NAS and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - CANCELLED

NAS and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - CANCELLED

International Hip-Hop superstar Nas and GRAMMY-winning artist Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley are set to hit the road tomorrow with a series of solo tour dates across the U.S.

The pair's tour dates together are on the heels of the release of Distant Relatives, an album created by the two artists to celebrate the correlation and deep-rooted connection between reggae music, hip-hop, and Africa. The album features the signature instrumentation and musicianship of Marley with the hard-hitting beats and lyrics of Nas. Throughout the course of their musical careers, the duo has taught each other and always admired one another's styles. Since first meeting in 1996, the two artists have shared a mutual respect and camaraderie that was most recently showcased on "Road to Zion," a standout track from Damian's critically-acclaimed album, Welcome to Jamrock. After having such a positive experience working together, they have now joined forces again for Distant Relatives. The release date for the album will be announced in coming weeks.

"Though popular success has largely eluded the Roots, the Philadelphia group showed the way for live rap, building on Stetsasonic's "hip-hop band" philosophy of the mid-'80s by focusing on live instrumentation at their concerts and in the studio. Though their album works have been inconsistent affairs, more intent on building grooves than pushing songs, the Roots' live shows are among the best in the business.

The Roots' focus on live music began back in 1987 when rapper Black Thought (Tariq Trotter) and drummer ?uestlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson) became friends at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. Playing around school, on the sidewalk, and later at talent shows (with ?uestlove's drum kit backing Black Thought's rhymes), the pair began to earn money and hooked up with bassist Hub (Leon Hubbard) and rapper Malik B. Moving from the street to local clubs, the Roots became a highly tipped underground act around Philadelphia and New York. When they were invited to represent stateside hip-hop at a concert in Germany, the Roots recorded an album to sell at shows; the result, Organix, was released in 1993 on Remedy Records. With a music industry buzz surrounding their activities, the Roots entertained offers from several labels before signing with DGC that same year.

The Roots' first major-label album, Do You Want More?!!!??!, was released in January 1995; forsaking usual hip-hop protocol, the album was produced without any samples or previously recorded material. It peaked just outside the Top 100, but was mostly ignored by fans of hip-hop. Instead, Do You Want More?!!!??! made more tracks in alternative circles, partly due to the Roots playing the second stage at Lollapalooza that summer. The band also journeyed to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Two of the guests on the album who had toured around with the band, human beatbox Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze -- previously a performer with Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J -- and Scott Storch (later Kamal), became permanent members of the group.

Early in 1996, the Roots released Clones, the trailer single for their second album. It hit the rap Top Five, and created a good buzz for the album. The following September, Illadelph Halflife appeared and made number 21 on the album charts. Much like its predecessor, though, the Roots' second LP was a difficult listen. It made several very small concessions to mainstream rap -- the bandmembers sampled material that they had recorded earlier at jam sessions -- but failed to make a hit of their unique sound. The Roots' third album, 1999's Things Fall Apart, was easily their biggest critical and commercial success; The Roots Come Alive followed later that year.

The long-awaited Phrenology was released in late November 2002 amid rumors of the Roots losing interest in their label arrangements with MCA. In 2004, the band remedied the situation by creating the Okayplayer company. Named after their website, Okayplayer included a record label and a production/promotion company. The same year, the band held a series of jam sessions to give their next album a looser feel. The results were edited down to ten tracks and released as The Tipping Point in July of 2004. A 2004 concert from Manhattan's Webster Hall with special guests like Mobb Deep, Young Gunz, and Jean Grae was released in early 2005 as The Roots Present in both CD and DVD formats. Two volumes of the rarities-collecting Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots appeared at the end of the year. A deal with Def Jam fostered three riveting, often grim sets: Game Theory (2006), Rising Down (2008), and How I Got Over (2010). Through 2009 and 2010, the Roots expanded their reach as the house band on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They also recorded a 2010-issued album with John Legend, Wake Up!, which featured covers of socially relevant songs like Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes' "Wake Up Everybody" and Donny Hathaway's "Little Ghetto Boy." - John Bush, AllMusicGuide

“The Godfather of Go Go,” Chuck Brown is the undisputed sole founder and creator Go-Go music, a hypnotically danceable genre deeply rooted in funk and soul that he developed in the early 70’s , and the only form of expressive culture to originate in the District of Columbia. Foreshadowing rap and many of the major popular R&B styles of the past three decades, Chuck's signature style earned him a place in American musical royalty. This esteem was maintained by the reputation of his legendary live shows, heavy on audience participation and built around “the beat” to create an unparalleled non-stop party atmosphere.



While searching for a sound to call his own in the 1960s, Chuck was deeply inspired by artists like James Brown. He latched onto the Latin percussion groove from the band he played with at the time, Los Latinos. Combining this with his roots, his love of blues, jazz, gospel, soul, and African rhythms, Chuck began to develop his own unique sound. Starting out playing top forty, Brown would break-it-down between songs with percussion and audience call and response, and keep the music going, and the dance floor packed.



His first hit was “We the People” on the debut album of the same name in 1972. Next came the album Salt of the Earth, with the hit “Blow Your Whistle” (sampled by Grammy winner Eve in 2007 in her hit “Tambourine”), and one of the most sampled break beats of ALL time from “Ashley’s Roach Clip” (including Eric B and Rakim, LL Cool J and countless others). In 1978, the Soul Searchers became Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, and Chuck’s original composition “Bustin’ Loose” took the #1 spot in Billboard, on Source/MCA Records. The song was used in Grammy winner Nelly’s 2002 smash “Hot in Herre,” and continues to be one of the most relevant and often sampled funk songs ever written (“Bustin’ Loose” is currently featured in a national television campaign for Chips Ahoy).



After substantial touring across the US, but no money to show for his success, Chuck found himself looking for inspiration. He found it in his next hit, the Billboard charting “We Need Some Money,” which propelled him around the world again. Brown then revisited his love of jazz and created the “Go Go Swing Medley,” introducing people around the world to classics by Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, and James Moody, spun in Chuck’s inimitable way. Released independently and later on Polygram Records, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers once again reached an international audience through a 1985 at Holland’s North Seas Jazz Festival. In between sets by Curtis Mayfield and James Brown, Chuck schooled everyone on the genre he created. That same year, Chris Blackwell introduced the movie “Good to Go,” a much hyped but poor reflection of the scene. Nonetheless other artists, such as Salt N Pepa, Kurtis Blow, and Grace Jones, began incorporating his sound in their music. Brown continued to record, perform in the US, with stints in Europe and Japan in the nineties.



After a string of live recordings, he met at the time an undiscovered, shy talent by the name of Eva Cassidy in the early nineties. His lifelong dream of singing with a lady, springing from his love of duets by the likes of Louis Armstrong with Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Eckstine with Sarah Vaughan, came to fruition with the critically acclaimed and worldwide release of “The Other Side” by Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy (which contained the original recording of the worldwide Eva Cassidy hit “Over the Rainbow”). He dedicated a jazz standards album to Ms. Cassidy after her tragic loss to cancer.



In 2001, he released the Billboard charting “Your Game... Live at the 9:30 Club” which was voted as one of the top 10 albums of 2001 by Billboard’s R&B Editor, Rapper Chuck D and others. A live DVD came next, called “quite possibly the greatest live concert video/DVD I have ever seen” by Murder Dog Magazine. The same year a double remastered “Best Of” album was released. In 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Chuck a “Lifetime Heritage Fellowship,” the Federal Government’s highest honor for folk and traditional arts, and Chuck also performed at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. The following year his “We’re About the Business” CD debuted as the #1 independent album and #2 R&B album in Billboard. The National Visionary Leadership Project recognized Chuck’s contributions in shaping American history in 2007, joining previous honorees such as Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, BB King, and Earth Kitt.



Most recently Chuck has recorded with artists as diverse as Thievery Corporation, Brian Culbertson and Jeff Majors. A street in Washington DC was recently renamed “Chuck Brown Way.” His most ambitious recording, a three disc set “WE GOT THIS” was released on September 21, 2010. It contains a live concert DVD shot in HD, a live concert audio CD and a CD of bonus new studio material including collaborations with Ledisi, Marcus Miller and Jill Scott. At 74 years of age, Chuck Brown remains not only culturally and musically relevant, but a tireless and constant tour de force in American music.

"If there was one R&B artist for whom the neo-soul seemed limiting, it was Philadelphia native Bilal. None of his recordings resembled sycophantic worship of soul artists who thrived in the ’60 and ‘70s, and it wasn’t just because his voice -- classically trained, capable of singing opera in seven languages -- was so unique. While some inspirations were detectable, his recordings were wholly modern and became increasingly creative. His individuality led to being dropped from a major label, and he went several years without releasing any solo material. Through evangelism from his peers and word of mouth from his early fans, Bilal gained an insatiable following and eventually landed on a sympathetic independent label, where he was finally able to thrive creatively.

Bilal Sayeed Oliver came up in Germantown, a northwest neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. A deep interest in jazz was fostered by his father, who took him to the city’s clubs. Singing eventually became more than an interest. Bilal attended Mannes College in New York, where he received voice training, as well as training in jazz and big-band arrangements.

Grenique’s Black Butterfly, a 1999 release on Motown, was the first major album to feature Bilal’s vocals; he contributed to three songs. The following year, he established a deep connection to hip-hop by appearing on Common’s Like Water for Chocolate and Guru’s third Jazzmatazz album. These recordings led him into the Soulquarians, a rotating collective of collaborators who included Common, Jay Dee, the Roots' Ahmir Thompson, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Q-Tip, and Raphael Saadiq within its ranks.

A turbulent solo deal with Interscope resulted in Bilal’s debut album, 1st Born Second. An exemplary neo-soul release featuring collaborations with Mike City, Robert Glasper, and many of the Soulquarians, it was issued in July 2001 and reached the Top Ten of Billboard’s R&B albums chart. One of its three singles, “Soul Sista,” peaked at number 18 on the R&B singles chart, while “Fast Lane” -- co-written with Damu and Faulu Mtume, the sons of James Mtume and two of the singer's earliest supporters -- narrowly missed the Top 40. At that point, the closest points of comparison were D’Angelo and Maxwell, yet Bilal was more dynamic than the former and less mannered than the latter. 1st Born Second carried an energy that neither one of those singers, as hot as they were at the time, could boast.

Bilal recorded a second album, Love for Sale, and handled much of the songwriting and production duties, while Jay Dee, Dr. Dre, and Nottz assisted in limited capacities. Promo vinyl was pressed and the album leaked online, prompting Bilal’s label to put it on ice. Bilal was subsequently dropped, but his following increased significantly. He must have had some mixed feelings when he performed the material to appreciative crowds who knew the material -- off a technically unreleased album -- inside out.

Meanwhile, nine years passed without a commercially released follow-up to 1st Born Second. Bilal had been a featured artist on songs by Beyoncé, Musiq, Clipse, Sa-Ra, Jay-Z, and several others, including many of his fellow Soulquarians, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he released his second proper album. Airtight’s Revenge was released on the Plug Research label and saw Bilal working extensively with Steve McKie, along with Sa-Ra's Shafiq Husayn (Bilal had appeared on Husayn’s own Plug Research album, Shafiq En' A-Free-Ka), Nottz, Conley “Tone” Whitfield, 88-Keys, and several studio musicians who gave the set a loose, band-like feel." - Andy Kellman, AllMusicGuide

The Foreign Exchange

Consisting of singer/songwriter Phonte and producer Nicolay, The Foreign Exchange came together via the online hip-hop community Okayplayer.com in 2002. After trading files through Instant Messenger for over a year, Nicolay (living in his native Holland at the time) and Phonte (a Raleigh, NC resident) completed their debut album before they ever met each other in person. The album, "Connected," was released in 2004 to positive reviews, and was praised by legendary DJ's such as Jazzy Jeff, King Britt, and DJ Spinna for its inventive mix of hip-hop, R&B, and electronica.

Their sophomore album, "Leave It All Behind" (2008) found The Foreign Exchange much closer in geography (Nicolay becoming a resident of Wilmington, NC), but located much further from their hip-hop origins. On the strength of their exhilarating live show and several nationally programmed music videos, "Leave It All Behind" became the group's most successful album to date, culminating in a Grammy-nomination for the album's first single, "Daykeeper".

It doesn’t happen often. But every once in a while a young artist comes along who has the chops, vision, range and creative conviction to change the game. Miguel is among that chosen few.

Let’s start with his voice: The Los Angeles, California, native has one of those raw honey falsettos that oozes into your soul and stays there, even after the music stops. Billboard Magazine exclaims, Miguel, 24, “offers both the sweetness of Babyface and the passion of R. Kelly.” Yum.

Then there’s the power of Miguel’s pen. This Scorpio doesn’t just write lyrics. He paints aural portraits—of his loves, his heartbreaks and his kinky little fantasies. “To me, the best songs are the ones that show how vulnerable, how human we all are,” says Miguel. Penning Asher Roth’s “His Dream,” Mary J. Blige and Musiq’s “If U Leave,” and co-writing on Usher’s Raymond V Raymond album, Miguel says, “For me, writing is like making steak and potatoes into a Happy Meal—how do I work in that substance but keep you coming back for more?”

With the album tracks on his ByStorm/Jive debut, All I Want Is You, Miguel certainly delivers. Through his longtime partnership with LA-based underground stalwarts Fisticuffs, and his visits with veteran boardsmen such as Salaam Remi and Dre & Vidal, Miguel has cooked up a truly genre-bending mélange of sounds. On the same platter, you’ll find traces of the Cali avant garde hip-hop he picked up from his high school homie Blu; the funk, electro and classic rock he borrowed from his crate-digging Mexican-American dad; and the big, rich harmonies of his African-American mom’s traditional soul.

“Overall, I call my style ‘eclectric,’” says the crooner who considers himself a mashup of Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Pharell Williams. “It’s edgy and it defies category, but it still reaches the people.”

Produced by Remi and featuring Roc Nation firestarter J. Cole, the album’s title track and lead single represents this balance. Since early summer, the hypnotic track has garnered widespread critical acclaim, constant radio play and a gang of online praise from everyday fans. The underground hip-hop heads who know Miguel from his features on Blu’s Below the Heavens; the hipsters who downloaded his adventurous, electro- 2008 EP Mischief the Mixtape and the young people of today’s generation screaming for him on BET’s 106 & Park, have embraced the hit single.

With more than 8 million plays on MySpace, his second single “Sure Thing” has also captivated fans. The slow-burn makeup song features a chopped-and-screwed hook with rock candy-sweet lyrics like, “Even when the sky comes falling/ Even when the sun don't shine/I got faith in you and I/ So put your pretty little hand in mine.” Like every track on All I Want Is You, the song is based on a true story. “I wrote ‘Sure Thing’ after I cheated on my girlfriend at the time,” Miguel reveals. “Instantly, I knew I had made a mistake and I didn’t want to do it again. I started writing all these metaphors about how she and I belonged together like, ‘If you be the cash, I'll be the rubber band’ and ‘You be the match, I’m a be your fuse.’ That song helped me sort out how I was feeling about her.” Not only did “Sure Thing” help Miguel get his girl back, it compelled industry veteran Mark Pitts, JIVE Label Group’s President of Urban Music and the CEO of ByStorm Entertainment, to sign the songwriter to an artist deal.

Miguel’s true love story continues with the mid-tempo bounce of “Girls Like You,” a track he penned after he and Miss “Sure Thing” split for good. “I was enjoying being single, but every so often I’d look at one of my homeboys who had a good girlfriend and it would remind me that I really wanted a connection. It was like, ‘I’m out here doing all of this, but I’m still lonely.’”

Of course Miguel isn’t all Hallmark romance. On “Teach Me,” an electric-guitar-laced romp that recalls Prince, circa “Little Red Corvette,” he chronicles his quest to satisfy a woman seven years his senior. “That was a very…interesting relationship,” Miguel says with a sly smile. “‘Teach Me’ is about how I learned what she needed and wanted physically, all the intricacies of what turned her on.”

And then there’s “Quickie,” a roots-reggae influenced fantasy of a one-night stand Miguel wrote after watching a mystery woman wind at the club. “‘Quickie’” is a really special record for me because marks my personal renaissance. Up until then, I was known as the great guy, the little brother that girls would come to for advice,” he explains. “But there was something about that night—maybe it was because I was underage at an over-21 venue doing adult things—that opened me up. I went home under the influence of alcohol and inspiration and I wrote.”

Given his current candor and confidence, you might think Miguel Jontel Pimentel has always been so clear about his creative path. But you’d be dead wrong. While he started singing and dancing at age 5, songwriting at 8, producing at 11, and signing a production deal at 13, he eventually hit a wall.

“When I was coming up in the industry, I had people telling me to dress and dance more ‘urban.’ A few even said I should stay behind the scenes and write because I was a ‘hard sell’ as a half-Mexican guy who sounds Black but looks Filipino,” he recalls without a trace of resentment. “At first I took the advice—I wore the white tees, the fitted caps and the baggy jeans and focused on writing—but that didn’t work for me. Only when I said, ‘Forget what everyone else says, I should be,’ did the doors start to open for me as an artist.”

And the doors are sure to stay that way for this artist’s artist who cites James Brown, David Bowie, Queen, Kraftwerk and Jimi Hendrix as key influences. After all the hard work, Miguel has been receiving positive reviews as the opening act for this fall’s Mary J. Blige “Music Saved My Life Tour” and recently confirmed as the opening act for Usher’s “OMG Tour” in November. Later this year, after 10 years underground and behind the scenes, he’ll deliver All I Want Is You to an ever-growing audience that can recognize true talent when they see and hear it.

Game-change starts. NOW.

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NAS and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - CANCELLED with The Roots, Chuck Brown, Bilal, The Foreign Exchange, Miguel, King

Sunday, August 14 · 3:30 PM at Merriweather Post Pavilion

Cancelled