NMNJ Artist of the Week: Blackalicious USL September 27, 2015 Artist of the Week, New Music New Jersey, USL Stories Ten years after 2005’s The Craft, BLACKALICIOUS‘ self-release, Imani, Vol. 1 arrives September 18, 2015. Fans can hear “On Fire Tonight” via Rolling Stone and support their Pledge Music campaign, whose proceeds go towards launching the record, here: http://goo.gl/hKVvMZ. Three years in the works, the album stays true to rapper Gift of Gab‘s clever tongue-twisting wordplay and DJ/producer Chief Xcel‘s unique beats through a mix of production and live instruments. A tour is expected later this year. Imani is the word for “faith” in Swahili. The Sacramento duo have stayed busy since their previous opus; Xcel worked with soul singer Ledisi and collaborated with RV Salters from General Eletriks as Burning House on their 2013 album Walking Into A Burning House, while Gab released three solo albums before suffering kidney failure caused by his Type 1 diabetes. He’s continuing dialysis treatment while searching for a kidney donor. “In 2012, we came together like ‘Okay, it’s time to go back to the mothership’,” Gab told Exclaim in January. “I equate working with different artists to travel… when you come back to your city after traveling to these other places, you have this broader perspective of what life is. I think that that’s what happened with Blackalicious.” The audacious album is only the beginning as Imani Vol. 1 is the first volume of a trilogy, and features appearances from Lifesavas, Lateef, Japanese-American rapper Lyrics Born, funk band Monophonics, polyphonic Afro-Pop singer Zap Mama, and Fantastic Negrito who won a performance on NPR‘s “Tiny Desk”. Bosko (Big Boi, Kanye West), Myron of retro soul duo Myron & E, Imani Coppola, and Amde Hamilton also appear on the record. “We wanted to keep the focus closer to us,” Gab says. “Vol. 2 may be a bit more guest-heavy, but this one… we want people to get Blackalicious,” he told Exclaim. Past albums have featured the likes of Zack de la Rocha and ?uestlove, among others. Blackalicious is known for Gab’s “astonishing verbal dexterity and enunciation” (Pitchfork) and “Xcel’s utility beats and turntabilism” (Rolling Stone). Their own work has been sampled by Rae Sremmurd, honored by Macklemore, and rapped by Daniel Radcliffe on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Imani, Vol. 1 is their fourth overall LP after 1999’s Nia (Swahili for “purpose”), 2002’s Blazing Arrow, and 2005’sThe Craft. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.