We’re hipping you to news from specific artists that should be sounding your radar!


ArinMaya - Photographed by Solwazi Afi Olusola - 142

ArinMaya wants you to be a part of her journey, right this “Moment.”

Arin+Maya+Photoshoot+-++Photographed+by+Solwazi+Afi+Olusola-37When listening to singer songwriter ArinMaya you’ll be hard pressed not to conclude that her artistic, if not life’s, mission is to be a “beacon of light.” From the inviting tone of the Chi-town native, who now calls Brooklyn, NY home, to the way she moves and sways when she performs, you see it.  It’s evident there’s not only a sincere joy from being blessed with the talent she’s been gifted, but from also sharing the gift with any who will listen. That’s because there are messages she wants you to hear – affirmations if you will – that you’re special, deserving, strong and more.

ArinMaya, a busy veteran on the New York Indie-soul scene as a solo artist, as well as through the years performing with award- winning vocalist, Maya Azucena and as part of talented collective, The Experi3nce, is now charting a course toward realizing her full vision or calling. Three years since her last project, The Sound of ArinMaya Volume 2, Arin+Maya1+Photoshoot+-++Photographed+by+Solwazi+Afi+Olusola-6she has signaled the charge in two ways. First, with the release of a revved -up new rendering of the insightful, inspiring track, “Moment,” from the aforementioned project that will now, not only move your soul, but is sure to move your body as well.  Speaking to the premise of the song, which features vocalist Stephanie Rooker and was produced by multitalented artist Edson Sean, ArinMaya proclaims, “Our mistakes and ugliness don’t have to define us…we can grow beyond any and every situation that tries to break us.”

And then, there is the second part of this two pronged charge which is the announcement of her Indiegogo campaign to facilitate the making of that treasured vision – A  full length project she calls Afro Ratchet Soul. As ArinMaya describes in both a written and video overview, “Afro Ratchet Soul is an original collection of sound offerings I’m creating with the intention to heal and inspire us all to be the fullest, most authentic and free versions of ourselves.” It’s clear ArinMaya seems ready to absolutely seize the Moment.


For the full scope of the concept and to be a part of her journey click here:

For a daily dose of motivation meant to move your mind, body and soul right this “Moment” check it out on Spotify or iTunes

And to learn more about ArinMaya go to


 Photos: Solwazi Afi Olusola




JSWISS and M-Drix bring the heat with Black Summer

It’s a magical thing when a creative kinship is discovered. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and just as exciting to witness. Needless to say, the tangible result of such a partnership is most often extremely cool because the creative conditions are inherently right. 

JSWISS0789_HiResHip Hop artist JSWISS and guitarist/producer Marcus Machado seemed to have discovered this kind of kinship. Both exceptional, acclaimed and  burgeoning talents independently, the two have become frequent collaborators on stage and in the studio. The  fiery, rock- tinged recent release, FAMOUS, from JSWISS was a recorded introduction to the teaming up with Machado in M-Drix production mode. 

marcusNow the two have hooked up again to release the truly dope EP, Black Summer, boasting straight-up hip hop jewels, showcasing the lyrical prowess JSWISS has quickly become heralded for on musical canvas of fire beats deftly crafted by M-Drix.

More is sure to come from this dynamic musical duo, lucky for us! bc

Check out Black Summer below:



JSWISS in Brookly, NY 2015
photo: Robert Adam Mayer

JSWISS reveals the irony of fame on his powerful new song, Famous

With his powerful new release, FAMOUS, accomplished and burgeoning emcee, 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.

JSWISS1297_HiResArtists 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”.

Check out the impressive track, FAMOUS on Spotify here or purchase here on iTunes.  And be sure to watch the compelling and emotionally charged, must see lyric video complement above.

Bert Caldwell  Photos:Robert Adam Mayer 


For more on JSWISS go to



teddycrockett’s going to Sell The World on his new EP


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



Marcus Machado proclaims “I Can’t Lose” with his new single

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  

Purchase the track on iTunes here or Google Play here

And for more on Marcus Machado go to




Daniel Crawford wants you to Shake Ya Body

dcshakeCheck out the latest EP release from Keyboardist/Producer extraordinaire, Daniel Crawford, Shake Ya Body. If you’ve been checking us out on the regular, in particular our video interview features, you know the incredibly talented Crawford is not only  an I SPY SOUL featured artist, but the amazing soundtrack that opens and closes our segments is Dilllafornia 6 by Crawford himself from his outstanding tribute series to the incomparable Hip Hop producer J Dilla. Shake Ya Body is different for Crawford and gives window to another layer of his musical ability with a lean to ultra-funky, disco vibes and infectious grooves a la Nile Rodgers,  Daft Punk collabs.  A recent return from the always awe- inspiring, invite only, Playlist Retreat (also featured here on I SPY SOUL) hosted by the venerated DJ Jazzy Jeff, served as catalyst for this latest effort both musically and approach with Crawford amazingly cranking this out in a week. Hard to say whether that was by design or because it was the brief window this crazy in- demand artist had before needing to work on the myriad of projects on his plate or heading out on the road with artists the likes of Raphael Saadiq or Chris “Daddy” Dave. BC

Check out our interview with Daniel Crawford here and Shake Ya Body at the link below


The Only Way: Yusef Komunyakaa and Tomás Doncker pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

7/18/18 This day marks what would have been the 100th birthday of globally beloved and exalted, anti-apartheid champion, political leader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.  

Mandela’s journey, struggle, and triumph has been and continues to be awe-inspiring and Mandela himself, aptly held as an influential and historic figure for generations young and old. Reference to his accomplishment comes often when an example of incredible fortitude is needed or discussion of still existent oppressive laws are had.safe_image-php  Celebration of his life each year is for legions a hugely notable observance; however, on this, Nelson Mandela’s 100th, needless to say you’d expect tributes of notched up and profound extolment. One such tribute has been offered by way of the reunited and acclaimed collaboration of revered, Pulitzer Prize winning, NY State Poet Laureate, Yusef Komunyakaa and accomplished singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer, Tomás Doncker. The Only Way,” a song to commemorate the centennial of Nelson Mandela’s birth, is the latest venture between Komunyakaa, known for groundbreaking works like Copacetic, Dien Cai Dau and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems and Global Soul pioneer, Doncker, a past featured artist here on I SPY SOUL upon the release of his stunning project, The Mess We Made. They came together for the first time ten years ago creating The Mercy Suite, an acclaimed project which introduced a style and sound that was hailed, Black Americana.  In 2014,  they joined forces once again to create the critically acclaimed Big Apple Blues

With thoughts of the centennial celebration of Nelson Mandela’s birth drawing near Komunyakaa gave great thought to the phenomenal leader. In a release about the tribute  Komunyakaa writes, “I feel that Nelson Mandela’s motives were beyond personal politics and interests. He was truly a voice of the people. His vision of peace embraced his negotiating skills, and change grew tenable because of his unflinching love of South Africa. Otherwise, his homeland would have surely ended in a bloodbath of wholesale violence. Nelson Mandela’s contributions as a world citizen have inspired us.” 

Those thoughts encouraged a heart-warming depiction of the man, his journey, and his unwavering goal of freedom and equality – in a poem. And that poem encouraged a call to Doncker.  Set to the sparse backdrop of joy-infused, strumming guitar, and mesmeric, percussive beats, Doncker’s impassioned delivery and warmly sincere tone  transforms the moving, picturesque words of Komunyakaa into beautifully, affecting song and fitting tribute.

In addition to the song Doncker offers the equally moving visual compliment above.

For more info on the renowned Yusef Komunyakaa click here

And for more on Tomás Doncker check out our interview here and more on the Global Soul pioneer and his True Groove All Star family here



Alison Crockett quite beautifully and naturally embodies O Cantador

Talented and veteran songstress Alison Crockett is likely able to sing anything extremely well. As our ISPYSOUL feature on the DC native revealed upon the release of her stunning debut, On Becoming A Woman  . . . , which produced the instant classic, “Like Rain,” she is a creative explorer whose soulful, vocal prowess had then already won over a legion of fans and a host of notable artists and producers – Producers like King Britt for his successful Sylk 130 project and Geoff Wilkerson who hunted her down for his groundbreaking, acid jazz crew Us3 or acclaimed, genre- bending saxophonist Greg Osby.

Powered by top flight training and jazz influence, Crockett’s passion driven, seductive flow was revered amongst cognoscenti of the then resurgent  or “neo” soul scene driven greatly by independent artists. Her rep was also crazy high on the acid jazz and club scenes under her recognizable “Diva Blue” moniker.  But in the midst of it all her “jones” for the jazz idiom was still clearly strong and her engaging vocal style bringing steady comparisons to jazz vocal legends and luminaries. Since critically-acclaimed, subsequent releases like Bare and Mommy, What’s A Depression?, Crockett has seemed to appreciably embrace the calling to the jazz vernacular, captivating club audiences with a jazz -filled repertoire ushered by that heralded engaging voice.

A recent trip to Brazil by Crockett encouraged the elegantly, mesmeric rendering and recent release of the Dori Caymmi & Nelson Motta penned jewel, O Cantador. Today she dropped this  visual companion featuring the talented vocalist amidst a light-filled evening backdrop setting a mood fitting for this beautiful Brazilian standard.

Check the ISPYSOUL feature on Alison Crockett at our retrospective series, The Soul Seen here

Stream the single, O Cantador on Spotify here or purchase here on iTunes.



James “Biscuit” Rouse hips us to what happens “In Between Times”

Accomplished drummer, producer, musical director, singer, songwriter. Just like the many musical hats he wears James “Biscuit” Rouse is layered up with a myriad of musical influences and a ton of experience working with a diverse mix of A-list artists.  So it’s no wonder that throughout his own work as a leader all that eclectic goodness would unabashedly be on display weaving strands of Soul, Pop, Rock, Jazz, and more. In our video feature here on I SPY SOUL upon the release last year of his impressive EP, Biscuit Street, Rouse proudly owns his proclivity as an artist to shake things up and go where his creativity takes him.

On his recently released track, In Between Times,” Rouse continues to do him, revealing some more depth to his musical well as he conjures up a driving, soulful, classic rock vibe ushering his strong lead vocals, lush harmonic hook and relatable question of commitment when the going gets tough.

Check out the single below and our feature right here on I SPY SOUL

James “Biscuit” Rouse is a part of The Soul Seen™ on I SPY SOUL – The brand, the movement that celebrates artistry and individuality.



Emcee JSWISS recaps what he cooked up in “The Lab”

November 8, 2017

During the summer of 2017  talented emcee JSWISS, who’s steadily turning up the volume on the radars of A-list musicians and industry cognoscenti while at the same time building an enthusiastic and burgeoning fan baseelectrified New York City with a 3-show residency at Rockwood Music Hall workshopping brand new, yet-to-be-released music with 15+ different musicians and guests. This 1221 Media & Entertainment-produced recap lets you relive the full experience, on-stage and behind the scenes.  Be on the lookout for new music from JSWISS coming very soon in addition to his music featured in the acclaimed documentary RAISE UP now on Red Bull TV and if you missed it check out our feature on fantastic wordsmith by clicking here





Ty Causey reveals a new song and a few new “angles”

April 3, 2017

“Mellifluous, enticing, passionate and dexterous – these are superlatives most certainly appropriate for defining the style and sound of singer/songwriter/ producer, Ty Causey.”

“ . . . an artist that harkens back to the storied crooners of the past, but with a present day sheen that boasts a collage of R&B, jazz, and sensual soul.”

“ Causey’s warm tone, expansive range and superb delivery together with an obvious songwriting prowess that brackets the worlds of love and romance, is a joy to discover. And discover you most certainly will as he lays down poetic prose with charm and swaying sincerity on pleasing cuts throughout . . .”

imageThese are some of the things I wrote for marketing used in promotion of Ty Causey’s very first release in 2004, N-TYSING, during my several years of working with the talented vocalist.

The project featured instant fan favorites and now classic Causey tunes, “Keep It Smooth”, “Your Love’s A Mystery”, “Everything About Cha” and “Reminisce In the Moonlight” as well as guest appearances from legendary, contemporary jazz sax man, Najee and talented bassist, Nelson Braxton know as part of contemporary jazz duo, Braxton Brothers and his work with the remarkable vocalist, Ledisi. The internationally acclaimed N-Tysing was a strong introduction to the Indiana native and instantly moved him to the list of elite vocalists in the adult R&B category.

Flash to 2017 and the words still apply as Causey is still going strong with his trademark sound of smooth R&B and sensual soul,  satisfying his legion of faithful imagefans as well as proving to be quite prolific, releasing twelve projects including Christmas and Gospel ones producing more acclaimed and chart-topping gems.

Well another one is on the way in a couple of days entitled, TYANGLES (You got it right?) and to get you ready for that and our upcoming interview with him, here’s a look and listen to the newest single release from the project, “Won’t You Be My Lady.” And as always, Ty provides a perfect script for the fellas to woo the special lady they’ve had their eye on and captures the intrigue of the female persuasion with affecting lines, infectious grooves, and the engaging, silky smooth flow he’s become known for.

Bert Caldwell


Check out the interview with Ty Causey as he talks about the new project and more here on ISPYSOUL!




Raul Midón shows us how to “Fly Like An Eagle”

March 2017

You know how you react when you see a magician do an incredible trick, right in front of your eyes? You stand there, with your jaw dropped, looking absolutely in awe at him or her, wondering what just happened? Wondering how in the world did they do that? If you ever see incredible vocalist, songwriter and amazing guitarist, Raul Midón, that’s how you’ll feel. But it’s no trick, just sheer, mind-blowing talent. One man, with a guitar, a mic and a flawless voice mesmerizes you with virtuosity, inventiveness and an engaging spirit that is beyond entertaining – its special – it’s, well, magical. image

Somehow, that enchantment translates to his recording as well with a spell that whips doses of Jazz, Soul and more into amazing musical moments. The highly revered artist, who has over the years fascinated audiences and legends of the music world alike, is about to release his ninth studio project called Bad Ass and Blind. Yes, he is, in fact blind, since birth. And yes, indeed he is Bad Ass – a description, it is said, was given an “amen” to by the legendary Bill Withers.

One of the tracks from the anticipated, upcoming release, dropping on March 24, is Midón’s wonderfully creative take on the Steve Miller Band hit, “Fly Like an Eagle.” Instantly, that magical moment appears as a slower beat creates a deeper pocket and a sequence of mesmeric chord changes under the opening verse have you asking that question- “What just happened?” And then there is the voice, his voice that soars like the title suggests.

Needless to say, Midón puts his own splendid spin on the classic, a song that holds a special place in his early music memories. He shares why that is along with the delicate task of making something your own while still keeping the essence of original:

Fly Like an Eagle is the first LP I ever bought with my own money. I was enthralled with the synthesizer parts and sparked by the message of revolution and hope.

Whenever I do a cover I am challenged by the fact that I like the original so much.
It is for me, a tightrope walk, to maintain the integrity of the song and yet make it my own. I changed the key to a darker sounding A flat, slowed down the tempo a bit, and re-harmonized the verses to give it a mysterious quality. This is in keeping with the linear model sound found throughout the record.

I also wanted the ending to feel wistful, sad, and soulful like you might hear on a Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield record. Fly Like an Eagle is a testimonial to the power of possibility. ”


Check out Raul Midon’s rendition below to hear what he means:

Check out the interview with Raul Midón as he talks about the new project and more here on ISPYSOUL




DMD brings “After Dark” to light!

One third of the dynamic trio DMD, guitar phenom Marcus Machado, featured here on ISPYSOUL, recalls the impetus for the three stellar musicians ultimately coming together as a story of Kevin Bacon like connection and sheer admiration. Last year after finishing up his acclaimed EP, 29, Machado got to talking with one of his collaborators on the project, the renowned music mixologist and producer, DJ Spinna, while in the imagestudio about whom he might be thinking of to bring the outstanding project to life in performance. “We were just talking about musicians and stuff,” says Machado. “And he said, wow, when you finish this album, who are you going to get to be part of your band? And I said man, it would be crazy to get Daru Jones on drums because he’s one of my favorite drummers – he reminds me a lot of Buddy Miles, kind of like with Jimi [Hendrix] and the Band of Gypsys and that whole type of vibe – a power drummer, just an incredible drummer – that would be crazy to get Daru Jones to play.”

At that point is when the “dots” started to collide because as it happened, Spinna knew the drummer Jones whose impressive resume boasts work with an eclectic mix of noted artists such as guitarist Jack White, Nas, Talib Kweli, Slum Village and Esparanza Spaulding to name a few. Spinna wasted no time and called Jones on the spot and needless to say, Machado and Jones immediately clicked. Machado sent Jones some of the tracks from the EP and he was not only hooked and down to play in support of that project, he opened the door for that last “dot” to be brought into the fold. “ I sent [Jones] some of the songs off of 29, and he was like, yo! We gotta do something together! And then he goes, matter of fact, I just got out of the studio with Doug Wimbish and we just did some jams together- we just recorded some different ideas. And then he goes, would you be down to record some stuff? And I go, of course! Just send it to me.”

As it turned out, Machado had met and known standout bassist Doug Wimbish of the legendary rock squad, Living Colour, through noted multi-instrumentalist, producer and co-founder of eclectic soul group, The Family Stand, V Jeffrey Smith, who Machado counts as a major mentor. The two groups were part of the Black Rock Coalition and Machado, as a young guitar prodigy, was performing as a member of The Family Stand. Jones sent Machado those ideas as he describes as “killin” and ultimately laid down his own magic on them.

“After Dark,” is the first single from those ideas and the highly- anticipated DMD project coming in the Spring and serves as a funky, cool and groove–laden taste of what’s to come. Check it out below and stay tuned for more here on ISPYSOUL when it drops!

Click the link to get “After Dark” on iTunes  Or Apple Music




JSWISS debuts his No Music mini-doc on ISPYSOUL!

December 2016

Hip-Hop artist and consummate emcee, JSWISS, who was recently featured here upon the release of the stellar first single, “I Wish”, from his collabo with talented band, Temple 5, is rounding out 2016 very much in the same fashion he’s been doing it all year – busy.  Fresh off a formidable performance as an invited emcee on Huffington Post’s Black Voices, weekly cipher series, BARS, he moves into a highly anticipated, return show headlining at legendary club, The Bitter End – a guest appearance with talented, future soul collective, The Love Experiment, in celebration of the upcoming U.S. release of their self-titled, debut project, on which he is featured- and then on to another anticipated, year end, recap show with the acclaimed, hip-hop phenomenon, The Pitchblak Brass Band. Needless to say, all of the growing and impressive activity happening for JSWISS has certainly made him an artist to watch going into 2017. But the event that was perhaps the greatest boost and catalyst for it all was the release of his critically acclaimed EP, No Music. image

The recording, done with a cast of stellar musicians and vocalists, was heralded by a number of noted hip-hop tastemakers including The Source, 2DopeBoyz, and Ambrosia For Heads to name a few, helping to raise his name to the radars and playlists of new fans and industry peeps alike. For him, the project was also a big artistic step, full of personal insight, reflection and optimism that drives him towards his goal of being a long-tenured, impactful and respected artist on the scene.

With a desire to share the impetus for the tracks that appear on No Music and the overall concept behind it, JSWISS teamed up with 1221 Media to put together what was first presented as a limited video series on his on-line platforms – very well done and engaging- but now, as a mini-doc jewel, with some cool new adds and insights that we’re debuting for you right here on ISPYSOUL.

This is just another example that JSWISS is a hip-hop artist not willing to be defined by rigid, predictable parameters, but is a descendant of the creative, adept wordsmiths, and storytellers who knows nothing about boxes.





Emcee JSWISS & Temple 5 team up for “I Wish.”

December 2016

Gifted young emcee on the rise, JSWISS, has had a very good and impressive year. The New York native released the EP, NO MUSIC his most ambitious, successful and acclaimed project to date – with a packed out show this summer at the legendary Bitter End in New York City and an already healthy buzz and activity got “turnt up” a couple of notches and a growing number of radars, lit up. The impressive project, which features production and performances from a cast of talented and accomplished artists – multi-instrumentalist/producer, Brady Watt, keyboard extraordinaire, Nick Rolfe, multi-award winning, powerhouse vocalist, Maya Azucena and members of the very talented and burgeoning jazz/funk/fusion squad, Phantom Pop of which, JSWISS is also the resident emcee – drew praise from leading hip-hop tastemakers including, The SOURCE, who wrote, “Simply put, No Music is an imageincredible introduction to an artist determined to rise higher than where he was yesterday and is achieving his goals one well-executed project at a time.” Accolades like that fueled a steady schedule of performances, including a recent multi-city, double bill with Phantom Pop, an appearance in Brooklyn’s noted Northside Festival, guest spots with standout guitar ace, Marcus Machado, and the amazing hip-hop infused, PitchBlak Brass Band, and an opportunity to open for legendary hip-hop duo EPMD, where the “green-eyed bandit” himself, emcee/producer Eric Sermon, proclaimed, JSWISS is “what hip-hop needs!”

JSWISS’ growing rep as a top- notch lyricist with a dexterous flow has also encouraged some hot collaborations in keeping with his penchant for a creative, eclectic, and musical canvas on which to drop insightful bars. This includes his work on the self-titled project from, Brooklyn-based, mod soul/jazz clique, The Love Experiment (recently released in Japan and scheduled for a U.S. drop soon) and on this new jewel, dropping today, with talented hip hop/jazz unit out of North Carolina, Temple 5, called. “I Wish.”

Artwork: Nadia Westcott

JSWISS met members of the 7- piece collective while attending UNC-Chapel Hill and in the midst of establishing his rep as well as honing his skills in the NC area. After working with some members on some of his previous projects they decided to collaborate on a full-length project with “I Wish” being the first track from it.

On this super-cool, clever track, JSWISS displays strongly, yet again, why he should be a talent to not only watch, but to desire on the hip-hop scene as a much needed foil to the over-prevalent sameness of the commercial fare – a young hip hop artist who’s part of a growing fraction creatively pushing the boundaries of the genre, infusing their brand with a mix of jazz, soul, R&B and more, as a backdrop for substantive, thought-provoking words a la Chance the Rapper, Joey Badass or Kendrick Lamar.

imageIn the song, JSWISS “rubs the magic lamp” clean with a delivery that seemingly and simultaneously houses both a melancholy and optimistic lilt, churning out a varied dream list of desires that go from playful to the crucial worries of our society, likely to light all buttons of your emotions and represent shared sentiment. In the opening lines alone the astute wordsmith proclaims, “I wish the Giants win the Super Bowl/I wish a crystal bowl can show me what the future holds/scratch that, lets just keep it a surprise for the time now/I wish I live long enough to find out/I wish we can do away with murder or at least never had guns/ so if you want to kill someone you had to earn it/I wish, if there was one murder in a week/It would be world news and not a hundred everyday occurrence.”

When asked, JSWISS described the impetus for “I Wish” this way:

“I feel like “I Wish” is the perfect medicine for a world that has collectively had a rough 2016. We actually wrote the music and the lyrics more than a year ago and recorded it in the early part of 2016, but it sounds like it could’ve been put together just in the past few weeks. It just feels that relevant.

I’ve been performing the song for basically the entire year. I’ve had the chance to perform for it for crowds in several different cities, and whether it was longtime fans of mine or people just hearing me for the first time, “I Wish” really connects with people every time.

So I’m excited to finally release it because I’ve been performing it for so long and it’s done so well live, and because it feels like it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. I was able to write it more than a year ago because some of the issues and emotions will probably always exist, but some of the specific lyrics really do feel like they were just written in November or something. 2016 represented loss and tragedy for a lot of people and this song coming at the end of the year recognizes that, but gives the feeling of hope for the future that also comes with resetting and starting a new year.”

So here’s what you do. Close your eyes and open them. Click on the link below and listen. If your wish was to hear one of the brightest young talents on the hip hop landscape, its likely JSWISS has granted this one for you.

For more about JSWISS go to JSWISS



Maya Azucena unleashes a new song and a new vision!

November 2016

The very talented vocalist, songwriter, actress, and artist, Maya Azucena, has been featured here twice before and with good reason. She is indeed, the full embodiment of the ISPYSOUL concept and because of individuals like her, why the platform was created.

The multi- award winner is the consummate artist- independent, incredibly gifted, amazingly creative, passionate, and genuine – with a work ethic and commitment to her craft that is unsurpassed. She literally travels the world on the regular – Africa, Russia, Turkey, Europe, Croatia, etc. – enduring, seemingly, round the clock travel and weather extremes to perform for audiences that range from small to stadiums with tens of thousands, all with the same fire, joy and expertness. The music she creates has a consistent strand and does, in every way, come from her soul- unflinchingly honest, revealing, and emotional – seeking always to uplift your spirits, empower and extend a musical hand laced with love to walk with through the darkness of your doubts and challenges or celebrate your joy. But as much as Azucena’s beautiful, powerful and 4-octave ranged voice and music are for entertainment, they are also her tools. Combined they are her megaphone to rail against injustice, domestic abuse, and inequality the world over. But even then, she leaves audiences with gloves to climb the rope of hope out of their situation- out of despair and to a mindset that change and great things are possible. And so, on that note, it is apt that Azucena would release her new single, entitled, “Unleash Me.”

On this driving, pulsating track, as all great artists do, she reveals more of her musical and artistic range and through her inspiring lyrics, encourages others to unleash their owns gifts and be the person they want to be. In Azucena’s own words she explains the impetus of “Unleash Me” this way, “Many times, I feel like a bird in a cage. When I try to be what I am, I feel held back and bruised by my confines. I long, with all my heart, to soar free and unfettered. I long for the seen and unseen obstacles to be removed. I desire not to hold in the fire that burns within. I see myself with wings, fully stretched to their capacity, obstacles fallen away, so that I can fly and be who I am, without hesitation. Empowered. I feel this personal account of my feelings is relatable to anyone whose greatest potential burns inside. This song is an anthem for all who’ve had to overcome dark challenges in order to fly. This song speaks to the greatness we walk with, that may have been undermined, hidden, or forbidden. It is a celebration of our greatness. And WILL be unleashed.”

Maya Azucena is indeed “unleashed” and ready to fly high!

Check out the song “Unleash Me” and the great promotional video talking about Maya Azucena, the new single and upcoming project, below:

For more check out Maya


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