Funk / Soul


I, Ced has been something of a “best kept secret” among creators and aficionados of modern soul music. His wide array of skills ranges from production to vocals, keys, and studio mixing. His talents have found him in the company of many heralded contemporaries, including Jean Grae & Quelle Chris, Coultrane, Jimetta Rose, & Dam Funk. After having lent his talents to so many other luminaries in the underground music scene, Ced is now poised to make an impact with his own material, via his next project on Los Angeles-based MoFunk Records. As a label best known for synth-heavy west coast funk tunes, the partnership with I, Ced marks a daring expansion of the MoFunk sound. After debuting on MoFunk with an XL Middleton remix of his “Percu” single, Ced is now prepared to drop his first full-length with the label, Interpretations. Ced’s songs are cinematic, expansive, and lush, a world removed from simple loops with vocals on top. Every instrument played, every vocal inflected, every chord change implemented, is treated more like a singular brush stroke on a painting you have to step back and take in as a whole to appreciate. In a musical landscape driven by catchy singles and viral promotion, it’s become exceedingly rare to find an album which plays out as an experience. Interpretations is exactly this. If Ced’s inspirations were colors on a painter’s palette, you might see dabs of Jam & Lewis, or Prince, or maybe Shuggie Otis, or even Sun Ra. But Ced does far more than pay tribute to his influences by intimating their unique styles. Indeed, he pays them the highest tribute of all by working them into his own sound - his Interpretation."

The elusive gemstone of 1970s Harlem soul and funk from the Ray Alexander Technique, officially reissued for the first time with bonus tracks. Renowned for its enviable combination of musical muscle and malleability, guitarist/songwriter Raymond Alexander Jenkins’ tight four-piece unit was so revered on the uptown club circuit that it was offered the opportunity to serve as the Apollo Theater house band. Jenkins demurred, hopeful and confident in his group’s chances at making it on its own, and Let’s Talk is the sublime result of their hard work. Independently released and recorded with a distinctly lo-fi charm, it is a collection of unabashedly sincere songs that perfectly encapsulates the era’s heady milieu of Black pride and cultural awareness, and the plaintive emotion of struggling to realize dreams whilst navigating a city and neighborhood in decline. Personal tragedy coupled with Jenkins’ inability to gain traction as a musician, would haunt him for years. But Let’s Talk’s reputation would eventually spread via word-of-mouth praise amongst soul and funk connoisseurs and record collectors. Now elevated to exalted status, it may finally be more widely appreciated as a testament to Jenkins’ gifts. The main album is augmented by two songs by Ray Alexander Technique with Chris Bartley, not available on the original album. This album also features an oversized booklet featuring liner notes by Jeff “Chairman” Mao chronicling the band’s and Raymond Jenkins’ inspiring story, with contributions from drummer Ronald Mack and bassist Doug Wilkerson. Download card for WAV files – including previously unreleased alternate mixes - packaged with LP.

The long awaited second album by the originators of Afrodelic Kraut Funk. Feat. members of Poets of Rhythm and Whitefield Brothers. It’s been some years since the first Karl Hector release, and it’s known now that Mr. Hector is indeed the German producer and guitarist JJ Whitefield, ne Jan Weissenfeldt. Whitefield is the visionary behind the Poets of Rhythm and the Whitefield Brothers, the ensembles whose rough analog sound and return to the funk archetypes of the late 60s to early 70s paved the way for labels like Daptone, Truth & Soul, Timmion. Whitefield, along with Thomas Myland and Zdenko Curlija, founded Karl Hector and The Malcouns in the early 2000s. Their debut, Sahara Swing, saw release on Now-Again in 2008. The album swung with influences from across the African diaspora and set the stage for a cult, but influential following. Hermes designer Christophe Lemaire picked tracks from Karl Hector and The Malcouns as amongst his favorites in the Now-Again catalog, and included them on his Where Are You From anthology. Festival promoters intrigued by the possibility of resurrecting the careers of once forgotten African mavericks – from Ghana’s Ebo Taylor to the progenitors of Zambia’s Zamrock scene – brought Hector and crew across Europe playing festivals for ecstatic fans. A grueling tour schedule made recording a follow up album to Sahara Swing quite the challenge, and as a result, the band opted to release limited edition, hand-silkscreened EP’s, which continued to show their deft handling of musics from Eastern and Northern Africa alongside Western psychedelia, jazz and funk. Whitefield gave himself 2013 to finish the album that would become Unstraight Ahead, which will see release on Now-Again this summer. Unstraight Ahead finds the band exploring territories even outside of the expansive scope of Sahara Swing. On this album, the West African sounds of Ghana and Mali meet the East African sounds of Mulatu Astatke’s Ethiopian jazz and are tied together with the groove heavy experimentalism of The Malcouns’ 70s Krautrock godfathers: Can, of course, but also more obscure and equally adventurous groups like Agitation Free, Ibliss and Tomorrow’s Gift. “We look to Middle Eastern funk and psychedelic fusions, and to various ethnic records for sound and phrasing,” Whitefield states. “We’re trying to combine the global experimentalism of Krautrock with the backbeat of funk.” This explains how songs in uneven meters – 5/4, 7/8 – always sound so accessible and natural on Unstraight Ahead. It’s mainly an instrumental affair, but guest artists appear throughout, from across the African diaspora to those from the worldly Krautrock forebears of their German fatherland: it’s Marja, daughter of Embryo founder Christian Burchard, whose vocals open the album. It’s an album out of time, one that couldn’t have been made in the era its aural aesthetics reference, as its scope is so broad. But it’s an album focused by funk – and an ambition to expand funk’s reaches. The Malcouns – including Poets of Rhythm songwriter and vocalist Bo Baral – created their own instruments to fashion an album that stands alongside the great albums of its progenitors but charges Unstraight Ahead into a curious musical future.

Produced by Adrian Younge, Angela Munoz, a 18-year-old Los Angeles native, debuts her hypnotic voice with her new album released on Linear Labs. This prolific artist is a prodigy, writing and singing music beyond her tender years. Her captivating voice carries strength and prowess, cultivated by a myriad of first-hand experiences and training in the art of sound. At the age of 5, she discovered her distinctive voice and was considered an “Old Soul.” She began to play instruments such as guitar and piano. With practice, Munoz began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance. Throughout the years, she trained herself by attending a performing arts middle school and high school in the heart of Los Angeles. Many of the artists were introduced to her by her older brother (writing partner) Brandon Munoz. As an avid music collector, artists such as Nirvana, Donny Hathaway, Erykah Badu, A Tribe Called Quest and Cortex began to make an imprint on her sound. A few years ago, her brother introduced her to Something About April, a record produced by Adrian Younge. The quality of the music left her intrigued. Shortly thereafter, she serendipitously found herself working with “The Midnight Hour,” a group comprised of Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (formally of A Tribe Called Quest). In 2018, they debuted her song “Bitches do Voodoo,” on their eponymously titled album The Midnight Hour; they also took Angela on tour, featuring her on NPR’s Tiny Desk. Angela Munoz is an old soul that finds solace in the sound of an orchestra, turntables, or the randomness that fuels her youthful energy; a prodigy who stands by her uniqueness, even if it doesn’t satisfy the status-quo. She believes the heart of music is emotion and this is where she finds her personal liberty and strength. With her commanding presence, she is destined to become a cannon in music for years to come.

Wah Wah 45s are very proud to announce the release of Kalba, the first album from Ghanaian xylophone master Isaac Birituro and Leeds-based producer and singer-songwriter Sonny Johns AKA The Rail Abandon. The boundary crossing duo were introduced to the world via the first two singles released in early 2019, Yesu Yan Yan and Für Svenja, and the reactions to the project have been overwhelmingly warm. There are many differences between Isaac and Sonny, but a powerful similarity - which gives Kalba its element of relatability - is that desire to hear the usual done unusually and play with the shared influence of the music from afar. Named after the town in North Ghana where Isaac resides, the album is a combination of differences; a magnifying glass over the Venn diagram of our lives, the unfathomable meeting of parallel lines. "It was clear to me that, though he played a traditional instrument in a traditional way, Isaac was influenced by the Western tinged music that filled the streets of Accra - in fact his father, Edmund, introduced him with "He plays the modern way!" Partly dismissive, mostly proud," said Sonny. "And as this Viking sat before him played the guitar, it sounded too much like the stringed instruments of Mali for it to be just a coincidence." There are so many stories behind each track on this album, but the common denominators are clearly the importance of community, of preserving and presenting local cultures, the ardent desire to contribute to changing the world around us, and, of course, the love and power of music created from a genuine place.

Repress! With this release, Comb & Razor Sound launches its exploration of the colorful world of popular music from Nigeria, starting with the post-disco era of the late 1970s and early 80s. The years between 1979 and 1983 were Nigeria's Second Republic, when democracy finally returned after twenty-three years of uninterrupted military dictatorship. They were also the crest of Nigeria’s oil boom, when surging oil prices made the petroleum-producing country a land of plenty, prosperity and profligacy. The influx of petrodollars meant an expansion in industry and the music industry in particular. Record companies upgraded their technology and cranked out a staggering volume of output to an audience hungry for music to celebrate the country’s prospective rise as global power of the future. While it was a boom time for a wide variety of popular music styles, the predominant commercial sound was a post-afrobeat, slickly modern dance groove that retrofitted the relentless four-on-thefloor bass beat of disco to a more laidback, upbeat-and-downbeat soul shuffle, mixing in jazz-funk, synthesizer pop and afro feeling. At the time, it was still mostly locally referred to as “disco,” but has since been recognized as its own unique genre retrospectively dubbed “Nigerian boogie.” A Brand New Wayo: Funk, Fast Times and Nigerian Boogie Badness collects 15 pulsing Nigerian boogie tracks in a lovingly compiled package chronicling one of the most progressive and creative eras in the history of African popular music.

Back in stock! The Caribbean has long been an incubator for the sounds that will animate and shape the culture of the rest of the world for decades to come: From the rhythms of Cuba helping to shape American jazz, blues and rock n’ roll, to Trinidadian calypso introducing a bouncy lightness and gaiety to American party music, to Jamaica’s reggae showing a new way to rebel against convention. But what about the music of Belize, the Caribbean nation that holds the odd position of being a former British colony on the coat of Spanish-speaking Central America? Most people don’t know about the country at all, let alone about the rich sounds it has to offer. Bredda David Obi set out to change that in 1984 with the release of his debut LP No Fear, and the introduction of a new Belizean groove he called kungo (or cungo). A mélange of traditional Belizean brukdown music and sprinklings of the rock, funk, calypso and reggae he had played in various bands during his years as a journeyman musician in the United States. He would further develop this modern tropical sound on subsequent albums, integrating more and more elements from Belizean niche genres like sambai and paranda. Cultures of Soul is proud to take part in documenting Bredda David’s journey into the soul of Belize with an anthology of his early recordings including tracks from No Fear, Cungo Musik (1987) and We No Wa No Kimba Ya (1990) albums. Bredda David’s kungo is hard to describe exactly—its various ingredients make it feel somewhat familiar, but the recipe with which he blends them is slightly strange, fresh and intriguing. But one thing is for certain, it is sure to electrify the dance floor and make everybody jump up and bruk down! Housed in a gatefold jacket with extensive liner notes by Uchenna Ikonne.

Romanticism is back and headed in a new direction with Loren Oden’s debut album, My Heart, My Love. This album the listener to experience a uniquely curated sound: a sound with lyrical transparency and vulnerability, reminiscent of classic black soul and progressive R&B. Produced and orchestrated by multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge, this is one of the most meticulously crafted albums ever to be released on Linear Labs. Being born into a musical family in Compton, Ca., Oden grew up in the church, studying gospel as well as secular greats like Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. Throughout the years, his affinity with lyricism and vocal arranging grew, catching the ear of his long-time friend, Younge. With this connection, Oden became the mellifluous bedrock of Younge’s psychedelic sound: Oden sings lead on most of Adrian Younge’s expansive musical catalog, including but not limited, to Black Dynamite, Something About April, and Marvel’s Luke Cage. Oden is one of the premiere vocalists on The Midnight Hour alongside icons like CeeLo Green, Raphael Saadiq, and Marsha Ambrosius. With the world-renowned success of The Midnight Hour, touring for the last six years, and being musically featured on Ava Duvernay’s When They See Us, it was only a matter of time before Oden finally released his own body of work. Loren’s undeniable connection to Marvin Gaye’s poetic susceptibility paired with the genius of Younge’s soothing orchestral creations, comparable to Quincy Jones, this is the collaboration you always wanted, but could never get. My Heart, My Love is a cultivated body of work, for the sophisticated lover, going deep into the guarded emotions we all try to avoid. The inspiration has always come from timeless music, and Oden and Younge have created an aural treasure that is sure to live on.