Theophilus London hasn’t been shy about the non-hip-hop influences that inspire him. It makes sense, then, that on his brand-new studio single “Rio,” which London calls an “introduction to the vibe I’m taking for my next, still-untitled full-length,” he’s backed up by Brooklyn’s frequently sampled Menahan Street Band, a group known for playing around with jazz, funk, classic rock and pretty much every other music aesthetic popularized during the 20th century. “I went to Rio in 2010. The trip gave me so much energy and I met so many amazing people that it inspired me to make a song in Rio’s honor,” London explains. The resulting collaboration, co-produced by London and Menahan’s Thomas Brennek, is a groovy, soulful song that—with the exception of some pleasant, flickering synths—sounds sublimely old-fashioned. Even if you’re in Rio de Janeiro/ I’ll give you all my affection, London sings on the big, almost Motown chorus, proving that Diana Ross’ if you need me, call me, no matter where you are sentiment will probably never go out of style.
Stream: Theophilus London f. Menahan Street Band, “Rio”