Returning to the scene of a rhyme, Soul Movement 2 is the sequel to Slakah The Beatchild’s critically acclaimed 2010 debut.
“For the original Soul Movement album, the whole purpose was to make music that I love, with no boundaries and no restrictions. And the music that I love, I mean REALLY love, is soul and hip hop.” Says Slakah aka Byram Joseph (the name he wrote in felt tip on his first ever vinyl purchase Chubby Checker & the Fatboy’s The Twist) who released his debut, also on BBE Records, when his profile as a hitmaking producer was already in its ascendancy.
Arriving hot on the heels of a 2009 Juno Award (think Canadian Grammy’s) via Divine Brown’s global hit Sunglasses, Soul Movement Vol. 1 chimed like a harmonic siren outta Hogtown. With both the r&b and hip hop genres on their knees in 2010, established black music acts, in an effort to get heard above the herd, had reverted to sixties duplication or 808’s and heartbreaks. Soul Movement, against this background music, was the art & beats that contemporary r&b had abandoned.
“The original was collaboration of like-minded people who were doing the same thing and I wanted them to be there with me, as part of that movement, but with number 2 I eased that back a little – I’m looking forward to setting out and touring this album on my own.”
Alá Quincy Jones, a fellow Performing Producer, Slakah’s debut album was choc full of features and collaborations; with a whole host of T.Dot locals including superstar rap king Drake. Indeed Soul Movement 2 still benefits from additional expert talent; however the list – including Glenn Lewis, Ayah, Spek Won & Tanika Charles this time – has become more select. This time the movement Slakah needed was already on his shoulders.
From the first cut and buzz single – the largely instrumental, mod funk bitches-brew of Cut A Rug (Byram’s Groove) – Slakah’s virtuosity and expertise is evident. “I’m not sure where the influences for Cut A Rug came from.” He wonders, though he has no such trouble with Where’s Yesterday, a lament on the dearth of quality new songs blaring outta North American radio stations. Says Slakah: “Commercial broadcasting forces us to listen to things we don’t always want to but it’s really developing music in a weird way. So I let that out in song – but I wanted to shout a few my heroes at the same time.”
The spirit of two of those, J. Dilla & D’Angelo, can be heard channelled on the brilliant Us Theory, a song Slakah counts as one of the most personal on the album: “When I record the music I sing nonsensicals over it to begin with, just melodies, but the word “always” just kept coming back. It paved the way. The groove, whilst it was recorded on acoustic drums, has that push/pull unquantized feel of a Dilla or D’Angelo track.”
It’s not his girlfriend’s pick though. Intriguingly, that would be the cool jazz thing titled Miscommunication a song originated by rapper Spek Won. “I get the best feedback from my girl,” Says Slakah. “Because she’s not your typical hip hop or soulhead, and I like getting viewpoints from people whose taste in music differs to my own – it means a song can translate across genres.”
Despite the title there’s no lingering issue between them, especially after Slakah let his girlfriend get a few right hand shots in when she played the duck (yes Duck!) in the recent video teaser he directed promoting this new set. There are songs for the lovers too you see, and you can hear how The Beatchild’s vocal chops have developed since his last EP Something Beautiful on the sultry Adventure For Two. “Basically, I was feeling real frisky when I wrote that song, and sometimes – not necessarily sexually – you gotta do crazy, scary things together. I’m the adventurous one; I’ll walk towards the explosions when everyone’s running away. I can be heard asking ‘wow, what’s blowing up?’”
Blowing up? Could be the collaboration with major label star Glenn Lewis or the cut with newbie Tanika Charles, who appears on the short sojourn to Slakadeliqa (a Slakah side project) via the cool sixties soul stomp Love Fool. In Tanika, Slakah has discovered a gem of a voice, one of those tortured early classic soul vocalists who sound like they’re man has been sleeping around with Barbara Mason (From His Woman To You).
Slakah The Beatchild’s Soul Movement continues to march on …