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Hybrid Soul Shakedown

January 26, 2007


Hollywood shufflers, if you haven't already done so, make sure to RSVP now for the FADER 43 release shindig at the Jensen Rec Center in Echo Park tonight, presented by Budweiser Select (and of course, our fine selves). We hear there is going to be a crushed glass fireplace, so wear your best turtlenecks. Check the details here, and read Lindsey Caldwell's feature on LA hybrid soul, which highlights party performers Georgia Anne Muldrow, Ta'raach, and Ty & Kory, among others, after the jump.

Electrocuted Los Angeles
By Lindsey Caldwell

It’s never really clear how a movement of people who are either only loosely affiliated or total strangers can suddenly start hitting on all cylinders simultaneously—whether it’s something in the local air or the water or the dialogue or if there’s a subconscious competition inspiring people to push further. Or maybe it’s just plain old coincidence. No matter what, there’s a batch of new artists in Los Angeles making a garbled mess of hip-hop and soul and jazz and Latin and and and and…shit is bomb! Not quite as smoothed out as neo soul, not totally traditional jazz or soul. It’s got something to do with disposition—a swagger and a fearlessness to incorporate all influences, even those not typical of “black music.” The musical traditions of Detroit largely influenced these folks (and some of them came from there to begin with), but recently the LA sunshine beckoned the sound to come tan its hide (riders need music too, you know?). And the sound has responded—the sound is flourishing. So check the stats, get the search engines, MySpaces and iTunes popping, ready your headphones and/or your tape decks and plug in now to these sound mutations, Made in LA.

Georgia Anne Muldrow

BORN: Pico/Fairfax, LA


AFFILIATIONS: Dudley Perkins

CUTS: “Your Day is Done” Platinum Pied Pipers Triple P (Ubiquity); “Larva” Worthnothings EP (Stones Throw); “Wrong Way” Olesi: Fragments of an Earth (Stones Throw)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “I think it’s just there’s a lot going on—but I think having
a social conscience is one of the classical things that LA has brought to
the table of music as a whole.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER'S BLOCK: Abbey Lincoln “A Turtle’s Dream”


Georgia Anne Muldrow is the real deal! The singer called for our interview on her unlisted internet phone, her publicist didn’t even have her number and she bragged about not really combing out her natural all the time, either. For Muldrow, it really is about getting her message out to the people (just not over the phone lines). “You know how scientists got nanotechnology?” she asks. “I’m doing something like that but on a finer level. With nanotechnology, they got small robots that go inside your system and do what they’re supposed to do to help you. That’s what the white folks is doing. We have nanotechnology that’s very ancient and it’s called music. It’s like when George Clinton says, ‘The funk can not only move—it can remove.’” Muldrow realized the healing qualities of music when she felt like giving up on life, wrote a post on MySpace and saw an outcry of people telling her how her beguilingly funky but instantly powerful music touched their lives. “I think the biggest part of that post was being able to go up on my little MySpace page—something that’s so insignificant—and getting so many people telling me to keep going,” says Muldrow. Between the inspiration from that experience and from her man Dudley Perkins, Muldrow is working on a yet-to-be named project. She also mentioned
an EP she has coming out. “You want to hear the name of the project?” she taunted. Before revealing anything, she disappeared to a dial tone.

A Race Of Angels

BORN: West Country, near Bristol, UK


AFFILIATIONS: “I’m not the kind of guy who likes to hang out in a scene.” –Yeofil

CUTS: “We” Broadcast No 1 (Love Classics); “The Main Attraction,” Eusebea (Love Classics); “Days on Earth” Eusebea (Love Classics)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “The sun.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: “There isn’t one song I would go to for inspiration. If I really didn’t have inspiration, I would just let it be until
I did.” –Yeofil


A Race of Angels are a mysterious lot. A search for images on their MySpace page gets you a clip art sun with “Today is Sunny” in dot matrix typeface, a black and white image of a man holding a microphone and the cover art of their first album Broadcast No 1. The website doesn’t offer an obligatory “photos” section, just a link to some tour dates and audio files for the entirety of their first release. “It’s more about the music really,” says the group’s frontman and primary songwriter Yeofil. “I’m trying to communicate something from the pure point of view of music first and foremost.”

A Race of Angels’s sound is built around Yeofil’s songwriting and round but gentle voice, with Te’amir on drums, Gailybird on bass and a dash of Ainjoy on saxophone. “The sun is my inspiration,” says Yeofil. “Living in England, you are in the grey gloom for most of the year, so you really appreciate the sunny days.” Despite relocating to the always-beaming climate of LA, Yeofil clearly is still in touch with the English gloom, singing over dark electronic textures or effects-laden guitars and keys, the beats and heavy layers adding up to moody, romantic babymaking jams or circular, lonely lullabies. At the core of all that sound, though, are solid, thoughtful songs—Yeofil writes unplugged and alone on a guitar. “It’s always spontaneous,” he says. “I never really know what is going to go on, and that’s how I like to keep it.”

Kim Hill

BORN: Syracuse, NY


AFFILIATIONS: Former member of the Black Eyed Peas

CUTS: “Joints and Jams” Black Eyed Peas Behind the Front (Interscope); “Barbie Dolls” Pharaoh’s Daughter (One Brave Indian)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “There’s just nothing like getting up in the morning and hearing your neighbor yell, like, ‘Juhhhh-nehhhhh! Bring me the bucket!’ then having the one guy who’s 30 and still lives at home washing cars on Saturday morning bangin Ice Cube.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: Anything by Grace Jones


Not one to bite her tongue (like, ever), Kim Hill softens her words with a sweet tone of voice and hyper-annunciated phrases. Referring to a song called “Disney” where she sings, No more auctions on the cinderblocks/ Now that Disney has stock in hip-hop, Hill says, “I’d write songs and my band would go, ‘Now we’re actually going to perform it in front of people?’ and I’d be like Yeah, and y’all are gonna wear Mickey Mouse ears.”

If you didn’t already know, Hill used to be in the Black Eyed Peas. “I knew ‘My Humps’ was incubating,” she says. “The label was like, ‘Look, you’ve done two critically acclaimed tastemaker records, but you’re never going to be as hard as Chuck D or as lyrically savvy as Mos Def. You’re always going to be this kind of feel good hip-hop. You can do another J5 record if you’d like, I just don’t know that we’re going to support number four.’” When she heard the material for the Peas’ next album, she knew it was time to go. After a couple of failed partnerships with majors, Hill decided to found her own label, One Brave Indian.

From time to time, her mouth has gotten Hill into a little bit of trouble, but she’s decided to choose her battles wisely and focus on music and future projects. From inside her home studio, Hill is working on one-woman shows, her next album, Pharaoh’s Daughter, and a radio show. “People don’t even know what’s brewing in South Central in Kim Hill’s house,” she says. “They’re not even ready.”


BORN: Santa Monica, CA



CUTS: “Something Bells” Of Snowdonia (Plug Research); “Busy Signal (Make You Go Bombing Mix)” Prefuse 73 One World Extingusher (Warp Records); “Experience” Invention (Plug Research)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “The city’s influence is in its eagerness to try things, I think. The easiest way to put it is that LA is incestuous and everybody’s kind of willing to meet a lot of other people from vast different backgrounds.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: Michel Legrand “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”


When asked where all of the thousands of unique sounds at his fingertips came from, Daedelus—a producer who both collaborates and puts out solo albums—mentions being bullied out of the soul and funk crates while digging with friends as a boy. Eventually he made his way over to the soundtracks, and now that he’s all grown up, it shows. “I was fully sucked up in this idea that I wanted to be a jazzer,” he says. “I really wanted to do that until it became evident that being a jazzer nowadays means, ‘Oh, I’m gonna play on a Carnival cruise for a few months to make ends meet and then maybe work on my own project.’” So Daedelus created his own laws and his own sound and any attempt to classify it is useless. “I’m definitely into the idea of invention,” he says. “That’s my whole MO. So if I can reinvent myself, or kind of get into another idea, then I’m fully into it.” He also mentions that “the impetus” for his sound is the rave music of the early ’90s…. So yeah, Daedelus dances the rave fantastic, but don’t hold it against him because he mixes it up and makes it funky as hell. As far as collaborations go, he’s got accordion samples for Madlib, Ricky Ricardo-esque string arrangements for MF Doom, sonic explorations for Dwight Trible and it don’t stop there—even Donnell Jones’s camp sampled “Experience.” Expect a couple of upcoming Ninja Worldwide releases from him: one solo project and one with his wife, Laura Darlington.

Ty & Kory

BORN: Ty: South Central, LA, Kory: Brooklyn, NY


AFFILIATIONS: SA-RA Creative Partners, G-Unit

CUTS: “Reap” unreleased; “Making Love” unreleased; “Hey Ty” unreleased

LA’S INFLUENCE: “It’s not really an LA thing—Ty & Kory is our own thing.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: Ty: Slum Village “Players”; Kory: Mystikal “Shake Ya Ass”


Ty & Kory are re-formatting R&B to make it work for them. “You know, niggas don’t like to bang R&B going down the street with our females in the car and shit. So we wanted that shit to be hard like, ‘We’re from the hood, we be on some hood shit,’” Ty says. The solution was something Raw & Bangin that you could bump in your car and still hold your head up high to while crooning to wifey in the passenger seat. The beginning of the duo’s story revolves around a pair of chance encounters at a single Guitar Center (yes, the one right on Sunset), where a mutual friend introduced them. A few months later, once they had teamed up to form a group, their drummer introduced them to Taz Arnold of SA-RA Creative Partners at the very same location.

Ty & Kory created two mixtapes and some MP3s for use as promos—they were shopped as demos and the tracks were sent out to different DJs until one day, out of the blue, they got a call from and Venus Brown of Buddah Brown entertainment. Now signed to Buddah Brown Entertainment, Ty & Kory’s first release Junior Radio is ready to hit the streets in March. They’ve been working with everyone from heavyweights like Timbaland and to under-the-radar producers like Waajeed, Karriem Riggins and Exile. SA-RA will have their turn behind the boards as well—Ty & Kory credit them with their G-Unit ties, as well as their style. As Ty puts it, “I didn’t start dressing crazy until I met Taz. He put me on to doing crazy shit and people just be on you and want to know what it is.” Kory adds, “That all comes from SA-RA, the master teachers.”

Aloe Blacc

BORN: Santa Ana, CA


AFFILIATIONS: Do-Over, Emanon, Sound Lessons

CUTS: “Want Me”, “Busking” Shine Through (Stones Throw); “What Now” Peanut Butter Wolf Chrome Children (Stones Throw)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “Everything in LA inspires me, I love driving through the city and seeing the buildings, because then I know I’m home.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: Norah Jones “Don’t Know Why”


Aloe Blacc has a recorder built into his digital camera, and with it, he records every idea, every lyric, even his interviews. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of MP3 files in his iTunes that he refers to when he’s writing music. “I base them on whatever I was singing,” he says. “This one is called ‘Good Gracious’—I was singing it to my nephew. It’s kind of like a church hymn. I don’t know if this will end up being a song, but it’s an idea.” It’s easy to hear how Aloe Blacc’s influences come from experience—you can imagine him at the bus shelter singing the ideas for “Busking” with a couple of old ladies looking at him like he’s crazy.

Blacc picked up the trumpet in third grade and stuck to it until he got a taste of hip-hop; senior year in college rolled around and he picked up the piano and guitar. Blacc’s Panamanian roots injected heavy Latin influence, evident both in his sonics and his bilingual singing and rapping. More than simply soul, Blacc flips every track he touches and makes it his own—injecting it with whichever talent he appoints. This year he has plans to release acoustic versions of his album Shine Through, a live recording of it with a full band and video for every song.

Blacc says, “I think as an artistic expression it’s much larger than just an album and the music that is on the album. I want to involve as many other artists as possible. I want Shine Through to be a movement, not just a record.”


BORN: Erie, Pennsylvania


AFFILIATIONS: Breakfast Club (Big Tone, Elzhi, Dwele), Carl Craig, Platinum Pied Pipers

CUTS: “The Pees” Platinum Pied Pipers Triple P (Ubiquity); “The Look” ft Amp Fiddler and Big Tone The Fevers (Sound In Color); “Say It” J Dilla Jay Loves Japan (Operation Unknown)

LA’S INFLUENCE: “It is so multicultural out here—you have access to so many different varieties of music that it’s bound to influence what you do.”

GO-TO SONG FOR WRITER’S BLOCK: Platinum Pied Pipers “Stay With Me”


While at Michigan State University, producer and MC Ta’Raach linked with three like-minded musicians, Big Tone, Elzhi and Dwele, to create a group called the Breakfast Club, and the associations formed there would prove to be major jumping off points for Ta’raach and his crew. Elzhi was introduced to Slum Village by Waajeed of the Platinum Pied Pipers and became a member of the group after Dilla left. Ta’Raach and Waajeed eventually collaborated on a track for the Pipers’ much-loved album Triple P. And Ta’Raach caught another break while working at Mahogany in Detroit—the same club mentioned in the Dwele track—and (as the song goes) he even met a girl there. Hannah Sawtell was DJing that night, and happens to be Carl Craig’s wife. Ta’raach and Sawtell wound up doing an impromptu DJ set together, and she thought her husband—who has a hip-hop label called Antidote—might be interested in talking to Ta’Raach. A couple meetings later and Ta’Raach was set to tour with Craig and the Innerzone Orchestra Band as an MC.

Working on Antidote releases and being around Craig helped Ta’raach learn the often-complicated process of releasing independent music. “Carl handles his own distribution, he manufactures his own records,” Ta’Raach says. “With the hip-hop imprint that he had, he didn’t have a staff, so he handed it over to me and just left me responsible for everything.”

Ultimately it was the late, great Dilla who convinced Ta’Raach to move West to Los Angeles in 2004, sending him off with a stack from his record collection for Ta’raach to sample. “So I moved out to LA,” Ta’Raach says, “then Jay Dee was just like, ‘Yo man, I would have never left Detroit, but there is a lot of opportunity in LA.’” Ta’Raach is calling his crusade “The Lovelution Prosper” and The Fevers is his two-year anniversary gift to the city. is his two-year anniversary gift to the city.

Posted: January 26, 2007
Hybrid Soul Shakedown