washington
The Epic

I know that a few jazz enthusiasts did not enjoy the extreme pop sensibilities of 'The Epic', but it helped make Jazz accessible to a whole lot of people who may not have given it another look. Also...if ever there were braggadocious jazz, this is it.
The Beyond/Where The Giants Roam

The best bassist in the game today. I want a collaboration album between him, Kamasi, Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar, featuring everyone else on this list.
In Another Life

Bilal is probably the most traditional soul singer on this list, but this latest album really pushed him a bit out of his comfort zone. That evolution of sound, that experimentation, is what I feel helps drive this loose collective as a whole. Find the boundary, see how far you can push it, then proceed to redefine it so thoroughly that they start to form around you

Kelis did the exact opposite of Bilal--she started out by being "out there," with hits like "Milkshakes" and "Got Your Money," and came back towards more traditional soul...though she didn't quite make it back to traditional. She's still Kelis, after all, and even if her sound is a little more familiar, she never comfortably rests within the bounds of the genre. That's a good thing, trust me.
10Janelle Monae
The Electric Lady

I want to say everything about Janelle Monae, who might be my favorite female neo-soul singer today. Goodness this lady's voice, though! And her energy! know, robots!
11Jose James
While You Were Sleeping

Jose James has one of the best jazz voices ever, I'm pretty sure. He actively tries to bridge the gap between jazz, soul and hip-hop, and collaborates frequently with other folks on this list. His albums are those that you can just vibe to at any time, for any reason, at any time of day.
12BJ The Chicago Kid
In My Mind

This one's a new one for me. A member of Top Dawg Entertainment, he gives the modern R&B sound credibility through his lyrics and vocals, and also through the features of some of his fellow Top Dawg MC's. I dig how he switches between smooth old-skool soul and gritty R&B...pretty damn cool.
13Terrace Martin
Velvet Portraits

He's been in the game for a while now, but most people know him as a producer--including producing quite a few tracks from 'To Pimp a Butterfly'. Whatever he's doing with these folks, please keep doing it. And teach others to do it, too.
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