It really is fair to say that all artists are storytellers. No matter the medium they are sharing what’s on their minds. Sharing things they’ve seen or felt; things that have had an impact on… More
The expeditiously growing respect and acclaim for skill-laden, hip – hop artist JSWISS is very clear, well – earned and certainly deserved. The NY native whose work has previously been featured here on I SPY SOUL, has gone about building his rep the old fashioned way, through steady grinding and his undying desire to hone his craft. He’s a young artist from an old school that teaches those practices will earn him a seat at the table with the very best and keep him around for more than a minute. His efforts are paying dues putting him on notable stages with elite musicians like Maurice Brown, Daru Jones and Marcus Machado and opening for legends like the God emcee Rakim or renowned hip duo EPMD. It’s also encouraging packed out shows and cranking the buzz about his talent louder and louder.
His sound ability and charisma is also showing through on his acclaimed releases that simultaneously get folks moving and thinking. It is the signature that is perhaps most intriguing about JSWISS and aligns him with the rap games most revered. He is a storyteller and life observer bringing you good times and motivation — like his anthemic, Dedicate Love Somethin’ whose visual complement was chosen for the 2018 Hip Hop Film Festival— but also other things you should hear, be reminded of, and not just know about, but should want to do something about.
With his powerful new release, FAMOUS, JSWISS is focused for sure on those last objectives as he shines the light on the grave injustice and hot-bed issue of african-americans, many young, killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Famous is a riveting, first recorded collaboration between JSWISS and stellar guitarist and producer Marcus Machado ( under the producer pseudonym M.Drix). Machado, also a past featured artist here on I SPY SOUL, along with JSWISS represent two ingredients in a bubbling renaissance of a diverse music scene coming out of New York City.
The talented emcee’s approach to this issue is incredibly astute, drawing on the social media ruled times we now live in where folks will seemingly do anything for their 15 minutes in the spotlight. So a hip-hop artist on the come up proclaiming “I don’t wanna be famous” from the opening line is not only ironic, but could seem a bit disingenuous. But JSWISS’ declaration doesn’t come from one denouncing fame from accomplishment, but that as a young black man and in recognition of countless people of color like him who have unwillingly become trending topics as victims of police brutality and a oft-corrupt system. The concept is a new take on a long existing offense made painfully transparent in recent years as more cell phones and body cams bring the truth to light.
Artists chiming in on injustice either through their work or in statements is not new. With now Twitter and Facebook just a swipe away for most doing so is not only expected, but silence is often perceived as an insensibility to important topics. As a person who doesn’t waste words on public platforms JSWISS kept comments on the low until he felt he could contribute something new and of value to the conversation.
“What finally struck me was the laundry list of victims names — from adults with futures still ahead of them to kids who hadn’t even fully developed an identity — known by millions throughout the United States and internationally, not for what they’ve done with their lives, but for what was done to them,” says JSWISS. A broadcast journalism grad from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with writing credits in papers including the New York Times, his instincts to look at a story from different angles no doubt fueled his approach to crafting, “Famous”.
Bert Caldwell Photos:Robert Adam Mayer
For more on JSWISS go to Jswissmusic.com
teddycrockett — Many may not be familiar with the name of the super cool, singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer, but he’s far from new to the music scene. If you fancy yourself an ardent, soul music maven plugged into its eclectic vastness, especially on the vibrant independent tip over the last decade plus, you’ve heard his funky licks, soaring guitar and top-notch production skills. You might have caught him blazing the stage with venerated UK soul star Omar, Common, Bilal or Alice Russell; on stage and recordings with the incredibly talented, fly duo of Casey Benjamin and Nicole Guiland, admiringly known as Heavy; or adroitly holding down production duty for his sis, Ms Diva Blue herself, captivating vocalist, Alison Crockett.
Now teddycrockett has officially moved to the forefront with the release of his three song EP, Sell The World, a hip, and flavorful mix of blues – tinged soul, pop, classic rock, and electro – funkiness with TC at the vocal helm. Sell The World is a well crafted mosaic of sounds and influences that conjure up music heyday nostalgia from 70’s Al Green- like flavor and Prince-ly, Minnesota vibe to a Steely Dan-ish lean, with a slick, and modern approach.
The wonderful eclecticism of the project was an inevitable result from Crockett. As he explains, “My dad was a musician and he considered there were actually only four genre’s of music: jazz, rock, gospel and classical. Anything with a back beat he considered rock, so this included the entire diaspora of R&B, soul, classic rock, punk, hip hop, etc. He listened to it all and so I grew up believing pretty much all music was related.” He continues, “With my new songs I hoped to tap into the timeless songwriting styles that I grew up loving. I think solid, tuneful songs will never go out of style. I’m not afraid to wear my influences openly on my sleeve, ‘cause none of the cats I look up to— Jimi, Prince, Marvin, Sly, etc — hid where they came from either. I think I heard that Miles use to repeat the adage, ‘the good ones borrow but the great ones steal’ and I def seek to reach towards greatness.”
Sell The World is a welcome intro to teddycrockett with more waiting in the wings, poised to follow. Check out the full EP and enticing, beautifully shot visual for the title song directed by Daniela Zoe Croci above.
Bert Caldwell Photos: Shawn Hanna
“I Can’t Lose” is the new single from swiftly rising, virtuosic guitarist Marcus Machado featuring soul smothered vocals from Jermaine Holmes most notably of soul star, D’Angelo’s stellar crew, The Vanguard. It is also the first single from the upcoming film and soundtrack, “Blue Diamonds” directed by Patrick House.
Machado, a past featured artist here on I SPY SOUL, has steadily been wowing audiences and turning industry heads with his high-powered, eclectic style molded with rock, soul, jazz, blues, and hip-hop influences, since even before grabbing Rolling Stone magazine’s “Next Young Gun” honors in 2014. In addition to heading his own shows and projects, the guitarist and producer has become a sought after musician putting it down with artists like Robert Glasper, Jamie Lidell, and Pete Rock, as well as with Daru Jones (Jack White, Slum Village) and legendary bass player Doug Wimbush (Living Colour) established the killer squad, DMD.
Check out the single below on Spotify and our video feature on Marcus Machado by clicking here
And for more on Marcus Machado go to officialmarcusmachado.com
There are things that no matter what seem to always bring a smile to your face – A fond memory, dancing with your sweetheart or the eyes of that brand new fluffy puppy you just got. You might also add to that list, a voice. In particular the voice of accomplished songstress and songwriter, Chantae Cann. It’s the kind of voice that evokes a sense of calm and a rush of assurance that somehow, someway everything will be okay – Engagingly warm, beautifully comforting, and oh yes, highly adept. Perhaps the perfect voice to console you in your time of despair yes, but also wonderfully ebullient when it wields words of inspiration and encouragement to pursue your dreams and love yourself.
It’s surely the quality noted and award- winning artists she’s collaborated with over the years like collective Snarky Puppy, The Foreign Exchange, and more were attracted to. And many more came to discover it by way of her highly-regarded debut project, Journey to Golden that reached #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and #7 on Billboard’s Jazz Charts.
Cann’s followup, Sol Empowered, featuring guests looks from Snarky Puppy, and Tarriona “Tank” Ball from Tank and the Bangas, has garnered similar excitement and success because of course, it features that enchanting voice served up in an infectious, soulful vibe. But because it also offers even more messages of self-acceptance, self-love, and self-empowerment. As she shares in our interview, it’s insight into her own personal evolution and process towards realizing those things. To hear about her being Sol Empowered, the joy of working with Grammy® award winning soulstress, India.Arie, and Grammy® nominated artist, Maroon 5 member and long-time friend, PJ Morton and more, check out the video above on the I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.
For more about Chantae Cann go to website Chantaecann.com
Check out the news of her new collaboration with Kia Motors America in promotion of her new Kia Sol Empowered Tour on The Soulnar™
The provocative, fiery sound and style of singer, songwriter and bassist, Shelley Nicole has through the years become trademark for the talented artist through her own work with band BlaKbüshe and the revered Burnt Sugar Arkestra. She’s bringing it hard as ever on her anticipated new project, I Am American, produced by guitar beast and founding member of legendary rock squad, Living Colour, Vernon Reid.
On the doorstep of release in all its spirited, soulful and “no holds barred” glory, Nicole returns to ISPYSOUL for a chat, an overdue follow-up to our first meeting upon the release of her acclaimed debut, She Who Bleeds . . ., to share the impetus for I Am American, the lure of “Punanny Politixxx” and more in the video below on I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.
For some background on Shelley Nicole’s BlaKbüshe check out our previous interview by clicking here
Acclaimed guitarist Mark Whitfield was enthusiastically introduced onto the jazz scene in the early nineties as part of a then new wave of “young lions”; An esteemed, impressive and packed class opting for the more swing based, traditional form of the idiom. The Berklee College of Music grad went on to produced a string of lauded releases while also sharing the stage with revered artists on the regular the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, and Jimmy Smith, solidifying his own renown.
During the course of his career Whitfield has also successfully done his share of genre blurring hooking up with artists like Sting, Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, and John Mayer as well as on ground breaking projects from D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige
But there are some other things Whitfield is understandably most proudest of. Those would be his two sons. Both musical wunderkinds and alumni of their pop’s alma mater. Both ironically, now part of the current class of heralded “young lions” (and lionesses!) shaking up the scene.
With a new segment we call I SPY SOUL On the Spot, we caught up with the busy guitarist just before his gig at the jazz room, Django in NYC for a quick, but insightful chat about the joy of playing with his sons, sound advice from mentor, George Benson, an Italian kid named D’Angelo and more! Check it out above and more on the I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel
Photos: Deneka Peniston
Julius Rodriguez is an accomplished jazz musician on two instruments, piano and drums. If you know or can imagine what it takes to achieve the highly skilled and respected status on just one instrument you have to consider it quite impressive to achieve it on two. But what makes this story even more impressive, even more remarkable is that Rodriguez, who hails from White Plains, NY, has been holding it down on both – swinging with luminaries and talented cats on the jazz scene in noted venues and festivals for many years now and he’s only nineteen. Needless to say, prodigy is the title this young man would most accurately fall under.
Currently studying jazz as a sophomore at the renowned Juilliard School, Rodriquez or Orange Julius as he’s referred to by many of his colleagues, has amassed a resumé many aspiring musicians several years his senior would love to boast. He’s performed around the country and the world to places as far as Russia, Japan, and Australia. He’s shared the stage with revered artists such as Roy Hargrove, Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Carmen Lundy, Andra Day, recent Grammy nominee, Jazzmeia Horn, acclaimed crew, Onyx Collective and more. He headlines shows at noted jazz hubs and revered theaters like Jazz at Lincoln Center on the regular as well as touted in the pages of notable publications like Vanity Fair as being part of a bountiful crop of gifted young “lions” ascending on the scene.
We caught up with the busy Julius Rodriguez to talk about how the fires of his talent were stoked early on, his love of jazz began and what his ultimate goal as a artist is in our feature above. Check out the interview above on I SPY SOUL YouTube Channel.
For more about and to keep up with the talented Orange Julius go to Orangejuliusmusic.com
Also check out his splendid release noted in the feature, Introducing Orange Julius and the Big Beat